MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Tag: luke otley

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.

The truth is the only thing that is ever going to be constant

EGG

A quick mid-morning sketch for Kelly K Green 

Instagram

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

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.

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.