Dead Darlings Podcast

I have a chat with the lovely folks at Dead Darlings Podcast about how poetry can learn things from punk, my work at Burning Eye Books and For Books’ Sake. There is also a lengthy discussion about Grease and Grease 2 which I attempt to defend Grease 2 (sort of…)

Listen:

somewhere a galaxy collapses

Clara says unsettling things like ‘If your moon is in your first house you will be strongly affected by your mother, whether for good or ill.’

I’m sorry but that kind of complex relationship can not be depended on by where my Pisces moon is, surely? I am not sure. I think that maybe sometimes it’s just a relief to say it’s out of our hands, that the great universe is really controlling the flow of our lives. I look down at my hands for the answers.

She adds ‘Beautiful clean, well groom hands forecast satisfaction in life.’

My hands are not bad. They are definitely ageing. In the direct sunlight I can see the grooves deepening like the bark of a tree but they are clean, and superficially well groomed. I have painted my nails and unless you look closer you can’t tell that it’s caked the cuticles. I start to worry about ageing. I do not look in the mirror beside me.

Clara is a bold person. I am attracted to her because she doesn’t give a shit about anything, or anyone. I find that very liberating because I am the opposite. My self image depends upon other’s opinions so I make myself into Clara’s echo, because I love her and she is the strongest, but deep inside I am still me. It’s enough for her, I think. She doesn’t talk about feelings very much, just wide open sky-bound questions and answers about ethereal things that no one really knows the truth of. She likes to feel in control of her own destiny. She reads books and books on astrology, spirituality and natural remedies. She’s a punk but the way she talks sometimes makes me think that her parents were those privileged hippy-types.

Clara is on me now, her bush-like hair in smothering my face. It’s like a grandmother blanket, rough from cheap material but heavy with dedication. Clara backcombs her hair because that’s what the OG punks did, and Natasha Lyonne. When her mouth reaches for mine, I am thinking of Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll. My hands are already comfortably roaming Clara’s body. My favourite place is the small of her back, where I can extend my palms and fingers to pinch the rise of her hips.. I sink into her neck, take in her smell. Smell is the sense that nearly everyone says they would give up if they had to but I don’t know if I could give up Clara’s unique scent; it is ginger, black pepper and cinnamon blended with furniture musk (she works in a charity furniture shop). I can feel her smile as her chin rests on my shoulder. She’s about to say something, I want her to say how much she loves me, what a profound influence I’ve had on her happiness lately. But she doesn’t.

Instead she tells me that she fucked her friend last night, which is fine, she does this sometimes. She tells me in a sort of whine that people do for sympathy. Clara raises her lion’s mane and grins like a child who’s eaten mud. ‘I wouldn’t have told you, but I think it meant something.’

Somewhere, a galaxy collapses in on itself.

The sky is overused, but

The sky is an important symbol to me, the massiveness, the possibilities of new lives, old ones colliding into cloud formations, touched pink and orange because they are at peace. I sat and watched such a sky. It helped that the midlands is so level, the sky looks larger. Today was a fine example of the biggest oil painting I would ever sit under. Whilst rush hours commenced and people without loss carried on home, or to work, I sat alone on a bench, smoking a roll up and searching for you in the sky. I hoped to see you, you weren’t dead long which meant your soul was still nearby maybe, lingering until your loved ones left the hospital. As your parents packed up your bags around your dead body I went off to be alone. I felt the pull, the child mode kicking. The cigarette was not particularly enjoyable, it was just a prop for the dissociative drama that was the first few moments of life without you. The sky was turning darker, the clouds were monstrous, pink tinged with the rich blue sky behind it, like the first view of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World. It was a marvel to hold: the early rising winter North Star. I imagined your true self weightless, being carried by a hundred magpies over Norwich, over the sea, over us. Heading to that star. Second one to the right and straight on til’ morning. Heaven is not real, but you and I have long put our faith and time into imaginary worlds, Neverland, Neo-LA, Planet X, Tatooine, us. In those infinite realities time was not linear, disease was something we gave to minor roles, for us to work out our pre-emptive grief. I tricked emotions, however unstable, into wearing themselves out in these spaces. The lasting effect however has just given me more to mourn over.

The realities we created for ourselves were closed. The gates shut. Half of the occupants slaughtered. Vanished. My occupants couldn’t exist without the validation of yours so soon they disappeared too. The moment you ‘died’ (I say it like that because I think you were gone before they switched off the machine) I saw the faces of our selves, our characters in the sky. Like bloody Mufasa or something. They were smiling, perhaps because they could finally combine back into one soul that was free of illness, judgement and family obligation. I was happy that you weren’t in pain anymore but I was alone. Staring into those clouds as the sun set was like standing on the edge of a very deep dark hole, it did not threaten to swallow me but simply said ‘I am here when you are ready’.

I have been down that hole a few times since this moment, after more people left me, I changed so much without giving permission. I didn’t know how to be alive: other people told me how to do it, and how I was doing it wrong. Grief is not something you learn like manners, it is instinctive, unpredictable and disarming. I have been grieving for you this whole time, behind surviving. I do not believe this bullshit about you being an angel, or ‘with me always in my heart’. That’s crap, I know you thought that too. All I have is this made up world, a few selfies and this pull, like a phantom limb, tugging at me to follow you into the sky.

Play Next: ALONE by Heart

In an attempt to boost my writing again, I’m sitting down on this terrifyingly hot day, to talk about being alone. I recently decided to date myself, not a hard decision after a string of one-time encounters and several crap ghosts. I haven’t been single for a very long time, and now that I am also living alone I get to really take to understand my ways. So, as well as learning how to be by myself and comfortable I am also unlearning toxic patterns, or trying to, in between episodes of Easy and American Gods. I’m sure there are countless lists out there about things you discover when you’re 30 something, single and alone, but none of them tell you what to do when your Cleansing Elemental Ceremony goes up in literal flames. I’m not going to do a list, don’t worry. That would be hard to do not only in the heat but also because I’m on my period and I might cry. 

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Luckily for me, I’m an only child so I LOVE being alone. I feel like in your 20s there’s real push to be social, FOMO is a real thing for a lot of people. I definitely had it, even before i moved to Bristol I was burning out, but I had the energy to keep me going. In your 30s you can just say I’m tired, I’m staying inside all weekend to watch Planet Earth and no one cares. It’s pretty great. I have grown up being by myself, my room has always been my safe space. I think that having a space that just belongs to you is really important and I have been striving for that ultimate safe space which I now have in my very own place. It’s a great feeling, knowing you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. I’m really grateful for everything I’m surrounded by. And you know what? It is ok to be alone, I don’t feel guilty or get FOMO anymore. I go to the cinema and out to eat alone and I recently took a solo trip to Wales. I changed my perception of all love songs, they are all about me by me now. I’m comfortable with my own limits and I’m enjoying my own company. I will make as much time for myself in the week, to read, to be mindful and check in. Though I’m finding it hard to let go of things that only chip at my self worth. I am definitely not alone in that. Still, taking a break from dating (or in my case desperately seeking validation from bumble interactions) is turning out to be a positive thing. I’ve got shit to work out, and I do that best in my own space. Sorry, potential lovers, I’m listening to Lizzo and eating nuggets.

Update: Sestinas, LAD$ and a new C&B episode!

I’m feeling oddly motivated today, despite the fact that the hot weather is making  me quite drowsy and low energy. I have a moon app (yup, that’s right) and today is a full moon, or the Buck Moon (my last name is Hart, an old word for ‘stag’) and the moon is in Capricorn which means I have ALL THE POWER, probably. That’s how it works right?

Pretty proud of myself this morning, I wrote my first ever Sestina! I was inspired by some new work by Deanna Rodger that I’ve been reading over. She’s a wonderful poet who is currently embarking on an Instagram project called @whoknowspoetry, as a sought after poetry educator, I cannot recommend following this page enough! A Sestina is quite hard to do, but really fun. You start with six lines, the last word on every line becomes your six words that you must put on the end of every line in five more stanzas, in different orders. Here’s a snippet at my attempt:

The train is uncomfortable
to sit on, back too straight
my daddy-long-legs
kick the seat in front
cramp appear
I feel older than ever

As if age is really some great front
that we all bravely appear
for, in a queue for, well, ever.
We all wanted to be straight
before we got wet between the legs
and made PE uncomfortable.

What’s great is that I started off talking about a train journey, which I always find really uncomfortable, I am aware of my body so much when trying to sit on public transport. It quickly turned into something on queerness, and feeling uncomfortable because of that instead. Shocked myself I did! Sometime writing in form can be quite daunting, and I feel self conscious like some Oxford professor is going to pop up behind my sofa and scoff: ‘What are you doing, Bridget? Stop before you hurt yourself!’ This never happens of course, and I always surprise myself. Today I will walk down the street thinking  about how I wrote a Sestina today, and that’s pretty great.


In other news, I am preparing for a gig this Saturday at the Chelsea! The LAD$ Collective are doing a bit of a summer party to raise some funds, sell the new zine and just hang out! I’ve been quite anxious, and therefore avoiding details because I haven’t put on a gig since before Stace died and it is quite stressful! I think we’re on top of it though, after a discussion. H and I had a big honest chat about our anxieties and limitations, and we came up with solutions to help lighten each other’s loads. I think it’s really important to create space for these conversations. I have denied myself so many experiences in the past because of my own limitations, and the fact that stress is a big trigger for me, but actually sometime pressure is good, it’s healthy. It’s important to overcome and achieve, so that you have more ammo next time the demons come back. We’re really excited to have a DJ set  from Suniti Sunmonkey, and bands Aufbau Principle and GHUM play on Saturday. We also have a pop disco, garden games and mocktails (affectionally called CuntTails). We wanted to make the event as accessible to everyone as we could, so we’re starting at 3pm for you to be able to bring your families. Find out more info by clicking the image below:

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I am also really happy about this month’s Chips and Beans episode! It’s a special one, featuring interviews, clips and tracks from Decolonise Fest at DIY Space for London! My co-host Cassie went along for the weekend to enjoy a space for people of colour, by people of colour. The interviews with organisers Marcus and Estella are really informative and interesting. We’ve included tracks from CECILIA and WEEDRAT, so make sure you listen to EPISODE 14!


 

Anyway guys, it’s hot, I’m already ready for bed, but it’s X-Ray Spexicise tonight so I’ve got to get my energy up! Stay hydrated, pals. x

Escape – Blue Bedroom

I have a tradition: every time I move house, I sit in my empty room to say goodbye and reflect on the things that have happened there….

Blue Bedroom

As someone who has became adept at preparing for the worst, escaping is something that I do often and well. ‘Well’ meaning that I can successfully avoid parts of my life that are too stressful, or people that are hurting me. I use many things to escape: exercise, sleeping, reading, watching endless tv and smoking a lot of weed. Physical escape is not always an option for me, I am a working class woman who’s priorities have never been to travel. I don’t think about going on holiday, or a short break, and when I do it is only ever a pipeline dream.

But I have recently moved into my own flat which is a very big and lucky shift for me. The house I lived in before I shared with my long term partner, and our friend who owned the house. This residence reminds me now of a sponge, sagging with major life events. In the bedroom that I painted galaxy blue, I got the last text my best friend would send before she died. My partner clumsily navigated his way through polyamory and I pretended I wanted it too. I stuffed every triggered emotion under the mattress and eventually it became too hard for us both to sleep on. We ended our relationship after a long summer escaping in festivals, drugs, other people. When I couldn’t escape anymore I sank into the bed that was now just mine, and couldn’t move again.

I have a tradition: every time I moved house, I sit in my empty room to say goodbye and reflect on the things that have happened there. After one more glance around at the blue bedroom, I turned off the light and shut the door. Too many goodbyes in that room, in that house, and it was time to leave and not look back. I have lived alone for a few months now and escaping really is just coming home, and existing in a space that is just for me. Where I can express anything, dance around in my underwear, fall off-balance when I do yoga, leave the washing up for a whole day and just be myself. I have gotten so good at performing outside, that real reprieve is sitting on the sofa, watching Grace and Frankie and picking my toenails.

 

Home is Bus Ride – The Morning Star

Home is a Bus Ride is a poem inspired by the number 3 bus route from my mum’s house in Lordswood, Southampton to the central station. This is also the route I would use when I lived in the city to get around. Getting on the bus after two or three years away, it was striking to note all the differences and things that have remained the same.

Going home is weird for lots of us who have moved away. For me, Southampton is a city of memories, of people that I have lost, and for a long time it was somewhere that didn’t bring me joy. I felt that every time I went home, my identity shifted uncomfortably, trying to grapple with the changes. It was like my mind didn’t know how to exist without Stacey, without Ivo. I just didn’t want to go through that every time.

It is easier now – I have reconciled a lot and this bus journey is now something to write about, to try and capture the community on the long Shirley Rd where I spent most of my life. Layering years upon years until now. I am almost an outsider (never fully) so the distance has given me some tools to take notes. I miss my Grandad’s favourite curry house, and I miss being completely dazzled by musicals at the Mayflower Theatre with my mum. Relationships with a place can be complex, and I might spent my whole life trying to put that into words.

Thanks to Poetry on the Picketline for selecting my work!

Home is a Bus Ride – The Morning Star 03/04/2019

(Pic: Osmond Brooks – Crusty Cottage had brilliant iced buns!)

 

NaPoWriMo: Day 4

Day 4 and the prompt is a sad poem. All of my poems come from some kind of sadness or nostalgia. I was going to attempt a sonnet, but my PMS is really bad and my thoughts are singular and obsessive, and today is one of those days where i truly believe i am the madwoman in the attic.

The madwoman
in the attic is
knocking on
the floor
the door
my right
temple.

The madwoman
comes in
the weak
moments
climbs into
burning cloth

The madwoman
tells half truths
half other
breaks
happiness like dusk

The madwoman
promises
to never exist
without me.