Percentages

So, we spend 30% of our lives in a half death
dozing, turning over and snoring & if lucky, dream.

Another 33% at our desks
2% getting there and getting back,

1.5% sorting colours from whites, ironing shirts,
only for entropy to wrinkle it all.

If you’re like me, you spend another 1% optimising the 99%;
clean as you cook,
brush teeth in shower,
TED talks in toilet.

And then you have to vacuum and bleach
as per the aforementioned entropy;
make money, eat, get Wifi for the flat,
clean boots, buy fruits, pay rent,
ring parents, patch torn trousers,

our lives and everything we touch is geared
towards destruction and decay
and we spend almost 98% of it
pretending the dust won’t eat us too.

This is why, as we perish
we must, when hearing a song from 2007
dance, even a little shimmy in the metro will do.
when a lyric slaps with the right rhythm
wiggle our butts in the office chair even as our lower backs creak,
when the party quietens, bust out a beyonce ballad
sing the high notes, then laugh at ourselves.

for as we fall apart, we must let go.

Guest Pastors

I will never forget this one guest pastor
who liked his eggs – specifically- runny and only runny
and sent the waitress back three times,
his growing wrath cooking his collar,
(mum and I still laugh about this).

What about the guest pastor who walked into the living room,
glanced at my playstation and decried the “devil box” consuming me.

there was another with a really big gap tooth
and when his sermon picked up, an excited whistle flew out.

oh, this guest pastor who walked out of the bathroom
with my towel and said “hope it’s ok, i used your toothbrush”.

what about that pastor who after an evening meal
called my sister, “babe”.

the guest pastor who insisted on
the five star Hilton by the quayside.

the white guest pastor who cracked one about
Africans being rowdy and no one laughed.

the other white guest pastor who at my godson’s naming ceremony
couldn’t think of any other theme than slavery and persecution.

the American guest pastor with an exceptional appetite
and a waistline to match.

the guest pastor who at the end of the conference, stood by the door
and was recruiting for his church like a Navy admin at a high school.

the many guest pastors I gave up my room for
including the ones who spoke in tongues at 1am;

thanks for the parables.

On Swimming

First of all, relax
the water can smell fear,
smile at your reflection.

if you breathe out,
your lungs will breath in for you; i promise
your body wants to live.

kick when you inhale,
kick when you exhale
and keep kicking inbetween.

where your head tilts
there your body will follow,
for balance, keep a level head.

when the deep confronts you
do not be afraid, the technique is the same:
relax, breathe, kick.

I know that you know

but I need you to know
and know now
that all we have
for sure
is now.

This is why thoughts and intentions
don’t matter when we’ve got words and actions like:
Yes, No, I need you, stay,
I like it when you stroke my hair and scratch my scalp,
thanks for getting batteries for the remote,
the way you laugh makes me glad,
your podcast is dope,
I’m proud of you.
I love you bro.
Yeah I called, it’s not urgent but I want you to know
I appreciate you. I made pizza and I’m bringing it over.
It’s getting a Saturday latte with a mate and listening to what they say,
it’s being up at unreasonable hours for stupid reasons,
like 2am drives to the beach with warm maccy d’s
it’s ringing mum and dad or equivalents just to chat
it’s postcards from southern France,
hand written letters with foreign stamps,
it’s making time, it’s being there, it’s being here
it’s sheathing your tongue when acid brews in your gut,

it’s also letting dead things die whether they float or sink.

good words unspoken will mould and blue,
pride will rob you of light and turn your breath stale,
every now, we choose which fragrance to bloom.

Worried

I’m worried that my Toshiba laptop is a couple of boots
away from being unworthy of a boot sale.

I’m worried that I’ll always have hayfever
and summer will forever be clogged nose and mouth breathing.

I’m worried about finding a job that grabs
my happiness and stuffs it in the cubbyhole with other staff items.

I’m worried I don’t go home enough.

I’m worried about my bank account
as I watch savings leap off ledgers like lemmings.

I’m worried about the gravitational pull between
my belt and waistline, I’m putting asteroids on.

I’m worried about finding that elusive stream of love,
me being prone to roam wanton torrents of desire.

I’m worried that I devalue myself
with trinkets disguised as soft lips and warm hands.

I’m worried about increasing political polarisation:
intolerant lefties and righties who have to be right (and often white).

I’m worried about the lack of seriousness given to sea rising
and the mounting cost of more CO2 in our lungs.

I’m worried that my dreams stay bound to the reams of my mind
and bullied to the seams with the reality of living.

I’m worried that you expect me to have answers…

Sometimes we live many lifetimes

These moments shine like dots on a galactic timeline
some are craters deep and canyons wide
with more lessons to mine or memories to hide

1. A last tryst on a cold December evening
where she told you in an hour, more
far more than she ever did over the last five, six years
probably because you were too busy filling her mouth,
now you listen and you understand and you hold her.

2. A family reunion turned bitter,
only the closest to you can light a fire that wild
and you punch a fence, your neighbour’s wooden fence
because you need to learn a permanent lesson about release and meditation
and how folly still rests in your bosom like shrapnel in your joint.

3. That skype conversation we had before you went out
with your hair slicked back, curls at the end
you rest your head on the wall
and if a look had a sigh, I heard it
and that was the end.

4. After an amateur orchestral recital
the way you put your palm against my cheek
like a leaf caressing sun rays
you made me feel like the sun on the 42 to York.

5. The intensity of your desire
the trepidation in my heart
the novelty of this intimacy
my word, your hips were Everest.

6. University library, way past midnight
deadline imminent. And spending two, three hours curating
and rehashing poem upon poem. Another hour fixing one haiku’
Because no matter what, let the heart take precedence.

7. That Friday night in first year
where my friends were down and your cousins were up
and Norwegian vodka was a thing and things got sticky –
being nineteen.

8. Wondering why we were in uncle’s house
and why dad was painting the walls
and why immigration laws meant
mum and dad’s masters were of no merit.

These moments shine like dots on a galactic timeline
some are craters deep and canyons wide
with more lessons to mine or memories to hide,
here’s to more verses and multiverses in this lifetime.

Tips for being seventeen (and above)

Contrary to your mum or the internet,
don’t be yourself – you’ll stagnate and stink.

Like the universe, you’re slowly dying
at least be a ray of light.

No one thinks about you as much as you think about yourself.
If it helps, you will do more embarrassing things eventually, embrace it.

Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text when horny.
Unsolicited dick pics will never work out in your favour.

Alcohol is overrated, it won’t mask a tadpole personality.
Drugs can be fun, don’t recommend them,

Scientists say everybody’s stomach bacteria is different,
the brain is equally unpredictable.

Don’t follow anyone’s advice on women,
they don’t make sense anyway.

Don’t judge people who smoke,
at least their vices are visible.

The list of those who were only gets longer,
don’t keep a list.

Some people will say you’re crass, crude and inconsiderate
maybe they’re right, maybe they’re absolutely correct

Still, don’t let another fickle being define you.
Your taste in music is as revolutionary as the Segway,

Your thoughts are original until you read more. Listen
more. Don’t argue with people you don’t care about.

Romeo and Juliet were failed by a state without
adequate social and mental care. Support our NHS.

Don’t feel torn for too long, don’t be mean to yourself,
remember you’re a constellation of stars.

Look in the mirror, puff up your chest and quietly shout
“I am great” before you brush your teeth. Yeah, like Tarzan.

You are entitled to tears at least every November
           And whenever.

Support a charity and don’t tweet-brag about it.
Use your fists in a ring, or go for a walk.

Your birthday is for those who feed and shelter you,
don’t be a dick. Don’t give unsolicited advice.

Aunty Tina

Panting from your second to third shift
an eyewitness said you left the earth
before slumping to the ground,
paramedics said it was most likely your heart.

Bequeathing fair complexion to your sons,
memories and old scents with a father
who buries his smile in gravel,
whose head hung bowed in the back pews for a while
until he left, faith in a sopor.

Your oldest is six and has your lips
your youngest is four, a faint spoor of you.

For a long time, they may not know the often irritable
woven wool spun around spicy traditional meals,
knitted in numerous missed calls, mundane voicemails,
soft wrath, soothing lullabies,
on itchy January mornings like these
they may never know that warmth.

Lists

Things that stress me out:
Fees. Bills. Applications. Job or PhD? Thesis. Essays. Deadline projects. Staying in touch.
The bottomless pit of introspection. Inconsistent meditation. Skipping gym.
Taking out the bin. Chipped ceramics. Unopenable tuna tins. Forgetting packed lunches.
Open microwave doors. Guest toilets that won’t flush. Frightful dreams.

Words that I like:
Dawn. Dusk. Quintessential. Pharaoh. Swift. Twilight. Autumn; rather than Fall.
Sustainable. Solar plexus. Tranquillity; tempted to tattoo it down my chest.
Thighs; preferably preceded with thick. Gazelle; horns sharp, twisted and tall.
Kiss. Lick. Bite. Lust and Summer; seasons best enjoyed undressed.
Qi; potential sixty two points on Scrabble, a life force when played right.
Triumph. Grace. Villanelle. Nemesis. Willy. Boobies; my first explicit search.
Giggle. Voluptuous. Suave. Cinnamon. Bun. Celsius; rather than Fahrenheit.
Whisper. Lavender. Sweet. Silence; as the reverential solace in church.

Things that I like:
The colour purple. Clean floors, matching tiles, smooth sheets. Quiet coach F on the Eastern Link.
Defiant desert shrubs. Closed doors. Seedless grapes. Greasy drippy bacon. Three egg omelettes.
To do Lists. Corsets and high heels; together. Pepperoni pizzas in the AM post cheap drinks.
Cold water the morning after. Crunchy peanut butter on toast. Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough.
Tea tree oil. Peppermint tea. Naps. Dead leaves. Ink on Papyrus. Story telling trees.
Double duvets in the winter. Flight tickets. Notes in my wallet. Fellatio.

2015 Resolutions:
Be there. Wear more purple. Drink more water. Eat more pizzas, less peanut butter. Get that tattoo.
Listen. Laugh without cause. Call mum on random Mondays. Write sonnets, sing songs, kiss more.
Breathe in, breathe out, purposefully, fifteen minutes each day. Put others on the prayer menu.
Read books written by women. Be unnecessarily kind (to yourself too). Put gratitude at your core.

Birthday

I

I had to take out the bins on my birthday
which sounds like a metaphor with depth
but really, I had to take out the bins today

and isn’t that life?

You can fall in love
but still have to do the dishes
and remember not put colours with whites

You may crash out of love
but still have to decide if you want to put
8.3% of your salary into your pension

You can throw parties and
celebrate diamond anniversaries
but still have to bleed radiators before winter hits

You could perforate the hearts of others
with callous words and thorny thoughts
but you still have to pay your phone bill

You may have cashed in at the table
or received a cracking company bonus
but still have to defrost the chicken before you leave.

 

II

I can’t remember when I stopped making wishes and blowing out candles,
maybe when I realised faith fails to translate into finances, we never went to Disneyland dad
or later with bouts of terrifying self-awareness, calculating each year’s gaping mishaps
who on this earth deserves to be fêted, let alone the writer (or the reader).
All I want is a bathrobe and some fluffy house slippers
give me grandeur as I entrench myself into the wanders of adulthood.

 

III

I used to fear that giving voice to my fears
was like releasing gusts into pirate sails
now I write them instead,
anchoring them to sheets

1. The death of my parents
2. That I may never be loved
3. That I will never be satisfied

a. It will not be Hades nor Anubis that comes to collect the souls of papa and mama
they will live long and shower their great grandchildren with gifts
sleeping and slipping into the arms of the Lord of Hosts, of that I’m certain.

b. A flower seemingly predisposed to displaying petals to weeds
nestling those who nourish with nettles, is what I’ve been
but even considering what my inner most thoughts say,
I’m fucking fantastic
and since Christ did indeed die for me
earthly love just won’t do.

c. Alas, the last I am yet to conquer,
will I be resigned to the dredge of modern monotony:
marriage mortgage mortuary
what if my true love’s kiss just won’t do
most of all, what if at the end of my days
I look back and shiver at my lack of progress, a pitiful pilgrim,
even when written, ’tis haunting.

 

IV

Birthdays aren’t for me
they’re for my mother, father, sister
and all the angels above
singing, strumming, soothing my soul.

Lesson

At times the transgression of my hands and iniquity of my mind

Berate me, shake me and scare me till to darkness I bind

And in shadows, sorrows find.

 

Those were yesterdays.

 

These days, when the wind whooshes through

The button holes in my shirt and embraces my chest

Like it kisses the bees and carries the seeds

And the sun pours light into pores and sinks life into skin

Trickling honey onto lips and anointing me like I’m prophet and king

At last I know to speak to my soul with kindness