Tuesday, 24 August 2010


This boat here
asleep or a close quiet thing
scoured or scourged
the imprint of hands or of branches
of a night spent in the forest

We set discreet fires
they follow us tight but invisible
and damp them all
with heavy boots
(our feet are bare)

"Why do you let him touch you?"
your finger traces
the words in your brother's phrase book
as I look over your shoulder
and smoke your cigarette

Mostly we say nothing
you wash me fastidiously in seawater
warm from the sun
both before and after you fuck me
a red rag stiff with salt

You pull the spikes of urchins from the soles of my feet
with strong white teeth
spit them here
in the bottom of your boat
you laugh in another language


We lean this far out of the window, smoking at some precarious angle.

Because of the babies:

"You can smoke roll-ups or spliff in the kitchen, but not filter cigarettes" says Aisha, with some accompanying authoritative gesture. Her brother narrows his eyes.

It's hot and the room is this thick soup of scent: babyshit and hairspray, milk sugar, dust and alcohol. Outside is still and heavy, this sick orange urban night. It's high, you'd think it would smell better. It doesn't. The smoke from the cigarettes seems like air-freshener, or something.

I breathe through my mouth.

Aisha's brother spits slowly thickly drips from his bottom lip; we watch it fall silent and eerie

Alex says:

"Would you survive  - I mean, if you jumped now - would you die, or just smash stuff up really bad?"

Aisha's flat is on the eleventh floor.

We lean out even further, look down speculatively.

(Our cigarettes are from Pakistan, we inhale and they crackle and fizz like a bonfire of Autumn leaves)

Aisha's brother looks up from the ground below.

"Try it" he says, seductively.

I like Alex, but for some fleeting moment I like the idea of him plummeting eleven floors onto a fucked up concrete courtyard a whole lot more.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


They interview these children
It doesn't mean very much:

It's hotter than anything here in this mine
Dark too

Like hell?

[ laughs]

No, not like hell. It's just very hot.

The getters that I work for are naked except their caps; they pull off all their clothes. I see them at work when I go up. 

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Fourteen in Çatal Höyük

There's this bench, near a museum.
Regency squares and office workers, old- school homeless guys drinking, or sleeping, or both.

CC says "What?"

I hadn't said anything

Three crows and these stupidly overwrought clouds trying to be ominous.

We have a bottle of shop-brand vodka and a carton of grapefruit juice. We take a swig of vodka, then a swig of juice and mix them in our mouths, like this.

At fourteen this is how it goes:

You wake up somewhere and check your pockets and also your face. Someone hands you a joint maybe - sometimes there's food, like toast, that you try to eat because your stomach is raw and sour.

Call somebody

There's places where they say: "Just piss out of the window, it's OK" (You don't live in these places yet)

You meet up with someone, if they're not already there to sit (or lay) someplace else and drink vodka and juice, or just vodka, or any fucking thing at all.

CC tilts his head to one side doing these complicated calculations of alcohol percentages, cost and volume. He can think in numbers, or something, but it takes long enough still, to make the shopkeeper nervous. Not so nervous that this won't sell it to us though - whatever the answer to these sums turns out to be. Like the maximum level of intoxication that our modest funds can render up. Something really fucking gross, usually.

These piles of change on the counter

Occasionally we are unimaginably wealthy with handfuls of damp and crushed notes. Makes us edgy and uncomfortable almost - like when you're very young and you find some money, a wallet on the street, or you take some from your house. There's this weight of anxiety and guilt that dictates the way you have to use it - as if your enjoyment of the spoils must always be fleeting and result in some kind of karmic kickback.

So at seven, you buy this ridiculous quantity of chocolate biscuits and you all squat behind some wall stuffing them three at a time into your mouths. Then you throw up all night, feeling like someone is crochet-hooking your bloated little stomach out through your throat and all is right with the world again. At fourteen it's pretty much the same.

"We could buy some shoes?" he says doubtfully.

Or three litres of Polish Cherry Vodka, one-hundred cigarettes and a bag of grass big enough to use as a pillow. We could take two separate taxis to the park and sit, with our feet in the river, getting unbelievably blasted.

This day is just a regular vodka and juice kind of day.
We sit on the bench clutching our ankles and watch the crows under the camp horror-film clouds.

CC is speaking, he does this thing where he hooks the ring at the edge of his lip with his tongue - kind of pulls it into his mouth and bites it and the flesh that's around it. It makes that part of his mouth a red, sore-ish blur - it's pretty hot.  He's explaining how you can tell what kind of crow it is from the way they interact, or don't interact with the others - it's more precise and informative than this, but you're not listening so hard.

This daydream - kind of mostly about being tied up in a trunk in the hold of a ship, but a little about some ancient city.

All the people live in these little boxes of stone all piled on top of one another. When someone in your house dies you lay them out on the floor and build some piece of stone furniture above and around them - then you can sit, eat or sleep or whatever on this new piece of furniture and maybe your dead relations can whisper important things to you through the little cracks.

A boy is walking past.
CC interrupts his narrative with this urgent squeak and an elbow in your ribs, draws your attention to this event.

It's kind of momentous because this boy is your current obsession. You spend a lot of time watching him at work. He works in this café - a kind of recreation of what someone imagined a café would be if it was - like eighteen forty-two - only they hadn't imagined that long or thoroughly, or some more realistic and evolved idea had just dissolved in the face of practicality. He worked there anyway, pouring tea and handing out buns and stuff and you watch him do this. He doesn't seem to exist outside of this space - you've never seen him anywhere else. It was like they might have shipped the staff in from the nineteenth century, fed them gruel and made them sleep piled up in the attic under sacks.

So it's momentous, but also unsettling to see him out of context like this - walking about like he was a real person or something.

You're kind of mashed at this point, so you throw something at him - the empty juice carton probably.

Later he takes his tongue out of CC's mouth for long enough to turn to you and slur

"I'm not gay - "

Neither is CC, you reassure him.
It feels sort of warm.

The clouds are still there - no longer ominous, just kind of over-acting, it doesn't even rain.
The crows have gone.

You close your teeth on his bottom lip, this familiar taste of vodka, CC, and cigarettes in his mouth, now your mouth.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sunday, 1 August 2010

you are not here

you are not here

five or six you fold yourself between the sink and the toilet.
you can't reach the bolt but you're a resourceful child
wedging the tipped back of a chair beneath the handle
this wad of paper - or whatever
in some improbable fist
(the small ghost of that hand flickers briefly
beneath the surface of this hand)

how much does it hurt?

less than when; riding by the canal
the front wheel of your red bicycle hits a stone
and you are thrown about ten feet forward over the handlebars
landing face first and skid on that face over the rough ground
a further two feet or so
passing out in a clump of nettles
and an imaginary round of applause


this post in the yard made of small chips of flint embedded in concrete.
you climb with your legs pressed tight to the post
inching upwards with your bare feet like it's a palm tree or a mast.
from the top you can see into all of the surrounding yards
(they are the same as yours)
climbing down your foot slips and you slide to the ground
shredding the flesh of your inner thighs.

a reliable measure of significance, some chart or map
etched into the hollow under your left arm?
(painstakingly elaborated upon or furiously scribbled out)
lists or discreet badges pinned directly into
the delicate skin of your chest
somewhere (but not here) a child vomits, this clot of meaning
stuck in it's throat