1. The Kitchen
eight days and nights of the painbirds –
flapping and feeding and shitting voices into me.
I sit, or pace up and down stairs,
or try to lie down,
crouching behind the Ikea clothes rail
in our bedroom.
My head is an electric meat-slicer:
the painbirds feed my gut to a circular blade,
churning a severe angle,
a black-blue grind.
I am paining
I am pig iron
I am chain sore.
2. The Bathroom
A Surgeon-General’s Warning for Paul
If you sud
den – – ly
s t o p
experience certain side-elements
An increase of boost-freedom [see notes 7.41 to 7.4/9]
has also been observed
smoking when experiencing unwanted trauma –
aural hallucination –
3. The Bedroom
I hope you are well and enjoying the scenery.
I have some news –
I walked to Leyton Library,
typed my instructions,
printed them out
and read them
over and over and over
lying in our new Ikea pine bed.
4. The Lounge
Self-Medicating with a Cigarette
1. Hand-roll and light a cigarette – try not to think how Lou would light my cigarette
2. Puff hard on it
3. Roast-up tip until glowing red – try not to remember how Lou put on lipstick
4. Pick a recent blister from anywhere on the body
5. Pop the blister – try not to think of Lou’s last birthday and the champagne breakfast
6. Take a long drag
7. Press tip onto weeping blister until the cigarette goes out
8. Re-light cigarette
9. Repeat until the painbirds are silenced
5. The Garden
I remember the time we parked at the docks; the night-growl of freight trains, the cranes filling ships; I couldn’t sleep. By dawn you were twitchy, needed a drink; after the first gulp of Tenants Super you were sick – by the second can we counted the cargo containers stacked like stickle-bricks. It’s 5 a.m. and I still can’t sleep; I try to button-up my eyes, the arch of my cramped foot tightens; on my shoulder is the rose tattoo you needled me to have and would kiss when we made love. I clung to your blue-black frame as you creased and slowly folded into Claremont Road, the incident tape is still wrapped around us; I thrum and purr for your touch, lying here, curled around your silence.
Artwork by Paul Hawkins
Author picture by Owen Shirley