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It’s morning, everyone is asleep and I’m thinking poems about slicing mangoes like tender dark-circled hearts. Last night everyone kept asking me how it’s going and I couldn’t bear to say it’s going so awfully, I think life has broken me once and for all, so I just smiled and kept these no-longer-secret things close to my chest. That’s what I do to myself day in, day out and so far it’s working; I’m still writing, anyway. It’s just a difficult feeling to explain to somewhere who, I’m sure, has had many more feelings than me in their life and is only indulging me for the sake of conversation. It feels so strange to have people believe in something which, to me, has never been more than a young girl’s stupid dream, just a hobby to pass the time until the outside stops hurting. I’ve called it that so long to prevent disappointment that now I wonder if that’s really all it is. I don’t know how to feel passion these days. I’ve forgotten what it is, and I find myself wondering if I ever really had it.
Is it possible to have too much freedom, and to liberate yourself to the point that nothing matters any more? Not in the right way, mind, through meditation - I mean when the sad sickness takes your peace and all that remains is apathy. I care that I don’t care but it’s not enough and I don’t know what to do but take it one step further. Anyway, I start my full-time job for a month tomorrow and I think it may help me. It’ll be tough and physically exhausting but that’s what I need right now, to put myself to use somewhere and not have to sit here worrying that I’m worrying about all the wrong things.
I pour myself another cup of tea. The clouds look like they’ll break soon and we’ll have to rush outside to bring the garden furniture in and pile it in the conservatory as the rain mixes with sweat on our skin. Those are the moments I still know how to live in, where, for a few fleeting seconds, you have one purpose and it’s all that matters. You believe you’d dedicate your entire life to it if need be. I think I once felt that way about poetry.
i dream of tapping myself on the shoulder and telling myself everything it is that i truly want, the things that are truly unbridled, unswayed and unhidden by even a single cloud. this replays over and over again, i tap myself on the shoulder and i turn around to find myself pouring words out but i can never hear her, i can just see her mouth moving silently. she eventually begins to scream and i can see the pain in her eyes but it’s still only silence. it reminds me of the frustration of not being able to run in a dream no matter how much force you think you are using. i can’t hear what she is saying but i can see it sometimes. plain and clear. i can see it in the people she laughs with. in the eyes she stares into for too long. in the pace of her heart. in the films and stories she cries at. in the family she’d die for. in these moments i begin to realise that my hand is over her mouth and i have been silencing her all along. i only know this. i have somehow distanced myself from myself. someone isn’t going to come visit you in the night and give you all the answers. admit to yourself all the things that truly matter to you and don’t be frightened of them, don’t look down on them. be human for once in your life.
no, I deleted it because it just encouraged me to waste time and overshare
let it go – the let them go – the let all go – the so comes love
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
let it go – the
let them go – the
let all go – the
so comes love
e. e. cummings
So, another email arrives from a literary magazine via Submittable and my heart sinks into my stomach as it has learned to do over the past couple of months. It can’t be anything other than a rejection. That’s just the way it is. I’ve recently decided my work is just too twee to have value anywhere outside tumblr, and I’m resigned to the fate of an accidental one-hit wonder. I lie down and comfort eat a bowl of crisps in record time. Eventually I reach for my phone to play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood; it’s all I’m good for. But that stupid red bubble on the mail icon is pestering me, because I know I’ll see it later, get excited about the prospect of an interesting message and then be reminded of my absolute failure as a human being. So I figure I have to open the email. Rip off the band-aid, as they say.
"Thank you for sending us your poems…"
I feel bad for magazine editors. They’re obligated to thank people like me for wasting their time.
"We love them…"
But they’re not suitable for your magazine. I know, I’m sorry, I should have known.
"…and have accepted them for the next issue."
I rapidly shovel crisps into my mouth straight from the bag. This is a mistake, right? They’ve sent this to the wrong person. Yes, that’s right, someone must have written a poem with the same title as mine and I’ve been sent this due to a system malfunction. I re-read the email. I re-read it again. I go to Submittable and there it is, floating in a sea of peach-pink “declined” submissions, a green “accepted” label.
I berate myself for even making a big deal of this - it’s a very small press, and it’s not as if I’m getting paid. I realise I have finished the crisps and open a bag of boiled sweets which I start grinding between my teeth. Instinctively, I open tumblr, and start writing this post.
My cursor is hovering over “post” when my phone buzzes. It must be from them - it was a mistake after all, and this is the email saying they’re dreadfully sorry, but my poems are just too awful to publish, even by way of apology.
Oh, wait, no! It’s just Kim Kardashian telling me my latest photoshoot is trending.
I wasn’t kidding when I told you I would be happy to spend the rest of my life And you’re not the type to buy into meaningful glances, and I know - You barely show up in my dreams, like those who I kept closer You are always finding someone else, and so am I.
listening to your voice but I think it was a joke when you said
it would be worth it, for the sound of my laugh.
at least, I tell myself I know -
that nothing could have happened here
and there is no other path life could have taken
and no, I don’t feel like a part of me is missing without you
and although I ascribe meaning to our empty memories
we were never anything remarkable.
and I haven’t written any letters for you, yet. And there was never any sign
of anything more than the outside until you remembered these
I’d even forgotten about myself and no, you never gave great pep talks
or told me I was special, or that the gods had plans, you just
believed in me as if it were the most natural thing in the world
and reminded me of all the books I’d read the year before.
But through all of this
it’s the scent of your back garden in the rain
I still can’t shake.
I wasn’t kidding when I told you I would be happy to spend the rest of my life
And you’re not the type to buy into meaningful glances, and I know -
You barely show up in my dreams, like those who I kept closer
You are always finding someone else, and so am I.
I think I know the poem you mean. I’ll repost it just now. I hope it helps somewhat x
so are you!
Someone said to me this week, “it’s a criminal shame for you to be afraid of talking to people”. Mm, that’s one to keep in a corner of my heart and save for a day when I’m running on empty.
I had a good week. I got a lot of writing done (6784 words) and I feel like I’m maybe-sorta getting somewhere with my novel. I’m trying to enjoy it whilst it lasts because I know soon enough I’ll be spending more time banging my head against the desk than actually getting words down on the page. My results for the year arrived and I guess I did pretty well; I got a first in 4 out of 6 modules yet I still find myself thinking I should have worked harder. Subconsciously I still feel the desperate need to be “perfect”, but gradually I am managing to risk, sometimes, being simply “okay”. I’m a lot better at defending myself from myself these days, anyway. All in all I am well! I am creating things and planning next summer already. Hope you’re all doing well too.