Archive for November 2015

Black Tie Ball

And he wore my father’s shirt and shoes
And I my mother’s dress.

His shirt sleeves were pulled back from fingertips
(which were always marked by the marks of the mandolin strings
that marked his starving artist life
and his unsuitedness for exquisite suits)
Pulled back by coiled brass armbands
that I thought looked flash, though pinched his biceps pink.
My father a giant of a man,
and though his feet quite understated,
it took padding for them to hold to the heels of an under-six-foot man,
Which did not lend to immaculate dancing
But the shining two thousand and fifteen pennies
wedged in the penny loafer gap
Glinted. We were much later told
It was vulgar to place the penny in both.
His bow tie hung to the left and it belonged to my brother.
The suit was his own, new-bought. Midnight blue and glossy and brimming
with the little-boy now grown, who wished to be James Bond
-A dinner jacket not a tuxedo
 my mother corrected me-
And more expensive than he could afford, though not expensive either.
Sold to us by a man in the department store
menswear basement,
Who aimed his questions at me and mourned the decline of sartorialism.
And outside the dressing room I sat on a faux leather chair,
In my love’s woollen jumper and my mum’s shabby trainers,
Inelegant waiting to make my judgement.

And I was hot in the black thickly silk dress, now mine.
My hair in rigid puffs of nineteen-fifties-style hairsprayed whirl,
Which I’d paid much too much money for
And which made me look like
my grandmother
but in a good way
and I’m sure she’d ‘ve been proud, had she lived to see the day.
And I beamed- this was my time to shine in a black tie dress.
My shape and skin were never designed for beach-side bikinis, short shorts and sunrays.
Eye liner was excessive in its new learned flicks
Too narrow and too high.
And the low high heels
nonetheless rendered me
four inches taller than my true love,
Though his masculinity,
trussed in a my brother’s naval officer’s cummerbund,
survived.
And I wore a pair of maternal cream pearls
although not trusted to make an outing
with the first communion string.
And my guilty affectation of elbow length
white satin gloves were sticky
in the heat of a June that wasn’t May.
And my eyes were hot too and stung in the air of oncoming dawn
having spent too much of the previous day
crying academic tears,
And I wore glasses new-bought for new-strained
academic eyes,
Glasses too big,
chosen for fashion not for their ability
not to slip to the ground
when a five a.m. head lolls against the shoulder
padded shoulder of a gallant man.

The anticlimax of beautiful young people all night in lights with music and comedy and magic tricks,
novel food and drinks that don’t stop.
And of not being Elizabeth Bennet and having already seen your
Mr Darcy in his grey underwear frilly nightshirt.
And of not being the grownups we stole our finery from
Who wear them wishing they were young.
Though always feeling we had always had the class for this game.
Though always old new begged borrowed blue.

-

Black Tie Ball by Freya Isabella.


Who Do You Think You're Not?

Without waves the sea would sink,
but they roll in sets, every one different to the last.

Imitating how to think is to learn and to be thought of as kind.
Devote what you can, if not all of time,
to following them with a pen or that brush,
                                          but do not copy.
                          Or erase.
Smile in everyone’s photograph. Also:
                                                            stand up straight,
                                                            have a shave,
                                                            look like you know what disaster is.
                                                    But do not copy,
the sheer terror of that should've killed you, if not
already. Stitch intricacies into
pavement cracks with a chunky knit kit and
a factory of cats. Do anything
that isn’t copying; tracing well; watching
back to back repeats of Graham Norton
with Adele, or that Swedish series that’s
a metaphor for hell. It starts at eight-
thirty, or you can catch-up on the spoiler cast.
Or Nine-thirty, you can't miss that. Plus, one 
can’t go on without speaking up to his
name. Answers of, i answer with shame is
plagiarising those bed bound ability fools
and that doesn’t sit well with me. Stay up
to date at your own pace, leave little behind
for clearing. Steal only when necessary,
demand only once, then kill them with
kindness: legacy is not key. The key is
to continue in the wake of work
and chase every wave, some would say just
be. 

layovers never last as long as you want them to

three we’s and two conjunctions later.

We shrugged up together opposite space heaters in tog 9 suits and
reeled off the presidents in order from cute
                                                               to
                                                           present, Wikipedia entries at eleven.

We’ve shouted down, across the table, over the fence to one another:
work’s soon 
and Netflix is on,
are you coming to bed or just giving in?
Phone now.
You may still be charged and calls aren’t recorded but I trust you won’t waste another wasted vote and lord yourself a winner again, gloat until the wheels come off like when you won the boat race last year by a furlong-
you’ve been a cox about winning ever since.

We’ve paid for this house with more than rent
and panned drainpipes for pennies,
our belt loops held together the pounds
in the form of whittled bellies
and camembert rings. 

And on that postcode lottery morning of cold showers and sharing, remember,
we won the fucking jackpot,
                                             shaved at the same time in the same mirror with what little leaked from the boiler.
It’s clearer now the condensation has settled;
that wet room in work station study - ‘or if a futon fits it’s your’s for extra four hundred quid’ - was all the vanity we could muster.
We tamed our quiffs for one another,
shaped pubes into manes, back lit the shit out of them,
we made do and blended in and were single-handedly,
                                                                        doggedly,
responsible for deforestation and bad brows.
We played scoreless scrabble in the dark and that’s how you left the house.

And the dark matter of that leaving happened whilst the universe cooled slightly
as clothes don’t go cold immediately.
There’s still a little of you leftover heaped in the corner of this rented room keep we’d hoarded home
and now I don’t know what a great lover is
or will be.

The man with the piano was wrong

Place me leaving towards mountains
and a balcony
and a view with a room behind almost empty:
no more news today.

These repertoire roles
                                   that never get old
are headlines of cathodes and of yellow brick roads,
where we’re going
nobody knows,
but we’re told by despair before eleven hundred whats
and whys
and the news anchor’s afloat, tie him to the side,
this shit
just
got
real.

If you’ve just turned up, news just in:
miscalculated spontaneity can be traced by its fin.
It swims in cool and collected,
in pools of would this be a problem if we burnt up in cahoots?
It's silence they’re after, boots upon bombs,
and they wish to scratch whistles from Champs-Élysées
into fistfuls of body from the meat of that song.

This isn’t coincidence anymore but comfort to someone who is witness to bad art.
So I’ll stay looking at this alpine view until parts do us due and we battle
in act two,
make up as we take it off,
and stop pretending we hate
‘cos if not the man with the piano was wrong. 

I stole Halloween for you*

You were led here by a handful of trouble,
probably cologne smacked and perfumed in the rubble of last year’s fancy dress.

Tonight, your lashes will fall and matte with the dance floor;
tonight, you’ll pickle in the cask of this club,
bolero until your heels rub from dances with ghouls you won’t remember the name of,

and I’ll be watching you, learning lessons as you go,
as you leave, stumble up up and over into look up left:
                                                                                        Maccy D’s is closed.
You are trouble,
and dripping from that mouth of yours is a slur of
well wounded, cherry red after-taste that dresses
argument upon argument in the sour haste of all you've held your tongue for.

Now, it’s out in the open: the one you came for left with another,
and you’ve collapsed on the floor in a burning mess, bonfire at a vineyard,
torn between,
                    1) home and your own bed, or
                    2) be relieved in the arms of some teenage-ninja-stranger in their nest,
more trouble than they're worth, but rest assured you’ve got this.
They’re from the office, your class, that seminar or halls of residence,
they’re the usual suspect covered up under a mask of 
landslide make-up that sweats into swells and runs down
          over stubble,
          over cheeks,
          bores along
          unstoppable
               into
the hem line of their new green t-shirt.

I hide behind shaved legs and ill fitting dresses to blend in,
so count yourself lucky ‘cos for some we’ll be going home alone to
kick heels from the edge of beds back onto floors,
we’ll lint roll the fuck out of everything we own, stressed
as we chip excess fake blood from dressing gowns,
sleeves rolled up and it’s four in the morning. 

You pretend to be a character for less than twelve hours
and don’t use the excuse to act like someone else,
as for me I’m the only lady of the night you'll ever know
risking it as a Pretty Daddy,
the masculine Monroe.

-

*written for La Raza.