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The un-baby

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

You never existed

They told me you did

For 2 hours, maybe 3, you were there

I gave you a name

And then I pissed in a cardboard bowl

And they said no

 

No baby

 

I didn’t want you

But I do now

And your father is dead

He died a month ago

The grief overflows

 

I won’t say what I called you

That’s a secret between you and me

But everything changed in that ambulance

And now I want you

The grief is doubled

I can’t look at babies

I went shopping for baby clothes

I saw you in them

I see you so clearly

Your dark eyes, brown skin

I see you, but you’ll never be

 

I want you now

With him, with Jazz

Who’s gone forever

 

This is all nonsense

I just want you

In my arms

My wrinkly newborn un-baby

You would’ve been Jazz’s

A little pale brown thing,

Clutched against my chest, warm, wet,

His dark eyes, perhaps,

My narrow nose

 

I lost you both

I lost my last friend

And I lost his baby too

 

My un-baby

Who was never, ever there

But I feel you just the same

I feel you, a tiny person in my belly

A little piece of Jazz

 

Stolen

Forever

PAINPAINPAINPAIN

I screamed until I lost my voice

In the middle of the night

I lost you both

And I’m overwhelmed

There’s nothing but pain

Everything is Weird

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

You gotta wait half an hour for your dinner

I’m sorry, that’s just how it goes

You take a pill then wait for your dinner

I love you

You’re the best dog on Earth.

 

I’m concussed right now

I met a dog up the road and he wagged and licked at me

But he’s not my family right now.

 

I’m so spaced out,

I thought you were dead when I came in

You were so still

You’re nearly 16.

 

I love you, like you like tuna

My dude

The ambula men asked if you were called Dude,

Cause I kept calling you, like

‘Dude, shut up!’

You were barking at the ambulance lights.

Your name is Presley, Dogdog, Dude –

It doesn’t matter, you’re deaf anyway.

 

Under any name, I love you.

 

More than words.

 

The ambulance took me away,

You were scared like me

Everything was on TV

Surreal

I had a seizure, or something.

 

I love you.

 

I love everything who reads this

I hear my name echoing in everything.

 

I’m not here.

 

I keep tlling them that everything is weird

I can’t type anhy,ore.

Bones & Stories; Morgue Drawer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

Magnetic as the moon –

No one could help

But love the lunatic

Who licked faces left and right

And hid every inch of his ongoing plight

Behind smiles and drugs

And the warmest of hugs

 

Now he’s lying cold in a morgue drawer

Lost and gone forever more

 

They’ll slice a V in his neck,

Bloodless flesh

Bleached yellow with death

Crack open his ribs

Weigh his heart, check it for size,

It was plenty big enough – no one’s surprised

They’ll test his toxic tissues

And take slivers of his brain

In that organ nothing will remain

Of the superstar he used to be.

 

Some people want to let the dead lie

And just lie down and cry

Because dead is dead

So sterilise it, synthesise it, powder it up

Take it away – don’t let me smell the stench of decay

But the fact is it’s all true

It’ll happen to you, it’ll happen to me

No one gets immortality

In the flesh

And that flesh, that fleshy vest

It comes off, it gets sliced and prodded

It lies in the ground and it rots

Bloodless with decomposition

Eyeballs fall back, gasses burst free

Veined purple with pooled lividity

Underneath –

That’s all any of us are

In the end.

 

In the end, I want answers

In the end, I want to see him

Even in this state –

It might seem real then

It might be final then

That he’s really gone, forever –

Misshapen and cold on the cutting room floor

In the cold, cold blood-scented air

Of a sterile cold morgue drawer

He’ll never style his hair again

And it might seem real to me

Some kind of epiphany.

 

Is it easier to let the dead live on?

In photos and stories

Of their joyous former glories

Or is it better to tell the truth?

To be perfectly ruthless

And grab it by the entrails

And pull them out until you see

Until you see the end of you and me.

 

I promise I’ll love you just as much,

Cold and stiff on a tray

I’ll just have to love you in a different way

Because you won’t talk back anymore

And your kisses are cold, they taste like frozen meat

There’s a tag dangling from your icy feet –

I’d want to warm you up.

 

Like you’d done something stupid

And taken too many pills

Then gone for a walk, got lost, caught a chill

I’d want to invite you back in for soup and a beer

But you’re never coming back here,

Are you?

 

You’re lying in a morgue drawer

I hope it doesn’t hurt your back

I want to give you a pillow and a duvet in there

But soon, you’ll be ash

Or beneath the earth

Crumbling away, never so pretty as on even your worst day

 

Just bones, just bones

And stories

 

Never forgotten.

I need to know how you died.

I need to know why you didn’t say goodbye –

That’s all.

 

Just bones and stories…

Just bones, and stories.

Ode to an Old Dog

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2016 by ofherbsandaltars

You’re fifteen now, and every single time I make your breakfast I cry until I can’t see the bowl in front of my face, because every day that I get up and you’re still around is a reminder that soon, inevitably, you won’t be. I can’t even remember or imagine this house without you in it. Your name is Presley, but lately I just call you Dog, because you’re the very essence of dogness, you’re the only dog, not a dog but The Dog, the only dog I want in my life, now and forever. Dog is a word that means love – if there is a God, I’m sure he’s happy that his best creations have his own name, spelled backwards. Dog means love, because dogs are made of love – they know nothing else. So I just call you Dog. It doesn’t really matter what I call you though, because you’re deaf now anyway. You used to be able to hear food fall to the floor from a mile away. There are a lot of good things about you being so old. You sleep a lot, so you don’t get bored, you can’t walk far, so we never have to go out in the rain and walk for miles and miles while I wish I got a cat instead, and since you’re deaf you don’t bark at fireworks for the whole of November. You also shit on the patio instead of up the garden, which is a bit unsightly but makes picking it up easier. You’re pretty convenient now you’re old, Dog, but you’re still you, and everything I loved about you, everything that made me choose you out of all those rows of sad dogs in cages, it’s still there. You’re still scruffy with a beard and hairy feet and a white tip on your tail, and you still love hugs, and you still grumble about everything – mum used to be scared of you, because you growl so much, but you’ve never bitten a single person in your long, long life. You just like to grumble.

I love you, Dog, more than I love most humans, to be honest. You can still get up and down the stairs, you can just about jump into the car, sometimes (though sometimes you can’t, and I have to lift and boost you, and you’re one hell of a lump – sorry, but it’s true), you’re still smiley and exuberant since the vets put you on painkillers for your arthritis, pills for your Cushing’s, but even so, Dog, you’re like 94 in human years, and every time I look at you now I wonder when and how it’s going to end. Sometimes you sleep so deep I’m not sure if you’re still breathing, and I hope it’s that, in the end, that you just slip away in your own house. I don’t want to have you put down, at the vet’s, where you’re scared and you trust me to get you out of there safely but this time I won’t – I’ll leave without you, forever, and go back to an empty house with your worn out collar in my hand, hanging loose, nothing inside it but memories and your fading scent.

But however it goes, I hope it’s not for years. I hope you break world records. I hope you live to be 32. I get bad feelings a lot, when I say goodnight to you, and I say ‘See you tomorrow’, and wonder if I won’t.

Please don’t die, Dog. Not ever. Here’s some incentive: Mum says that when you’re gone, she’s getting a cat. Maybe even two cats. That’s right, Dog. There are going to be cats living in your house and drinking out of your bowl, and being hugged by your humans. Fucking cats, Dog. A whole army of fucking cats. So you can’t die. You have to keep the cats out, just like you always have. Hating cats is your raison d’être.

So that’s what I wanted to say to you. But for me, I need this part – I need to make a list of all the things I love about you, while you’re still here, and I’m going to keep adding to this, every single day that you’re here with me, even as my tears fall and my makeup smudges. I need to be able to remember you, everything that made you so special. This is your legacy, your history, your life. This is my love for you.

I love your grumbly hugs – sometimes I pretend I’ve forgotten to give you dinner just so you come up and give me grumbly hugs until I relent. I love the way you go down the stairs like a floppy old rug mated with a Slinky, boing, boing, flop, flop. I love all our memories together, when you were young and able and we’d explore the woods for hours, and sit on rocky outcroppings overlooking the forest. I remember the times you’d chase squirrels and throw yourself right over cliff edges, but somehow you always came back up, smiling. I remember when I had a psychiatric assessment at home, and you were with me, and it was the one time I could vocalise myself without crying. Ironic now, that I cry almost every time I hug you, because I know you’re leaving.

I love how you like to round up your humans, how you have to know where everybody is, so whenever I come upstairs you follow me, then you do your rounds – bathroom, toilet, bedroom – until you find me. Then you lie on the floor and chew some trash for a while, and go back downstairs, where there’s more going on. I wish it didn’t make you so stressed every time I go out at night – you never used to be like that when you were young, but now, you hate people leaving you at night, even with the lights on. It’s sweet and sad all at once when I come back and you’re lying right by the door, in the draughty hallway, waiting.

I love how you have no interest in toys whatsoever, unless it’s a ball to catch. Instead, you like trash – empty chocolate wrappers, receipts, tissue paper, it’s all fair game. I love that you see the wonder in trash, that you delve through my bin and cause absolute fucking chaos, then you find your favourite bit of trash and lie down to munch on it for hours.

I love how you come out to see me whenever I go down in the night – I don’t know how you do it, now you’re deaf, I guess you catch my scent, but if I go downstairs at 2am, you’ll get out of bed on your stiff old legs and come to give me sleepy hugs, smelling of soft warm sleep-laden fur. I love your shoulders, where the fur is thick and soft and I can lay my head and you don’t mind – I’ve seen all the articles about never hugging dogs, but you like it. You like it when I whisper in your ear, too, maybe because you’re deaf and it’s the only sound you hear now, or maybe it’s because I like it when you snuffle in my ear too. It feels nice. You get that. I love your crazy hair, that your white patches are twice the length of your short black parts, so you have a white mohawk on the back of your neck, a furry, furry belly, big white shaggy feet, a glorious beard and a tail like a fox. I love your eyes, how you look like a seal when you’re sleepy and your ears are back – nothing but gleaming black fur and big, shiny, deep brown eyes. I love your smile, it’s easy to make you smile, even if I’ve been boring, even if I’ve been on the computer all day and you’re so fucking jealous of my computer – you forgive me. You smile, you give me hugs. I love you – all of you, every bit of these past thirteen and a half years, even when you pulled me over and I grazed my knees, even when you stayed up all night barking at thunderstorms, even when I had to walk you in the rain, even when you shat in the park and I had no poo bags and that chav yelled at me, even when you chase me around barking because you think six treats in a day isn’t enough – I’d never take it back. Not a second of it.

I’m honoured to have been your Person, but it breaks my heart knowing that I only got that privilege because somebody else dumped you on a random street and drove away. Because you were, you were a sad dog in an RSPCA cage – you’d been a stray. Nobody claimed you. But you’d been loved – for months you kept trying to curl up in my lap, thinking you were still a tiny puppy – someone had held you and loved you, and then you grew up into a wild, anarchic, shoe-chewing teenager and they just dumped you. They fucking dumped you. I know how anxious you get waiting outside shops – I rarely do that to you, because you hate it. But those people, whoever they were, who’d loved you as a tiny little bundle of black and white fluff, who were everything you’d ever known, they left you waiting forever, in distress, cold and hungry and lost. You’re so forgiving, Dog. You were wild and noisy and crazy and frequently a royal pain in the arse when you were young, and I admit, we had some discussions about you being the wrong dog for us (especially when you tried to eat my mum’s favourite cat, and we had to split the house in half – dog downstairs, cats upstairs. You outlived the cats, much to your delight…), but you were always loving, and so much fun. And now you’re old, there’s less fun, but so much more love. You’re my best friend. I’m on pills too, Dog, you know I’m always at home, not like I used to be. Well, people, humans, they’re not like you. They’re not forgiving, they’re not made of love. If you can’t be fun anymore they dump you just like your asshole owners did. So now, you’re all I have, really.

This is mostly a letter to you, but you can’t read it, and humans can. So I’d like to say, don’t leave the old dogs rotting in their cages. Don’t go for the cute little puppies. Old dogs are wise and beautiful and loving, and extremely lazy. They can be great. Yes, you’ll lose them soon, and the vet bills might stack up, but they will love you, and shuffle up and down the road with you, pissing lethargically over the lampposts. We only got Presley because of a misunderstanding – we thought he was old; his grey beard, a confusing sign on his cage. We thought he was an old, calm dog, and it turned out he was 18 months old and fucking mental. But we were in love by then, so he came home, and Dog, I’m so glad you weren’t old back then. Every shoe you destroyed, every grazed knee as you yanked me onto the pavement, it’s been worth it, to have had all these years with you.

Whenever you go, you’ll never be forgotten. I don’t know how the world will continue to turn for me, honestly. There’s too much, Dog, too much to even list. I love you. Please don’t leave me…

 

________

 

Edit: He can’t get up the stairs anymore, he doesn’t even try. He has an ear infection that makes him fall over and gives his head a tilt and he can’t take treats or eat properly. He’s going. 24 Feb ’17. Please, please, get better Dog…

 

____________

 

Edit 2: 22 June ’17 – he’s on extra medication and has his balance and joy back – I can’t express my gratitude. We thought we were taking him to be put down, and he’s still here and happier than he’s been in months. He still doesn’t attempt the stairs, can’t get into the car without being lifted (and he IS a lump), doesn’t like going out most days. But he’s still Dog. He’s still smiley and grumbly, and he gives the best hugs in the world. He knows when I’m ill, he gets worried, and when I’m well enough to give him hugs again he smiles and presses his face to mine, and I love him beyond words. His shoulders and thighs are turning grey, his eyebrows are very distinguished now, but he’ll always be Dog. This week I lost a human friend, and I need Dog to keep going – I can’t take more sadness right now. He loves his treats, he gets in and out through the dogflap ok, he’s managing, he’s happy. If he makes it to winter he’ll be 17 years old, and that’ll mean more to me than Christmas. I love you so much, Dog.

Twisted Sunrise, May 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2016 by ofherbsandaltars

I wish I could go back

To before

I remember the full moon was beautiful

And you were pissing me off

I was pissed off with you a lot,

If I’m honest

You were so far in denial

With the rainbow bandaids all up your arms

The cutesy artwork

Hiding a mess of cigarette burns

And the food, the fucking veganism

Those goddamn healthy pitta-breads

And the endless candy

That you were only going to throw up

The fact you were so obsessed with your fucking self care

With your rituals – your movies, the incense, the yoga, the nail polish

Self care – like a sick joke

Healthy food. Cutesy bandaids.

And we were all supposed to ignore the fact

That you were drinking with your pills

That you had pneumonia more times than I have fingers

That you crashed your car every week for a fucking month

That you’d been disappearing for over a year

Until you looked 67 instead of 32

And I barely recognised you anymore

And your goddamn idiot teenage fans

Those fucking repulsive teenagers, who idolised you

And idolised you even more once you were dead

 

So, yes. You pissed me off.

But I wish I could go back, to before

Before the full moon

Before your brother’s crass announcement  –

Or maybe not crass – he just couldn’t find the words,

But all he said was “Gretchen is dead. She died in her sleep last night.”

Just that. On your account. As a status update.

And I’m sorry, but I laughed at it

Because it had to be bullshit

I saw you drinking cocktails in the sunshine

Just two days before

And you’d been here forever

In my life

So you couldn’t just be gone –

Not you

I thought it was bullshit

 

Because I’d been to that place too –

Hadn’t we all?

Bleeding and emaciated and silently screaming

Eating and puking and posting pictures of nothing

But endless food and our shrinking selves –

The only things we valued

Bones and sinews, and shiny candy wrappers

But it never lasted – it never took anyone –

That’s why I was so pissed off

I was pissed off with you

Because you wouldn’t just move on

From this annoying phase

This dip into idiocy that we were too fucking old for

I thought you’d come back, and then you’d be fun again

I didn’t see it.

That we were too fucking old –

That was the clue, the clue I missed

Too fucking old to weigh 60lbs

To live on alcohol, and pills

And just keep on going

That we weren’t 18 anymore

I didn’t see it

And I’m sorry

I’m sorry for that

 

But I don’t know what I would have changed

I was mean to you, sometimes

Because you were being stupid

And those teenage fools were idolising your self destruction

And you believed your own lies

And I wanted to slap you

So I did, verbally, a few times

I hope you forgave me

But I suppose it doesn’t matter

I think everything was too late

Your collision course was so long in the making

I couldn’t stop you

Maybe even you couldn’t stop you

 

But I wish I could go back to before

Before the full moon

And tell you how much you meant

That I loved you even though you fucking pissed me off

And that I’d miss you forever

And that you mattered

I don’t think you knew that

How much you fucking mattered

Like a goddamn rockstar

And the mourning spread over the whole world

For you, for weeks

You left holes in souls on every continent

 

I see you in every rainbow

In every full moon

And if life ever gets too much

It’s nice to know that I’ll see you again

When I get there.

 

Miss you, G xx

The Dying Ones

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2016 by ofherbsandaltars

The children were afraid of death, because it seemed so black, so final – it was darkness, the shadows in the depths of the closet, it was the unknown, all those myths of hellfire and damnation, or the booming voice of some frightening, stranger-God who watched you stealing sweets and judged you for being naughty. And above all, for the children, everybody they loved still shared the Earth with them – there were no welcoming faces waiting in the realm of the dead. A child in pain wants their mother, above all things – separation is unthinkable, to go into the terrifying black arms of death, where a mother can never follow, can never comfort. This seems the worst thing of all.

But the old men do not fear death, because it no longer seems like that yawning black void, a fatal drop into the endless unknown – oblivion. For the old men, death had changed, in the way that America, the New World, changed with the invention of the aeroplane. It wasn’t the great beyond anymore – anybody could get there in less than a day. And then people started making friends over there, until the internet was connected and people were talking face to face with those friends across the Atlantic, and that big cold scary sea no longer seemed so big and bad. It became a safe little puddle, just a short hop away, and that was how the old men felt about death. When they lost their first friend, it was devastation, unthinkable – it pierced their shield of invincibility, of childhood. All children grew up invincible, thinking that death was for the old, for the weak, for the grandmas and granddads, but it’s not for us. Not for you and me – we’ll be here forever, or at least until we have grey hair, and we’re riding round Waitrose on our motorscooters, pissing ourselves and laughing about it – that’s how the future goes, for the invincible, staying real, staying true, staying young inside until it’s finally time to go. But then the first one dropped dead, the first one in the gang, and maybe he was only 27 or 32, and that shield of invincibility was shattered forever. And it hurt like hell.

But then time goes on, just like it always does, and death becomes more common. Sometimes it still shook the earth, other times it was just a fleeting sadness to raise a beer to. But by the time those children were old men, death didn’t seem so far away, because there was more comfort in those cold black arms than was left anywhere in the realm of the living. The comfort of their mother was in that place, the great beyond, and so was the bravery, the camaraderie, of all their friends. It was always easier to follow a friend than to go alone. And so the old men knew, if Bob and Dave and Sally and Paul, and Scruffy the dog and Fluff the cat, if they’d done it already, experienced whatever surreal mindfuck really met you on the other side of the great divide, it just couldn’t be that scary. It wasn’t a vague, menacing place anymore – it felt like a trip to Benidorm or Majorca, just a quick hop away, then they’d wander into some hotel lobby, and there they’d all be, Bob and Dave and all the rest, a bit sunburned, cocktails in their hands, and after a few rounds they’d all go reeling up the road to find a decent Chinese. And that couldn’t be so scary, could it? Not if Bob and Dave and Scruffy were there already.

By the time you got old, death just felt like mass immigration. Like everyone you knew and loved had one by one decided to abandon the boring little town you all grew up in, moving away down to the unthinkable chaos of London. Abandoning you, one after the other, until you couldn’t help imagining what London really felt like, with the whole gang back together again. More than that, the town, the realm, that had always been your home, it felt empty now, and cold. Time moved on, everything had changed, and the old men were left behind – the last ones lingering at a dying party. And so, for the old men, death wasn’t that terrifying black oblivion – it was just a triumphant return to an old, familiar pub.

New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by ofherbsandaltars

I have eaten the Posh Chocolates

Yes – all of them

In my own house, I will do as I please

And that includes eating the Posh Chocolates

In multiples of six, or even eight

At a time.

I know I didn’t buy them, strictly speaking

But you left them unattended

In my presence

So I ate them for my lunch –

Yes – all of them.

And I’m not sorry 😉

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Needn’t be kicked off too promptly –

You start them at the beginning of the year.

That means there are eleven months

Before you need to worry

About still being a bit fat

 

So – I ate the Posh Chocolates

Yes, all of them

And I’m really not sorry 😀

 

(P.S – I didn’t touch the Quality Street –

You can have those,

Because they’re shit

And I hate them.

When there’s nothing left

But Quality Street

I’ll start eating salad,

For real 😦 )