For Sophie

Nineteen passed by too quickly,
what with the liquor
and drugs
and all the mentally ill crap,
but I don’t wanna talk about that.
I wanna talk about the moments
lit like fireworks in my memory,
heartbreak loud without apology or consideration
for my neighbours
(who still hate me, by the way).
I wanna remember her smile
how it felt in my stomach,
roses growing in my oesophagus,
thorns catching my throat when I laughed
but her hands brushing mine
gentle,
containing a quiet apocalypse with fingertips that always smell too much like cigarettes and home.
The curve of her mouth
as we recount stories of high school classrooms and jumping picket fences,
police calls and serenades by boys who heard we were bisexual
and assumed threesomes were on the table.
Our English teacher,
her voice a symphony but one we almost ignored 
too caught up in dreaming ourselves to death and emptying our rose stems into toilet bowls.
We were newly sixteen then,
and we understood Persephone over any other god
cause when Hades opened its jaw,
she leapt,
balled fists and pomegranate seeds,
straight into the dark.
Let it swallow her whole.
And Sophie, I let him
swallow me whole,
and I can still taste hell on my tongue sometimes.
Nineteen passed by too quickly cause I spent it wasting away,
locking myself in rooms, too sick to move, every part of me feeling colder than death.
I do not say this to demonise,
or throw accusations in his direction,
merely to say that I loved him
and when I was nineteen I thought
he loved me too.

Sometimes things happen for a reason but it doesn’t make them any less shitty.
Clarity can only wipe away so much dirt.
I know I am better now, wiser now, fuller now
but that doesn’t mean it didn’t fucking hurt.

I have waged wars almost all of my life.
But you are the one nation
I know will always take my side,
a commander and general with nothing but pride
every time I pick myself up again.

Never pity. Never fear.
Only love.

Playing God

Had the absolute pleasure of performing at the Blue Chair’s Open Mic last Thursday (and I’ll be there again next month too, so please drop down!) and dropped a new poem. So here it is, for your reading pleasure:

When I was mentally ill, the last thing I thought about was God.
When you are
knee deep in your own vomit, cheeks gaunt,
skin stretched across features like a drum,
gold chalices and colossal buildings hold nothing for you.
Your church’s pews are empty.
You are preaching a sermon of truth to someone who will not listen
because their brain is in the midst of malfunction,
and your Bible is torn to shreds.
Miracles come in smaller packages.
Brushing my hair, eating enough,
not feeling that sinking feeling in my gut telling me
I am no longer good enough
and God has long stopped listening.
There is so much darkness in me, I can only imagine fire.
(Insert Plato’s allegory of the cave here).
What I’m trying to say
is when you’re down in the dark halfway between drinking yourself to death and spending days too sad to move,
God feels
like a lie lodged in your mouth.
And it breaks you.
You are in a pit in the red desert, nailed to a cross,
and every good day feels like the last drop of wine before his mouth meets your skin.
In this story, you are Cain and Abel at once.
In this story, you are Lucifer and Michael,
Jesus and Judas, Moses and Pharaoh.
In this story, you will kiss yourself to death.
So actually,
fuck this story.

You no longer go to Church because you have already found God,
and she is lodged in the bottom of your throat.
You can feel her sometimes
rising
on days it feels too dangerous to use your voice,
on nights
there are three steps between you, a litre of vodka and all the pills you shouldn’t take,
and you say
‘No.
Not today.’
God exists in every hesitation, every ‘but’ or ‘why’ or ‘stop.’

Your body is a temple,
So worship in it.
It contains so much holiness,
don’t you know?