i remember when you were a flower
like, i saved the sunrise for you
each of your petals were yellow
and you would pluck them off
when you thought i wasn’t looking
and i would take you gently by the hand
and with shaking fingers
use sticky tape to reattach every single one
and it was messy and by the end of it
you didn’t look the way you did before
but i knew you were beautiful
not just to look at, you know?
but to actually see, when you let me in
and you were so fragile but at the same time
you refused to let me tear at my skin
my skin which paled in comparison to you
to the glow of you
and whilst i was a ghost haunting the very edges
you gave me the moon and told me that some people
fall in love with the moon the same way you fell in love
with the sun
and there’s nothing wrong with that
we were in different phases, chasing different rocks in the sky
yours was on fire and it burnt bright
whilst mine reflected yours, this small thing
and so on starry nights i lay out on the roof
and tried to count every single shining dot above my head
knowing that whilst i did so
you bathed in the light of your own star
and i would fall asleep hoping that your scars would heal
and that nobody would step on you or break your fragile stem
that nobody would rip up your roots
and that the sticky tape would hold and you would let people see
you know that –
i would store you careful, gentle
between wisp thin pages of an old heavy tome
but it would feel like a desecration
because you deserved the sunlight
so i couldn’t hide you away
maybe i should have?
but then some nights would blur into days
and i’d still be sitting up on the roof
and the rows of corn would salute your sun
as it raised its head over the horizon
and i’d think
you’re going to see so many sunrises
you won’t count them
you probably won’t think they’re anything special
because you can get used to the most awesome of things
but let me tell you, and this is true –
you hold the sunrise in your heart
and i keep the moon safe in mine
and sometimes, you know, during the afternoon
you’ll see them both in the sky
and the moon never quite looks like it belongs
but it’s there and it’s this pale thing
and you can chase it if the car goes fast enough, the wind whipping your hair to your face
as you roll the window down
and i think –
that’s us –
the sun and the moon
we’re not supposed to co-exist, but when we do
when we do, we are perfect mirrors
and i know my light
is dull compared to yours
you are a flower
you are a sunrise
you are both delicate and powerful
the source of your own strength
and i wanted you to know that
because it seemed important
and your light allows me to reflect
and turn my own light back onto the earth
and i can’t make flowers grow
(even though some flowers only bloom at night)
(i don’t know why that is, do you?)
but i can make sure that you know
we may be a sky apart
but sometimes, you know, during the afternoon
you’ll see them both in the sky
burn it all to
the fucking ground
and start again
with what is left
paint your face
with the ashes
of who you used to be
and bare your teeth
against the dark
when you feel
the snap of bone breaking
under your closed fist
remember they did this to you
smile because they wanted a monster
and you fucking gave them one
blood doesn’t look black in the moonlight
it gleams crimson
and there’s no shame in looking twice
because it’s beautiful to behold
and when you wash it from your knuckles
in the sink
of some all night gas station
and it turns the water pink
and when you catch a glimpse of yourself
in the mirror under flickering yellow light
invisible scars pulsing under your skin
bite at chapped lips
and try to believe that you recognise the reflection
veteran of a thousand wars
hollowed out daily
until all that remained was some mercenary creature
feral grin and wild eyes
remember that this is how they moulded you
some half crazed thing
not scared any more
you are a reckoning
Into a Bright Bound, Sea Surrounded Fury
Charlotte Amelia Poe
The world rarely ends without casualties.
A haemorrhagic fever spreads quickly across America, killing almost everybody. Daniel and Seamus both believe they’re the last man alive. This is their story of survival, of the worst humanity has to offer and then of finding love in a hopeless situation.
As the slate of humanity is wiped near perfectly clean, Daniel and Seamus must fight against the worst of it, the dog eat dog of the final days, to try find a life worth living.
A short, intense thriller, with LGBT content and mature themes.
She used to tell me she would die if she slept – apnoea. She walked with the bags of her fatigue underneath her sea grey eyes, purple bruises against pale, milk skin. I would find her curled up on armchairs, knees drawn up, eyelids drooping against the world, and I could imagine that itchy dry desperate sleep clawing away at her, begging her to just let go, to surrender. Her limbs held a nervous energy, a certainty, that this was a battle she would win, at any cost. She was a new born colt on high heels, skittering rather than walking, swaying slightly and masking it as intentional. You could hardly tell that her swings from overt to introvert weren’t chemical in nature, that they weren’t caused by anything more than a deep weariness.
I suppose she did sleep, but damned if I ever saw her do it. I wondered what she dreamt about though, and whether her breathing really did hitch and her chest flatten and stay flat, deflated and yearning, empty.
I wonder whether she ever died, just for a second, and what that was like for her. Did she wake, gasping for air, bolt upright like every bad movie nightmare ever? Or did she drift to consciousness, a barely there thing, before shifting and curling in on herself once more, almost entirely unaware that she’d breathed her last and was breathing anew all over again?
How many times had she died?
I wonder how many times you can die before you stop caring. If you die every night, under stars and sky, do you lose count? Is it an acceptance, and did that explain her?
Was her public battle a front? Did she treat death with the same ambivalence she treated life? Did she dress for the occasion, the nicest cream and white lace slip, or did she face it in ratty pyjama bottoms and an oversized t-shirt, stolen from an old lover?
I never asked her, because how can you ask someone – do you like to die? Does it bother you? She would have answered yes. To which question though, I’m not sure. I flip a coin in my head, and sometimes, she cares. Sometimes, she doesn’t.
So, a tired ghost dances in the corner to music only she can hear, the pub television blaring some football game. But drink in hand, sloshing the liquid over garments too good for a place like this, she dances, she rages, and no, she does not sleep.
My dad was born in 1943, in one of the most bombed towns in England. His father, my grandfather, fought in the war. I sat down and asked him about his thoughts on the war and his feelings on Captain America’s new position on Nazism.
Me: What can you tell me about the war that people might not know?
Dad: People might not realise how many foreign people fought in the war, i.e. Indians, Australians. It seems to be dominated by English and American history.
Me: Your dad fought in the war, can you tell me about that?
Dad: He got mentioned in Dispatches, which means he did something exceptional.
Me: When you were older, what did you think about Nazis?
Dad: I think the Nazis were misguided and got caught up in the megalomania and I don’t think they all wanted to do what they were forced to do, but I don’t think they had much choice.
Me:What do you think about increased anti-Semitism and the rise of Neo-Nazism today?
Dad: I don’t understand it, I think they need to get a life.
Me: You remember rationing, what was that like?
Dad: For a kid it wasn’t a big problem, but I was only concerned by the sweet ration. Food was a lot simpler then and lasted a lot longer. But it used to be a mathematical trial.
Me: What was it like after the war?
Dad: There were derelict houses everywhere which you could go into and play around in, it took a while to clean up. Obviously it was dangerous but it didn’t seem to matter.
Me: How do you feel about Captain America, a hero created by two Jewish men, being turned into a Nazi for shock value?
Dad: I don’t think it’s shock value, I believe it’s commercial value. I believe it’s a purely commercial proposition – opportunistic desperation.
Me: How do you feel Ethan [my nephew, his grandson] would react to this?
Dad: It’s unethical. He’s old enough to know that it’s a bad thing. He would be disappointed in Captain America. It would certainly confuse him. I think it’s a step too far really. Sensationalism for the sake of it.
(My dad, bless him, has asked that nobody troll him. I explained if anyone was going to be trolled, it would be me. I hope this interview helps add a new perspective to the fray – indeed I wasn’t aware of India or Australia’s involvement in the war effort. It just goes to show how far reaching this thing is.)
“So, what are we doing?” Clint pulls up a seat beside Sam, who just rolls his eyes.
“What we do every Saturday, Croft, we’re Bobbin Watching.” Sam replies, gesturing behind him. Ben lets out a long sigh.
Ben is obsessed. With a boy known only by the name Bobbin. Weeks of coffee shop stalking has gone into this relationship, weeks, I tell you. The only thing Ben knows for sure is that Bobbin is tall, dark and man-bunned, and utterly irresistible. He’s yet to come up with a decent excuse to ask the man out, but with a little help from his friends, that might all be about to change. And with friends like these, who needs enemies?
It’s weird, I think, seeing things you’ll never have, whether it be in the media or books or real life, experiencing second hand emotions and touches and those small innocent moments of love which are undefinable yet so, so important. It feels like intruding, as though you’ll ugly them up by your mere presence. It feels like a heavy weight on your chest, a knowledge, a certainty, and it makes you curl up at night under the duvet, like a dormouse, a small ball of limbs, pretending there’s somebody besides you but knowing, with a clarity you can’t deny, that there’ll never be anybody beside you, that the arm thrown over your waist is your own, and that you can’t pretend that the heaviness that it lends to your hip belongs to another. It’s weird, I think, reading love story after love story and knowing that your story doesn’t include that word: the four letter word that matters most, that you may feel it, but nobody is going to feel it for you. That it will always remain abstract, something other people experience, something you don’t get to have, because you don’t deserve it, and because you’d fuck if up if someone did look twice. But thankfully, thankfully, nobody looks twice, at the mess of hair on your head, or the way your smile turns down, or the way your body is a mess of a life ill-spent. So you sleep and you dream, and for maybe moments you know what it’s like to feel the touch of a hand against yours, or lips on lips, or just the trust and faith in another human being. It isn’t real, but it’s the closest thing to, and when you wake and touch a finger to your lips, chapped and dry, you try to recall the sensation, but it’s already fading. It feels like a small life, a life full of yearning, of looking through dirty windows and trying to catch a glimpse at what could have been. There’s no five stages of grief, no acceptance. Just this: that you are alone, and that you deserve it, because you are you and that isn’t enough, and shouldn’t be enough. The sense that you are unworthy is palpable, you can almost hold it in your hands. You are unworthy of this beautiful gift, which is why the music didn’t stop on you when the gods played pass the parcel with your life. You never got to unwrap it, never got to see the prize. Maybe one day, you’ll be okay with that. But today and tomorrow and all the days for months and years to come? It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt more than anything you’ve ever experienced. And nobody will ever understand, as they lace their fingers through the fingers of their loved one, how lucky they are. How intrinsically better they are than you. How their lives shine and sparkle and have this gleam to them which yours never will. It’s a loss, in a way, you are mourning the loss of a potential outcome because you believed it could happen to you. But of course, really, you’re you, and what did you fucking expect? All you are is skin and bones and no words, no loveliness. You’ll die as you live, alone, unremembered, un-thought of. Because of some quirk of fate twenty seven years ago that broke you. And keeps breaking you. Every single day. And you would scream, but you don’t have the energy anymore. Not for that, not for anything. So you watch from a distance as people gravitate towards each other. And you grow smaller. And colder. Until the fire no longer warms you and the bed seems so much bigger. You curl up a little tighter and imagine the heat of a body beside you. But the cold air sneaks under the blankets and reminds you. Not for you. This is not for you.
I’d been trying to tell you for a while at that point, that I wanted something concrete, set in stone, you know? That a few hazy days texts felt shallow at best and cursory at worst. Careless, almost. I tried to be understanding, I did, that your phone crashed a lot and your dyslexia made it hard for you to read and write, and so I didn’t push, because pushing only leads to pushing away, which was the last thing I wanted.
‘Course, when it comes to what I want, I never know ’til it’s too late. And sometimes my brain can’t make its damn mind up at all.
Part of me wanted it all, the grand gestures, the sensation of skin on skin, lips on lips, the words spoken between lovers, you know. And another part of me was too damn tired, too damn worn down by promises and maybes and tomorrows and never ever the promise of something exclusive, something unique.
Selfish, I know, but I never, ever, claimed I wasn’t.
Is it a Mexican stand-off if one party doesn’t know they’re involved? ‘Cos it sure feels like one nonetheless. You said you had nothing to say, so I’m letting you say it. What can I possibly respond with, if you don’t have words after a freaking holiday? I think you forget how damn isolated I am, how a holiday is as sparkly, shiny, rare as a trip to the moon for me. I’d listen to every word you had to say about it, look at every photo you took. But I guess, if you ain’t in the mood for sharing, I won’t be in the mood for listenin’.
I think I like love stories a lot more than I like love as a concept. Love stories have definitive endings, or they fade to black and you know, with that fuzzy feeling inside, that everything’s going to be okay. Real life ain’t like that. Real life is uncertainty and knowing that one day you’re going to wake up next to someone and wonder if you even know them any more. Real life is crueller by half and then some.
I understand completely why you wouldn’t want to tether yourself to one person – what if it went wrong, you know? And I understand completely why you wouldn’t wouldn’t want to tether yourself to me – the most boring human alive. There are trainspotters with more compelling stories to tell, let me assure you. Vibrant and excited, they’ll tell you about the time they saw such-and-such and how it changed their life. What can I tell you? Nothin’ like that.
I am, ultimately, a failed experiment. Psychology gone wrong. I think every child is an attempt to create something beautiful, but I got warped along the way and now I’m ugly and uncertain and so, so freaking selfish.
So – tell me if I got this right. I love you, but you don’t love me. And you never will. And finally, finally, I’m okay with that.
Love ain’t for the likes of me, the outskirts of humanity. It’s a nice pipe dream, and reading about it sure is fun, but it’s not a reality. And that’s okay, really.
Just – just don’t text for a while, okay? Or ever, preferably. Because I fall again so easy every time. And your words are like moves on a dance floor, smooth and silky and supple, and I try to keep up and follow the beat but I just can’t. Yet they’re utterly compelling . You do what I can’t do. You keep me reading, wanting more. And I think you know you’re doing it, because otherwise you would have stopped. Because there’s nothing more fun than seeing a cat bat at a feather on a string, or chase a laser dot. Cat ain’t never going to get a filling meal out of it, but it sure is cute how they try.
I’m the cat in this analogy, I should mention.
You know, being lonely sucks. Seeing the same damn faces ’til you start to hate them just for their familiarity sucks. And it’s all I can do to keep from screaming sometimes. But the answer? It’s not you, is it?
It’s not you.
Sorry, baby doll.
you are radiation burns on my skin