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I can't breath
my stomach is bubbling
like hot cheese
on an fresh oven pizza

my legs feel skinny
I want to lean into a wall
the floor looks spinny
the wainscoting is squint

my vision is blurry
Why is there worry
in my middle?

I feel fine,
my mind is sound
this fear isn't mine
what’s it doing here?

What is this panic?
Fight or flight I understand,
but this is plain manic.
I need to go

at top speed
or maybe hide?
Either way, be freed
from this distress.


Push someone over,
human shield that ****
reduce my exposure
to hyperventilation.

Shallow in,
shallow out,
I feel akin
to sprinting Mufasa

Pure distress
acute discomfort,
a proper mental problem. Nonetheless,
it’s strange to foresee the diagnosis.

It’s as if I’m watching
from someone else’s skin
as alligator clamps are botching
holding my physiology in.

A sunburn on my innards,
a paperweight within
you’d think I’d feel pride
for finally having something wrong.

Hypochondria being accurate  
the years of inventing doom,
suddenly isn't aberrant
those fabrications had substance.

Or maybe all these thinks
are symptoms in themselves
after sifting through piles of shrinks,
maybe I can finally get some help.


Look at my pretty framed prescription,
doctor certified, messy handwriting,
this will take some decryption...
don’t worry, take your time,

this pathoreaction won't go away.
I’m told desolation
is a temperament set to stay
until after eighteen simple payments.

I’m inclined to reject treatment
of drugs that fiddle with the mind
I’d rather stay present,
continue inconsistency.

I would like to try narration,
see how many kilometers I can recall.
I can deal with frustration,
so let’s talk about my childhood.

Public transit without destination
sends me on a revere,  
an absence of crippling desperation.
I've found peace before

it was between yellow poles,
in the outside pocket
of a backpack on parole.
It smiled at me quietly.


Apparently, it’s the small things
that help you deal with anxiety.
He smelt like smoke
as he leaned away from me,
texting himself with my phone.

We left the campfire outside,
in our shoes by the door
our socks overlapped in a tangle of limbs.

In that leftover guest room,
on the bottom bunk of the microwaved bed,
I remembered why I thought I knew what love was.

He was tired and needed a nap,
I was restless and cold.
Trapped inside because of violent temperate rainstorms.

This boy owed me stubbed toes,
thorn ****** through my jeans,
nicknames and rubber soles.

This was the boy who had always smelt of smoke,
who knocked over dead trees for me,
who lied about being able to rock climb.

This was the boy who went swimming in the ocean
before summer had properly began
when it was still much too chilly.

I taught him a new card game,
he beat me at badminton.
We played capture the flag and threw pinecones.

We sold cookies on the side of the road,
ate dusty blackberries,
traded innuendos and bad jokes.

This was sea-urchin boy,
slug boy,
the boy with the bird's nest hair.

This boy grew taller,
dropped his voice like a used bus pass,
looked past the top of my head.

He laughed when i stepped in a mud puddle,
dared me to walk in bare feet.
This boy suddenly went mountain biking.

I talked extra loud, in hopes that he would overhear me,
offered him rootbeer straight from the can.
Ate pretzels and learned to read his mind.

We shared our childhoods like penny candies,
switching all the peach ones for strawberry.
we agreed these are the best years of our lives.

He layed beside me, underneath as many covers as we could find,
taking up too much space and he knew it.
my cartoon boy.

My hand-drawn boy,
With smoke coming out of his ears
moved away.

We didn't talk again
Hairline cracks are breaking through
the slough I'm about to shed.
Dry and dysfunctional
as the neuron sac in my skull.

I'll change my hat and change my ammo
honeysuckle artillery polished,
waiting in my drawer.

Sliding an empty coffee mug
back and forth along a counter
like a puck preparing for a slapshot.

Paper matches in colourful books
pressed between the pages
found leaves for child arsonists.

Takeout boxes filled with poems
are sold as artefacts
Don't be silly, poetry comes in plastic bags,
not styrofoam.
To keep ideas hot, wrap them in tinfoil.
But don't forget to leave a hole at the top for steam
or your fresh concepts will get soggy.

Equipped with tennis *****,
spandex suits picket office blocks
standing on chairs and voicing nearly racist remarks
making health and safety inspectors nervous.

Out of control students
launch dictionaries out of third story windows,
donning 21st century masks.

I left my patience beside my keys, on the kitchen table.
Waiting in line for obsolete phone booths
as movie stars soundlessly mouth slang into a receiver.

Nearly responsible
nearly nine
nearly time for bed

I resolve again
that I’ll resolve more
but this time write it down.
Folding kamikaze paper planes
to hide behind park benches, fly into trees.
Let the sun fade the pencil crayon.
I can't run from this blasé gangrene that’s taken my toes.
Today I felt myself dissociateing,
I tried to avoid communicating,
look towards the ground.

When I talk, I never make eye contact,
or else I find myself distract,
forgetting how to be an undercover extrovert.

Today we shared a silence,
born between conversing violence,
as one topic broke to another.

My eyes picked out your stare,
that common brownish pair,
which slid into place around me.

The understanding pass,
as if I were made of glass
and you could see every ticking gear behind my skin.

You held my glance as one might hold a hand,
gently, delicately, without demand.
I felt safe within your eyes.

Comfortable in the bridge of your nose,
a hammock where I did't seem to impose.
For the first time, I'd be happy to meet your eyes again.
Little sparrows show off their agility,
dancing up and down violin necks.
Pecking staccato notes out of the air.
Making tea and dropping ceramics
behaving clumsily and babbling nonsense
even after they've been told
sit down and be quiet.

Imitation ducks sit squat,
quiet, muddy, decoying
singing water stains,
spitting curses from their bills.
Pulling bed sheets up to their chins,
nesting between the covers.
Very anonymous in their colours,
not a deviation among them.

Cold wax and dry glue
flake off creases and folds.
These lovely imitations,
cuckoo plaster cast knuckles
snowflaking to the ground,
useless with fine motor skills.
Peeling off like dead leaves,
parasitic nest components.

All my fingernails are different lengths,
evolving finches’ beaks
on isolated islands
With scratches on the vinyl of my thumb,
sand beneath my cuticles,
scrapbooks between my fingerprints.
Piano keys team up in groups of two,
sharing sharps and flats.

Filed and polished,
pink budgies dispose of portfolios apathetically,
slamming filing cabinets shut.
Cuttle bones rattling,
mirrors cracking.
Irritable thighs complaining,
they hunker with bad posture,
frowning on their perch.
Squat salient warbles
clamoring sharply down corridors
over whistling loudspeakers.

Poster orioles elbow aside crowds,
bright bones flashing
neon signs
keratin streaked or spotted
for biological attention.
Weaponry painted exciting colours,
friendly hues and enthusiastic tints.
Lies dressed in curiosity,
attracting intrigue.

My heron neck in the air
searches for information,
explanation, observation.
Greedy for projections,
living in the tree tops,
reflected in shop windows,
my skinny anisodactyl talons
for walking on mud,
wading through marsh,
boggy water.

My hands are geese
jabbering back and forth
across my chest.
its very distracting
to have these conversations
going on between palms,
arguing the best way to fold paper cranes,
whether chocolate pudding
should be stirred clockwise or counter.

Take a gander at the world you don't touch because your fingers are too flightly
One day this building will become old and shabby
with peeling wallpaper, ratty carpeting, and cracking plaster.
One day the only option besides the wrecking ball will be
to sit and wait to die.
To crumble and decay,
to rust and fall to pieces.
Termites will find homes in the banisters,
moths will eat at the books left behin
by the pillaging teenagers that steal the furniture.
Chesterfields and repaired ottomans
will show up in the neighbourhood,
refurbished and reupholstered, saved for mother’s day.
No one was going to use them otherwise.
Better they don’t go to waste.
The old piano with the cracked keys
will slouch alone in the empty sitting room,
savouring what little memories weren’t scraped from this carcass
like the last of the peanut butter from it’s jar.
One day this building will disappear,
making a grave of it’s foundations.
Inspired by photographs by Daniel Barter
Watch out, the stove is hot.
White iron teeth that will bite your tongue,
split chapped lips,
then eat salt and vinegar crisps.

Sharp streaks of nerves,
grinning with missing incisors
drip in lines down your chin
of green and brown copper.

If I had a fish pond
to throw these dimes into,
I would never have to know
where they came from,
why they didn't fall out of
my coat with the turned up collar.

Unwashed wool wraps and rots
round warped shoulders,
gnarling strained fingers
between ball and socket joints.

Fussy tea cakes and strands of hair
relinquished to the wind
hobble up and down outdoor train stations,
old-fashioned floral prints swept aside,
a puppet show of sickly chicken legs
pocked, potholed and pickpocketed.

Lost in the war, between couch cushions,
baked into blackberry crumble
in go egg whites, out come memories
of snow that tightroped power lines,
good dogs that stayed,
coauthors of the oxford english dictionary.

Badly rolled cigarette smoke in the streets
writes gregorian poetry for darned socks
snagged on shoddy repair jobs,
splintered wooden bones.
Pour yourself a stiffer drink,
it’s going to be a gangrenous winter.
He is who you want to see at the airport,
half asleep, pastel sweatshirt half zipped.
Half length shorts ending just above the knees.
Eyes matching the green and blue abstract swirls
patterned into the carpet to hide passenger sick-up.

The background to travelling japanese circus photos,
they’ll look back in their scrapbooks,
past the ponies on the baggage carousel,
see him waiting for the delayed international arrival.

Stiff legs tread quietly down grey hallways,
stringing a stickered suitcase along moving walkways,
thoughts caught between continents, in escalator’s teeth.

Tiptoeing over the hot coffee spilled like oil,
the taste of morning breath clinging to the back of the throat,
chalky as chilled ashes, abandoned and unswallowed.

When the taxis are cold and the day’s been worn out,
before it’s even begun; patchy fabric stretched over toes
rubbing thin on the inside of your shoes,
he’ll circle your head like a daisy crown.

To hold the tiny scars on his broad shoulders,
traces blemishes like a mine sweeper,
would be like orange juice at 40 000 ft.
Intimate in a way only TSA agents know how to be,
looking for explosives behind the ribcage, to the left.
I once knew a girl,
back when my posture was good,
we wore matching shirts,
jeans and shoes.
She kept her hair long,
to hide jealous shoulders.

All the loud voices
didn't have a thing to say.
They didn't resonate,
hammering on doors,
denting ear drums,
enunciating mispronunciations.

I played football in times square,
passing glances and stairs,
had rock climbing races
to higher elevations.
My badly tuned feet couldn't run,
ankle bones off key.

There's a saltwater film
frosting my eyelashes,
clinging to my tongue,
holding down my yells
to the quiet machines
that toss boiled eggs in the air.

Up to their knees
in the dark left behind by streetlights,
they rolled up their pants for wading.
They lingered in docking terminals,
standing still,
becoming dust collectors.

Somehow we're all just wanderers,
citing passages we herd
in front of us like mountain goats.
Ambling across empty intersections,
walking in handstand through cul de sacs,
picking up litter from busy streets.

Books for readers wear little letters,
use big words with four syllables.
They showed me how to fence with trains,
ride red wagons down hills,
win marmalade coated cricket matches.
I never judged the typos to be out of place

(I accepted the bits they forgot to erase)
Be my muse,
I'll translate you into binary
and back again.
Lying on the ground,
blue carpet between your ears,
synthesized sounds convey through spaghetti,
hearing aides grow old with us.
Child sized vowels fall off their bicycles,
from between your lips.
Keep me busy; when I'm comfortable, I get lazy.
Your shirts are overlaid grids,
the holes, coordinates.
Always a poet, only occasionally writing,
I hedge my bets and roll die
with insults open to interpretation.
I don't like your words,
I don't need your hyena smiles
I don't want your degrading remarks.
But I know your skeleton,
your tendons, cartilage and marrow filler.
I understand how you move,
the coconut oiling your joints.
Be a textbook reference,
help me cut apart the paperchain people I’ve made,
I want to portray them realistically.
Shade their features with scrawled adjectives,
resolving to care about typography.
White school glue takes too long to dry
to have hopes of staving off entropy.
Scribble highways into dusty prairies,
be the cartographer that misplaces my world.
Hiding in the bathroom
until my fear goes away;
fear of what
absent minds think of me
between their grubby socks,
bad hair and alcohol.

I could have been alone today,
counting the minutes
of self-enforced bed rest.
Maybe taken a little time
to organize my thoughts,
made battle plans of how to cope.

I've felt the air too long,
I think I'm oxidizing.
I str e a  c    h
my thoughts to transparency
so I can see right through them,
analyse the funny creature
behind it all.

I wish I knew where to sit,
place myself strategically.
Fake mingle,
mouth dry with vapid sentences.
I couldn't stand it though
so instead, I've locked myself in.

Old papers always
had conversations with me.
The leaves would talk forever,
if I let them.
I never had to turn left
at the end of the hall.
The light pollution
from the lives of little people
in the big city
reflects off the lowriding clouds,
the same way my knees reflect
in the little puddles
from the big rains.

It hurts my eyes to look up
without sunglasses,
hurts my lips to think of tasting
the subway oil that

I speculate at the transformers,
part automatic, part people
in their pre-ripped jeans,
learning to get their Ns
to drive themselves away,
yarn trailing from their sweaters
like parade float streamers.

Citizens run so fast
to catch the early train home,
freefalling down the stairs  
breathing in the exhales
of the other racer’s exhaust.
Marking their triumphs
with participation ribbons.

The pacific pants at toes,
a puppy that only occasionally misbehaves.
Impatient for attention,
waves wagging back and forth,
up the imitation river,
past the downtown.
Kicking the sea wall with it's gravity boots.

The geese are on hiatus
until they can take back the city.
Making the drains overflow,
creating their own habitat,
they’ll strut their haughty markings,
distinguished from orcas,
away from any saline nonsense.

Were we to retrain the population
to turn blind eyes,
we’d be much more efficient,
stop wasting time contending
to society’s obsession
with documenting itself.
But then, what would we do all day?

Creating light pollution
must give immediate gratification.
Once all the lights are turned off,
the influence won’t continue,
creating a lack of permanence,
making our need to be remembered
seem trivial indeed.
I am a pinwheel, spinning in the breeze
of the people striding past.
They all seem to be late for something.
I’m left reeling, as they hurry by with their lives in hand,
tugging them along
like particularly stubborn children.

I’m still here though.
I’ve stayed where I was stuck in the ground,
beside the flowers that share my bed.
Weather beaten, storm rolled.

I once had a house of cards as a friend,
but he fell when the wind picked up,
scattered across the lawn.
I wish I wasn’t designed to withstand
so that I could blow away too.
Up and down strange alleyways,
We ride our bike into fences,
knocking over garbage bins,
spilling out all pretences.

Look at the side of my face as I speak,
my mouthed syllables’ suit.
Recognize the shapes I am known to make,
hear my clubs on mute.

Short runways are carpeted tarmacs,
take offs for toy planes.
Neon flags guiding us to square landing strips,
ignoring shin splints and ankle strains.

It's much too late again,
I'm in the bathroom practicing ****** expressions,
locking them into muscle memory
for my future confessions.

Let’s repeat the same mistakes,
until we have them perfected.
We’ll loop our lives,
what's not a refrain will be rejected.
Turn the kitchen sink on. Wait 36 seconds. Turn the sink off. Count the sides of the kitchen doorway. One, two, three. Put socks on, walk to the bathroom. Take socks off. Turn the bathroom sink on. Wait 36 seconds. Turn the sink off. Count the sides of the bathroom doorway. One, two, three. Put socks on. The whole procedure had been finely polished into a smooth six minutes. Exactly. Justin’s day can now begin. He finishes his normal routine and leaves the house. He checks the gutter. He’s not checking for anything specific, but it’s sixth in his morning ritual and must be done.

Today he found something. There’s a girl, passed out. She is wearing an excessively short turquoise sequined dress, with matching stilettos. Justin was at a loss. The gutter was not empty. Should he call the police? He took her shoe. He ran. Six blocks later, he stopped. He was In front of his favourite coffee shop. It was an intimidating place, with a tattoo and piercing service offered, while you wait for your coffee. He liked it because the address was 666. He was worried the police he hadn't phoned would be searching for the stiletto he had stolen. Who would have known he would turn to a life of crime? Just earlier, while the bathroom sink was on, he had been thinking of complementing the local parking officer (the one with the limp) on his ability to write tickets. Now here he was, holding the glittering fruit of his crime. Maybe he could return it to the young lady. She seemed nice enough, from what little he knew of her. But what if she questioned him? Best have an excuse prepared. He could say he saw a spider climbing into it. His chivalry had saved her from a nasty bug bite. No, he couldn't pull that off. He would pretend to be a poet, that’s what he’d do. Poets are known for being strange. So he set about writing her a poem.

Turquoise like the rain,
off you go, down the drain.

With a dress, short like our fleeting existence,
that could really do with some more distance.

I took your heel to 666,
left you a poem in the mix.

Justin was in fact quite proud of his apparent literary side. He rejected -yet again- a discount on tattoos, and left the coffee shop. He walked back to his gutter, Finding once again the girl, passed out. Slipping the stiletto back into place on her foot, he looked around guiltily, double checking the police hadn't followed him. He went inside. He went to bed. The next morning, he forgot to turn the kitchen sink on. He didn’t wait 36 seconds. Didn’t turn the sink off. Didn’t count the sides of the kitchen doorway. One, two, three. Didn’t put socks on. Didn’t walk to the bathroom. Didn’t take socks off. Didn’t turn the bathroom sink on. Didn’t wait 36 seconds. Didn’t turn the sink off. Didn’t count the sides of the bathroom doorway. One, two, three. Didn’t put socks on.
Hold my hand through the bars,
we can learn how to live all over again.

Mind your Ps and Qs, keep them in a penny purse.
wear your orange jump suit backwards,
live out your sentence in reverse.

Crinkled, crumpled and recyclable,
throw yourself away.

You know that it'll take eleven kps
for any real escape,
yet you try nonetheless.

The sticks and stones, the pebbles I've thrown
don't leave traceable dents.

There’s a mountain made of
boxes I nailed shut, long ago
I mailed them to myself, with a shove.

Up to your cell, wobble towers,
tiny boxes creating stairs

The edges curled, cardboard grew ridges,
the cutout dream
caught fire to my bridges.

We couldn't have turned back,
had we tried.

Etched into the walls,
messages to future prisoners;
instructions on avoiding cafeteria calls.

Hiking boots with cleated treads
for steep hills, rocky cliffs.

The extents gone to freeing the caught,
comfortable behind their striped shadows
are left unnoticed and left to clot.

Used napkins on tourist ferry seats,
cheap asian sauce hiding jail blueprints.

Hide in the elevator shaft,
I’ll meet you in the back stairwell.
You bring life jackets, I’ll bring the raft.

We can pretend the verdict swung
and go back to being free enough to visit supermarkets.
Toad sand and frog pebbles,
warted rocks kicked and toed.

Tease the ocean with chocolate dipped feet,
spiced and salted teas.

Taper off mid-sentence, paragraphs tepid
long arms and zebra stripes, a crosswalk tepir.

Tocsin alarm clocks poison innocent bystander’s sleep,
slipping things in their drinks, filling their ears with toxin.

Tie a scarf around the forehead
of the middle child. Teach them beginning syllables of Thai.

Throes and spasms of overachievers
motivate for longer strides, faster throws.

Tense shoulder muscles
hide in sleeping bags, badly pitched tents.

Told injuries snuck in when the door opened,
we heard the miniature silver bells as they tolled.

Ticks count every second second, punctuated by tocks.
With each, a twitch, conscious nervous tics.

Titan tool boxes hold spare screws,
on Coeus’ threaded axis, we spin and tighten.

Terne sardine cans filled with mercury,
pollute our science tests, killing tern.

Tied red string around our pinkies so we don’t forget
when to go to the beach looking for clams at low tide.

Tacks pin talented teens to cork boards,
alongside instructions on regretting the harmonised sales tax.

Tire prints border the country,
left by jeeps that never tire.

Tails directing orchestras,
swarms of swan swim, tattling and telling tales.
Tripping up the stairs,
looking out the window
smelling barley, corn and rye.
Trees make patterns
interchanging with birds in the sky.
Sun beats down upon your head
sit, counting ants,
with a stick, poke and ****,
throw rocks in the pool.
Boulders scream to be jumped off of
into water of shiny cyan blue.
The smell of summer in the air,
Trapped *****, caught fish
All is still and calm.
It's these simple thing
that keep us apart
my trust in you
guides me through the dark
When I look ahead,
all I see is reflection.
Walls of mirrors
infinite to perfection
It's out of reach,
this dream of mine
over the edge of

Trees make patterns
against the backdrop of the sky.
Throwing shadows,
casting hiding spots
for those who wish not be seen.
Turning invisible any
seeking shelter.
Screening out sunrays,
dappling lukewarm oases
over woodchips and detritus
like pancake syrup.
Let’s play camouflage in the forest.
I'm not sure how these things work,
but we seemed to come together
through conversations and mocking arms.

My life had an affair with me
for seven years. No one knew,
as I loved the mundane.

******* in the air, body in the water,
quietly, we inhaled through our noses.
After the army, we stuck together.

Me and the mundane
put our arms around each other,
and of course, one thing led to another.

The mundane became my coffee,
daily, unremarkable, commonplace,
and perfect every time.

Really, what business did anyone have
making our love about them,
when we were interested in nothing but ourselves?

— The End —