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

Slow

Slogans are nice, aren’t they?
The way they give you a surface
Level high five. Yeah.
A habitual masquerade
Small shrug of the shoulders
As you clutch a dead animal.

They can appear in places you’d
Least expect them to.
Live the high life by grinding
Your mantra into white lines
Mashing the familiar into one
Blurry muddle as you live each day
Like there’s always tomorrow.

Never obfuscate.
The simplest things are all
We have when a crestfallen
Parent learns to live without
The hope offered by a branded shoe
It has to stop.
Pleasantries.
Are.
Not.
Nice.

I’ve learnt two speak in two voices at once
My high voice regulates the surface
Core temperature, weather gossip
Funny stuff, casual sexism
Failing to grasp the implications
Of abstract political thought

My low voice curses and mutters
Screams at plaques, advertising banners
That offer mortifyingly simple reasons
To not observe the grey matter
But have no fear
The next black and white cat
Is bound to bring luck
Perhaps its cash prize will make
Obedient domiciles of us all

 

Slow

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

Figure

I heard someone explain
That a real job was
For those who pay to play
Dress up. Suited
Immaculately conceited
Self-importance running
Through their eyeballs
Ticking boxes like
Game achievements
Scoring points for breeding
Colourless creatures
Inheriting their self-worth
From the black figure
On an accountants screen

Figure

PR

Keep your head on
Poster boy for hedonism
Heading onto bigger boards
Balaclava models
Seduce me with wide eyes
Holding fruit, virtue
Signalling for a brand
To distance itself
So only non-believers
Get taken out when the
Blast shakes the pavement
He was wearing those jeans
It’s so awful. That shirt
Will be ripped to shreds
Heads rolling. PR disaster

PR