Nineties babes

Even men I respect say,
that you can't say anything these days.
Gone are the times of flirty eyes
at the bus stop or across the bar
in this age of "me too".

And I did think I enjoyed
at the time
old men giving my fifteen-year-old
the eye.
But some of that culture
is ready to be crucified
and to die.

Remember that age of pre-"me too"?
when the most common porn search term
on your dial-up internet
was "teen"
and that schoolgirl photo
would take a titillatingly long time to load?

It was that time before
we were shamed if we did and shamed if we didn't
what a time to navigate budding sexuality
where expressing your own desires
was called depravity.
We grew up from polly-pocket princesses
in those my little pony years
nineties girls with scrunchie hair ties
at ten we wanted to be Britney Spears.

Don't give away too much 
innocence was so cherry pie sweet
like Leeloo in The Fifth Element
the perfect dumb sexy babe
re-born half naked
full of all the world's power.

It seems cute.
But then I recall
visceral nostalgia
that hum of the Acorn computers in the IT room
with that pervy teacher
the smell from the Home-Ec corridor
permeating thoughts.
How that loud girl
the one who later was excluded
for her lewdness
retelling how she lost her virginity
with shameless equanimity
to some much older guy.
There was a rate load of blood
she said
with yorkshire aplomb
so he stuck her in't bath
so she wouldn't stain the carpet
Leeloo wouldn't do that
such a vulgar screw
No one rang social services
That was how it was before "me too".

I still think of Britney
as the epitome of those days
queen of the nineties babes
but she was a girl interrupted
coming of age
under all those constraints
be innocent 
be sexual
submit to the gaze.
Her eyes now on her Instagram
tell of loss, tell of 
silence enforced.
Still her father has the right
to set her parameters
on what she can say 
and who she can be.
Let us nineties babes
own our own destinies
Let Britney be free.

Man Problem

I'm hearing recently
from indignant men
that it's not a question at all
of perverted masculinity.
the gaslighting giant
stomping over the chalk-outline sketch
of our map of shared experience
Watch him,
pour scorn on this flickering candle 
of feminine unity,
but it refuses to be extinguished
there's no killing
sorority, solidarity
like you can kill the female body.

It's a question of bad human beings,
he says.
Individual people.
Leave men out of it,
you sexists,
he says.

But I recall,
it wasn't a woman
whose footsteps followed me home from the club
the sweat rising from my body
exultant after a night of dancing
celebrating youth and sensuality
under the stars.
How dare I?
Feel myself sexy, for me?
He had to remind me how weak I should be.
It wasn't a woman,
who pushed me into that doorway
and octopus arms, 
hairy arms,
gorilla arms,
that wanted to show me how subservient I should be-
no, unfair to compare
to those creatures who did me no harm
It wasn't a woman's arms
It was man's arms
It was a man's strength 
that held me in place
to punish me for daring
to exist for myself
for not doing as expected
for his feeling rejected.

And of course you're not all to blame,
for when I was waiting for a midnight
underground train.
you're not all the guy who came up behind me,
reached up my skirt 
while showing me his dick
like a proud toddler
with a new magic trick.
I guess it was kind of funny,
I tried to tell myself.
But why then,
did I cry in bed for hours
like he'd taken all of my power
And left me with shame?
I wanted to rid myself of my body
which other people,
none of them women,
had been trying to help themselves to
since I was a child.

So we've been adding these feelings
to a tapestry of experience
women weaving these words that 
the dead can no longer say,
a tapestry of testimony
is a heavy shroud
to wear every day
we know it happened to her,
and it could happen to us.
but they say,
and the conviction rates show,
that it's not a big deal
and what we should consider 
is how this makes
men feel.


There's something triumphal
In penetrating forbidden space
Breaching the spiked metal barrier
Urban warrior
In this world where nothing comes free
One day some rich man will try to
sell us back the air we breathe
But just for today feel free.

The balmy, calming
first spring's breath
on the summit of this
old quarry cliff
my feet carelessly dangle
I feel myself entangle
with every rooftop the sunlight
touches below.

Desire as fire.

In this city's ancient graveyard:
"He died with the full assurance of hope"
Hope, so tentative, like
the moment the setting sun
lights raindrops up gold
what a fragile whimsy
to be etched with such
stony and grave permanence
how can one be so sure?

I know I am nothing but the
surface area
the oberfläche
of my skin
most sensitive and forgotten
of the organs
trembling, it takes in 
the nuanced tones of the breeze
the whispers of distance
between things
keeping out
the whole world.

And yet skin,
it's a barrier 
in more ways than one
You remember:
soft legs in short shorts
in Parisian sun.
He's there, I'm here
nothing to fear.
Yet the burning persistence
of lustful desire
the space you create
the shapes you create
combinations of endless legs that
angles which triangulate desire.
You remember:
how he followed you off the metro
Desired to beg, to buy, to steal
entry to your innerfläche
if that is indeed a word.

Then I'm nothing,
those eyes don't see me.
Every cell becomes deconstructed
and reconstructed as fantasy.
But isn't that the shape of desire?
Fluid and slipping through fingers
It goes au delà des choses
Like delicate fingers
stretching to caress piano keys.

This hybrid language
is how words fall to me in spring rain
but they say I'm a child of this northern town
yet I've never felt the breath 
within the belly of this earth
or metal bending to my whim
This city shapes me 
damp seeps into my hips
bending my hope
flattening it beneath its anvil.

And this love I crave.
Can it not negate or corrupt
my inner temple sanctum?
Can it be women as goddesses
chanting a mantra?
Can it be something heated to 
that I pour to fill up 
the surface area of 
my inner world
Can we use the alchemy of our bodies 
to create fire
without burning me up?


You are 
an intrepid explorer of distant planets
and perspective tricks
let me lie on my back
hugged by the earth and
cradle your cool star in my palm.

But you are so very far, and
even if I was to find you
resplendent in a bioluminescent cave
of your imagination
we can't step outside
can't bear this world's
blistering radiation.

It burns, like a toxic sea,
like a cup of tea
that burned through degrees
of chemically-induced
travels through space.

And if I could, I'd travel to see
the mirages you see
in the fountains of illusion so blue.
You close your eyes to wish the past anew
Even the hologram would do.
If only your planet
could bend the fabric of spacetime
and bring it back to you.

And when I open my mouth to offer words of comfort
you can't hear because you're travelling through space
I only hope your dreams are calm
the radar ping in your spaceship
The beeping of the hospital alarm.

The toxins leave your body
and when you return to this place again
this disappointing reality 
that you've already had
an overdose of,
I just wish I could craft you
a little world in miniature out of clay
maybe a place with less pain.


Midnight, the city was still
like it was painted by oils
stored in the attic of a hermit
and come to life.
I was walking home from her house
a night of watching a horror series,
I wondered if I was the ghost.

We both know what it's like
she and I
Haunting isn't seeing the face of a ghoul
behind you in a bathroom mirror
it's in re-treading the streets
where they were
but five years, eight years later
wondering who is the one still alive
Haunting's more in what you don't see

And I walked past the still train station
Just one departure remaining for tonight
Just a cloud of my breath in sight
in case I doubted I was alive.
Past the funeral director's
in the industrial sector
funeralcare, they call it
How germanic, 
to make of it a composite noun.
The garage door is 
an industrial elevator
a metal concertina
how it must slide 
to invite the dead neatly inside
Hexentreppe, the Germans call that,
witch's steps.
When I'm dead put me away somewhere 
that looks
like it's at least trying
to resemble a church
and not a self-storage facility.

Strange how the trees are so strong in this city,
thrusting up through tarmac and smog
a hundred years old.
They must be plumbing deep wells beneath,
finding something pure in this place.

And you see that the yellow line at the edge
is painted right over a weed
Yellow yolk ragwort re-primed
by Alice's mad queen.
You feel your head spinning
The gods are really 
trying hard today 
to crack this head open 
like an egg.

The Dinner Party (of cunts)

Picture the scene, the men’s rights group are sat around the table, eating steak, the manliest food a man can eat. Jordan Peterson watches approvingly from a framed portrait on the mantlepiece. Adam says something in his shrew-faced manner. It’s about women, it always is.

Almost all the problems come down to women really. All of them know this. Mark knows he’s better than the rest of them, but even if he does have Marlon Brando eyes its the dead stare behind them that somehow puts women off.
He must figure out how to trick them. He has read all the pick up artists’ guides and has notebooks of his own from rationally and creepily observing social and sexual interactions between the males and females.
The word feminist is uttered. Adam did it by accident. It always triggers an allergic reaction in Braxton, he starts to change colour, the anger and fury are familiar to his womenfolk, all of whom have abandoned him long ago. It’s too much for his heart. He goes into cardiac arrest on the floor. Jim Shalt leaps to the rescue and starts to do chest compressions, he wants to get into heaven after all even if he was too judgemental for all the conventional churches.
He has a special relationship with God. He knows he is doing God’s work, others just wouldn’t understand it. Things have got dark in the men’s rights club recently. Mark feels a twinge of excitement as the life goes out of Braxton’s eyes, he’s not felt that in a while. Did watching too much bdsm and snuff porn deaden his emotions? He wonders if he’s a psychopath. Recently, killing is all that can get him really aroused.
Braxton sputters and a shred of roast beef shoots out and besmirches the JP portrait, Adam quickly runs to wipe it clean with a sponge. One must keep a tidy house. It’s one of the twelve rules. Respect JP. His benevolent fatherly gaze seems to suggest approval.
Mark knows he should be the leader of the men’s rights group. One day he’ll write an anti-feminist manifesto. Braxton is no longer a worthy leader, he demonstrates too much irrationality and emotion, its bringing down their credibility. So is Shalt with his ridiculous faith, its less rational than a woman on her period.

But the overthrow will have to wait. For now he is still useful. He does not want to be a beta male, the meritocracy is real, he knows it. Everyone who has power in the world deserves to be there. That is the natural order. Things are the way the are and that is right and just. The oppressed deserve to be there and the rich deserve to be there. Capitalism is good. You have to be ruthless to get to the top, dog eat dog. That’s why he got a scholarship. It doesn’t matter that his parents paid the other eighty percent of the fees. It still counts. His sister was an idiot, but he is a genius, but of course, with her female brain and inability to comprehend transitive logic what did you expect? It’s biology.
Braxton has a plan to make them wealthy, and its already underway. Once they have money they will have influence, they will be mighty alphas. All women want is the dollar, then they’ll be on their knees with their hand firmly tied behind their backs.
Braxton recovers his composure and staggers to the mantlepiece to bring a wooden box to show the group. A silence falls in the room as it is placed on the table. A strange musty smell emanates from it as he opens the lid. This is what he and Mark have been doing in secret.
It contains what look like shrivelled sun dried tomatoes. Shalt knows about this but not every part. These are the clitorises harvested from Braxton’s whores. It’s not mutilation. It’s modification. It will save these women and allow them to enter the kingdom of heaven, we are doing the Lord’s work, thinks Shalt, They will lose the incentive to have non-productive sinful congress. They will regain their morality. Yes, we are doing good.

If the rich deserve to be there, how does that explain how we are all such losers though? wonders Mark. It’s easy to see why Adam is pretty much a janitor with his shrew face. Still, life is SO much easier for women. I bet Artemis just flirted her way into that job.
Despite appearing the most asexual person you could picture, this is a trick of Adam’s too. Showing students to their room who come from authoritarian states is a good way to get out your natural urges and help them realise their potential as women. They didn’t say no. Does it matter that they had a poor grasp of English and probably thought he was someone important they mustn’t say no to or they would be ejected from the university and sent home?
Women should be naturally submissive, and they always want it really. They love being dominated. Even if they don’t know they want it, they want it. Most rapes are made up after the event when they regret it. Real rapes are so rare really they’re almost extinct. Then women use rape as a tool to attack men! When they wanted it! Straight white men have it the worst in the world now. Because of feminists.

But they’re fighting back. Witch doctors and millionaire perverts with special sexual interests will pay big money for these pointless organs. Is the female orgasm even real anyway? They’re doing them a favour, and with money comes power. Two birds, one stone. Put the women in their place and they’ll be wet for the power.

Braxton and Mark haven’t told the others about the snuff films, these were the real moneymakers. Those women loved to be dominated. They died happy. The smell of decomposing body parts in his bedroom had started to disconcert his housemates. Everyone wondered why he’d been asked to move for that reason despite not appearing a particularly unhygienic person.

Then Mark brought out his final most impressive creation. A necklace made of shrivelled penises. This was a custom request for a rich pervert on the Dark Web. He’d harvested them from men he’d fucked in toilets. Homosexuals are anomalies anyway and serve no biological function and therefore no purpose. But it’s not gay if you are only doing it cos you can’t get a woman.
Jim Shalt faints. He can’t take any more. The others know that with this million dollars they will be rich. Holt wakes up and mutters a prayer to the holy Father, the others nod in the most manly way they can at the portrait of JP. Adam has to try to do this several times til he gets it right. It’s not easy for him, but he tries. He doesn’t want to disappoint JP. Peterson looks back at them with his admirable rationality and for a second they think they see the fatherly love they all crave in his eyes.

Blue-john stones

The elephants are trooping
stoically round the drapery
concealing your filthy bedchamber
but I don't mind
cigarette stained
mottled wallpaper
This place is a crippled b n b
run into disrepair by smoke-soaked
desperate lonely men.
maybe the wiring is dodgy
and I'm here alone for the first time
the peace of three sedatives
the tide of cocaine-clenched intense waves
receding and laying bare
a drenched shore of sea glass
and lesser spotted treasures.
we dont need luxury
but why is the the world ordered
by principles of cruelty and exploitation
maybe the bedsit
has a lingering aroma of despair
but your few outré possessions
that ancient dresser we hauled
from the other side of town
I opened it tonight
and found a treasure chest greater than that
of Jeff Bezos' grotesque wealth
How they reduce human life and love
To exploitable commodities
That's not love
Love is the richness of smelling
Your old band t-shirts
Choosing one to wear
and reclining in this bedsit hovel
Cocooned in blankets
awaiting your return.
They think we have no power
we're rats to use
or mites to crush if we don't comply
But they will never know
how this feels
to gorge on love alone
we'll find the depths of our souls
In a cavern of blue-john stones.
fuck it,
marry me.


Seven years
and you only come to me in flashes
like a sucker punch to the gut.
Jumping at my own shadow.

Seven years
feels like yesterday, they say
safety behind cliché

Yet it's been time enough
to birth two new universes
to release the string theory
of the parallel world
where you're still alive
to let those futile threads 
slip from my grip

It's been time enough 
for a new cartography
to be drawn up on my face
tracing a map:
despair valley
bittersweet crest
seven years of tidal emotion 
like a river
carrying immovable boulders downstream
an inch a year.

If it feels like yesterday
why are things decomposing around me?
petals flying from end-of-summer poppies
Even the last living thing
to embrace you 
with benevolent indifference
to share your living warmth
has disease crawling up inside her.
They didn't notice the inward hollowing
Til pestilence had overcome her.

It takes an act of violence
to draw attention.
Will they choose the axe or the chainsaw?
Lend some romance to destruction?
Will people come to gape then?
To see the spectacle of mighty beauty fallen.
When it's time for the seven decades maple
To reveal her rings of time to the world?

Headphones in, hood up
how easy it was to avoid the gaze of others
when you were alive
you ceased to exist in plain sight.
But they sure came to gawp
when you left behind your human trunk
They laid it carefully in a walnut box.

Then they walked away and forgot,
Not all of them, and for sure not me.
Maybe you're the last one who would understand
how I can mourn a tree?
Because as the leaves budded each year
It whispered to me
a comforting susurration
and I knew you wanted me to persevere.

It will be turned into sawdust
Like they turned you to ashes
And there'll be nothing left to see.


Concentric circles
in whirlpools
like train wheels
sparking and shrieking
can't stop jaw clenching
I've spent all day falling
hurtling through watery countryside
into despair.

Rock doves on this train platform
once were sweet, rosy, caged darlings
taken from the cliff face and tamed
to accept gentle caresses
then cast out, estranged from their nest, 
their cliff crest
to be scorned winged-vermin
you declare then unworthy
fit only for purging.

And if I'm your love still
even with wings torn
and battered by dereliction
reach out and hold me
before the abyss rises to greet me
maybe it's too much to ask to be stable
after all, we're in love with how the sea changes,
with sharp rocks and danger.

Is it denying you freedom,
to want you to lean on?
Will you be preoccupied
with feathery plumage of
fussing semantics
so that you don't see me
to save me from falling?

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