What This Is

I broke up with you and you came round anyway because we’re a well-wrought pattern. On an etch-a-sketch, we’re the over-scratched squares, the TV pixels damaged beyond repair. You may as well just hire a skip.

Your mother sat us down and said, “I don’t approve. Don’t know what this is. But I want it from your mouths – like a politician’s confession. You know they didn’t write it but you need the confirmation anyway. Even if it’s lies.”

“So you want us to lie?” I asked and she said, “No,” her disapproval thick like gravy mixed wrong or right depending on what you like. We’re different. We like different things.

“I don’t want her running away with you, and if you moving is enough to do that, manipulate it, we need to talk.”

And her word choice – manipulate – was no accident, no slip. But we momentarily analysed it like that would help us second guess what came next. The talk we gunned for, your mother sitting down, hearing out, mulling, came fractions late, but people say there’s always time for repair.

I Have Never

Drew Barrymore made it cute, sweet, to not kiss anybody ’til late. I didn’t wait long. Fifteen, sixteen. Who remembers eventually? Like listing GCSE grades on application forms once you have postgraduate degrees. Who fucking cares. Exactly.

Michael Vartan’s a good first kiss. Jennifer Garner broke his heart. That’s a bit of a legend. Fan fiction for them was jelly, however cold just submerge me in it. I’ll take the fleshy coolness on my thighs.

Illiteracy’s not something you sum up in a sentence and my parents aren’t it and I don’t know who wrote this and I don’t see how that’s the worst in the world, how that could be the worst thing. I mean, you wrote this. You’re doing great. You can spell words like ‘my’ and ‘are’. Take a rest. Tackle bigger problems tomorrow.

How Fast Do Glaciers Melt?

One day I’ll be gone. And I don’t mean savour each moment because we all die or accidents happen but I’m going to pack up and you’re not going to expect it. You won’t see suitcases because you’re not allowed in my house – your dad banned you – and my office could be empty days before you find out, and you’ll not know. You can’t come close. Jackie works next door and if she saw us for coffee, drinks or a meal, she’d shop us like children shoplifting magazines, sweets in supermarkets. Everybody pays.

So enjoy car drives. Remember the world ends around us. We watch it degenerate and any thoughts of kids, continuing this, only adds to it: would you want to destroy resources we hardly have enough of?

Relationships end. We’re romanticists, the both of us, raised to believe love is core and everything else follows. But what if our parents were wrong. This ‘what if’ tells me we’d be bad parents, or I would be, and it’s a begging question: what will we do when our teenage daughter takes up with her teacher. What could we say about it?

I’ll love you until the glaciers melt, start melting. Oh. Shit.

Be My Friend

I loved Jack and I loved books before we met and now we’ve met I love Jack more – the curve his spine makes, his crooked big toe, his translucent teeth, enamel-less, almost. And I love you too.

You were in place of him, so many evenings, mornings, days, and he didn’t text or have a chance to interject really, but he’s been quoting Nicholas Sparks at me, knows my weakness for Steve Martin, romantic comedies, Charles Bukowski. It feels like nothing connects when everything’s a version of something and everyone’s only a shade off another person and sometimes in name they’re a letter off: Chuck, Buck, Bick, Stick, Simon, Jimon, Jack, Mack.

I measure your outlines when you sleep with tape from my mum’s sewing box and you’re both exactly the same, not a millimetre out, in every dimension and I ask what you thought of The Notebook and you say, “The Lucky One’s better,” and I say I’ve not seen it and you say I should read so I read and I read and love Jack.

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Toby

An easy persuasion. Two taught words – French ones – and I buckled in our motel bed. Nothing happened. United in suspicion. My sister. Step-sister. Manipulation on TV only. If it happens it’s magazine worthy. Other names for it. We found nothing, then chances and kissed by your car and car parks and you, watching me walk, walk, and after, kisses and careful dressing. Bargaining. Pawning sisters’ rings for what we wanted. Getting it. Waiting. Steering courses. Mapping unmapped territories. Cheating. Making you cheat. Four French words. Apprenticeships. Watching windows. Unclear motives. Emily lying, you making her lie and ostracising. And sure of it, comfortable with it. My evidence. Clues. Hidden slips in dolls’ heads. Outskirts and doctors, after you and after you. An unhealed arm. Unsure alternatives. An almost and momentum. Burnt pictures. Sisters. Step-sisters. Boyfriends they bring home. The killer’s someone you know. Scream taught you that. Urban Legend. I Know What You Did Last Summer. I don’t. Don’t know what now. Last phone call. Replacing digits. A strange memory. Could’ve. Can’t. Quite. Cramming. Cardinal. Salacious. Didn’t. Doesn’t. Don’t. Drive. You are the scaffolding my heart required and you are the screwdriver. Demolition crew and the dust.

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Be Bold And Mighty Forces Will Come To Your Aid

Learnt all I know from books. I’m an English teacher.

I want you to win. Like every battle we all fought, like The Civil Wars say. Like Plato or whoever really said that. Wikipedia doesn’t know. And that’s like a newspaper failing, everybody getting zero on a test they prepared for.

The poem I wrote I called Aria, I called it all you, but your mum was tugging at my trenchcoat, the sleeves of my fleece, and I knew that she’d find it, research, decide if I was husband number two even though I wouldn’t be. How weird would that be? I’d be like your dad or something. That would warrant a LOL. Or lol? I’m older than you; I don’t know.

This is not indoctrination or a hostile takeover or those people knocking on your door asking if you have Jesus as you eat your cereal and they don’t know what they’re selling, really, because there are so many options in stores now, so many choices and you couldn’t pick out a car let alone religion, a husband.

Whatever I’m told I do the opposite and I always did and you’d think maturity would iron me like a pair of shrunk curtains but the foundation never came out so that’s a problem and it begs asking, why iron something stained anyway? That’s what we call a waste of energy, isn’t it?

You are Lucozade, steroids. Everything’s fine if no-one finds out I’m taking them, or if someone does, let’s hope they’re secret keepers, that they’re fucking good with a lie.

You make me lie better and what more could I want than that? What is there to hope for? We’ll take this to graves.

Not A Million Soldiers Could Take You From Me

Any threat, from your father or forces higher – gods or police officers – isn’t enough to stop me.

I read stories in which people leave other people on alters to follow you in streets, to learn how you sleep.

Any sleepover we have is The Exorcist, I Know What You Did Last Summer. I don’t mean costumes and masks, but unsettling, short, inconclusive.

Every past tense or present participle – hiring, doing, eating – is you making beds, taking showers, us buying houses, having having having.

If you had asked on our first night, the first time we broke the other’s personal space, I would not say we would know each other now, or that adversary was something that happened outside of books, film plots.

I delete your voicemails but you aren’t erasable like pencil which isn’t really erasable either unless you’ve pressed so softly there’s little or no indentation at all. And trust, I couldn’t press softly enough.

Lucas 2

Your friends are suspicious of everything – takeaway boxes, chipped polish, peeling wallpaper, attics. And me, they’re suspicious like they’ve seen too many Scream movies and know the killer’s someone they know.

And yes I have a motive and I’m unexpected and none of my actions are scrutinised really so I could get away with anything.

But they don’t know what I’d do for you, what I’ve done, and what I’ll keep doing if you let me, choose me, don’t choose him.

I am the king of nothing; Robin Williams.

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The Book of Ezra

I agreed, I thought you’d be there, my plan pattered out after that, pittered, petered. We walked towards each other all slow-motion-y but you disappeared before the interval. You said you were sick to someone you came with which wasn’t me, which should’ve been me but mum and dad disagree about who I should see, what I can wear, who I can sleep with. They’re setting me up with boys I ate worms with, logic being, age is the only consideration. Age and legality.

We didn’t lie well, should’ve seen shows like Lie To Me, House, before they were cancelled. We should’ve said it just started, we got talking over coffee on a Saturday when we were reading the same book coincidentally not for an assignment or anything (an assignment you’d set and I’d do). That’s a lie which wouldn’t have swelled – what can you say, really, when 17 dates 22, when it dates 24? But the full disclosure we’re on, we’re about, allows for arguments and ultimatums and feet down.

I don’t see why we don’t hook up in three years or maybe just two when no-one can say anything about it. Or maybe you won’t wait that long?

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