We Saved This For A Rainy Day

Tuesday, January 15

Be like the Swiss, and contemplate eating chocolate on the morning commute. The divine act of watching the pale day come alive under the paintbrush of a train moving north-to-south. He recounts a plant from yesterday; an aloe vera that, for months, has been tilting gradually (towards the winter sun) and finally, upon the bookshelf, is disturbed enough by its minute growth and the ruffle of a dustcloth to fall and spray wet soil over everything: books and CDs, an alarm clock and a mason jar of condoms, a ‘decorative’ cushion, the sleeping laptop all covered in black soil. Cleaning each, he flicks through the books. There is a passage in one of the books — a memoir — that he takes in, sitting on the edge of the bed and absorbing properly. The writer, a young American actress, relays her affections for London, its foul language, strange friendships and coke-without-ice. After a moment, the aloe vera — severely damaged and missing limbs — was put back on the shelf, its green arms rearranged in a safer gesture. How easy is it to take the city for granted? The plant will continue to lean that way, edging toward the sun, and to finally fling itself off the bookshelf in what one could only describe as ‘all-or-nothing behaviour.’
The building site was charged with activity. Across the entrance were thick plastic strips, the kind used in butcher shops. The man on security made him sign his name a half-dozen times until he misspelled it (an E when there should have been an L) and he began, in a mild way, to doubt his own existence, as one will do when surrounded by a tornado of people going here & there. After it all there was his name in varying degrees of error, of letters scratched out and replaced. He sat in a meeting room, adjusting his chair up and down until it was just right, then he walked back to the office.
The traffic always rolled by so closely.
There is no great poetry to be found when the sun is covered by tracing paper and all earthly shapes are dulled. It is nice to walk when the lunch rush is over and the streets return to normal, coffee in the belly.
While browsing herbs in the supermarket — flat leaf parsley, coriander, basil — there was pubic hair in each of the packets. You need only open the herbs a little and see everything. He thought of pubic hair. January was as good a time as any to think of pubic hair, to think of it when it was wet like washed herbs and when it obeyed fingers like herbs on a chopping board. Odd that herbs should make him think of pubic hair. There was a fantasy of giving head on the kitchen work surface. It’s all food.
Was that? … A woman from the office…? He dare not look up, but he was quite sure it was her. Move on, don’t let her see your shopping basket: a car-crash of a shopping basket! As she stood next to him, both of them aware the other was there, he attempted to pretend he was buying juice because juice is healthy. He picked up a juice. Yes, very healthy, she will be impressed and believe that he is a very healthy man, but no, there is a four-pack and a loaf of bread. She was done with, until he went to the till and she was next to him; at last they must acknowledge the other. With more shame than anything, he put down the beer, the bread, the juice. It was a terrible impression to cast.
‘Bag, boss?’ Yes, please. There were painkillers and chewing gum next to the till and behind there were bottles of champagne. Champagne was itself a cFor a while he collected the champagne corks popped on momentous occasions, until he lost a great deal of romance and saw no issue in throwing each (five) into the bin when he moved out of his last flat. Those five corks were solid line marks in the distance of time. There is something to be said for that kind of erasure. Before each was turned into a black sack, he considered them, trying to recall the event of which they punctuated: new flat, new year, girlfriend getting a job, new flat. There was no cork for his girlfriend leaving.
In the afternoon sun, the man said no to champagne. It was not good champagne, he said. He was French so everybody supposed he knew what good champagne was. Champagne was only a few hills away. ‘That’s okay,’ said the Englishman who’d bought it—‘More for us!’ Save that cork.
Put champagne next to the herbs.
January is a hard month. It feels as though you’ve made it through something or other and need time to recover, to recuperate, to make things well again. Night after night there is the idea of good wholesome food, but the wind blows cold through the window, there is no chance to see one’s bed in the finite light of day. All is in shade. Upon the sleepy spine, he regards the day that so meagre and faint found its way into the room.
It will all happen again, and the bed is so comfortable. Nothing so personal and loving as a bed in winter.
Summer is coming and it will be here soon. Through the marvellous kaleidoscope of spring, summer will emerge in fractured shapes of colour. It was time to get up. These days the colour of skin was only truly revealed in the four-sided glare of elevator illumination. Pull the skin here and there. Bland. Terribly pale. The arteries and veins emerged and faded. He was late to the office. It always seemed like there was one hump or another to get over, and the month of January failed to relent. Enough to drive one to drink. He paused with a hand against his chest, struggling to remember the dreams that floated through his night. Where was the point? He turned the alarm off and arose.

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Monday, January 7


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Sunday, January 6

Christmas has been and gone; with it, last year passed too. For thirteen days there was family. There was fresh air as well, bright mornings that shaded into grey afternoons and then cold evenings. The evenings were clear; one could see the stars precisely as at times they fluttered in various colours of white. On Christmas morning there was a thick frost on everything in the garden, pale shapes crackling in the breeze while in warmth we bid each other Merry Christmas and the place smelled of cooking turkey. My brother has his family now, the holiday rejuvenated by his two children. Without them, my mother still loves the occasion: the house decorated from head to toe in a plethora of nativity scenes, cards (past – present) tacked to doorways, fake snow on the banister, snowmen and polar bears scattered in poses about the house, the smell of sweet candles, flashing twinkle lights, three fully-decorated trees that stretch to the ceiling, tinsel hanging from every wall, soft toys that sing out a tune and dance when you squeeze their hand, and the incessant smell of cakes and food being cooked. My brother turns up. His wife holds the babe with one arm and puts the other around us as she greets everyone. My brother carries all the bags in, shakes hands with the kind of grip that the building industry taught us all. His eldest daughter comes in dragging a new doll whose hair is already quite entangled and ragged; she has not slept in the car and is in a good mood.
The holiday is relaxing. In early afternoon the light is already beginning to fade and we all go for a walk. As we go along, I remark to myself how much quieter everything is, how much whiter. A part of me – quite large and torn – misses London, while I enjoy being part of the family unit, as though it were my natural state and I never realised how much I missed it. There is no one else about and behind lace curtains there are glows of families reclined. It all looks so warm and familiar. When we get home, my mother and I play Scrabble, eight tiles. Maybe she will ask my father to join in, but he complains that he is no good and so we help him out and he is uninterested. We drink and eat snacks. Thinking back on it now, it seems like a good way for everything to be.
Sometimes at night I am gripped by a desire to write. I sit down and nothing comes.
That is where I am. Maybe that will change with the new year.
Work begins again tomorrow. It begins properly. Last week was nothing but a gentle easing in. I don’t know if things will change. I’m trying to take it easier. I don’t take the solstice lightly! Every day is measured in light and dark as I gauge the oncoming summer. Sooner still will be spring and colour again onto my sad streets. There is the city a bit more for these lonely months, cold and draughts, until my mother’s birthday on Valentine’s Day and then things won’t seem so far away. Over the holiday my beard grew and then today I cut it back. I trimmed my beard on the Feast of the Epiphany and lit candles about the flat, listened to hip hop and found ways to deal with how my nerves jangled about for no good reason at all.
Often I am gripped with a desire to write. I sit down and nothing comes. Here I am. I hope that changes this new year.

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My Mother’s Words

Wednesday, December 19

The streets are so busy here and throughout them I skim and dodge. The brushing of one soul against another is an abrasion, a brief exclamation of contact, and at times I recoil and yet others I hold fast. And so, it is perhaps inevitable that I compare myself to them. Why, I walk past so many people every day and the odd encounter will linger in my mind. At times my mind is dull, but others I am in tune, and I notice every single detail of the person coming towards me.
Wedding rings. I notice weddings rings. Gold, that gold, two Olympic swimming pools, I notice the gold. How it glimmers in whatever light makes it down to winter’s pavement. In a moment I imagine the relationship: the know each other, they date each other, they fall in love, they maintain the love, they become engaged, they stay engaged, they get married, they stay married. There are fittings for rings. Rings don’t just fit. Rings have to be fitted. A measurement of the finger and its knuckles must be taken. There would have been many people at the wedding and all of them had lives and maybe they were married too.
Pregnancy is something different, though. It is unfair… I know it’s unfair, women women women, but in my many walks around the city, I observe and regard pregnancy differently. The ladies wear badges. The badges are white and they stand out against the black coats buttoned down for wind. ‘Baby on board.’ Who are these people? I cannot imagine them, not some of them, most of them. So plainly they stride past me with faces tired and an air of bland terror. I cannot imagine them speaking to their partner for the first time. I cannot imagine them flirting or making their feelings clear. I cannot imagine them fucking or drawing blood from a back, cannot imagine them laughing all day, excusing themselves in a restaurant or being delicious animals. I cannot imagine them becoming emotional. And so they drift past me and I judge myself against them, alone, less than.
‘I’ve had a drink… but your brother is a fuckin arsehole.’
‘What’s he done now?’
‘He’s just a fuckin arsehole. The way he is.’
I laughed at my mother’s words as I paced about the flat. She was talking about the relationship my brother has with his wife and how he conducts himself. I told her—
‘Yeah, I sometimes worry about what sort of person I am when others are like the way they fuckin are, and they married and shit.’
‘I don’t get it either.’
The words of my mother. Only my mother. I try not to think about it. One can easily fall into the trap of equating money with success or love with character, but that would be foolish. Sometimes things just happen. I try to remember that. I am not less than them, they are not less than me. I write about it, but this has no purpose. It was all a moment I experienced outside of the supermarket as I rounded the corner. There is no reason to jot it down. Autumn is almost over.

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So Much Like A Ghost

Monday, December 17

This, what
unbeatable
came to deflate
& lie
at my feet

is fumbling

off the leaves (
I saw grin & sprout
, guzzle sunlight
& die )is
shaking deathfully —

Once upon a time
it was four
fresh-numbers

now

the fingertips of
its shadow

tap dry rattles
on my cold windowsill
& I smile at survival

— To think I wrote
the wrong date on
its birth certificate,

& now it’s damn-
near smote ; I regard
it
peacefully
, happy
to see it out
around love

not looking back
no, it’s all
been unkind to me,
so much like
a ghost.


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