She says be ruthless with them and I’ve yet to tell her these plants are my teeth,
the gap between my spines.
I’ve not told her how I have grown these flowers over and over again in my sleep.
But I practise keeping my hands firm without trembling, moving roots from one bed to another,
it feels familiar.
Like two suitcases and a backpack, being hungover on a plane, kissing someone for the last time.
Kissing someone for the first time.
She says water them loads at first, it pulls the roots down, then leave them thirsty for a bit, they’ll find their own water.
And I want to tell her that I know thirst it’s ok, now I know to be hardworking instead of lazy and that rain always comes.
I push new seeds down and whisper blessing between my teeth,
my fingers want to absorb the soil, my marrow wants to know this dirt.
I can’t help but think of permanence,
of fingers making holes in dirt, of needles pushing ink and I push seeds.
It’ll hurt, sometimes.
I used to say I’m rootless, ruthless and ready to leave whenever I need.
But lately I have found myself like a weed, scattered all over, roots like tendrils growing from my tongue, my eyes in corners of two countries.
I know which parts of me grows like basil and which part of me grows like mint.
My body is a temple, it has a graveyard attached to it and sometimes mourners will knock on the gate, enter, leave flowers and leave again.
My body is a temple and I hear footsteps in the hollow halls when I try to sleep.
My body is a temple, songs are being repeatedly sung until the words have lost meaning and it is nothing but a muscle memory.
My body is a temple, the deity is a woman burning whilst cursing everything.
My body is a temple, the deity is long gone.
My body is a temple, the deity was never here.
My body is a temple no one prays at.
My body is a temple too many people have prayed at.
My body is a temple and the basket for donations feel shame.
My body is a temple and people argue the importance of science over religion whilst walking it’s halls and kneeling.
My body is a temple and it’s foundation has been rebuilt so many times and yet there are cracks in the ceilings, the water is not working properly and there are things in the walls.
My body is a temple and it’s crumbling as people argue it’s validity while sitting right there, right there on it’s steps.
My body is a temple, you my religion.
My body is a temple, my heart an atheist.
My body is a temple, a fleshy, horrible temple and I’m sorry.
My body is a temple and it’s altar is made of mugs of sea water and things on fire.
My body is a temple, it attracts cats that sleep on the stairs, nap in the windows and jump on the roof.
My body is a temple that wants to be a woman that wants to be a monster that wants to be a god.
The phoenix rose just after noon,
wiped her face with a wet tissue that came away all black.
She poured herself coffee hot as embers and thought:
I could die like this more often.
And when she sank down into the bath, everything smelled like perfume and bonfire,
even her heart.
Especially her heart.
Come find me in the spring, I have opened all the windows and let the nightmares out.
I’ve dusted all my shelves of old fears, my pillow smells like relief and I can’t shake this,
this longing from my limbs, this laughter from my tongue.
Come find me here, the streets are wet with rain, wash it all away.
Wash it and hang the whole city up to dry.
Shake the bad dreams of it and chase them through the streets like foxes.
Go, shout, go.
Come find me.
The sun pours in my window like a waterfall to shake me awake,
I went to bed at dawn, my feet sandy, my mattress dirty and everything smells like grass.
Kiss me on my mouth it is full of red juice,
bring me coffee in bed and kiss my stomach.
Let’s never go outside, but open the door and let the summer in.
Everything dies and it’s fine.
Let the shaky, summer burnt feeling die.
Too much of everything and now our bodies intertwine under the duvet like a flower crown.
Let’s hang it on the wall and remember how our summer bodies tasted.
Open the window and let the breeze in, air out the sweat and saltwater.
It’s time to rest. Come to bed, don’t worry, don’t worry.
Like a nest, like a cave, like dry woods carried through the storm.
Shelter them, you need them, shelter them even if your back is burning.
I can’t open any windows or any doors, but everything is crystal cold and I can see your breath.
We’re alive, we’re alive and in this cold winter we will be frostbitten together.
I have so many mugs and I have so many survival skills for this.
It will be ok.
never grow up.
One is a trap they tell you when they want you to be more in your nothingness,
a vessel to fill as they choose.
The other is a sharp noise they dig into you when you are overflowing,
hissed between their teeth.
Devour everything because you deserve to lick your fingers, lick the edge of the very world you live in.
Be mindful, be generous, respectful but always carry a knife or in its place a sharp tongue.
Look closely at your people and choose your own tribe, now do as tribes do and watch over them,
carry burdens with many hands and share meals.
Never grow out of sharing, devour anyone who wants to take and take,
Devour their footsteps with water, devour their memory with fire.
Never compliment someones void, lack of, absence,
but tell them they are beautiful where they are bursting at the seams,
in their art, their smile and how they love.
Have at least three rituals and never tell anyone,
the stone you put in your pillows, the words you say at night or how you always dunk your tea bag 15 times.
Let no one tell you how to love, how to fuck or where to place your mouth unless you ask them to.
Never accept someones hands unless you want them, hug the people who love you often,
close your eyes, bury your nose in their neck, whisper praise and remember why you’re there.
Community means always knocking and saying please.
Apologise because there is no absence to be found in words meant to soothe or heal.
Never apologise for someone else;
You do not wear their snapping teeth, you can clean the bite, but you can’t muzzle someone else’s rabid heart.
And when someone shouts too loudly because they found the world to be a forest of shadows and they are tired of trying to keep be fire burning,
never tell them to grow up.
Never grow up, continue to grow older.
Be amazed, let your friends show you what they look like naked and accept the trenches life digs into your bodies.
Devour each others hearts, slowly, over years, with wine and song and never, never grow up.
It’s a trap, and shout it to your loved ones who are trudging along.
Hold them, give them something small to claim for their own, tell them put it into their mouth or their heart.
tell them it’s not real what they say, you shouldn’t worship your hunger,
and you shouldn’t grow up.
Oh darling, I’ve known men like you since you wouldn’t believe.
And that honey trap of yours, that sweet voice, meek face does nothing.
I see the snarl right under, I see the tears, despair.
You’re tongue tied to the bible psalms in church while you glance at the choir girl knees,
yeah, I see you.
There is a devil inside your stomach, she sings of holy honey and you twist the song to use.
And you lean, across the table to someone who doesn’t know it’s the soft fingers that tear you apart.
You sing holy to her, sing smooth, honey, baby.
Oh, I know men like you, know your paper thin masks and rubber like grins.
And if I ever see you glance down here again I’ll show you what those men made me in to.
The poets I know of write poetry like:
7 ways to eat a mans heart raw;
the cannibalistic metaphor for love you didn’t know you needed.
Whilst someone on the other side is singing soft in tones of pastel like:
Baby, I am sunflower seeds and I will grow my own garden,
I will water myself and the next time someone wants to kiss me I wont flinch.
So when you say:
“Man, internet these days are full of hipster photos of coffee and bad poetry.”
Like you’ve ever cried at 4 am cradling some tea that promised you it would be soothing, but wasn’t,
and holy fuck was that an apt metaphor for that entire period of my life.
Reading love poetry like baking recipes;
Add time, always add tentatively touching after laughing, let chest rise and if heart is still too hard in the morning,
try less black coffee and more sunshine.
I want to say clearly there has been some miscommunication here,
you see you thought I wasn’t one of those poets and I thought you weren’t an asshole.
Easy mistake I reckon, let’s not do this again.
Instead I say:
I like coffee and poetry.
And then I pretend I don’t feel at least a bit cannibalistic when you smile at me like I’m something endearing.