Birdearth and Boudmo

Birds pull worms from the wet earth, loosening the seams that hold the world together. The world is fabric made from disparate pieces sewn into a unified joy, but the birds pulling at worms unstitch the composition, cause the continents to drift apart in island shards, and the body too splits in half along a winding seam, the soft drapes of its flesh now open in raw edges, budding with teeth. Two matching rows of teeth, zipped down and apart by the irresistible force of aching beaks. The teeth chatter to reveal their presence, unheard because no ear has time when the mouth is open. The teeth try to clamp back down on their mirror peers but cannot reach, and in their yearning they shudder like cymbals, like sequins on a spinning dress.


In other news, I never seem to get sick of this:



I figured I would make a habit of dumping a bunch of old stuff on here, mostly tiny old things I can’t be bothered to edit into something more meaningful, so with that in mind:


She lays the needles on the table, digs two fingers into my pulse.

Show me your tongue. It’s what I thought. Your tongue is orange, like the belly of a slug.

I ask her how bad this is, and she smiles with her hand over the needles.

It just means, she says, that your heart is broken in several places, all mending together badly.

I tell her to treat it, make it go away for a while, take off my mind this badly mending heart, like a face reconfiguring itself after a crash.

If I treat it, will you still want to know what lies ahead?

I tell her I will. I have no way of proving this.

I thought so, she says. You’re that kind of person.

What kind of person, I ask.

She pulls out a ruler and measures my forearm.

The kind, she says, that’s afraid to be forsaken.

She measures, scratches notes onto loose paper.

Relax your hand, she says, why are you so tense?

A finger, then a needle, pokes between my tendons.

You body, she tells me, is full of holes. Wind and heat. Wind and heat are holes, and everything inside you is too thin. There is nothing to dam the growth of emptiness.

She punches another needle in a few points above the first one, then looks up as I rearrange myself on the table to shift away from the pressure on my spine.

Again and again a man will destroy you, she says, though not the same man, and never completely.

She sniffles and observes the pattern her needles make on my skin.

Lie still. Your Qi is all over the place. In fact, you are all over the place, leaking out of yourself like crushed entrails, it’s disgusting, keep it together.

I think I laugh at her words, why shouldn’t I? It’s a miracle that sound can escape me at all. Her eyes pull her head towards the window.

It was supposed to rain she says.

I know, I say, it never rains.

They ought to fix the roads, she says, on my way here I ran over so many dips in the tarmac. If only it rained, it would fill them up. If only it rained for days. A rain thick and dense like glue.   

Funeral Bee [Prelude to Sibel]

It is cold and behind the hills the golden rays have turned to rust. The party is over. The men are groaning corpses on the couch, men you herded into our house using the sway of your hips, wordless promises they followed like a trail. We trip over them on our way to the fridge. You see me sitting in a corner, my small body compressed so as to appear invisible, not making a sound, and for a moment your eyes aren’t those of a mother.

Darling, you say, be a good girl and show them out.

You disappear to your bedroom with a carton of milk and leave me in the midst of your men. I unwrap myself from my arms and get up. I look down at the discarded, watch the slow breathing of carcasses.

My body is still shorter than yours, but I have been growing, my frame is light, my limbs are skinny. Your hips are rounded, your thighs heavy with sap. They are not my hips or thighs, but if genes are anything to go by I will one day grow up to look just like you.

The men hang around the corner store by the handful, one faceless buzzing cloud, and you sail through them, the sway of your hips a sticky imprint on their heat-worn minds. You feel their humid breath graze your skin, their abdomens pulling towards you, ready to sting. You laugh them off every time. You make a game of it, but never a commitment, until one day one of them is not like the others, and you let him in. Into your mind, into our home.

His dart shot straight into you, sealed you up like heavy wine. Nailed you shut like a coffin.

After him there were many others, but it wasn’t the same. Because he had been different and they were not. They sailed through our house, our lives, in and back out, rubbed against you, against our food and furniture, they stayed for dinner, some of them stayed the night.

Then autumn came and the cold washed them out, they faded with the light, sometimes leaving half-smoked cigarettes next to the couch, sticky fingerprints on a glass, taking cash with them, or the contents of the fridge. Corpses with pockets as deep as their ability for love was shallow.

Take them out, you tell me. You don’t even bother to whisper, pointing at them like residue. The sit and blankly stare, the patterns on their skin are spinning, the colour fading from their eyes. They are bodies but already they barely exist.

We’re not a hotel, you say, because what we are is a hive, your hips the hive from which we came, my sister and me and our home in its entirety, you hold us all between the bones of your hips, in the exact midst of being held and being crushed. Your hips could hold a universe, and to us, they do, they hold a home.

In springtime, when the men are strong you need them close to you, and in summer you indulge their presence, and when the light starts growing dim and their strength starts to fade so does your patience. Their wings now fail them, their faces incapable of kissing, of even a smile. I drag them to the door with diligence, their heaviness strapped to my tender back, I carry them over the threshold of our hive and I let go.

In the cold rushes of early winter air I watch their bodies tumbling down along the street, further and further away from the hive, removed from our home like a stain, tumbling down through the dark air into what cannot be other than a void.


The plastic carrot swims in the water bottle from which the hamster drinks. It bobs as a small bubble rises to disturb the surface, which then shivers for a while. The hamster drinks quickly, as if it has a limited amount of time in its lunch break and wants to return to a state of getting stuff done. At the same time, there is an emptiness in its eyes. I am so tired, the hamster seems to think, but I have to rush on, and maybe things will get easier after a while. And after a while – this is what we call afternoons – things do get easier. The hamster has finished drinking and the clouds outside darken not with rain but with monotony as the sun disappears behind their vulgar bulk. The time of day changes, people crumple paper, people switch their desk lights on. The world is tired and wearing thin white gloves because the time of day is icy to the touch. The hamster treads a virgin path through the straw. It sits in its nest and thinks deep thoughts while chewing on a dried up apple core.


perverse and unwritten, the hired car

bullets down the thirty year old road

I hired had to hire – a teacher to continue existing

and if the world approved, I thought, I just might

licence myself to sing my affectations

in a different key


some ancestor, stiff with rheumatism, never once

was home when I came home

from lessons in the afternoon where in the gutter

of daylight hours I found his fingers chopped

or, who knows, perhaps gnawed asunder


when you left me my mouth said I permit it

as if it cared less about me than it should

and I remember that the building shook

with all the rotten foods it carried


something in that thought

only punishes more

with time


like a great man

reciting by a dying torch

the words of

someone immediately killed


once I called myself sixteen and said

no, I wouldn’t call it aquiline

it’s much more of a slope

with a teardrop or a cherry at the end


my ability to feel ugly is so textbook

a ragged pad of token use


I often group the thin along with the dying

as if it’s only a matter of waiting for the thing

to roll down the predetermined slope

and on the rusty sullen beach I wait


once, when a bullet

found no recourse, not even in sleep

even in the silent erosion of the brain

it condescended to the state of seed

and waited, like I do, around


I am now too angry to sleep beside you

I am too dark with beaten blood

to cradle your large body,

even its outline, inside me


catch in myself a shudder when the thought

plasticises and hits the ground


your shoulders have toppled and the shaking

has begun, but all I think about each time

is the dryness in my mouth


I turn in my glove as if so much dirt

had just fallen on the ground in winning shapes

to be read like fire tracks


and each time

my tongue is cracked like golden fruit

in the sun


I organise the words of songs because I cannot

respond simply, identify

what about a person is a person

and what about them is

a silent winter tree, totally indifferent


I am dragged into a thumping office room

where I dictate the words from the inside

to the outside

to an exploding typewriter with stars for keys

stars untouched for twenty years, and before then

only by hands of molten rock


here goes, I say

and the stars punch themselves deeper and deeper away

until the world dissolves

into innocent, fragile grey confetti

After that hiatus

After a long period of not really writing, not immersing myself in writing, I become shy around it.

I’ve spent two months with other people’s writing, other people’s ideas, while making very little space for my own. And now my own writing feels like an alien gesture, something that would make me laugh if I walked in on myself doing it. So I tiptoe.

I’ve become afraid of doing the wrong thing. The act of writing, right now, is no longer carefree play, and my momentum or sense of purpose is so easily broken. Writing is external, a turning-inside-out of the mind’s parts, and because I am conditioned to assign greater authority to external assessments of me than into the way I feel about myself, I worry that the more I put out onto the page the more this material will collate into unflattering image of me, increasing the chance that I’m messing up in a way I cannot ignore.

It is then that it becomes more important than ever to remind myself of the permission I have to mess up, to be sub-par, to throw out the idea of a standard in the first place. Returning from the pressure to achieve, dialling back to a state of play and permission to be playful, is hard work. What makes it hard is that it often doesn’t even feel like legitimate work. Alongside my return to the act of writing strolls an unwelcome sidekick: a deep and condescending voice telling me that the part of me that wants to play is the part that’s lazy, seeking an excuse not to have to make an effort. ‘I’m your critical spirit,’ says the voice, ‘and I am here to protect you from the part of you that’s naive.’

But that voice is not a writer, nor is it aware of the amount of good play does me, how kind and rewarding it feels to act without needing to be perfect, to do things without needing to achieve something, and how sad life would be without that feeling of ‘I don’t know what comes next, but I can’t wait to crawl in this direction and find out on the way.’