MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Tag: luke otley

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.

Another self-centred poem

I tried
being a deadbeat alcoholic
junkie,
the nights got longer
and the world darker
and much smaller.

After I tried
sobering up,
drying out,
walking, watching
the dogs, the ducks
play
envious of their glass-eyed
peace.

I began to meditate
and things did quiet down,
I look more kindly
on the dogs, the ducks
now, not that they care
either way
of my opinion.

They’re safe, I suppose
on that Other Shore
while I thrash
and sometimes drift
against and sometimes with
the current, studying
much too seriously
the shadows in the shallows.

 

Always Poor, Never Bored

1

Always poor, never bored

2

I go outside and I feel free

3

It’s got to be perfect, perfect

Faith in the city

sss

Faith in the city

Here are some experiments throwing nail polish removal onto charcoal. 

More work on Instagram

sssw

Photo opportunity

A relatively young man

The defence counsel said
after reading his antecedents
(16 convictions from 25 charges)
“The Defendant is 27, still a relatively young man.”
And I thought christ,
I’m 27 this year.

Last I checked I was a young man
and now this relativity has stolen in
like a bastard homewrecker
whilst I’ve been busy working.

Relative to what
I wonder, a rougheye rockfish?
The Xin dynasty?
The cobalt they hack up
in the heat of the Congo
to pack into the batteries
of electric cars?

Either way
when I go to the bathroom
and look in the glass
I can’t help but think

god, he’s right.

Spring poem

I’m outside,
on the corner slate flower bed purple as burst plum,
conjures mother, lent, exhausted
on the speckled countertop, jousting with a can of prunes
juice drip teasing out a crack in the tin.
Pregnant and constipated,
little Isobel on her way, labrador alive!
Huge moaning skull, soppy silk ears, sad brown eyes,
busted arthritic limp, stomach rolling like a black sea.

My forearm’s over my eyes, sun sharp and new.
First English spring, no Welsh, British, who cares?
Many do, the lines in the sand
seem deeper year on year,
like slits carved in supple upper arms,
out of sight and out of mind.

 

7 Portraits in under 70mins

I was aiming for 5min portraits but I ended up going a bit longer… Definitely a really good exercise and great practice on the new tablet. Now my wrist hurts. You can view the recording of the drawings in real-time here

Digital figure drawing

 

man1.png

Proportions aren’t perfect, unsure what’s going on with the brush, why it’s so grainy… I’m using the ‘pencil’ brush (complete noob), more experimentation needed.

 

I can’t figure it out

The relationship between this desk,
these keys, that glass bottle there,
touchable things, reassuring
in the way they push against you,
push back, like a man snapping his fingers
in front of your eyes
after being knocked down, cold
and
the place we actually occupy,
operate our clunky, fleshy puppets.

Some of us are better at it than others,
almost graceful in the handling of their bodies,
I find it hard enough to drag my feet like iron chains
over splits in the roadside without stumbling,
or to lift my chin. I’ve been told
that I look like a man at sea
afloat, at peace
with his watery fate
the way my head hangs and swings
like a donkey’s tail.

The material world
pushes against me
with the biting persistence
of a whining child
but I’m too far away,
deep and safe
in that other place.

Poem For A Haemorrhaged Frog

Something about you
broke my heart.
Something subtle
stung me
in the way you moved
around that pond
in the brick red morning
like an emperor of ancient Rome,
and I had to laugh
to hide the break, defensive,
always one to crack
a smile whenever somebody dies.

I wonder how we get so old
as I watch your smile
like tea leaves are watched
in the bottom of cracked china bowls,
and imagine I can read your loss
right there in your laughter lines.

It’s so cruel
to see you go this way,
so helplessly,
and I’m not comforted
by how natural it is;
when all what made you
you is escaping
and there’s nothing
I can do but wait
and watch
it pass
into the still
green water.