The One Where I Reference Hamilton

Watching me rap is pretty uncomfortable, so you might wanna imagine someone cooler talking to you for this one:

Her palms are sweaty,
knees weak, arms are heavy,
there’s a joint rolled already
and she can’t say no,
she’s got no self control.
Her arms are long,
there’s a song
lodged in her throat
and by the end of this poem you might know it.

She’s got diet coke cans on her window sill lying dormant
and half a gram of grass if you want it.
Sitting pretty on a bench labelled “for those departed,” but don’t get her started
on how terrifying mortality can be,
cause see she’s
fixated
on her mark and her legacy,
all the things she could be
but too busy
writing more goddamn poetry,
losing herself in the lines.
Wait.
Rewind.

If insanity is repetition,
then what the fuck is writing?
Cause I’ve been scrawling love poems in my sleep and they all sound the same.
There’s only so many stars you can compare eyes to,
only so many demons you can grab by the throat.
I’m all out of metaphor
and as for similes, like
they ring the same.
Oh, your arms are
more like thunder than rain,
but so was the last lover.
And the one
before that.
And before that and that and…
You get the picture.
If you don’t, read another poem
cause it’s all been done before.
I’m the most lyrical example of plagiarism
to be knocking at your door.
Ginsberg’s got you covered. Or Bronte, maybe.
Hell, even fucking Eminem did it before me.
Breathe.
Start again.

My palms are sweaty.
Lines weak, life is heavy,
like unwilling sleep mortality calls upon me.
I can’t get lost.
There’s always people waiting for me,
depending on me,
poems almost leaking from me.
Crying out,
the need to be heard, every word
like a blade
skirting amateur skin.
What a state I’m in!
Don’t tell me to lose myself Eminem,
I’m long gone,
practically making duels at dawn.
Call me Alex Hamilton
cause I’m obsessed with my legacy.
My biggest fear is being lost in the tidal wave of history.
Insignificance haunts my bed
cause I’m a stone
on a mountain face

but maybe that isn’t so bad.
Cause the truth is
there wouldn’t be a mountain without me
or the fresh flow of spring without every single leaf.
Honestly, it seems like history shouldn’t bug me
as much as being happy.
And I know that that sounds pretty sappy,
but the thing about mortality
is it’s sort of inescapable anyway.

Let the historians forget my bones,
and the blood we shed for these lines.
I no longer care. No longer
want to know
what will become of me when I am lost.

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Untitled

ah christ, writers are the most sickening!
Verses bloated with cigar stains, wine glasses lying toppled,
any excuse to talk about grass!
If it doesn’t come, wrench it out,
grab it’s neck,
pull
the fucking trigger.
It’s only enough if you’ve bled for it,
starved for it,
if it holds you captive, embedded in ink.
If it leaves claw marks on your back, you know it’s good,
it’s decent, it’s
enough.

Oh

What a crew.
What a night!
Writing, each of us,
until knuckles grow bruises like paint strokes and it’s last call everywhere but here.
Until tongues drag
across bitter pavements, scorched by asphalt,
sends us sprinting into back alleys to smoke cigarettes with the mad and disillusioned.
What a crew!
What a mess!

Each one of us bearing scars and secrets like Highlanders bore wine skins,
dotting lines with apologies and fuck yous simultaneously,
and all for the love of
what?

What is it that propels us
like helicopters or planes,
drives us into the same lyric filled lanes?
I used to think it was blood.
Born of a woman who sacrificed her own skin to make mine,
I couldn’t seem to think of lines that didn’t involve wolves
or wine
or self destruction in some way.
But not today.
Today I am fresh spring meadow
plagued by bees and breeze
and in my veins there are fucking symphonies,

and that’s on you,
that’s
not all you but it helps.

Writers are the most sickening.
All our hearts are drowning in vomit and bad verse, clumsy attempts to console the sky
even though it’s not listening

but I am
and you are
and that is all that matters.

They call us star gazers
but looking up always strains my neck.
I’d rather look down at the human,
gutted and rising,
than depend on the heavens for my soul,
so,

I guess I never learn my lesson,
always ask fifteen questions at a time
and have a chronic need to make everything rhyme.
I’ve been talking to ghosts instead of praying to God above
and to steal a line from Sam Small, it’s gotta be love.

Yes, of course!
Love
sending us skipping through verses, tangling us up in words.

It’s love,
it’s love,
it’s
enough

Aphrodite, she
writes poetry too,
much better than mine.
That explains it all then,
doesn’t it? That explains
everything.

Quiet Moon

This one’s a bit more awkward than my other poems, but to be fair that’s kind of the point:

I’m a bit
nervous.
Palms slick, eyes squint,
the devil drawing stammers from my tongue.
A bit
awkward.
I know my limbs jut out at uncomfortable angles and my knees don’t always face forward,
but it’s the silence that always gets me.
That hollow soundless echo reaching under my scalp,
tearing hair clumps and confidence simultaneously.
I’m not great with people.
When they laugh, I panic.
When they cry, I offer tea like my mother taught me.
But it’s always the silence that gets me most.
The Unspoken wraiths
digging into my skin,
when all I wanna do is say
“Hello,
you have a face like sunshine
and I’m pretty sure you’re God given
cause your voice
is a fucking miracle.”
All I want to do is
talk to you,
but it never leaves my mouth right,
comes out all slur and sweat and
Stop.

Shannon, you’ll only embarrass yourself again.
These people don’t care what you have to say.
Might as well call it a day,
cause all your ideas are half formed,
all your ideals half compromised,
and they can tell it’s all a lie,
that you’re just winging it
at this point.

Rationally,
you compose lines to convince yourself otherwise,
sit pretty while other people
do the talking.
The world has convinced you
that to be woman is to be silent,
that to be queer is to be silent,
and even among your peers you struggle not to hold your tongue.

You were a quiet child.
Mild mannered and gentle.
Afraid to use your own voice.
It’s dangerous lilt crept quietly
into the night’s calm echo,
only ever heard by the shadows, so.

Speak now.
Let your tongue be a weapon, your words incite revolution.
Redraft your constitution with bare hands,
and if you can,
face silence with unwavering grace.

You do not need
to defend your place in this world,
so take a breath.
Fill your lungs with coal, let your body
be a steam engine and
take you home.

Pale White Girl Goes Into The Sun Anyway

I am on a balcony
and the sweating horrible blissful sun is dripping gold again,
and I am worrying about the burn
again. My skin starts to sear.
Too pale for even Scottish summer.
I am on a balcony in the torrid heat in the East End,
smoking a joint again. Death draw lips.
Legs dangled gracelessly over beat up orange chairs,
taking in stranger’s stares from sad black windows bitten with dust.
Mismatched socks.
Only one ankle feels the breeze.
I am on a balcony in the East End with nothing between me and Icarus’ wings
but corrugated iron railings
to keep me from falling.
And the sun is heavypetting my skin again,
and it tastes like the first lie on my mouth.
It was yours.
That day we swept through Glasgow Green, you wanting nothing but goodbyes
and me,
knee deep in memories of your eyes,
thinking we could work this out.
How young I was then.
And so in love, so hopelessly
yours until I died.
It was so warm then, too.
I am on a balcony in the East End smoking pot and writing things
that still don’t make full sense to me,

because love was never enough,
not for us.
This balcony isn’t even very nice.
And frankly, neither were you.
So I don’t like to talk about it anymore.
Not in my poems, not even my diary.
If I do, it’s like I’m a storage box for some different version of you
that existed mostly in my head,
and I don’t wanna be that.
I wanna be something More.
I resent the implication that I’m Red Riding Hood
when all my poems are about wolves.
That’s just sexist.

I’m here to say
Fine. You broke my heart,
but not my head,
and soon you’re gonna wish I was dead,
because of all the things I learned from you
it’s that spite is useful too.
I’m gonna do so much.
I mean because I want to do it too, but defiance spurs on my blood,
and I can hardly pretend it doesn’t.

And that’s the story of how I got sunburn.

Dot Com [first draft]

Sometimes you meet a pretentious old man on a bus and have to write a poem because you’re too awkward to argue with strangers on public transport. So here is that poem:

I come from the geek generation.
The learned to type before I could speak generation,
the revolution of touch technology and progression from floppy disks to viral video.
The dot com degree getters, sadled down by student debt and sweat and elders that expect respect
for running our economy into the ground
and giving us our Mother tongue,
smothered in slurs and bloody as it is,
so we had to make a new one.
Replaced letters with fingerprints, punctuation with emojis, crafted ourselves a script
the war mongerers couldn’t hear.
Is that why you’re so angry? Why you condemn my every selfie? Tell us we’re over privileged, entitled and so much more?
If you wanted in the club,
you should’ve come and asked,
because the internet
unlike your history
is all inclusive.

If you think that you can’t have Facebook and real friends simultaneously,
consider you might be using it wrong.
I know I’ve got a lot of things to explain in one poem but let
me try. See, I
realise to you all this technology seems scary,
like you’ll never grasp what it’s really all about,
but let me give you the run down.
Kickstarter is creation,
while Tumblr’s just for fun,
Change.org is for petitions
as aspirational as greeting the sun.
MySpace lies dormant
like the fires of Mount Doom,
and Instagram’s alright
though it’s mostly pictures of my room.
Facebook’s for making plans really
and promoting my poetry page.
LinkedIn I never use,
Likely never will, at this stage.
Gumtree’s where I found my job,
though I know yours was a lot easier.
Walked right in, shook his hand.
Grinned, said ‘pleased to meet ya.’

See that’s the difference.
You were born in an age where things came so much easier to the white man,
and I am here to tell you the revolution is not done,
and it’s not for you.
It’s for the black man on his knees at gunpoint. For the Muslims now afraid to leave their home.
For every little girl
catcalled on the way home from school.
This revolution is at
our fingertips, one click away,
and thanks to selfies I now have the self confidence
to fucking pull the trigger.
Is that why you’re afraid?
Is that why
you’re so angry?

Because we will be more
than you ever could be.

You sent men to the moon competitively,
so imagine what suns we’d see
with our fresh minds and new technology.