Habit

Should we meet face to face
Not screen to screen or
Keyboard to keyboard
Uncertainty in the eye of the sender
Picking out an imperfect mark
At thirty-five pixelated paces
Looking for an excuse
To avoid changing my routine
Swiping left for melancholy
But feeling justified in rejection.
Even if she is worth it
One day her face will sag
Wrinkles weather my vanity
With an exasperated demeanour
I’m tiresome, an old git
Never staring into a mirror
For fear of what it might reflect
I can only imagine the face
I used to wear at twenty-five
Wasn’t much of a groomer
Bad habits never scrubbed off
The grime from my pores
Easier to be cynical than dress
Appropriately for the occasion
She holds her drink like she was
Taught to be courteous
This love, a poisoned wine
I think I muttered it forcefully
Enough for her to leave
I’m rational and sober
Drinking tap water
Overgrown strands of hair
Hide the crocodile tears
The bottled up emotion
Slipping through the small
Gaps in between my teeth.
A small submissive ape
Philosophising about being
Misunderstood, when all
I wanted was what I had anyway

 

 

 

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Habit

Rebel

My Dad pushed open the door to my room, ready to shout at a disobedient child but I hid myself well. Underneath the bed were built-in drawers I’d shut from the inside, I’d spend forty minutes, or more, eluding detection. Silent, but for gentle breaths and a pulsing heartbeat. The thud of the front door and a distant engine rumble was my cue to move, first to nervously peer out of my parents bedroom window onto the empty driveway, and then to head downstairs and out into the quiet after the morning rush.

School was not where I wanted to be, and what I wanted was more important than what other people thought was good for me. I was cynical, even at fourteen, to those with life experiences, what could they possibly tell me that I didn’t already know about the world? Trying was pointless, learning was pointless. All I could amount to was a feast for the bugs under a heap of dirt, it made no difference whether I worked hard or not. What was there to be gained from Business Studies, or Geography? I thought. Hiding underneath my turtle shell feeding the mind a defeatist philosophy.

In those days, a fourteen year old could get a pack of fags without ID, and since it could be assumed all the kids were at school, I could pass for sixteen with my hint of hair growing on the chin, saving up a couple of days bus fare to spend my parents money on rebelling. I wandered down sterilised suburban streets and housing estates for aspirational early 90s buyers, gardens all neatly pruned and driveways swept, winding left and right through little alleys that avoided the main road.

The lake was man-made, a nice spot for dogs to foul and grumpy morning walkers to curse. It was intended to join each end of the suburb, offering shortcuts away from the road and towards the local primary school. But in reality it was desolate, a dead space hardly anyone used. A tiny island perched in the middle of it untouched, trees flailing as their roots slipped closer to the still water, its murky brown shade rarely moved and the air only vibrated with an occasional quack echoing rippling across the lake. Duck shit covered the pavement that looped around it, and the grass was always boggy even in summer, as children we’d scrape our feet on the path to get rid of the mud, only to end up with muddy shit. I sat on a bench away from the main path, smoking and passing time. Out of boredom I’d smoked a second cigarette immediately after the first. The rush of chemicals went straight to my head and gave me a whiter complexion than usual. Heaving to spew, just phlegm emerging, a sharp migraine fizzled. I managed to stumble up to a wooded retreat and slumped over a tree, waiting for the sickness to abate.

Others I knew who’d avoided school desperately tried to covet attention, standing at the back gate waiting to be caught. Throwing stones at the water, being childish in shopping centres. I was never like that, I was always aware that I needed to blend in seamlessly, nobody needed to notice, leaving them on autopilot as they navigated the bland shopping centre tiles, leaving them to think about themselves. I liked being invisible, it is much easier when you’ve a white face and a masculine look, but I nonetheless appreciated the serenity of being left to my own thoughts.

But despite the care I’d taken in simmering the alarms over my fugitive status, the adults, with their network of contact details, had played their winning hand. My parents were furious and I was equally agitated by this conspiracy against me. They didn’t understand, the law didn’t understand, and it wasn’t fair. I went to my room and listened to loud, brash punk music, I cried and cried and thought and thought, but it wasn’t my parents I was getting back at.

Rebel

Ascertain Class

Glancing back
Avoiding eye contact
I don’t like to be seen
Making a scene
Imagining who I am
Pretending it’s equal
In every opportunity
I’m afforded the luxury
Of my home country
It doesn’t startle me
But when I look
At my friends, I see
A certain class
Hues that never stray
Into complex colours
I’d defend every man or woman
As if they were my family
But I don’t glance their way
To hear their story
I speak about them
The way a teacher
Patronises a child
Only seeing the world
From my point of view

Ascertain Class

Rust

Slowly slithering
Round gentle corners
Drafty machines
With gaps between
Train and platform
Edging through
Overgrown bushes
Soggy housing
Estates done in
Gather round
Lakes of bilge
Hear the fortune
Teller close another
Industrial relic
Can still taste the
Metal in the air
Rusted out workers
Pull apart their limbs
Waiting for replacements
While the rain seeps
Through the window
Onto the seats

Rust

Power

Backseat driving on narrow lanes
Hedges pruned to keep the tunnel
Vision focussed on the greyish gravel
Headlights on. Rabbit caught
By hungry predator, a late night snack
Can’t make out the culprit
Through the dirty windows
I press my foot down, as if I control
The brakes. Fearing we may
Lose control on a corner
Holding onto the front seat
Headrest, pretending not
To be frightened by a man
With all the power
In his right boot

Power

Anywhere

Feel free to dismiss
The modern approach
I take to community space
Neighbourhoods weep
At my disinterest in
Wasting afternoons. People
I’m not acquainted with
Sharing local stories
Old wives tales of
Grandparents that never
Set foot outside a
5 mile radius till 1995
And that was only
To visit the new hospital
To die.
Forgive me, but the
Constant I seek is
Greater than the home
Or area I reside in
I hoped we would see
Eye to eye, but I’m
Just as closed off
In changing my view

Anywhere