I had to grow it out, my head was a hot white coal
in the night. Men loved me too much,
they followed me on foot or in their slick cars,
at a slow pace, saying nothing.
I could hear the slow grind of their wheels
or their heavy footsteps, out of tune with the timbre
of my stilettos. I wasn’t wearing stilettos
but I think you will imagine that I was.
When I picked up one of those shoes in Topshop
my mother said, you’ll break your ankle
and I did not believe her. She said, you’ll come unstuck
and I did. These days I keep my feet firmly laced
to the earth, in trainers, I’m always ready to run.
Life is full of nightmares that are enormous and dark
like whales. Sometimes it’s like standing at the side
of the highway doing nothing, others it's like
dodging speeding trucks. I get older but I still get
everything wrong. I still trip on my shoes and take
pills I find in the carpet. I think everyone I’ve slept with
is precious and important. I want to call them all up
and hold them against my chest like a bundle of daffodils.
It takes a serious heft of my self control
not to run through the streets barefoot every day,
or walk into the ocean and let her take me.
This is how I want to die: in a boat, on fire
while Billie Holliday crawls out of a speaker.
I want everyone to be watching.
I’m not shivering.
Once this breeze drops, I’ll be fine.
Give me two paracetamol and a week,
I can’t face another doctor,
another cul de sac. I’m not going back
to my parents’. I can’t remember
what I used to be like or what I did yesterday.
I’m sorry I kept your book for so long
I’m sorry I met you and flirted,
and never texted back, you
precious thing. Buy me another
and I’ll take you home, I’ll make you
believe in the sound of your voice
in the movement of your hands.
Other people’s insecurities are so
romantic. I’ve not worked on my essays
but I’m going out anyway.
This dress makes me feel
like I could be loved. I’m starving
for something. Kebab shop chips
or a gin and tonic.
I’m wilting in this heat like blossom.
I’m turning the corner
to another accident and emergency.
I could hurt myself but I probably won’t.
Gold Hoop Earrings
Someone did this to me, I loved him
but that doesn’t matter. Having an affair
is just getting all dressed up to cut yourself.
My brain used to shut itself off and go quiet
and fuzzy, the moment he put his hands
on me or took them off. I’ve tried to imagine
how he felt but I was too busy falling down
my own set of drains. I’m going to spend my life
correcting his attraction to me. I’m different now.
I’ll never wear lingerie again. I’m going to acquire
some gold hoop earrings and find someone
to film me talking and talking. I am going
to leave the country, and become
an impressive nightmare, just watch me.
This is what I remember: the paramedic said
we can’t help you unless you’ve already died,
we have to know you are serious. I think his name
was Dennis, I said it feels pretty fucking serious Dennis.
I thought death might render me serene but it didn’t.
I wasn’t going down without a fight. I wanted to steal
the backless cotton nightgown they gave me to wear.
It was soft, and pink, I wanted to shove it in my purse
and run. As usual, I cried all my makeup off. I flirted
with the junior doctor. He said I had young woman's
syndrome, which means your veins are hard to find.
I said, you have no idea, and puked. My head split
all the way along its seams, it took my mother an age
to arrive. When they sent her out she did not go,
she hung around all night. I did not die.
10 Carrie (1976)
12 Three spells
14 Platinum Blonde
15 Bad Girls Club
16 Kiss me quick
17 Hell is a bus full of the men I’ve unsuccessfully tried to love
18 Advice for Girls
22 Stronger than me
28 Gold Hoop Earrings
30 Why does he do that
37 Look at me now
41 Bronski Beat
43 Sun Sign
47 How to get over it
52 A good man is a humane mouse-trap
53 Kissing a girl in front of a Salvation Army church
55 Thus I became a heart-eater
56 Purple Heart
57 Francesca Woodman
59 Poem in which I leave and don’t come back
61 Is this thing on?
63 Mad Chicks Cool
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