The Clock Moves Forward

Warming soil sifts through
my hand
reminding me of sand
on a summer’s beach
while I reach within the tiny packet,
remove the seeds to plant
and think to the future,
hoping these crops will grow,
leaping forward one hour through time
into a new season
I’ve yet to know.

I feed the soil,
pushing forward conditions
to ease the toil of what’s to come,
and so I have time to ponder on
what now to do
and the time now gone.



It was perhaps the 15th bench she’d pointed out as he carefully tried to move her away.

“This one is dedicated to ‘Mr Peterson of Comely Bank’. I wonder who he was and why there’s a bench dedicated to him, it doesn’t say.”

“1917”, Eric pointed out the date just below the inscription. “Perhaps he died during the First World War.”

“Oh that’s too sad”, Moira said, rubbing her nose slightly with her left hand and sniffing gently. She clasped her right hand tighter into Eric’s, intertwining her fingers through his, locking him to her, and pulled herself closer to him so she could lean against his shoulder. “Do you think his wife, or whoever dedicated this bench, came here often to sit? Maybe his sweetheart? Maybe his children? Maybe his grandchildren still come here and sit here and think of him?” Her voice almost pleaded for positive affirmation of her thoughts.

“Unlikely”, Eric said. “Like most of the benches here they’re probably forgotten. You can tell by the state most of them are in. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just some scam by the council to get people to pay for benches so they don’t have to.”

“Oh don’t say that”, Moira exclaimed, “I’m sure that’s not true.” They stood in silence for a moment before Eric managed to start moving further down Prince’s Street towards the Mound, carefully pulling Moira with him. However, they soon stopped again.

Moira was reading another plaque. “See this one, ‘To my dearest Johnny, I will think of you always when the Cherry Blossoms, Your Margie, forever and always.’ Isn’t that so sweet?”

Eric sighed, but imperceptibly. It had taken over half an hour to walk from the West End to this point and at this rate, they were never going to get up the Mound to the High Street where he had a small student flat, only rented of course. You couldn’t buy property in this part of town for love nor money. He still had a little packing to do and could do with an early night.

“Do you think”, Moira was saying, “that you’d like me to dedicate a bench to you when you’re gone?”

Eric stared at her incredulously, “But I’m only going to Stirling!” he exclaimed.

Moira pulled at him using their locked hands, jolting his arm quite suddenly and a little painfully. “No silly, when you’re dead and I’m left all alone in the world, pining after you as a wee old white-haired widow, remembering my famous husband, the bio-chemist Eric McDonald.”

Eric looked up at the castle, now lit up in shades of red, noting how like Stirling Castle it looked. Would he think of this night as he looked at that different castle in the years to come? Would he remember it at all as he ventured out on a new life, a new University, his PhD course, his career, his future? He smiled sadly at Moira who was still staring at the bench. “Come on”, he said, “I’ve got to pack. I need to be away by ten.”



On entering the room, it was obvious her teeth had long gone and, quite irritatingly, she constantly moved her mouth as though sucking on a never-ending and far too large gobstopper. Her skin, wrinkled and weather-beaten, looked aged beyond measure, though her hair was dark, thick and long, hanging straight down her back in a long ponytail, tied at the nape of her neck. I wondered at her ethnic origin, imagining some gypsy ancestry had moulded her form and almost sensed an air of curses around her as others in the room looked away, avoiding her gaze.

She walked with a deep stoop, slowly but steadily, and without the aid of a stick. In her right arm she carried a small basket, covered by a small checked cloth. As she approached, there was a strange aroma and I wasn’t sure if it was from her, or from the basket, which I imagined to be full of apples and I’d soon be offered the largest, shiniest and brightest red specimen, only to fall into the deepest sleep after only a single bite.

She looked at me for a long time with the youngest, softest brown eyes I’d ever seen on an old woman, and then, almost cheekily, before she spoke, as though checking to make sure no one else was listening, she glanced to one side and gave a sort of smirk.

‘Would you like an apple dearie?’, she asked.

I was taken aback. Had she read my mind?

‘You don’t look like a Snow White though, more a Huntsman’, she continued, ‘unless you want to be a Snow White?’, she started waving a finger at me in slow circles and I imagined little sparkles flowing from its tip.

A nurse rushed over. ‘Come now Mrs Blacknest, you don’t want to be frightening the young man’, and she carefully clasped the old woman’s hand, closing down her spell. The nurse turned her attention to me while the old woman muttered under her breath.

‘Do you not think he’d look quite pretty as a Snow White and why can’t men be Snow Whites, why was it always the girls who were kissed by charmers and brought up by dwarves?’

‘Are you the lawyer they spoke of?’ the nurse asked.

With some effort, I pulled my stare away from the old woman and rested it on the nurse, who was quite short, rather plump, and who looked rather flustered. ‘Yes’, I replied simply.

‘Well then’, the nurse sighed, ‘you’d better come with me’.

I followed her into a small, cramped office, full of too many folders that were spilling its contents carelessly over all available surfaces. She grabbed one pile and heaved it on top of another to make space on the imposing mahogany desk and rather breathlessly manoeuvred herself behind it. She motioned for me to sit down, though the only other chair in the room, in front of the desk, was otherwise occupied by a pile of manila folders, so full they were barely able to close.

‘Just, ehm, just, sort of’, the nurse waved her hand about indicating I should move the pile of papers onto the floor, which I did with some difficulty. They were so full and so loosely bound that they were in danger of falling from my hands as I moved them, and then from toppling into an uncontrolled heap when left abandoned on the little floor space that was left. ‘They’ll be fine there, she said impatiently, ‘now what was it you wanted to see us about?’

I opened my briefcase on my lap and took out the document, and then carefully closed it again. I looked around the floor as I positioned myself comfortably, worried any of my documents should try to escape their neat and ordered confinement to run riot within this muddled room. ‘There have been complaints’, I began.

It took some time to make the nurse appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Many residents, or at least families of residents, wished things to be run differently. They were exercising their rights to see how their money was being spent. Finally, and now I was here I understood perfectly and realised this was perhaps the underlying reason for my presence, there was one particular resident who might be causing problems for the others, and who might not be receiving the appropriate care in this establishment, it had been suggested, and might be better suited somewhere more able to support her. Somewhere else, basically. Not here.

‘I’ll show myself out’, I said to the nurse, watching her read over the document while her mouth formed every word, trying to get each one to sink in. I stepped carefully out of the office and back into the main room where the old woman was waiting for me. All other heads were down, a circle of old women in armchairs, trying to snooze, pretending to read, or knit, or trying desperately to get up to leave.

‘I don’t think you’re a friendly sort’, the old woman said, accusingly. ‘Running around doing dirty jobs for people.’ I brushed past her but she called after me. ‘I’ll curse you, you know, if you leave now. I’ll put such a curse on you you’ll wish you never came here.’ The room fell deadly silent.

I headed for the exit, though I felt the hairs on my neck tingle. This was just an ordinary old folks home, mismanaged as per all of them, full of old people, most of whom had lost their wits years ago, but who deserved a more dignified end to their days than sitting in a circle staring into space.

‘You should be helping people, not causing trouble. All that cleverness gone to waste, using it to find ways to punish people and not helping them. Well, I curse you to be stupid, forgetful, see how you like it, you won’t be able to use your big law books to pick on people then will you?’ Her voice seemed harsh as it rose to a peak, almost spitting out the last words.

It was cold outside, but I was glad to be leaving, and started walking towards the car park. Finding myself in the staff car park somehow, I then wandered around to the side of the building to finally locate the visitor spaces. I couldn’t see my car. I was sure I’d left it there. It was a fairly poor neighbourhood, so I guessed it had been stolen, which was really going to screw up my day, especially as I had a number of appointments arranged. Fumbling for my phone to call the police I took out my car keys and thought I might try the remote anyway. The car beside me flashed its lights and the doors clicked open, but it wasn’t my car, it was a blue Mercedes whereas I drove a silver Audi.

Or was that my last car?

(Just After) Midnight In Edinburgh


A man shivers. An isolated icy blast roughly stabs at his exposed face. The remnants of a winter stubbornly refusing to end, one splaying its insidious limbs into the realms of spring and beyond. The fibreglass of the tram stop surrounding him fails to act as an adequate defence against the elements. His shakes his body. Lazily. Indifferently. A feeble, half-hearted attempt at generating heat.

The man looks up at the electronic display. Where once expected arrival times would flow and flicker with frequency, now sits only stony resolve. No trams will arrive now or any time in the near future said stony resolve tells the man. The last has been and gone. Carrying all who stumbled into its guts back to their respective abodes. Back to warmth. Back to comfort. Another icy blast strikes at the man. The chill numbs his toes before beginning the slow, creeping ascent up both legs. The man remains still. Caught in paralysis. His bones, his thoughts; neither urge him to move. A reason, a motivation; in absentia.

He shifts his gaze, glancing up at the castle sitting resplendent as always – this time bathed in a red glow, whether for commemoration or celebration the man knows not – as it watches, or rather rules, over the city that surrounds it. The crag of the much-vaunted crag and tail. A crooked, yet robust, image carved into the still night sky. It warms him, if only briefly. He’s warmed by its beauty. By its singularity. And, above all else, by its familiarity. Edinburgh; the castle. The castle; Edinburgh. The two are indivisible. Entwined. A source of unbreakable togetherness. Of constancy. No matter the chaos that surrounds it or him, thinks the man, no matter the unmitigated mess wrought upon him or the world, he can always be certain that the castle remains. Sitting atop the Edinburgh skyline. Spilling its beauty into his mind. A fulcrum of dependency as the rest of his existence crumbles into dust.

His shifts his gaze once more. Wrested from the beauty of the castle and its red hue by the vision of a couple walking, arms linked, on the pavement across from him. They clutch each other tightly. Defiant against the cold. Their smiles teeter resiliently against the accumulating blasts of gale and, now, fledgling fragments of sleet. But the temperature seems to bother them not. The world they cohabit, the bubble they exist in, protection enough against the negativity and gloom threatened by the elements. They laugh. A chittering laugh, one that rattles shakily through their smiles. Then kiss. An affectionate kiss. A loving kiss. The man looks down at his feet. Disheartened. His mind drifting. Back to that place. Back to the darkness. Back to the familiar.

That was him, he thinks. Or rather, he corrects himself, that was them. Back then. At the start. Entwined. Oblivious. Resilient. Walking along arm-in-arm, the city’s silhouette sketched out behind them, the backdrop to a burgeoning love story. The city’s lights twinkling demurely as fleeting love-soaked thoughts skipped by in his mind; ‘Does she love me? Is it too early to tell her I love her? Will she say it back?’ And now here he stands. Alone. Enveloped by nothing more than the cold taunting blasts of the wind. Forgotten. Rejected. Consigned and condemned to an eternal solitary vigil. The man’s eyes start to glaze. Widen. All focus and conviction draining from them as his mind returns to the relentlessly questioning, poking, prodding, taunting, mocking, stabbing, piercing darkness. The castle’s red glow tints the blurred periphery of his vision.

He reaches, almost subconsciously, for his pocket, fishing out the iPod from within. His oft-repeated and played heartbreak playlist already forming in his mind. The Modern Leper, Start A War, Love Letter et al; the songs flash meekly in his mind, tuning up their instruments in preparation for another round of their residency at the man’s self-constructed heartbreak hotel. But then he stops. His finger hovering over the Play button. A thought trickles anxiously into his head. Less a thought, in fact, and more a memory. Or, at the very least, the slither of a memory. The feeling. The colours. The moment. The song. Of a time long before. Long before now. Long before her. He scrolls through the list of artists and lands on the one he wants. The one he needs. He finds the song. With a breath, he presses play.

He smiles.

Gently, yes. Slightly, absolutely. But he smiles, the man. That feeling, the one he sought so desperately, returns to him. However briefly, however watered-down by the years, it matters not. A semblance of the feeling invades his mind. A semblance of what he used to know. Of what he used to crave. Of what he used to be. Of whom he used to be. He looks up again, suddenly regaining his focus. The castle glimmers back. It now, confidently, signals beauty. Celebration. Its red glow instantly devoid of all clunky metaphor and depressive insinuation. The man glances along the pavement and sees the couple disappearing into the sleety horizon, their huddled mass wavering under the strength of the onslaught.

The man turns away and glances back down to his iPod. A flash of white nudges into his sight. On the ground, by his shoe. It trembles as the wind contemplates sweeping it into the night air. He leans down instinctively and reaches for it. Paper. A receipt. His receipt. The one from the book shop he had visited earlier that day. It must have fallen out when he had wrestled the iPod from his pocket. He stares at the damp, dirt-flecked, receipt. And smiles once again. A knowing smile. A pleasant, knowing smile. His thoughts drift back to the bookstore. And the girl behind the counter. A few lines of conversation, that’s all it was. A few generically everyday bookshop-worker to bookshop-customer words and sentences infused by one little moment. A bad joke. A shared smile and laugh for said bad joke. And a look. A transient, barely-there look. But there was a look. A smile that hints at something more, a flush of the cheeks that suggests a connection of sorts.

Or maybe not. Thinks the man, still smiling. Probably not, in fact, he decides as his own reddening cheeks gasp against the chill. But it was enough. It is enough. His smile widens. Not enough to ask her out, or declare love, or anything as ridiculous as that. No. But enough to remind himself. Enough to tell himself that he was, and is, still here. Still alive. He was still him. In amongst all the memories and the cultivation and ruination of quirks and character, he was still in there. And so were they. His next great love stories. Or not. But they could be. That’s what makes the man smile. The ‘coulds’, the ‘cans’ and the ‘maybes’ that now flash through his mind like a whirlwind of change and reassurance. The broken heart still beats, after all. And maybe, he thinks, just maybe, I need to add a few more books to my collection. I certainly could, he decides. Tomorrow? Maybe not. But soon, he smiles. Soon.

The man glances up at the blankness of the electronic display one last time and shakes his head. Smiling. Still smiling. The song, the thoughts, the feelings of rediscovery and resurrection flickering through, and warming, his mind as he turns and walks confidently off into the Edinburgh night.

From Here I Can See The Sea

From here I can see the sea.

The waves lap. Angry. Full of discord. Suffused with venom. All pretence of a blue, quixotic picturesque sea drowned beneath the sheer violence of the dark, foreboding waves that cascade into one another.

I can almost hear them. Separated from me by this window and several hundred yards, yes. But I can almost hear them. They snarl. They growl. They whisper. Their hushed declarations tapping at the window, desperate to enter. Desperate to consume.

The sky above the waves hangs heavy. Impenetrably grey. A scrawled canvas of meteorological misery. Threatening rain. Threatening an uptick in violence. Confident in its ability. Assured, comfortable, in its malevolence.

My eyes refuse to deviate. The sea, the waves, forever holding my attention. The bridge striding across the watery expanse fails to wrestle my gaze, my attention, from the depths. Its beauty, its magnificence nothing more than a brightly-coloured splash on that scrawled canvas. Timid in its idealistic demeanour. False in its promise.

My pen hangs loosely from the frailness of my fingers. The paper beneath sits unsullied. Untroubled. The cursor on the screen in front of me flashes constantly. Never ceasing to remind me of its impotence.

But still I gaze. My thoughts colliding into one another, mirroring the actions of the waves. My mind seemingly connected to their motions, to their behaviour. Pushed and pulled, I imagine myself weightless, at the mercy, at the whim, of the tide. It threatens to release me; allowing me the time, the space, the oxygen to breath. And then, through sheer malice, it draws me back in. A tortuous game of cat and mouse played out under the cover of an all-consuming darkness.

The waves will calm. They will subside. They always do. But the mocking remains. Steadfast. Even at its most calm, at its most serene, the sea continues to mock me. Prodding at my indecision. Scratching at my festering wounds. Even the sun when it finally returns promises nothing more to me than pity. Condescension.

At one time the waves, the sea, in all their and its unbridled, unhinged glory comforted me. It spoke of character, it provided depth. A glimpse into the darkness that so often compliments, and enhances, the continual unremitting light. But not now. Now it strangles. Now it suffocates. Its candid schizophrenia engulfing my mind with doubt, with indecision.

So from here stare out at the waves. Angry at my submission. To their whims. To their ebbs. Their flows. Enraged by my acquiescence.

From here I now hear nothing but silence. From here I can feel the darkness slithering around me.

But from here I resolve to change. To resist. To overcome.

From here I resolve to fight.

No matter how hard it may seem. No matter how hard it will be.

The tide will recede. The waves will subside. Of that I am sure.

They need to. They must.

From here I can see the sea.


Looking so long at these pictures of you

But I never hold on to your heart


Pictures Of You. By The Cure.

That was the song. That was our song. That was the song we danced to. Slow danced to. In that club. The indie club on Sauchiehall Street. God, when was that? 1990? No, no. It was 89, that’s right. Disintegration. That album came out in ’89. That dingy fucking nightclub. Jesus, what I’d give to see a photo of that night. The state of us. The state of all of us. Punks, rockers, mods, goths, freaks, geeks. Fuck. What a sight. What a time.

I’d noticed you almost as soon as I stepped into the place. You were there with Marie. As always. You and Marie. Marie and you. That was always the way. You looked good. You both did in fact. But you, you looked good. Better than good. Incredible, truth be told. Who was I with? Fuck, it’s not important is it? Probably some local scenesters at the time. Transient waifs and strays that used to congregate around that street, that scene, the gigs. Their names, their faces long ago lost to my memory. Forgettable. Unmemorable. As are most of the surrounding details from that night. But you. You were everything. As soon as I saw you, that was it. You infected me. Swirled into my pores, raced through my veins. Your hair hair-sprayed to within an inch of its life. Your dress, gothy, morbid, and yet slit perfectly, showing off that unbelievable body of yours. The bright red lipstick, shining like a beacon in the murk of that club.

The chat was easy. Of course it was. When people speak about relationships it’s always the first part that seems the hardest isn’t it. The initial stages. The introduction. The holding of interest. The not letting the conversation fizzle out. But it isn’t hard. Not when it’s right. Never when it’s right. When it’s right it’s easy. Every single word, every laugh, every look; they spill out effortlessly. It feels warm, familiar; right. And that was how it was. I wanted you and you me. We liked the same music. Had the same sense of humour. Fuck, even the same movies. I mean where else would I find a girl that thought Labyrinth was the greatest movie of all time!? Just as I did. Something just clicked. Something aligned. Fate, astrology, luck; whatever the fuck it was, it was just meant to happen.

And then Pictures Of You came on. It wasn’t even towards the end of the night, was it? It must have been well before midnight because we still had time to walk past the canal after leaving the club. But the DJ put it on all the same. A slower one. A change of pace. And just like that, so naturally, we merged together. And danced. Swayed. Embraced. Your hair, your perfume, your scent. I was drunk on it. I’d only just fucking met you and yet the words ‘I love you’ were already fighting a fierce battle with my sanity, trying to trickle from my lips. Your eyes were closed. You were content. Satisfied. On the same level, the same everything, as I was. That song. It’s not even a love song. It’s a great song, one of the best, but it’s not a love song. Maybe about as close as you’ll get for The Cure but still, it’s not. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign. Falling in love with each other whilst dancing to a song about heartbreak. That tells you something doesn’t it. Or maybe not. Does it fucking matter now? Of course not. And it hasn’t for a long, long time.


There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to feel you deep in my heart


It was good. Really fucking good. It had taken me, what, 28/29 years but I’d finally found you. Finally found the girl. The one that made me complete. Completed the circle. You were cool. Intelligent. Educated. Well-read. Very fucking well-read. We went to gigs, festivals, special film screenings, tried out pretentious-as-fuck new restaurants, tried out greasy-as-fuck cafes, went camping, visited museums, art galleries, went hiking, travelling, driving, walking, dancing; fucking everything. And no matter how exciting, boring or downright shite these things were or would be, they were always enjoyable, always worth doing, with you there. You. With me. Together. You genuinely made the world that much brighter to wake up to. You were worth waking up for. Life was good. The music was brilliant, the laughs were great and the sex was even better. I’d cracked it. I knew I had. Meeting you. Meeting someone like you. Someone like you who actually fucking wanted to be with someone like me. Sometimes it nagged at me. How the fuck could you – I mean look at you – how the fuck could you want to be with me. You must have had suitors at every turn and juncture. That’s what I thought anyway. But in the early stages, the early years, that didn’t matter. You were enough. To know you were with me was enough. It was. Truly. And yet. And fucking yet…


If only I’d thought of the right words

I wouldn’t be breaking apart


Why? It’s something you asked time and again that night. And believe me, I’ve asked it of myself. Again. And again. Over the years it has gnawed at me. Drilled into my mood. My soul. Why the fuck did I do it? I can tell you why I did it, I’ve always known that. But it’s not a reason. Not an excuse. Not an actual valid reason or excuse for single-handedly burning everything to the fucking ground. But why? Because it was easy, that’s why. Because she’d made it plain she was interested in me. Her. The other. And that was enough. We’d argued a couple of times, me and you, and I thought I could feel it. I could feel my star diminish in your eyes. I thought I could at least. I was no longer the man you so adored back at the start. That nagging feeling returned. Daily life had nudged its unwelcome way into our relationship and telling you about this new band or that new band, or this new film or that new film, had paled into the shadow of insignificance against the dreary shite of bill-paying and flat-cleaning. Music, film, food were all no longer the things that kept us glued together. They were no longer the things that defined our life. Life was our life. Reality. Where once we drifted aimlessly and happily along the clouds of blissful ignorance we were now fighting it out in the swampy marshlands of the humdrum and tedium. And one argument too many (I forget what about, again, does it even fucking matter?) pushed me to make an easily reciprocated move on her, the other, fuelled by drink, at a work night out one time and that was it. It meant nothing. It felt of nothing. She was nothing. To me, to us, to any part of my life. All words and clichés from a tired and haggard cheater’s playbook but they’re all true. She did nothing for me. She was just there. She just wasn’t you in that moment. She was just, well, you called it right…she was just flesh.


Remembering you fallen into my arms

Crying for the death of your heart


‘Flesh’ that’s what you said. ‘That’s all we fucking are. Flesh. It’s the feelings that so rarely come along with that that separates us from each other. That separates those that you care about in this life and those that you don’t. There are those you love and those you don’t. The ones you don’t are all just flesh. Flesh with varying features. To varying degrees. But still just flesh. Just flesh. No more, no less. And you threw this, all we have together, all we were together, you threw this all away for fucking flesh! Nothing, insignificant, easy available fucking flesh! That’s all she is. She’s nothing to you? Seriously? It meant nothing? Just flesh. We built a fucking life together! A fucking life! Years. Five years. More than that. And you’ve fucked it all away on some meaningless bit of fucking flesh. When things get tough you don’t just turn to the first different person to show you fucking attention, you don’t just jump on the first person to make you feel validated. No, when you’ve built a life together, you fucking well fight to preserve that. You don’t throw it all away on the first bit of banal available fucking bit of flesh that moves into your eye line. You don’t! If someone’s worth having, if something’s worth loving, then it’s worth fighting for!’

Every word. Give or take. I can still remember every single word you said to me that night. Every word correct. Every word needed to be said. You were gone. That night. Left. That was it. Everything we’d built together, gone. Just like that. Like you said. Flesh. You know, what are we, almost thirty years on, and I can’t even remember her name. Flesh. That’s all I can remember. She’s there, forever etched in my memory as ‘flesh’. Nothing more. That’s even with the month long relationship I had with her straight after you. I never wanted that. Of course I fucking didn’t. I felt absolutely nothing for her. I was doing it to prove something I think. To prove what I don’t know. To prove that she was worth throwing our life away for? To validate my mistake? To validate me? Who the fuck knows. I could barely stand the sight of her. Her company, her smile, her flesh. It was dead before it had even begun. It was you I wanted. It was you I needed. It was you I loved and always would. But you were gone. To where I didn’t know. It killed me. But you were right. I had betrayed you. Betrayed us. For nothing. I deserved nothing from you ever again. I had nothing left of you. No letters, no pictures, no anything. Forced away by me. By my actions. By my pathetic, brief lust for someone else’s flesh, for someone else’s adoration. Someone else’s attention. Nothing.


Hold for the last time then slip away quietly

Open my eyes

But I never see anything


And now here I am. Drunk. Or at least on the way to being drunk. Sitting playing this song on repeat. Endlessly. Pictures Of You. Pictures Of You. The memories flooding back. The regret, the mistakes, the stupidity all still raw. All still real. My own flesh failing. Withered by the years. Withered by the betrayal.

And now here you are. In my hand. Your obituary. All that I have left of you. Taken before your time. The only thing I’ve had of you since that night you left. Even all these years later it still hurts. The memory of you. There was always that hope. A glimmer. It faded significantly over the years but there was still something there. Unextinguished. Barely. But there. The glimmer of hope, one that defied all sense and logic, that we would find our way back to each other once again. All the women I’ve been with over the years, they always, always, cowered in your shadow in my thoughts. As much as I tried to move on, as much as I tried to force through the restraint, the memory of you kept pulling me back. I thought, many times over the years, of tracking you down. Laying my heart out for you. Begging for forgiveness. Begging for your love. But I had no way of finding you. You could have been abroad for all I’d known. Little did I know you were living on the other side of the city all along. In your own bubble. Living your own life. But, truth be told, even if I had known where you were I likely wouldn’t have had the courage or conviction to make the move. I didn’t have the courage to fight for us back then so what in the fucking world would have given me the courage to seek you out then or now. Your obituary says you were happy. A big player in the local music industry. A mother of three. Married for 20-something years. You always wanted kids. The family. The big house in the West End. They could have been mine. They should have been mine. They should have been ours. The whole set up.

You died young. Too young. But you died happy. Or so it seems. And I’m glad. Glad that you didn’t allow me to ruin your life. Glad you didn’t allow the betrayal to stain your life. Glad that you left the memory of me behind. Left me. Alone. Nothing more now than a forgotten memory. Nothing more than flesh.

The Battle

Sickness dwells
within the nooks
and crannies
of the mind

thoughts and words,
destroying life
from the inside

No one knows
how long it lives
before it starts
to bite

But slowly
and assuredly
it wins the
dreadful fight

With memories
of battles lost
the sickness spreads
too deep

The darkness
closes in,
the mind too sick,
too scared
to sleep.

Two Sides

I split in two, I divide,
I side with me, with you, I hide
from the out, from the in,
run from the religion who damn as a sin
the divide, the division of soul,
of confusion where help needs a goal,
but, where rational thought,
does not.

I won’t play the game, play the stereotype,
live up to the hype
of the image that’s played
and no matter what’s said,
I can’t become that and it’s wrong to assume
the pretty-thing room
is the end of the road,
just because,
I follow a different code.

I’m forced to take blame in splendour
for all the idiots of my gender,
while facing the ultimate snub
from those in the opposite club
so, I split in two, I divide,
I hold my head up alone,
with pride.

‘Quarrels with the Gender Binary’ – an upcoming anthology exploring the diverse spectrum of gender discourse and experience: Click Here