Name Of Love
Once (when we were together)
I called Mark, Ali.
He didn't hear, thank god;
He was a precious man,
Still is -
A categorical 'nice guy'.
Later, with Ali, I called him Mark,
It was a nagging “Maaark,”
And he heard.
At least it wasn't during sex.
Now (with neither)
I don't really mind what anyone's called:
Sweetie, Baby, Honey, Darling, Lollypop, Hedgehog -
It's all nice.
Apart from when it isn't;
Those 'sickly', 'saccharine' 'terms of endearment'
Used to nauseate Ali.
Sorry, Ali (I hope your life is more savoury now).
Recently I remembered my own name,
Which – frankly - is a relief after so many years
Of forgetting how to address myself.
I'm still working on making self-love
Feel as fulfilling as being fucking adored
And adorably fucked though,
To be honest.
The problem is:
Every Tom, Dick or Harry will do me,
But not just any Tom, Dick or Harry will do.
Harry's good 'on paper', bad 'in the sack';
Tom's good 'in the sack', bad 'on paper'.
And Dick's just a dick
Who loved me so hard
And then screwed me over.
He penetrated me so deeply
That I had to leave the country
To get him from under my skin.
Though of course I hoped he'd care
(Come, galloping to Gatwick,
Like a lovesick stallion),
I didn't board an aircraft
To get under his skin
(Aggravated eczema and all),
That I used to stroke,
And rub medicated lotion into.
No, I did not go to Timbuktu
To 'get over you'.
But I was elevated,
Over your raised tones
And your low blows.
Though my heart's still up in the air
(It used to be floating on air),
I did get 40,000 feet over you.
From 40,000 feet you didn't even exist!
Did you feel that,
Your temporary disappearance?
I didn't even tell the police you were gone.
Good thing too, because -
Though I've never seen you in Enfield,
Or at all in London
Since I hit the tarmac (running),
Would've been a false alarm
And the police don't need time wasters,
Not with all the fake terror threats
And Jack the Lads to contend with.
So I got you out from under my skin,
But now you're in my hair;
If won't embrace your brush,
Please get out -
If not for my sake, for Pete's.
I apologise for laughing, when a colleague mocked your hair.
Or, rather, alluded to the lack of it. That feigned squeaking
As he rubbed an imaginary sponge across your scalp. The
Subtle pulse in the jaw; the clench. The high laugh, again.
I apologise for speaking and speaking out, driving my words
Hard as threaded screws against you, when you hold me up
To the light and scrutinise me. The flushed attack. The swift
Monologue which catalogues your failings. You recede.
And those moments, when I roll my eyes, because you never
Answer quickly when presented with a choice, and you snore
In gasped rhythm and then silence, asphyxiating loudly, dead,
And coming back to life. And speak so, so loud, in silent rooms.
And when you drive in sickening circles, seeking out the ideal
Space to position your car, your car that you examine with the
Attention of a mother inspecting a child’s rash, and finally, you
Seize your spot and lose it, and swear, and circle again. Again.
And, the way you step backwards to give me space to pay, at
Every counter, suddenly vacant and gazing elsewhere, for
Your eyes to refocus when prompted by the torn-off receipt
And, proffer a note finally, and pause to accept grateful thanks.
And, God, the way you are blind to the putrid meat grazing
Languidly on the salad in the ‘fridge, blind to the filthy
Clothing creeping up the walls, the babies grimy, grass high,
Yet, laser-eyed you seize eagerly on the wine glass, empty.
Oh, God. The way you line your slippers side by side, your
Pathetic, fraying symbols of elderly decay, and move a bloody
Cushion every time you sit, the way you sit, protruding stomach,
bloated with empty, brightly-coloured crap, to then snap out,
In frustration because your belt, long-suffering, work-worn
reptile of leather has stretched out, and groaned, and died-
And this of course, will happen in the morning, where you
dawdle emptily in every space I need to be, where you sit
Naked air-drying, and talk to me each time I am stepping
Out of sight, and spread bristle iron filings across the chrome
And wet the goddamned bath mat and leave it down, wrinkled,
Sweating, and you grab my sagging tits, entranced, years
After they changed their role, and how you still take sugar in
Your tea, and break all of the promises you made. All of them.
And how you wander oblivious among doors of flecked gloss,
And fingermarks etched into windows, and smile benignly
Over a table ringed with spills and stains, yet freeze in dread
If a baby, brimming with laughter, smudges her peached
Warm face to imprint her joy against your pristine spectacles.
I apologise, sincerely, for all of this. For the hard clenched
Abdomen of frustration. The deep sighs, the bitter stares.
But. Love. Above all this, this dusty detritus of bound time,
Above that I cried, that I sighed, stayed silent, laughed.
A truth lies unspoken. Veiled beneath layer over layer.
I stand above half-smooth shirts, steaming your safety, your
Scent, gasping you in to the centre to hold. Pausing at
Garrulous ghost conversations, to laugh in to an empty
Room; for the stolen request of cold feet against the
Sleeping, empty hulk of you. For the craving that surges,
Bereaved, on a train, alone. For the sly sketching of hands
Along familiar curves and dips, a snatched kiss, complicit grin,
The stereo words, the surged worship sated in glimpses,
The secretive mating conducted with kid-fearing speed.
Genes that combined, for the umbilical-bound strength,
The quietness of knowing, this synchronised, unkempt life,
For the forever and ever, the promise, the riches, the bare.
The health, the riches, the vows; terror of death separation.
Of all that we were, and are, and above all, all that is You.
That long summer
the grasses rose like sighs
as soft voices mingled
new growth and old ease.
Amongst the autumn colours
we danced brighter, bolder
than we’d ever been
heralding our return.
Even in contained winter
the paths seemed straight
and true - led to the certainty
of your well-lit hearth.
But spring turned cruel
your gate is locked, my dreams
grow wild inside our garden
planted, tended, neglected
in the name of love.