This week I’m going to be sharing some poems from my books Last Man Out of Eden and (life:) razorblades included. The two collections both deal with the same subject – the importance of celebrating life, in all its richness, before it’s too late. The first, my current collection, is a celebration of some of the friendships and lives that have made me who I am as a writer. The latter is darker, generally taking death, and the unacceptable, as its subject matter, but with the same purpose, celebrating the lives of all, however marginalised. I hope you find them suitable for the dark hours of the night, and maybe they’ll inspire you to look within and see what’s lurking there.
I wrote this shortly after Amy Winehouse’s death. I was dismayed by the way everyone had an opinion. Everyone wanted to use her death to prove some kind of point. Amy herself got lost. It happens most noticeably when anyone of any kind of fame dies, but to some extent it’s true of all deaths – the dead, who cannot speak, are always appropriated by the living.
Was the canvas where you painted your myths
In come and similes and piss,
The focal point of all your bliss,
The only part of her you’ll ever miss.
Will be a vanishing point in the desert,
A line in the sands of time
Running through your hands,
The silken strand
That drags your eyes
To the horizon
Where your future stands,
The wandering caravan
The skeleton road to Samarkand.
Will be a theme park for ideologues,
Who hog the scene
Flogging anarchist zines
Filled with Utopian memes
And revolutionary schemes
While under the clogs of your flag burning screams
Her body sinks into the soil unseen.
Will be a garden planted with your fears,
A bowl to catch your tears,
A reminder of the years you spent
And those that went astray –
The hours, minutes, days
You couldn’t bring yourself to say
Because you knew her body stayed
But not that she had slipped away.
She is not the sum of all who went before.
Her body’s not a metaphor.
Her unkissed lips are not a funeral pyre,
Her gaping wrists are not the mouths of liars,
Her clitoris is not the primal fire
(the truth of it is infinitely higher).
Was woven from pieces of pain that no longer hurt,
Has wounds that will not heal,
Indignities she will not feel.
To hymns bashed out with soulless zeal
And dust steals back
The only proof that she was ever real.