The embroidered cover of my notebook
is freckled with tears. The little, sewn flowers
want to wilt. Each page bears the weight
of glue grasping photos, losing the corners.
I was queen of this cardboard box kingdom,
ruler of the folded bedspread and stacked saucepans.
But now I hide from them under a blanket
of inked letters, words indented into my skin.
Flicking through the creased pages I see
faces of summer smiles and winter grins:
ice skating, body boarding, dancing
in the park after our last exam.
These people have skated to East Anglia,
body boarded to Edinburgh, danced
to York. Where are they now? I’m invaded
by neon hair and music that makes the white
walls shudder. Words can only save me.
My cardboard fort has broken down,
everything put away in a room that isn’t mine.
Once stood on solid floor-boards, I’ve crumbled
onto my knees, crying into happier times
held together by ink and glue.
I’m trapped in a hurricane of fairy-lights.
They twist around the room like hieroglyphics
retelling the tale of how stars
came into existence, one after the other,
until a dark valley became the night sky.
We are cloaked in the universe.
You adventure hourlessly in a virtual universe
my explorations are pages ignited by fairy-lights.
We’re next to each other while under different skies.
To my librarian mind, the screen prints out hieroglyphics
you know as HP bars and kill stats as you shoot another
player. His soul rises to the coded stars.
We forget that through the window there are stars
that are sailing on the lapping universe
while we swim in another
sea, waves of paper and screen-lights.
The ink starts to spiral into hieroglyphics;
I collapse on the duvet, facing the sky.
We don’t check our phones and we can’t read the sky;
our ungodly waking hour is only known to the stars.
You glare when I ask how you read those hieroglyphics
and watch you submit to the will of the universe
who tells us to turn out the lights.
We’re left silently lying next to each other.
This is the only time when we’re with no other—
we get to share these moments with the sky.
I can’t tell whether I’m in a room of twinkling lights
or in a duvet field under the stars.
I prefer the idea of watching the universe,
our bodies pressed into the grass like hieroglyphics.
I trace the patterns on your bed as if they were hieroglyphics,
your eyebrows rising like I’m from another
planet. I could be offspring of the universe
but a part of me is rooted to ground under these skies.
We’re two fallen stars,
drained of our gases, losing our lights.
Lights that have seen ancient times, the writing of hieroglyphics
and the birth of stars. Memories to no other,
only the sky as she watches us from her universe.
With the rising sun your characters leap
like little flames dancing in their candles,
but the moon persuades a rapid retreat
of all that goodness into your bottles.
Vodka-scented lips let slip the evils
of the human mind; careless thoughts slither
around your dizzy bodies and strangles
your unique selves, as well as your livers.
While your blurry heads snuggle on pillows
sweat and alcohol laced into your clothes,
I’m left scrubbing regret on my tiptoes
my solace found in sticky floors and stoves.
Bitter thoughts crawl through my head at four am;
knowing, though pissed off, I’d do it again.
An empty word document
tells all too much.
Letters are hieroglyphics.
I was writing
the new Paradise Lost,
Dulce et Decorum Est,
a literary marvel, or
at least one more stanza.
Let the words move you,
let them dance off the pen
but the tune is a preschooler
playing recorder first time.
Remember your syntax,
your rhyme scheme and verbs
a vortex of rules:
poetry’s ten commandments.
The moon invades the sky
and peeks through my window,
her stars read the screen
(they seem unimpressed).
I tell them to fuck off—
smacking the email’s send—
and fall to the keyboard,
not quite Milton yet.
If God made me greater than any beast
then why can swallows fly and I’m not allowed?
I want wingtips that slice through endless clouds
to be above silk-like fields, pinched and creased.
Given this blessing I would not mistreat
it but use to visit the one I’m vowed
to for life, who picked me out of a crowd
to hold me through victory and defeat.
I still pray despairing for arrow wings,
with brick and glass and two hundred miles
between us, my frail voice lost in the winds
though it once ran through fields and over stiles.
Fate tortures me to be so determined
to wait for flight so I can see your smile.