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Sara’s eyes take in the familiar streets around her flat, streets which have been made new again by the profound stillness freezing the neighbourhood. The sun is rising slowly, lazily. Rays of sunlight are stretching out, caressing the city’s unloved grey buildings. The air is warm against the skin, carrying with it the premonition of the day’s heat ahead. The streets are lonely yet expectant, as the centre will soon be heaving with a constant flow of people. Returning from yet another night spent scouring bar after bar, she isn’t sure how much more her body can take. Her tongue feels like sandpaper as she licks her parched lips, and the pressure in her head is making her nauseous. Succumbing to a general feeling of deflation, tinged with a certain self-indulgent despair, she got to thinking about Sam. She had met Sam only a few weeks prior, during a night of tequila at a bar at the other end of the city. Since moving to the city nine months ago, such nights were steadily increasing in frequency. Indeed, her recklessness had established a familiar routine, a monochromatic pattern of blurry evenings and fumbles in the back of taxis. This particular evening, she remembered, she’d stashed a cheap bottle of vodka in her bag, from which she liberally sipped when she thought no one was looking.

Water and Ice

Walking down the high street, I could feel my edges becoming gradually more indistinct. I was a blur, a drop in a crowd that was constantly shifting but which never seemed to disperse. Surrendering myself to the current, I drifted. My mind roamed, grabbing at whatever it could touch, pulling it closer for inspection.

To my left I saw a moonfaced child and, beside it, a little woman who I decided was his mother. Ignoring him, the little woman dragged him by the hand, weaving in and out of the crowds. I noted the child’s fingers, squat and swollen like cocktail sausages, squeezed under his mother’s grasp.

Whenever I scowled, my mother would say that I should be careful; my face could get stuck like that. My mother had always inspired great faith in me, so I was always smiling, afraid my face would become a frowning mask. Now, far from those childhood certainties, I smiled a lot less. My cheeks no longer constantly ached. I wondered whether this was sufficient compensation.

Pellets of icy water were bouncing off the pavement, disturbing the trickle of my thoughts. I tried to hide my face with my hands as the water came down. I imagined what I would look like if I was a character in a book; my hair stuck to my head, my mascara running like ink on the page.

Sheltering under a doorway, I assessed my surroundings. Long streets full of white-washed terraces huddled together, like lovers for warmth. I’m sure their walls were paper thin, too thin to contain the burble of family life. I could almost hear the sound of school-runs, and the clink of pots and pans, and the arguments about who was to do the washing up.

I looked at the carefully tended flower pots at my feet, and thought of the anaemic carnations on my windowsill. My mind’s eye panned across the room, like a film camera, taking in piles of clothes and a tower of mugs teetering on the precipice of the bedside table. At the centre of the room was an empty, unmade bed with cold, wrinkled sheets.

I looked out again, watching as the hailstones hit the pavement; rhythmic and constant in an unending torrent.

It had hailed like this when I was last with you. It might have been summer, but it was cold. I hadn’t worn the right shoes so the water had seeped through, shriveling my feet like prunes. My fingers were tingling from the cold and I pressed my damp body against yours, weaving my hands around your neck. Kissing you had felt like coming up for air.

Now, I was back on the road again, trying to get back to my flat. The hail was bearing down on me like a headache and it felt like my body was snapping, surrendering to the weight of water and ice.

Lost Hours With Mae

I tried to think softly,

so as to leave no mark or imprint, 

so as to not sully, with sticky hands,

the nights and hours

spent with Mae.


But when I lay alone,

watching dead minutes

flake and fall

away from the walls of time

I thought of her, of Mae,

a lattice-work of bones,

a blossom of blisters

left with blunted teeth.


When I was starved

of faith and light,

I dreamed of the year when it rained in April,

of the penitents who cried

in the street,

of arcane pleasures

and dirty feet.


Searching for sustenance

through sepia tint,

all I am left with to assuage 

gnawing hunger,

are flashes of elusive curves,

fed on naught but

the bread and water

of weaning love.


the delicate dome of hoarded joys

falls around me.

Memories splinter,

cut and caress me.

No pristine collection

could escape the smear

of sluttish time’s persuasive thrill.

“Unsolicited drunk texts”

all is

teeming, throbbing 

as a clammy, sticky body

emerges from 

clamouring waves

of rippling flesh

to offer me a line

if i come with him, somewhere.

‘why are you telling me this I don’t want to hear this’

But somewhere never exists and

i’m lost and

i’m running


‘like you always do’

but without anywhere to run to

and my breath burns,


from smoke-filled lungs

‘you never can leave it at one last cigarette’

and I realise,

gasping in the moonlight,

that all I am is a series of discordant notes and that we, we are an

interrupted cadence waiting a resolution, or to begin




– barely sketched-in –

we dissolve.

remembrances refract

through crystalline eyes.

Images splinter,

and split in two

while my bare body


numb in an unfeeling ocean.


falling back 

 into wine-tinged daydreams,

my eyes graze 

 the arches of your body,


on the nape of 

your neck.

A hostile sea-breeze

pushes and pulls fruitlessly

at flimsy dresses.

Hands restless 

at my sides,

tongue and lips

 heavy .

The intoxicating early-morning light,

has me reaching out –

only to clasp at 

negative space.

Sunshine falls on dirty flesh,

ripe for dissection. 

At Joan’s – A Poem by Frank O’Hara

I sit at the marble top
sorting poems, miserable
the little lamp glows feebly
I don’t glow at all

I have another cognac
and stare at two little paintings
of Jean-Paul’s, so great
I must do so much
or did they just happen

the breeze is cool
barely a sound filters up
through my confused eyes
I am lonely for myself
I can’t find a real poem

if it won’t happen to me
what shall I do


A musical inferno

Of broken glass and empty bars.

Dead hours, thinking of

Adventures lost, in far-away lands –

Lost, along with that ultimate innocence.

A flimsy thing – a delicate film, disintegrated

In strangers’ hands.


My euphoric insomniac

with a weak heart.


Side by side, weightless in static air.

Inertia of the sun on our skin,

and of your cat-like pleasure; your green eyes,

drinking in  my lingering gaze.

Locked in an endless embrace,

we never meet

this side of paradise.