MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Tag: poem

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

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.

 

Hello

The people walking in the street
I cannot meet their eye

The dog that trots beside their feet
I smile at you, say hi

Heron

I didn’t realise how much I needed the rain
until it came, and kept coming
heavy and hard, reassuring
as a bronzed hand on the shoulder, silent,
two of us sheltering under one brolly
splashing, and the wind too, wrestling
with it like a rod reeling humongous carp.

We came to the river under a canopy
of thick red wood, the river whipped white,
boiling, and you shout:

“Heron!”

I didn’t really hear, a wet hood sucked to my head:

“What?”

“Heron!”

I paused too long, didn’t show
enough emotion, you say:

“You’ve spent too long in the city”

You’re right – I watch the heron watch the foam,
the river thrashes in time with my stomach
as my mind crashes against its man-made banks
fragile, fit to dissolve as easily as salt in water.

Breezeblocks

Last listened
in back lanes, dust billowing
in headlights, vest
red goon splatter
kidneys aching, piss sharp needles
automatic gears churning
and moving under 4 ltrs
of metal –
bald tires gurning on the gravel
Joey’s eyes wild
one coiled spring leap
away from the axle

Robin Redbreast

It may not be fashionable, but
it certainly is nice
to go to bed at 11pm on a Saturday.
The air seems lighter,
though that may just be the spring,
outside, the street sounds calmer
trickle, tick in like raindrops
off banana leaves.

Today, I did not wake up
to find marinara sauce
slopped over my keyboard, nor
crinkled lager cans
by the sink excreting their
sweet yet sour scent.

I know it’s not popular
for a man of my years
to walk around a cemetery,
but the sun and grass and graves
hold no opinion
as I stand and watch
a robin sing
under the canopy
of firs.

 

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.