MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Category: Poetry

Mad Rush

When all seems hopeless
and the wind howls its lonely song
and the ocean, once a friend, burns white
each wave a muted sob, like broken plates
heard crashed through bedroom doors,
and the burnt blood brick of the sea wall moans
as if about to crack

Remember
this is nothing but a mad rush
and one day you will look back
on your tortured soul
as a parent does a child
all pink cheeks and trembling
lips, mourning
the astonishingly important loss
of a birthday balloon
to the clear blue sky.


Listening to Mad Rush by Philip Glass helped write this poem

 

Old shirt

And here’s my old shirt, blue
and green with busted holes
two, three, no, four
buttons blown away –
bounced off backdoors
of barrooms or pool halls,
glittered down towards gutters
always bubbling full of rain
and clogged full of leaves
slick and shiny
as the backs of roaches

sleeves unroll hardly halfway
down the arm, hand and same
skinny boy wrist left
choirboy nekked and exposed
which any fool could snap
with a sneer or a cold look

all the old boys
hung up there, handed down
sometimes even twice before
same washed out colours
dangle off lopey goofball I –

friends seen, when was it last, a year, two?
it’s me, same old me,
same old beat shirt, blessed be
the frayed edges, floating in
like a character off a cancelled show
or a kept receipt whose ink
has long rubbed clean.

Horses

The leather brands the hands
when you’re pleading with the reins
atop a rush of boiling black
your years thunder away.

The muscle makes you sick
the sweat’s barking at your eyes
but the more you try to fight
the harder this horse rides.

Apnoea

How many of us
are going to slip out of here
like oily eggs onto breakfast plate
without a whimper,
or if a groan,
then a groan that’s mute
against the tin dry crash
of must-see series, a whole life
(the only one)
shown stark and simple, naked —
nothing more
than a feverish stockpile of subscriptions,
as if their clockwork comfort
could ward off all that dark.

The throat collapses
on itself like a hope-scraped tunnel
out of jail —
slick, slimy, reptilian survival
instincts flick forked tongue, grumble
to action like pack-mule whipped,
consciousness aware, inert
in sleep, in death, in life
the message is the same
wake up
wake up
WAKE UP

I seen hope in a train station

I seen it wink on the wet cold of the tracks
I seen it smiling in slices of wheel
I seen it hug with a hot breath of diesel
I seen it clatter in tippy tap heels
I seen it squeal in the railway man’s whistle
I seen it clutching up bunches of skirts
I seen it rumble along with the luggage
I seen hope so it no longer hurts

Windows/Rain

When I was a nipper
I used to love to watch the rain
rip across, along
the car window as we blasted
up the M1 towards Doncaster,
endless rivulets and patterns
dancing, swinging with the lull
of brake and acceleration,
countryside dark, barn shapes, bales
street lamps deep orange
in those days, something poignant
between the in and the out,
Beatrix Potter scratchy on cassette,
heater cooking velcro shoes,
and out there, the night
always magical, darkness,
the universe mirrored
in every glittered drop,
no want, nor need
to catch the feeling
in a net of words
or analysis,
t’was merely life
being lived
one breath
to the next.

The last wash

I knew
even before I put it on
that there would be strict segregation
on the clothes horse;
it would be too much
to have to pick you away
from me
like gristle out of gap in gum.

Nevertheless,
I was almost breathless
by the end
of it, looking at your tiny socks
lined like POWs against a church wall
waiting to be shot.

With heavy shoulders
and great effort the last
shirt was hung;

the last of it,
the last of us.

On not getting the job

Beyond disappointment;
I saw real fear in the tears
of flashes of future
cold as hands on bed-warm thighs;
of ruby-stained teeth,
a fist-shaped hole in a plasterboard wall,
nicotine stained fingers rough brushing mascara
against eyes soupy and hard,
and silence nasty
as a conman at a bus station
filling every room like gas,
and years
and years of dust
and the feeling that even nature’s
out to swallow you up and crush
what’s left, which ain’t much.

And I’m scared too
of what I see, looking out the window
on a moving train
going the wrong way,
the wrong side of twenty-five
complacent in love
complacent in care
terrified of a lifetime
of standing in takeaway lines
and staring blind through screens,
unable even to tell you what I read,
watched,
liked,
five minutes ago.

Slices of lives tease me in quiet moments;
the delirious rhythm of the baglama,
a chipped bowl of steaming pho,
a mosquito still on a baked white wall
turned apricot by late afternoon;
or the simple weight
of a dog’s head resting on your lap
salted from the ocean.
I tuck them away, these tiny embers,
and stroke your forehead,
desperately damaged but aware,
determined.

Control

I like to imagine
it as an idea rumbled in, wrapped around the rungs
of a thundering chariot’s wheel,
smuggled under the heavy cloth of a toga,
or inhaled in the steam of a communal bath.

An idea as invasive and gripping and seductive
as happiness
working its way into heads at adolescence
like rotten teeth into gum,
often bringing similar rates of agony.

The reason why some men feel
the leather straps of the electric chair
as a mother’s hand, brimming with reassurance,
and the squeak of the guard’s boot on the linoleum
as the crescendo to a wondrous symphony

And why some men burn out of existence
quietly
in the arms of fine lounge chairs
in mansions
or in the bathrooms of five star hotels.

What a dance it is for us common folk;
the clenching of the jaw
the tightening of the bowels
the familiar sting of bile,
the Sisyphean toil
as we
unashamedly
ad nauseam
endeavour to control
that which we cannot –
which, as it happens,
is just about

everything.

Charlie and the universe

And of course poor old Charlie full moon-eyed
and ten thousand years sad
always spalooging around crying out
into just empty tobacco pouches,
and falling asleep on sofas like some heavy-headed grandmother,
and ferreting away this or that charm
or knick knack like food in hamster cheek,
or squirrel with acorn in winter ground –
her and her little sacrosanct plants
against the whole damn universe
trying to make a go of it.

Self-hatred ebbs away like pus out boil,
it’s OK, it’s OK –
life is such a piece of cream pie
once you realise
you only have to breathe
and occasionally
smile.

 


Charlie Lindsay is an artist with big brown eyes and you can find her here