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Nine Poems by Moss


Image by Moss


1. YEAH, BUT DID YOU KNOW?


My class thinks I will give them answers

And I am fucked

If I know

What to give them other than that which we

Should dismantle, smash, abolish NOW


Without

Losing

My Fucking

Job.


Colonial knowledges perpetuated by my precarious employ

And the fuckfuckfuck of relations of power

I wish

We could

Drown


But give them the answers

Cause they

Want a first.





2. AN AFFAIR


Bespectacled, sober:

The morning's birds shake their heads

At what was done in drunken, drug-fuelled darkness


At what behind broken blinds

And bolted doors

Breathed exquisite betrayal

Against your matted monogamy

Monogamy?

Monotony.


"Oh we mustn't, dearest"


Morning's punctured perfume

Of putrid platitudes,

vanquished perfection,

power relations


You will not be mine, of course


Because

We are

Like


An endlessly ampersanded story

Like those told by children on tediously long car journeys

“And and and and and theeen”

Or a hyphenated

Breathe

In-out

In far too long sentences

(Who the fuck writes those sentences anyway?)

But


We are no sentence, babe

Let alone a saga


Just


Parentheses and punctuation -

The flows of prose interrupted:

Exclamations of madness, dot-dot-dots of despair

And the enveloping "we will see, we will see"


As I wait for you

To decide

If you

Want

Me





3. SEASHELLS


Tentative, tactile

A tale began of our own making

We spent that time together

No thought of seashells breaking.


For we scoured seashells on the sea-shore.

The shells we scoured on the sea-shore are seashells, and of this I am sure.

For when we scoured seashells on the sea-shore

Then I'm sure we scoured sea-shore shells

And then searched the shore for more.


Less certain now, though, fragile

A story we couldn’t quite make.

We spent more time together

And the shells began to break.


Until we began shelling one another with seashells on the sea-shore,

The shells we shelled on the shore were wells of hurt, and sometimes more.

For when we shelled seashells from the sea-shore,

Then I’m sure we shelled pain at one another,

And dived the depths for more.


Loving, yet furious

A story becomes unwritten.

We’d spent these years together

Neither of us knew how we’d been bitten.


Trapped now in can’t-flee cells as we shunned sea, it’s shore.

The cells we couldn’t flee from were of our own making: aching, grating, sore.

For in these cannot-flee cells

Then then the sea-shore was no more

We were stuck in couldn’t-be cells, without sea-shells, without doors.


Older now, more weathered

Oh, the sea-shores we had seen.

Unlocked from our cells now,

But I was thoughtless, and you mean.


So left on the beach are seashells, by the sea’s shore.

The shells we’d seen ignored now, shunned seashells, for sure.

But if we'd just see seashells on the sea-shore

Then perhaps we'd search beach for sea-shore shells,

Together, like we had, once more.





4. PLAYING GOD WHEN HE'S RELAPSED


Betty bought a bit of butter

But the bit of butter Betty bought was bitter

So she took it back to the shop

And complained

And was

Like:

'I want better butter under consumer rights legislation'

And no, just kidding


But he bought some benzos

To chase down

His bitter brown to make his

Brittle buzz a bit better



And

I want to help

You



I want to make

It,

You,

Us,

Me

Better,

Better.



Better?


Bitter.

I am sweetness and light when you've been back on the gear

And fuck, isn't that second doctor coming soon?

We've been waiting

For ages

And you're out of intensive care

But you're not going to remember my being here

Later,

Anyway

Are you?



Betterbitter



Bitter now but are you better?

'You're so sweet',

Buttered up


Sometimes a thank you, though sometimes a funeral -

Mostly the memory of my so-called 'sweetness'

Erased

In your befogged forgetfulness

And my own bitter

Resentment



Better

I want to help, say I

But really, I want to

Control an outcome

And erase from the universe

The terrible illness that

Bitters butters

That has taken, takes, ensnares

So many

I love

Want

Need

Making Betty's butter bitter

Because they would or

Could

Or should be

Better

Better better.


Bitter now

Because

Bespectacled and in the light of day

You're worse off than when we fucking got here

WHERE THE FUCK IS BETTY?


'You're playing God'

She tells me over and over

And I know

She is right

Because I cannot

Even make butter better

Let alone

Make better

That, whom, what, which

Does not want to be better made


No amount of Naloxone

Nurturing, nursing, nutrition

Will make him

Better

Better better



Bitter because better bears

Burdens, breaks

And bereavements

From which I've yet

To heal


The betrayal of 'making better'

The not-so-benign making better

The bullshit 'betters' you've put me through


Longing for seashells and sea-shores and

Bartering to

Begin again again again again


But I am not

God



Oh, God


I

Am

Just

Another

Junkie





5. THE NIGHT I KILLED THE SNAIL


I'd set up traps and decoys,

I'd hoped they wouldn't fail.

But I hadn't meant to kill it,

The night I killed the snail.


Instead of sleep, I lay there,

On bedding that smelled stale.

No sleep, no peace, no comfort,

The night I tracked the snail.


I was thinking of you, dearest,

How once you'd been a grail.

To put to shame all chalices

"I've got to find that snail."


I knew I had to leave you,

That ‘reason’ must prevail.

My stomach slowly knotting:

I waited for the snail.


I told myself to end it:

To strike first, move on – INHALE!

To be the one who ends it,

“Where is that fucking snail?”


A sneaking panicked cowardice,

As doubt and fear assailed.

I was on the verge of crying,

When I saw the bloody snail!


It had mocked my traps and decoys,

My defences had been frail.

So with a torch and toolkit,

I flew up to stop the snail!


A beam of light, a tissued pinch,

I crunched it in its trail.

I showed no fucking mercy:

And squished that shitting snail.


The obstacles we overcame, love,

Make for a lovely tale.

But there was no happy after,

For us or for the snail.


And once I came to end it,

My madness didn't fail.

And I know that I did kill us,

The night I killed the snail.





6. (UN)MEETING SOMEONE TWICE MY AGE IN DETOX


Our blunder beats in me still.

In each pulse

A misguided syllable:

I

Liked

You


Your hands on, in, my butt

And there are buts of course

Because

Look

How we met

Meet

And

Meaty meanings of affection

I am not supposed to have


But butt

The sickening food in that place where we found one another

As unpalatable “no dating in the first year of recovery, kids”


And I know

I’d had commitments elsewhere

And the realities of bureaucratic racial capitalism;

the cunting cuts that close detoxes around the country

And that we are lucky to have met at all :

Closures, cuts, carceral so-called 'care'


And yes, I know

the year I came out of my mother's cunt

And the year you came out of yours

And that we shouldn't

No!

“No canoodling, go to your rooms!”


And I know

You didn't het-'get' my gender

Because

You said

You are

Too old

For that nonsense.


But butt


Our blunder beats in me still.

In each pulse

A misguided syllable:

I

Liked

You






7. HOSPITAL LINO

I am

But the nurse is angry

Because I am somehow four NHS numbers

And not my real name or gender

Here


I am

But there are tangles

In my hair and eyelashes

Because the drugs

Didn't work

Again


I am

And the doctor tells me

He's met me before but

I am

Forgetful

And I don't know

Who the fuck he is


I am

Aware that this

Is where we promised to love one another

Forever

But where people I fuck

sometimes take me

Now

Instead


I am

Telling practitioners that the Tories are scum

So they know I don't mind waiting





Longer.


I am

Lingering


In corridors

Or splayed up, out, open

Hooked up to an infernal beep-beep-beep and

Does anyone really know what the fuck is in that drip?



I am

Timeless






Because I can't see a clock and my phone's out of charge.


And so

I am

Back

Pacing or puking or putrefying on

Hospital lino.






8. CENTRISTS WHO WANT TO MAKE ME COME, PART ONE


A centrist walks in to a bar

A joke begins:

That somehow you'd make me

Come


A centrist walks into a bar

And offers to buy me

'A proper drink'

But, mate, I'm 12-stepping and

I'll only step

On your liberal, Conversed toes anyway


Still, you say, you want to make me come


A centrist walks into our bar

And I wonder if they're lost

Cause we've got no time for folks you here

And who the fuck told you to come?


A centrist says she’s not a Tory or a TERF

Come, come now!

She voted Corbyn in!

So I should definitely

Allow her to

Make me come


A centrist walks into a bar

And says she loves pleasuring

People of a gender that it is not mine

Gagging to, victorious, make me come


A centrist walks into a bar,

Sees me at my computer

Sipping lime and soda

Her liberal lasciviousness leaking like treacle over my laptop now -

COME ON, CAN'T YOU SEE I'M FUCKING WRITING -


And she'll never, ever make me

Fucking

Come.





9. DATING MYSELF, PART ONE


Lay forks to the left of your resting plate, and knives and spoons to the right

I am attempting a meal

You can rest your utensils in one of two ways when taking a break from eating

But I don’t want to because you are not here

Either with the tips facing each other in an inverted V (slightly angled) or,

And I am in a parallel reality where I am suddenly sober and the world is off its fucking nuts, and

Rest your knife on the top right of your plate (diagonally) with the fork nearby (tines up)

Fuck it, there is no need for me to know the Temporary Placement During Conversation Arrangement

Because

We are

No longer Us

And there is little conversation here

Now

Place the knife and fork parallel with the handles in the four o'clock position on the right rim of the plate; this signals

[To fucking whom does it signal it? To fucking whom?]

That one has finished one’s meal.


Forks to the left, knives and spoons to the right.

Finding myself somewhere between spork and straw

Unable to figure myself into the right utensil

Unable to transform into something useful

Unable to transmit what, where, why, whom I am now meant to be.


Without your love and temper,

Without my snorts and overbearing, forgiving affection


Yet here I am

Trying

Tryingly

Through tears

To finally date myself.





Moss (they / them) is a sometime poet and full-time doctoral researcher currently writing on the Ivory Tower, addiction, recovery, heartbreak and loss.



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