Women fly when men aren’t looking

I still feel a bit tired and for no fathomable reason unnervingly wierded out since coming back from my birthday weekend: this makes me feel guilty, seeing as I have nothing to complain about yet still want to stab my self with a million forks (wierd image, I know- but it’s what hit my mind first)

I saw some artworks at the Tate Modern; Carrie Mae Weem’s red sadness and protest of the enslavement of black African people into black slaves of America- ‘I saw and I wept…”; Red photographs cased by poetries etched onto glass frames. After the Tate Modern, I met up with Daisy and we went to Oxford Street to look at pink feathered jackets and blue sequined denim jeans that looked like they belonged to a mermaid with legs. We met up with Flo and walked down to Foyles, scanning shelves of books, but of course focusing on the beloved aisles of poetry- I was so flamboyant. I brought books brand new.

In the evening Zab came- we got ready in make-up and fancy clothes; I feel in all my pettiness, this is where some seed of current confusion of stabbing forks was sown. In the weeks leading up to this celebration, I had been so excited to make myself look and FEEL hot/sexy/ powerful bla bla bla in this little red dress. The reality is I felt bloated and ugly and pure second rate compared to my HEAVEN SENT GORGEOUS friends, and got changed immediatley into a less than glamourous outfitt (think Paris Hilton’s ugly sister who was locked up in the highest hotel room, forced to live only on Twinkies). I am not saying this in order to try and obtain any sympathies, on the contrary I am saying it because it is the truth of incomphrensible emotion. It is white first world problems, and it makes me feel even sillier for knowing what I should finally (at nearly 21) know is bullshit, my brain still pushes onto the child within me and makes the child inside cry and want to hide.

This small, miniscule discomfort of not wearing the dress I’d imagined us partying in should (and truly, thank god, DOES NOT) overshadow all the fun we had travelling round London; talking of poetry in Foyles and the feminist library, being intellectual and going to see the beautiful Queer exhibition at the Tate gallery; laughing in parks so hard I could pee and dancing to trap music on the stairs of St. Pauls, then collapsing into our hotel room with plush double beds and a boquet of flowers (we’d eaten all the cupcakes by this point).

I hate this ungratitude of the disobedient side of my brain focusing more on how my stomach and hips looked in a dress rather than on the smile of our faces in the strobe flash of photos we took. I may not be, nor ever shall attain supermodel status or looks- but that in no way inhibits capacities for love, for loving my friends and the time we had- all the times more awaiting.

I realise now how easy it is to focus on one tiny negative thought instead of cherishing the memories of how lucky I am on this planet- a father who organised it all, the train drivers who got me there, and my friends who took the time out their jobs to come see me.

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SHOUT OUT TO MY FRIENDS FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY EXTRA BULLSHIT AND SELF-LOATHING ALL THE TIME!!!!! XOXOX

Today’s post is already verging on being lenghty, but thats okay because it’s for a special lesson and occassion. Without further adiue, here is today’s post- it is from a book I bought in Foyles by Jeanette Winterson, one of my favourite authors. The small book is simply called ‘Love’ (the quote I use is orginally from “Why be Happy when you could be Normal?“). xooxooxoxoxx

“Love is vivid. I never wanted the pale version. Love is full strength. I never wanted the diluted version. I never shied away from love’s  hugeness but I had no idea that love could be as reliable as the sun. The daily rising of love.” 

 

To walk no longer invisible

Today I fulfilled a long hoped for pilgrimage with my family and drove up north through winding streets of small pubs and purple heather, finally reaching the Brontë parsonage at Haworth. I was supporting my fellow female writers, who wrote and wrote with hopes and hopes, not of celebrity as we consider it- but merely a future, a life where they could provide for their loved ones with a pen and sentences breathing.

The amazement of how small Charlotte’s feet were, the inked notebooks of poetry by Emily or Branwell’s smoked out figure amongst his sisters’ portrait, which he painted himself; Anne’s Scarborough pebble collection. These humdrum relics of their lives were so interesting and humbling to see, what with what knowledge we have realised now, that Branwell is more than a drunk and his sisters more than mere governesses; secret writers. They are no longer invisible, they are legendary.

I kept thinking of the contextual cruelty in which those animated and powerful women lived- a world of strict boundaries of who could and could not have money, when women were angels or whores- neither of whom deemed wise enough to yield a pen so mightily as a man. I am born in a world where, yes- many structures are still so fucked up and writhing with hatred and willed ignorance that it’s hard to fathom any progress sometimes; yet, here have I set gauntlet. Writing alone. My own pen. My own name.

I do not want to let go for granted what these intelligent, wholehearted women strove so hard to obtain. I am a savage, as Emily wrote- I am still half wild and free to play on the moors of my mind as I will. Thank God for books.

Today’s poem is by Emily, ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ (A personal favourite along with ‘Remembrance‘). I presume the power she refers to here is the Christian “God”, but I like to interpret it as our own god; happiness seeded inside ourselves which twines and kindles with others who will it so, our determination to “choose not to suffer uselessly” (as Adrienne Rich wrote it). No coward souls were theirs, and neither is mine.

No Coward Soul is Mine

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear
O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears
Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

‘The stars do not care’

My absence from running this blog; trying to keep good habits (for writing or otherwise), ticking alongside attempts to live life in as happy and meaningful way possible have been rocky of late, all I can do is say ‘sorry’ and keep on going. True- I have been busy, but almost a 20 day long silence is not really justifiable as an excuse; when you love something, you defy excuses.

But I shall fill in the gaps.
My pink rose is no longer dead. I read Slaughterhouse- 5 in one night. My family threw me a birthday meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant, then the next day I went to the Transatlantic slavery memorial performances in Trafalgar Square with my cousin, Oscar; we went to the National Gallery and saw Van Gogh’s sunflowers, we sang Whitney Houston with a homeless artist from Sri Lanka who told us to look for Mother Mary. I drank Westons in a field with my best friend, then went to a poetry reading with another of my best friends and blew bubbles over our pints. I walked with Nelson and Pogo.

These details have no bearing whatsoever on anyone else’s life, so I question the feeling of needing to write them down, or anything, for that matter which isn’t purposeful and powerful and intelligent. I guess it boils down to a second voice; words create a world parallel yet intricately webbed in the physical senses, which in themselves warble and wane depending on one’s temperament- language causes a trembling which is and is not real, which uncoils translated through eyelashes as chrysalis births wings which flutter, to die within days.

This post basically just confirms I am not giving up on this quiet endeavour, hopefully it shall amount to something- but I guess one consolation is that at least it keeps one person out of too much trouble.

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These flowers have nothing to do with my writing, but fuck it life is random so here’s a little beauty to brighten things up :)))))

Today’s poem is by the legendary Audre Lorde, a beautiful soul who wouldn’t want me to stop doing this just because it seems the rest of the world seems more engrossed with big plastic tits and guns and sports cars.

Stations 

Some women love
to wait
for life    for a ring
in the June light    for a touch
of the sun to heal them    for another
woman’s voice    to make them whole
to untie their hands
put words in their mouths
form to their passages    sound
to their screams    for some other sleeper
to remember    their future    their past.

Some women wait for their right
train    in the wrong station
in the alleys of morning
for the noon to holler
the night come down.

Some women wait for love
to rise up
the child of their promise
to gather from earth
what they do not plant
to claim pain for labor
to become
the tip of an arrow    to aim
at the heart of now
but it never stays.

Some women wait for visions
That do not return
Where they were not welcome
Naked
For invitations to places
They always wanted
To visit
To be repeated.

Some women wait for themselves
Around the next corner
And call the empty spot peace
But the opposite of living
Is only not living
And the stars do not care.

Some women wait for something
To change    and nothing
Does change
So they change
Themselves.

 

Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

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The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad

A day, a holy nothingness

Today has been of no significance. No one else will remember it the same as me, perhaps no one will even read this blog apart from me- but writing should not be committed to merely seeking the result of an audience. It is a patchwork of the brain and heart- it is life’s shadow; I aim to live manifold breaths in the explosion of growing sentences, the tracks of letters scribbled on paper and screen.

Today I sang; “Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?.. give me love like never before… because I’m empty inside, I don’t wanna live but I’m too scared to die… all my hot girls with me, we dance around and bounce them titties!!!” I ate tuna salad and drank Ovaltine.

Once work was done earning money (I shall be discreet, and mention only that I work from home) I read more Virginia, ‘Flush’ in particular- the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s red pedigree cocker spaniel. I was with him learning how to navigate intimacy when you’re the one left stuttering as third wheel when your beloved drinks romance instead of air. He gave up the fields and sunlight for her, but Barrett still fell for Browning’s lemon yellow hand gloves. This dog’s lesson of life resonated still, still with me, a dumb human. “Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.” Anger means you care, and the fact I un-followed my ex’s instagram account (FINALLY) must mean that some archaic form of love is waning. I danced in the fields wearing pyjamas walking with Nelson and Pogo, rapping terribly and not caring. Love does not die, for it is an energy formed of stardust and energy does not cease. It just returns; creates a sort of equilibrium. He took it all and now it seems to be coming home, like how birds migrate across oceans. I no longer have to take anti-depressants. I hope hope can tattoo itself on my child core.

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Today’s poem is not my own, but one by 19th C. Turkish poet Leyla Hanim ( I found this poem in an old anthology of women poets I brought with my grandma for £2) – she ended her marriage before a week’s end and outraged the moralists of her day; my kind of woman xoxoxoxo

Let’s get going,
Start the festivities, 
Never mind what they say.

Drink wine 
With your loved one, 
Never mind what they say.

What do I care
If people approve or disapprove?
God bless my friends, 
Never mind what they say.

Leyla, indulge in pleasure
With your lovely friend:
Enjoy yourself in this world,
Never mind what they say. 

‘A Life!’ ‘A Lover!’ not ‘A Life!’ ‘A Husband!’

I haven’t written for a while here, mainly because I’ve been busy with grandma again; differentiating Acers from Oaks, peering closely at Hydrangeas the colour of your tonsils and patting St. Bernards called Marley on Headley Heath. Of all grandma has treated me to recently, the apex of our country forays has culminated in my dream for a while now- visiting the homes of my homegirl inspirations. Charleston and Monk’s House, the homes of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen.

Walking the rooms Vanessa painted by hand, seeing the round wood dining table, like that of King Arthur and imagining what wine they had; the fuchsias scrambling up Charleston’s stone face for sunlight above glitterings on the green lily pond and all the sunlight drenching time’s past canvases in her studio made my heart beat in a welcomed irregular rhythm. It felt familiar yet screened, like spying through a kaleidoscope of history warped and retold through the footsteps and talk of others. I think my favourite part of Charleston were the pink guest rooms Vanessa and her daughter Angelica painted. Pale candyfloss walls and miniature seats, paintings of wild women on the wardrobe formed of harsh, sporadic black outlines for contour, with a pale peach wash for flesh. I could imagine my sister, Daisy and me sleeping there- peering at ourselves in the large looking glass wearing summer dresses and flowers in our hair. So romanticised and impossible I KNOW, but still tangible there- in her house of art, ideas and beautiful defiance.

Monk’s House was particularly resonant with me, I saw hopes in reality.  A humble cottage with a garden, a bedroom opening out into dawn- a writing lodge of wood planks where ideas flourished from Virginia’s mind, butterflies born of ink; their wings assonance and metaphor, a lilting flight. Her home was not so washed in pattern and paint as her older sister’s, but still there was intent- her mind was the cement which composed brick into animation. The living room was mint green, flowers in jam jars occupied alcoves and a special design Vanessa dreamt up for her sister adorned the chairs there. My favourite part was her bedroom though, modest but perfectly formed- like a snail shell home. Books whispered plot, unwinding breath on their shelves; a tiled sink sealed the deal of magnificence for me. The walls were pale blue, I know she loved Leonard, but her pain meant she needed space; I understand that pale blue. The only difference I’d make though, would be to swap the single bed for a double. I’m no good by myself- I’d want to feel the security that if there was anyone else who wanted to be with me that there’d be enough duvet to share. We could wake up to watch dawn over apple trees together, read my poetry books and drink tea on the same pillows then go sit in the garden. Either lover or friends, it is besides the point- this is not my story or house, both are Virginia’s.

I have no poem to post today, but I didn’t want that to stop me from trying to write. Instead I’ll share a quote from Virginia that I love, from her longest love letter ‘Orlando’ dedicated to her lover and close friend, Vita. I know to understand her life fully, to encapsulate it is impossible- but what I write is done with love. Love and hope and admiration, and I can only will that that is enough. oxoxoxoxox

” Was it then to be admitted that Orlando was one of those monsters of iniquity who does not love? She was kind to dogs, faithful to friends, generosity itself to a dozen starving poets, had a passion for poetry. But love- as the male novelists define it- and who, after all, speak with greater authority?- has nothing whatever to do with kindness, fidelity, generosity or poetry. Love is slipping off one’s petticoat and- but we all know what love it…” 

Spectrum Hearts

Today is when love was first legalised in glorious Britannia. By love I mean freedom- I mean not being afraid if you wanna kiss your neighbour’s lips- the boy who likes cricket and has freckles like strawberry seeds. Or your girl next door; her hair crimson at dusk and webbed topaz at dawn lolling shoulder blades. Love means bodies without fear: it means we see ourselves truly, without pretence or glamour.

It makes me feel such shame that we locked this away and threw away the key in ‘honour’s’ name for too fucking long. The glitter was dulling behind bars, and feet that should have been slow-dancing on wedding floors were stagnating in cells instead.

I am of the opinion that we are all a little bit gay on the inside: that people who deny themselves a little taste of colour are so mopey and angry at others because they’re jealous. So the old saying goes- happiness is the best revenge. What happier revenge than love; what do people try to stifle more in this world than compassion? I am only young, but I have my opinions. Thus says my brain: Love, desire; they’re persecuted because they are needed more than wanted, they are powerful beyond definition of language.

I am so proud with of the punk/prog/ gay pride progressions my country has made since it’s (fluctuating and never truly ending) dark ages. But other countries still deny their citizens the right to hold hands with beloveds in summer bloomed parks. To kiss in front of cinema screens; or to wed, that gold ring and memory forever. My love and thoughts go out all the way to those still trapped and afraid- I use my freedom of expression to hope, to will for yours. LGBTQ+ community: you are loved, please don’t feel ashamed or wrong or deadly. You are beautiful like festival colours and flower smells. You are beloved unto this soil, and please don’t let yourselves go down due to ignorance. You are seeded strong- will last out all winters.

Today’s poem was written when I was 16 and at a Pride March with all my friends. I remember feeling so alive, so liberated and joyful to be in the sun without fear on that pavement, holding up banners and shouting aloud into the sky and shop window faces. Happy LOVE. That’s all there is to it; LOVE, LOVE, LOVE xoxoxoxoxox

 

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PRIDE

I belonged there, dancing.
I belonged there- in the sherbet
fizzing July sun; laughter
and drums spectrumreaching
ears as second nature.  Pavements
baked in this crowd, excitement.

A carnival of colours marrying hope
with young fuckery on London’s
summer seasoned walkways.

Gimps and holy men and
inflorescence of old dykes holding
hands- our people glittering.
Mirages of possibility finally conjured
into warm heavythumped blood.
Souls sing “FUCK YOU”
and peace- no longer a classroom fantasy
but flesh, a commitment or kiss.

Dancing did so I whole
belong. Sweaty palms agripped
placard as grail- awakening,
awakening childlike loving
glee and must never be lost.
We shuffle with crowds, not noticing
how every step, each movement
is only a dust-breadth;
resembling twigs floating down
greenweeded river in this concrete
jumble- we pay no mind to swans staring
out shop windows or the dwindling
of scaffoled hours. The present was a
Present- and that’s where I
belonged.

The repetitions of her in my life-
collapsing yet again into crossed legs
on park floor fuzz in old trainers,
smiling as she starts off the roll-up,
sunning ourselves as strawberries
would. (If we had time to contemplate
such metaphors.)

We are enraptured in NOW,
this gay teenage fantasy-
warm wine swigged straight from the bottle
and we not yet 18, sparkling giggles down
our throats; rucksacks
smuggled on rails.
Face-paint smudged by
caresses- smiles and shouts;
this delicate stasis.

No worries of beating red
sticking to teeth like glue-
No terrified of myself dissolving,
dissolving…

It was my pride-
our pride of all hopes,
We belonged there
all the heart long.