Cologne Cathedral: The Asylum Sleeper

I will close my eyes
and wait for them to ask why
I am not hopeful sleep will have a chance to infect

Before one of them whispers in my ear

Because this home is never empty

I am a refuge

for their fantastic pulsating bodies persistently animated
even in the silence of prayer
walking room to room
burning holes as they go
they think I am immune to pain
they think of me as their building
I have no skin

therefore I gain no bruises

I watch them hour after hour door open and closed
the hair, the eyes, the lips all the same

but each voice different
some complain and others beg and pray

but I never shout back
not a word, not a sound
they know I hear everything
when my candles flicker and light echoes

they can offend and blaspheme
and fight each-other
then loiter around my tombs trying to find me and declare asylum
then fall asleep on my lap
even then my lights stay on

outside their flags and posters pollute the skyline

the air is dirty with hatred, yet still
I manage to exhale and stay upright
the strong one at a funeral

I am their godfather
the first guardian on the reserve list with thousands of children
I treat each one equally

when my candles flicker and light echoes

they think they are safe

I will still be here waiting up

I will not turn out the lights at night when everyone else gets to retire

I am sorry
they have forgotten about my entrance fee

I am sorry they cannot bear the thought

of touching each others palms
and I am sorry I am ready for bed now
I want lights out
the candles that surround my corridors are seducing me

out of consciousness

they want to cradle me
and slowly swaddle me in smokey ribbons

blankets as thin as wafers

promising to keep me hidden
with curtains drawn I can sleep

and I know seekers will knock on my doors

With their questions and justifications

But I will sink further into my bed

their chants will be mere lullabies

I will be the asylum seeker

safe within my concrete walls

burrowed in the highest steeple

Unsure of the sound of my voice unsure if I have a voice
I would ask so many questions
why do you crave protection?
why are you always cold
and wrapped up in your coat of arms?

why must I watch your demonstration

when you can choose
to see me or turn your gaze and ignore?

I would also give thanks for your noise and distraction
because at last my nave is clear

and I can search and pry until I see what my voice looks like
the bells of St Ursula and Peter

the caves of the pinnacles and spires

the beating organ of the swallows nest

humming still until the next song

my voice is the shrine of the three kings it is medieval gold
and Richter’s stained glass rainbow my voice is a floodlight

and it has fallen onto its old face

rattled by harsh intolerant winds and anti-islamic gales
the candles cannot find their wicks

and they mourn for each human whose voices

were once melodies lengthly democratic songs
the tunes came from east and west north and south

illuminating the other side of the Rhine

and we remember when you imitated my stained glass window
with a gallery of nationalities

until you didn’t

Hot Yoga

 This is my body

A rising pretzel

And in this position

It is not so different from salted dough

Hot in the oven

The recipe needs heat

So this bake will rise

Give it too much

It will burn and collapse

Spewing its guts over the oven rack

Which you will then spend days cleaning

Nearly Nephews

Tell me why my boys won’t wake up

And why they should die having only ever seen red

I listen to the doctor

Insisting I shouldn’t blame myself

One of those things, murdering your unborn twins

Drowning their tiny lungs with your own blood

And I know you will tell me something worth hearing

Watchman of our fort, flying the flag

Holding my smile upright all day

Until dusk sent us home

And you’re not here, and I’m trying to hold it up

But I’m shivering, it won’t stay still

Until you get here

I’m imagining clutching your hand

Like when you kept mine warm walking to school

Like you always did when you saw them wilting

Misplaced houseplants outside in the cold

Like the day we met

Twenty years ago Inside Mother’s womb

half-crow, half man

Look at you

Perched on my porch

Staring me out with raven eyes

All pouted lips and protruding chest

Bent over double

I may as well have barbed wire

Churning inside my abdomen

I’m ready to vomit at the thought

Of you barging in and rummaging through

My home, then jutting your beak

Into my Jewelry box

A magpie dumfounded by gold

You’re supposed to be a man

And here you are acting like a bloody crow

A cheating crook, who will try anything

To swell his nest egg

Half-Crow

Hearing you knock sends me squatting

On the floor and rocking

So I can’t remember sitting still

So I can’t remember what my blood,

Sounds like when it’s the only thing in my ear

Bloody Jay on the porch

Stop mimicking the magpie

Because you will never look like him

at best you will be a half-crow

And at the moment

Your voice is plastic cheese

Ruining my expensive grater

And I’ll tell you this

My stomach cannot cope

With one more fraudulent dinner

The Fish Pose

I have had a small fish inside of my body for some weeks
It’s small enough to swim the channels of my veins
But too big to rest anywhere
Some days it slides up and down my intestines
But today it’s stuck in the crevices of my spine
Slapping my bones with its acidic fins
I guess it’s hungry
It needs to get out
Thrusting my back up high I’m attempting to coerce it into my stomach
So I can vomit the poor little thing out and we can both go find something to eat

When writer’s block comes out to play…

writers-block

Writer’s block is like the sensation of sleep paralysis, convinced that you’re awake, yet you physically cannot wake up. Plain creepy and awfully weird. Writer’s block is terrifying, especially seeing as you’re likely to be writing to a deadline. I cannot really tell you how to banish it because I don’t know how! All I know is that it visits me all too often and I have tried and tested numerous ways of coercing it to make a swift exit. I have put together some of my best tips, and I hope that if you suffer from this numbing bee sting that you find this short list useful.

  1. Keep Calm and Carry on Writing. When writer’s block strikes by all means take a short break. Do something you find relaxing, take a short walk, listen to music, or (my favourite) do some breathing exercises, but do not abandon your work entirely. This is the worst thing to do. I cannot help but think that writer’s block could be re-worded as ‘fear’. More than half of the times I have experienced it I couldn’t write because I was scared. My head was blocked by hundreds of ‘what ifs?’ What if this is terrible? What if no one likes my work? What if I’m just not a good writer? What if this never goes away? Whenever I have experienced writer’s block these are the questions I have turned over and over in my mind. The problem was essentially just a wave of fear which was eroding all of the creative ideas and plans in my mind. On the basis that writers block is nothing but fear, I figure the best way to try to relieve it is to face it. Take the old ‘face your fear head on’ advice and put your pen to paper. Such simple, yet such difficult advice I know. Your creative ideas and your confidence need to outshine and blind every niggling ‘what if’. This is rare fight, because it has to be won verbally.
  2. Be the reader. Just write, no matter how ugly it gets. Remember the only person that has to read this at the moment is, well, you! You are alone and that means you are in complete control.Not only do I think that this time can make you feel as though you were not invisible but in a room full of people painfully visible and plain ignored.  I think it’s really easy to let anxieties jade the simple fact that no one else is involved in your writing and that being alone is what you need. You need to spend time accepting this blockade of anxieties in order to understand the root of the problem. The critics, the publisher, the potential reader are all fictional. Yes, they matter, and of course someone will have to judge and recognise your writing for it to go anywhere public. However, right now it is just you and your pages (or page) and fear needn’t let you forget how much power you have. For this time let yourself be the reader that loves how you write, heck, let yourself be the reader that is obsessed with your work and absolutely loves it! See your work through the eyes of someone who admires it, it will banish the anxieties that are lowering your confidence.
  3. Summon some support. If I had to select just one tip that I thought really worked well, and that wasn’t just me rambling on about loving yourself in order to ‘banish Mr Writer’s Block and his brother Mr Fear..’ it is to summon some support from all the writers who have ever inspired you. When I’m at crisis point and the words just aren’t coming out, it really helps me to take half an hour out and switch writing for reading. I surround myself with all of the work that I have every admired. The books on my shelf that I am quite literally in love with. I summon support from my favourite writers by reading and re-reading their work. In doing so I stop to remind myself what amazing writing sounds like. It’s like I hear their voice demanding me to write like I know I can. To do the thing that they first inspired me to try. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that whenever I read my favourite authors it’s not long before my fingers are burning to write something!

Writers block is certainly debilitating. If approached the wrong way, for instance, by abandoning your work for days, you can easily feed it and it will grow stronger. You do not want to let it grow beyond your control. Remember writer’s block is only ever temporary. You are not a bad writer, and you are not the only writer to experience these fears and anxieties. With persistence and pride you will be back to being the enthusiastic word loving nerd that I know you all are!

I Want My House

“When I’m inside my house

I am funking and I’m doing it alone

The music is just a beat

No voice will interrupt

Because it’s my disco I will funk until I die”

Damn it I want my bills to be paid for

I want my lights on full beam

I want to be naked

On the coffee table

I will Indulge in a hilarious game

I am in a gallery

And I am the masterpiece

‘Madame Mystere, Flesh on Four Legs’

I want all of the windows to be open

Oh feel that Italian breeze

Breathe in deep

Fresh espresso

I never want to sleep again

I want to funk out on the coffee table forever

Poor young Alice

An Alice in adolescence

Her breath was stolen

Her heart punched in the face

 

A gust of wind was the culprit

One effortless blow

And down went Alice

Down into the dark

 

It wouldn’t have tried its luck

If she were older

But her youth made her light

Like the piece of thread

that attaches itself to the awkward creases,

and crevices of your trouser leg

 

All it takes is one,

one aggressive brush of the hand

And it falls down into the dark

It’s on the gravel and insignificant

It’s a motion that will never qualify

for a place in your precious memory

 

Poor young Alice…

Light blonde thread in the wind

she cannot stay outside long enough to study
those beautiful lines in wise faces

For the moment they see her

she falls, and she fades