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.

Perils of hope

“I’ve been a romantic for so long
All I’ve ever heard are love songs
Singing oh-oh-oh, go on, I dare you…”    – The XX, I Dare You (from ‘I See You’)

I’ve fucked to this song, it seemed romantic at the time, but now the thought of being in such close proximities is frightening- a fluttering kind of fear. In fact, when I was in that ill-timed romance, I would listen to this whole album on repeat. Now all I can stomach is ‘Lips’, with its echoes and cloistered hopes. It makes me feel beautiful in my hurt at what’s past and my hope of repetition: that I am not a mayfly. I still haven’t brought myself to play ‘Say Something Loving’- the melody is too cruel for now. All I remember is what I thought young love was meant to be and then how disparaging realities cut our short known thread: first slow dancing to Eric Clapton and kissing his eyelashes when dawn scattered filigree patterns across our bodies in bed, then stood alone on the pavement- denied one final hug.

I keep thinking what I did wrong, because it seems ridiculous but so predictable to me that despite all the love songs I listen to, and all the sonnets and ballads I memorise the first boy to buy me pink roses should end it all with “fuck you”. I feel like a scribble of rose. I feel so sad and confused that it passes for my feeling alive.

I am being dramatic I guess. Too open and slutty with my foul desires- but I miss hugging; I miss feeling secure not with words but with touch. It was beautiful and primal, and absurd and pathetic. But it’s better than this, not that I didn’t partake in such sordid pastimes when we were together- I think that’s why he dumped me. I get sad and then I get drunk and then I get sad again; the cycle of life.

I know I have to be hopeful; but it’s the beautiful things that are hardest to hold. Loneliness has put up a barrier between the world and my heart. I wan’t to love it, like I wanted to grow to love him- but my lungs are filled with pesticide and the body is already compost. All I wanted was inflorescence, to see spectrum in bus windows and each millions of pores in my wrists dancing. The world as it is but seen; seen and felt to the ledge of infinity.

I don’t know what to think, relying so much on the whimsies of strangers; I am floating with motes and negative space and it must mould my home. To observe and take nothing.

Today’s poem I wrote when I still had florets of spring under my fingernails and pulsing flush through heartlines. I value my life to the stretch of my limbs, but it is so hard with this green light of Gatsby’s- the belief I can craft dreamings flesh.

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Morning poem

I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel the unfurling of my love…” –Anne Ridler, A Matter of Life and Death

Eyelids petalvein a light crafted birdsong in this morning unhampered by curtains-
His arms drawing closer, new details culling sleep.
I nudge old night sand into focus; no
dreams to report;
he kisses my angelsprout
bones.

That’s what lovers do-
fuck before breakfast, outwake the alarm and
be late for responsibilities.

I don’t care about grades.

Two mugs;
sunder statuesque sun in their infancy; unhunkering
corporeal heat, held in by shut windows
towards pale blonde slightness.
We both fold awake before the buses
will come-
we render primal intimacy;
he blows raspberries all over me.
I notice light motes small as
our toast crumbs painting his room
this day’s air daffodil.

I am learning softness-
“Farfalle”.
If dawn could undulate down in the body-
where would I feel it first?

Instincts recalibrate, reconcile those
hours spent dumb to news reels. He put
peanut butter first; then
strawberry jam like our duvet covers
on top- he is growing into
my small mercies.

Two mugs,
not one to wash up,
later on- we
tasted the same
sugar dropped,
silverspooned tea.

I’ll clean them whilst he coos
in protest.

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a girl with four eyes and a button nose. She was brittle like the dried grasses she’d press between thumb and forefinger when wading through sunset lit fields; her skin glowing a soft pink mirroring the peach clouds and Jacob’s ladders. She was loud at home and shy at school, two halves of the same penny. When young she loved flowers and fairies, playing princess with her dolls and writing in her diaries. She loved her siblings and friends. But underneath all this familiar happiness, there lurked her fear. She did not want to let go.

As her legs sprouted upwards towards the sun and her fingers laced longer on wrists, the glasses she wore remained but something else drooped. Her wings that started with butterfly colours and sheen were withering in the cruel ceiling electrics of secondary school. Hiding face constellations with thick orange in attempts to please princes who really were hiding something too. She read in the library, and somehow the echo of childhood she so longed to keep frittered away into the holes of her blazer and silent bus stops.

This girl is older now, and she wants her wings back. She knows she drinks too much and gets distracted by fuckboys- but she is beautifully human. A choice is all we need, a choice for love and not sucking our stomachs so hard into rib-cages you gasp instead of laughing. It is not being worried that you haven’t completed x, y and z that you said you would today but smiling at what you have done. It is letting the dogs lick your skin without fussing about germs or anything else.

We all heal from the hurts we have done to ourselves, inspired by the ignorant cruelty of others in a myriadical and blooming ocean of rituals- I read books and write poetry where my brother draws superheroes. My mother rescues hens from factory deaths. We each are small, but so powerful in the realms we can control.

Today’s poem is from one of my diaries being 16- this is a message to the past versions of ourselves that we all lumber. M.G.B- you will be alright, there is nothing to fear xoxoxox

If Honey never goes off, then why do I feel so wrong?

Atonement- a way to
make everything okay again.
Nothing more-
okay?
Strawberry seeds of quiet
displacement. Inertly
pressing somethings,
small and sad
into flushed skin of this body.
Fluidity of hurt,
never ceasing to grow broken smiles
and awkward hands from
frail white blossom
every spring. Nectar drizzled
forgiveness is what I crave.
Who do I ask?
Bee keeper pain-
please make my mistakes
somehow right-
undone as the poppy
lolloped rain.

Friends and funerals


Come on with me and we’ll have a little fun,
It’s not too dangerous, yeah, and we won’t hurt anyone.
Yeah, we’ll cause some havoc between the birds and the bees,
We’ll paint the town red and we’ll shake the trees.
Oh, come on with me and I’ll show you a good time,

-Kate Nash, Little Red

Sometimes things get so polluted and overcrowded in my head all I can fathom is the inevitable pointlessness of us all and the millions of problems and suffering each person alive is in touch with. Acid attacks in London, ice glaciers melting and refugees sleeping on Paris’ pavements. This world stresses the fuck out of me, but I am not without joy or hope. Happiness always returns, in fact it never really leaves- just comes out of hiding, peeps it’s bedmessy hair from under the covers and smiles it’s morning breath cheeky and alive.

One of my closest friends, Daisy (aka-Tough Sirloin) just came to visit me and I feel so grateful to know people like her exist to help people like me. Daisy and me got wine-drunk then wore summer hats to go on the park swings in the cool night. We went to the museum- trying on Roman soldier hats and marvelling at Dinosaur bones. She brought candles of Orchid and purple; I got the drinks at the pub.

But of all the things we did together, I value us in my room; her elbows propped up on my bed pillows whilst I sit surrounded by a halo of photographs and old diaries on the carpet. I talked for a whole hour, and not once did she tell me to shut up. I read her snippets of my 5 year old numbers written back to front and at 17 thinking I’m falling in love. Daisy’s name truly suits her- she is the tenderest flower for putting up with my haphazard ways.

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DAISY AND ME DA BOOKIE GRRRLS XOXO

Today’s poem was read at my pets’ funeral, Tilly and Gravy this Saturday just gone. Daisy had never been to a funeral before, but I’m glad she was there to help us say goodbye. The poem here is about my cat, Matilda xoxoxoxox

A Cat’s Life

Elusive to the last-
when first we took Tilly home, she and Mog hid themselves
under the wardrobe;
Daisy and me cried. We thought they didn’t love us,
we were half right. She slept with her guts wherever
able, and ate and ate and ate. Matilda knew what to do-
keep calm and carry on. I named her for intelligence,
after the well-thumbed favourite Dahl book.
We all three share birthdays. Named after
cleverness, wit-
power. Tilly all these things, even if
we didn’t see it. Chasing mice in moonlight,
or sunning herself on our roof. Pleasure simply.
That is life’s call. Meow and mew,
we really love you.