You hold guitars like they are offerings

A well of words

which spill over troubled bodies

a deluge of whispered sounds

which soothe thirsty skin

soaking the silence with quiet messages

which swell the heart

 

Your music touches minds

with lullabies of good intention

with fingers that seek wounds to heal

and fill crevasses with emotion

and flakes of skin

 

You hold guitars like they are offerings

 

Your gift is incoherence

a dam that breaks with joy

your water brings comfort

a place to warm bodies

a place to meet friends

and pay homage

 

Yours is a place upon which stories grow

on which to build homes and dig moats

in which to hold the waters of your words

it holds back enemies, our memories

it saves us from ourselves

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Pale Blue Mornings

We sit across from one another

our wares laid bare

by our ineptitude for words

I recite poetry in my head

about your premeditated eyes

and how they look on pale blue mornings

when voices are murdered

I have tried for knowing you

you’re incapable of secrets

especially those you wish to keep

(A wish to belong)

 

We lay across from one another

our ineptitudes laid bare

while we try for secrets

I recite poetry in my head

to silence the gaps

Silence is a secret you told me once

now it belong to us

on pale blue mornings

Across spaces where we once tried to find each other

I feel our ineptitudes most distinctly

Why I Won’t Let Go

I am not graceful, but neither are you. I am not together, or cool, or all that interesting. I have not achieved great things, nor made a difference that will go down in the history books. But neither have you. I have not meant every word I have said, I have relied on clichés to see me through, I have never written anything original or life changing, that others have passed on in rapture. I have never loved all that well, or completely. But neither have you.

You wouldn’t let that hold you back. You blunder on through, you push your agenda, you believe whatever you want to believe. Your middle finger is the most elegant thing in your vocabulary.

I have never been completely sure until the moment when I realised that I cannot wait to see you again, and you were already lying right next to me. You were already there and it wasn’t enough. You are like no one I know. You are unimaginable.

These days, I think that I made you up.

I won’t let you go, not because you have made me feel invincible, or infinite, or even just a little special. I won’t let you go because I know that I am all of those things, and I am waiting for you to discover me.

We are simply human, you and I, but I think we can surpass ourselves, surpass our non-achievements and our graceless ways. Together.

Just don’t let go.

Kissing Beneath the Streetlight

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I felt light headed – how different you were. How different you both were, the two men who broke my heart in different ways. Your kiss was unknown, unpractised and uncertain. I wanted much more, I wanted it all right then, but thought that I had all the time in the world. I thought that you would be back. I thought that the unknown would become practised and certain; eventually.

Does it bother you that I am desperate? Does it concern you that I want to fight you, fight for you, battle out your stubbornness, your indecision, this uncertainty. It bothers me. But I am tired of being the person who is strong and dignified. I would give up that strength for a while. I would give up my dignity for a shot at love.

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I ran my hand down your back and it hurt my senses because I already knew how beautiful you would be naked. I wanted to strip you in the street, just to trace your contours with my eyes. I wanted to gather your skin in my hands and rub it against me. I wanted the sensory explosion of your scent, your face, your hands, your smile.

Does it bother you that I cry when I listen to your music? Does it concern you that it has become my masochistic means of punishing myself, of trying to get over you, while falling for your voice over and over again. The opening chords are enough to deflate me, to push me over the edge. All I want, right now, is to lie at your feet while you play those opening chords again and again, until the edge has come and gone and whatever exists in the abyss has come to claim me.

We stood beneath the street light and kissed. I couldn’t have imagined you would never become part of my life. I never imagined that there would be a price to pay for my hope. I felt like I had been promised something. A soldier next to me, a master, a dreamer, a creator. I thought that if we combined our strengths we would be invincible. Us against them.

But it was you against me.

I don’t know where it all went wrong.

We stood beneath a streetlight and kissed. There is no one like you.

I want to go back. I want to start again.

You Fought Me

You are a radical in all you do

Even in love, it is “at first sight” or not at all

You play guitar in the corners of rooms

And I ran, I ran to you

I found you in a cushioned cocoon

 

Flailing about in my lily white skin

Your skin a decaying artwork of pain

The only manifestation of your burning lungs

Too beautiful, so beautiful

I wanted to trace you with my tongue

 

I held onto your body in the street

As the waves of change came over me

There was happiness in being part of our human collective

But I could not feel nor look at you

Your blue-eyed stare reflective

 

Of what you believed

 

You fought me

You thought you could see all of me

But like others before, you weren’t looking for me

You were looking for you

And for what you believed me to be

 

In the end I still have that seed of me

And my dignity

Your two names

Your mother gave you two names each, as if to expand you both so you will never feel alone, as if to add more of you to make up for the family you’ve been denied for 27 years. You know nothing about any of us, never even knew we existed. Now as I begin telling our family story, writing down the names of all those you will never know because they are no longer among us, along with those you have yet to meet, I feel like each of these people bring up a lifetime of feeling for me; feeling that you will never experience. We found each other too late.

This is not just a pity; it’s a tragedy, brought by sheer, wilful selfishness.

I am so angry on your behalf. Most of what I feel is for you. I am angry for the lies and the wanton waste and the imposed ignorance and the missed moments. All those moments. All we have are our photographs and our stories and our newly experienced pain. How can we turn this tragedy into love, family, acceptance? He wasn’t there for your firsts. He never watched you fall in love, get married, give birth. He never knew his grandchildren. He never watched you live.

He will never know what he has done.

I don’t resent you this mess. You are his legacy: two beautiful young women denied the father that every person deserves. There are so many questions. It feel like the growth of this family has only just begun.

Some of what I feel is for me too. I want to crawl back to that oblivion of childhood worship, when I believed that he was a superhuman, that he was a god, that everyone adored him. He was the substitute for a father who was never anything but a weak and angry man. He was my secret crush, my first hero. His photos are littered throughout my albums, because he is always that enigmatic figure; a person whose soul would never be touched by this superficial life. He was perfect.

Now I know that in death, he is as far away from any of us as he was in life; a knowing which all of us discovered too late. I have no truthful memories left.

All we have, at this moment in time, is tomorrow. But however many “tomorrows” we get, they will never be enough. At this time all I can do is wonder – wonder what it was like to never know your father, wonder how you felt hearing of his death, wonder if we can ever really explain him well enough for you to fall in love with his memory.

The truth is, in the end, my bitterness is also enmeshed in the lunacy, in the cliché of it all. I will have to open my mind as far as I can so that I can try to understand the decisions he made and try to reconcile my memories to the new knowledge. Maybe one day I can understand and forgive.

What saddens me the most is knowing that however wide I open these arms, however big our first smiles may be, I know that whoever is left in this family will never be a substitute for the father you never knew. We have to accept that the living will never be enough in the face of the death of one person.

Your father had two names too, a name name, and then an affectionate one: “Tizzy”. How can we explain how much he was adored and why we felt that way? How can I ever feel it again?

Dear dad

It’s been a year now. I still haven’t forgiven you, but neither have I accepted your dying. I still haven’t forgiven me and it’s time to say I’m sorry. With your death you taught me something vital; it was the only time you taught me anything at all. It doesn’t matter. At the moment when life drains away, your regrets will tell you what is most important to you.

I am sorry that I stopped taking your calls. I am sorry that I was afraid to be honest, to sort things out between us. I stopped being brave because I thought I was being true to myself. I am sorry that I didn’t seek help, that the only time I was forced to confront my pain, it was all too much for me and I walked away with my face on fire. You took away any strength I had, because you were my father and there is nothing like love to bring you to your knees.

Maybe, just maybe, if I had loved you more, I would find it easy to love now. Maybe if I had accepted you, instead of launching a silent attack without words or movement, my hunger strike of the soul, I would be less likely to speak harshly, to criticise and to judge.

Dear dad, why did we never speak, why did you offer no guidance? How can I break through the trenches, enter enemy lines and still live to survive? The warfare we created, a battle of wills and humanity; it was driven by fear. I was afraid to love, only be to hurt again. Nowadays I am afraid to be hurt, only to be in love again.

My self-destruction is subtle, it is enacted in small ways through offering all I have and standing vulnerable and exposed in front of every man I meet, only to watch their backs as they flee the scene and feel the crushing dread of my self-imposed loneliness. This is my survival, but it is also my suicide.