Reflections

space cube 2
Photograph by Matt Johnson AKA Silverbackgorillapoetry

 

Freedom is an illusion
We’re all imprisoned
By something or other
Tethered by a thought or dream
Or perhaps a nightmare
Or something else somewhere
Maybe someone or nowhere
Imprisoned in our individual encounters
With ourselves in the mirror
Reminding us we’re not who we envisioned
Smiling underneath our emotional contortions
This rag of flesh

A world for life
Microscopic critters
Replicating themselves
As we duplicate ourselves
Simulating one another
Looking into mirrors, looking into reflections
Looking into ourselves
Studying the world
And in the world we are reflected back
And hoping no one noticed
We don our masks.

A wish for rugged boots

The sweat beaded down their brows as their bare feet scraped against the pavement, their bindles over their shoulders and a glazed look in their eyes.
“If it isn’t Drew & Drake!” A guy named Billy beamed with a grin, “Fancy seein’, you two here!” Billy looked them up and down and noted their bare dirty feet, “Living on hard times are we?”
Drew wiped at his brow with the back of his hand, “Nah!” Drew scratched his belly under his vest, “We done a good deed, ain’t we, Drake?” he said, nudging his pal.
“We got clothes on our backs,” Drake started, “So we thought we’d give up some of our less necessary items.” Drake grinned, a few teeth missing in his mouth.
Billy laughed, “And shoes ain’t necessary, are they?”
“Look at them apes, them er, chimps. They don’t wear shoes!” Drew said with a smug smile.
“Thee don’t wear pants or vest neither.”
Drew’s brows drew together, his eyes glazed over more so than earlier, “Oh yea!” He exclaimed, “Thanks, man!” Drew slapped Billy on the back in that brotherly fashion men do.
“The point is,” Drake began, “We did a good deed which brings us good karma in the future, you know what I mean?”
Billy shook his head with a chuckle, “You two do make me laugh!”
“It’s good to make people laugh,” Drew nodded his head.
Drake rolled his eyes, “Drew, he aint laughing with us, he’s laughing at us like they always do!”
Drew’s face reddened and screwed into anger, “You what? You laughin’ at us? What you laugin’ at us fer! Yer quite laughable yerself! Dick’ead!”
“I’m not the one walking along the street in the 21st century with bindles strewn across me shoulder, in bare feet cuz I donated the only shoes I had to bloody charity shop! Ha!” “Hey, mate, what good you ever done in your life? Eh? You can laugh, but we’re the guys who have little yet still try to ‘elp where we can. We ‘ave bare feet, and so what about it? It feels quite good actually! Really grounds ya!” Drake said, doing a little tap dance and then lunging forward to show how free his movement was without shoes on, “We got the right t’ bare feet jus’ like them, Americans got their rights to bare arms!” Drake said, humour deep in his a little less glazed over eyes than Drew’s, “And look at you, bet you got them human feet instead of these beasty boys!” Drake karate kicked the air.
“Drake, you’ve got human feet too. He can see you know!”
Drake stopped in his tracks and slapped his pal across the head, “It’s a fucking play on words, dumbo! I got bear feet, ya get it?”
“We both have bare feet!”
“Yes we do, Drew! We have BEAR feet. And we could kick Mr Billy boy here into yesterday with ’em.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t need to kick, the smell’ll do it!” Billy said sarcastically.
“I think wearing shoes makes our feet smell bad, it’s all that sweating around in closed spaces. Bet my feet smell less than…”
“Drake,” Drew pawed at his friend’s elbow trying to pull him to the side.
“WHAT?” Drake roared, “What now.”
“Ah…Ah…I think I left mah soul in mah shoes.”
Billy’s head rolled along with his eyes, “Ya what? Ha! Aren’t shoes meant to have soles!”
“No, ya idiot!” Drake flicked Billy on his forehead, “He’s left his soul in his shoes!” Drake turned to Drew, “What ya leave ya soul there fer! Ya bleeding nutjob!”
“Aye, aye!” A voice hollered from across the road, “What you three lads up to? Hope you’re not causing trouble,” he beamed as he crossed the road.
“Alex,” Drew said dully.
“Alright, Drew! So what you all up to?”
“We’re off to get Drews Soul back from the charity shop. Ha!” Billy told him.
“Oh no,” Alex shook his head, “You’ve not sold your soul to charity ‘ave ya?”
“I didn’t mean to! But I left it in mah shoes!” Drew whined.
“What shoe did ya leave it in?” Alex asked jutting his chin.
“Me right shoe.”
Alex scratched at his stubble, “Ah. Can’t ‘ave been yours then!”
“What can’t ‘ave been?” Drake asked curiosity piqued.
“I just saw a shoe walking down that ginnel near the chippy, ya know where ah mean?”
“Oh aye,” Drake stroked his beard.
“What colour was it?” Drew asked.
“Brown. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be your shoe mate. It was one of them oxford shoes. Ya know, all rich and posh like. Wingtips an’ all.”
“I seen a homeless man wearing wingtip oxfords. At least ah think he were homeless. He had odd socks on!” Billy added.
“Nah. He ain’t homeless! I know who ya mean, but he ain’t homeless. But he ain’t rich neither.” Turning to Drew, “What colour were ya shoes?”
“Black.”
Alex’s jaw dropped, “Oh no! See if I were to leave my soul in a shoe, I’d make sure it was brown or a trainer or somethin’ ya know? But never a black one! I’d never leave my soul in a black shoe!”
“What does the…” Billy shook his head not believing he was about to entertain the question, “What does the colour of the shoe have to do with leaving ya fuckin’ soul in it?”
“Billy,” Alex held up the palms of his hands as if in surrender, “Billy, mate. Calm down! I’m just sayin’ if I left me soul in a shoe I’d want to leave it in a brown one. Hell, I wouldn’t mind leaving it in a wing tipped oxford shoe, as long as it’s brown.”
“You lot are out of your minds!”
“I do like brown shoes,” Drew said aloud absentmindedly.
“I saw a pair of boots walking down the cobbled street at the back of the bakers, the owner must’ve had a split soul or somethin’ to have two souls in both boots.”
“I wish I’d left my soul in a pair of rugged boots.” Drew intoned sadly, “But instead I left my soul in me right shoe and it was black an all!”
“I’d get to that charity shop quick sharpish,” Alex clapped his hands together to emphasise his point. Turning to Billy with a grin, “What kinda shoe would you leave your soul in?”
“Souls don’t exist chickenshit.”
“Course they do! How else did those shoes I’ve seen walking about come to life?”
“Cause you’re fucking high or mental or both!” Billy scoffed.
“Maybe they’re just trying to find their socks,” Drew thought aloud.
Drake and Alex looked at Drew as if he’s just said the most genius thing they’d ever heard, “Ya might be onto something!”
“Ya know what,” Alex started excitedly, “Ya might have left ya soul in your sock but thought ya left it in ya shoe.”
“Well why don’t you go back up t’ the charity shop and follow the shoe to the sock! Ha!” Billy roared with laughter.
“That’s a good idea!” Drake replied.
“So those walking shoes didn’t have souls in them? They were just animated to look for socks?” Alex said with disappointment. “I was hoping that I could leave me soul in a brown oxford shoe!”
“If ya can leave your soul in a sock, ya can surely leave ya soul in a shoe too?” Drake patted Alex on the back, “Come on mate! Cheer up! Ya can still leave ya soul in a brown oxford shoe!”
“Ya know I think I might have left me soul in that black sock I lost!”
“Will ya stop leaving ya soul in black!” Drake muttered.

That night as Drew and Drake muttered their nonsense inside of sleep, and Alex lay on the floor snoring a black sock snaked across the road and a black shoe went chasing after it, and that black shoe gobbled up the sock ferociously, and the only witness to the shoes savage ways was Billy.

Clown

I etched onto my face
A fucking clowns grin
An inside out frown
So you wouldn’t know
I was down

But I’m down and out
I took my clothes off
I shaved my hair off
And I walked down the road
Police picked me up
And took me to the hell hole
And they wiped my grin off
They said I was crazy
Said this is who you are
The man with a perpetual frown
So they sewed up my mouth
And pulled the strings
Until my lips smiled
Like the skeleton beneath

They took me to a clown show
And they stood me on a table
Shifted the corners of my mouth
Looked at my teeth and then turned me around
Said I came third
Pinned a rosette to my collar and cheered
But I was the only clown
And then I pinched my nose
And the crowd laughed out loud.

The man I want to be vs the man I am

Wrestling with these thoughts
Pacing up and down these four walls
Trying to contort myself
Into feelings I don’t have
Hoping to Box myself into the calm
Contorting myself into someone
I could never be
Wishing I could just
Pull myself up by the bootstraps
Twiddle and twirl my moustache
And be the man I keep thinking I ought t be
An epitome of man and calm
But with assertiveness as my next charm
Perhaps if I part my receding hair to one side
And wear a pair of matching socks
Suit and maybe a tie
To strangle the feelings in a noose
I’ll become the man I envisioned
Instead of the patchwork of a man
Barley complete and far from calm.

Certified Adult

One of my many recurring dreams involves becoming suicidal (something that happens in my real life sometimes too) to the point that I end up being taken to hospital.
I always end up in the same ward I was on in my teenage years.
As a nod to the fact I’m now actually an adult, the doctors find me a room reluctantly, only on the basis that I will be moved to the appropriate hospital and ward the next day.
The nurses and doctors always tell me it’s time to stop going there and I always reply with the question, “So what do I do instead?” they shake their heads and look at me with a tired, exasperated expression on their faces.
In the dream, I am very aware I’m an adult on an adolescent ward and ironically in real life, the idea of being around adolescents is actually my idea of a nightmare. But this just goes to show how much more fucked up the wards are for adults.

Now I’m categorised as an adult and therefore also classified as someone who should be doing something ‘useful.’

Any argument from me that I don’t cope with the world ‘out there’ and with wider society and all the things expected of us, is met with disbelief and a constant need to try to bolster up my confidence.

But I wish to provide food for thought against this mentality and push to have it be a ‘confidence issue.’

Many of my school reports mention how I’m a ‘good pupil’ and ‘very quiet’ there will also be mention of my clear social problems. Talk of how I need to learn and gain more confidence along with stark warnings that I will ‘struggle to cope in the ‘bigger’ world’ if I continue on my more than ‘normal quiet’ and ‘abnormal social etiquette’ trajectory.
To a teacher actually paying attention, they may also note a slow learning process.

But for most teachers, the attention was entirely upon my lack of social ability and perhaps my apparent ‘loneliness. If I managed to make a friend, and it should also be noted that some of those ‘friendship’s were forced upon me by the teachers, it would be lauded as a massive deal. Little did they know was that a few of my so-called ‘friendships’ lead to more alienation than I had before I met them for one straightforward but tragic reason, I was easy to take advantage of.
It wasn’t me they were congratulating when I ‘made a friend’, It was themselves.

It wasn’t just teachers, it was other kids parents. I knew very well their sons and daughters didn’t want to invite me to their birthday party and guess what? I wasn’t bothered because I didn’t want to go to their damn party anyway! But their parents insisted I be invited. I know it was their parents because kids being kids didn’t hide it very well, especially if their mother was with them. They’d turn to their mother, looking up at her and say, “But, mum!” as they held tight a crumpled invitation that was for me. And their mother in that hushed tone they try to do, “You can’t invite everyone else and leave them out!” They say while they looked at you through the corner of their eye and thought themselves safe from observation becasue I didn’t look at peoples faces. But I have periphery vision, and I’m actually more observant than anyone would give me credit for.
But they, along with teachers, saw a kid who lacked confidence, and through this perception, they forced ‘friendships’ and ideas onto me. They invited me to their daughters and sons parties with a feeling I imagine of having done a good thing.

Through everyone’s mission to make me a ‘confident’ ‘normal person’ I lost confidence.

I became so ultra-aware of my social quirks and awkwardness that my social awkwardness actually became more magnified. Because while I was trying to be more ‘normal’ I was failing and also feeling rather uncomfortable trying to be normal and so I ended up perpetually embarrassed. Which only added to the cycle of more adults trying to ‘bolster up my confidence.’

Fast forward to that year I ended up on the adolescent ward deeply unhappy, self-harming and constantly on the edge of suicide and my confidence really was a non-existent thing.
But there in that hospital was an allowance for my weirdness while also making friends, with talk of once again upping my confidence but in an environment where my weirdness was allowed to be part of my confidence.
I would make no claim that I gained full self-confidence. I used humour, sarcasm as a way of trying to be somewhat more ‘normal’ and soon sarcasm became a way of life for me and I don’t regret that.
My sarcasm comes from a place of finding much of humanities hilarious sayings and thoughts into their logical conclusions. My sarcasm is in effect a very literal sense of humour.
All in all, despite my illness putting me in the hospital it did become a place I ultimately came to feel a sense of belonging.

My Depression remained ever-present and still remains to this day, and I doubt it’s a thing that will ever truly go away for me.
I remember sad times in that hospital, I remember moments of emptiness as I lay in my bedroom after having spent the earlier evening joking with other patients.
But I found my sense of humour in that hospital because I was finally able to use my creativity in an environment that seemed to fit me more than ‘mainstream’ schools and environments.

And what I have learnt is that ‘out there’ in that wider world I truly am a fish out of water. And while therapists, support workers, social workers may want to push an idea of growing confidence I hope they’ll pause and think.

Too quick are they to jump to that idea rather than see that maybe I’m right. And maybe me not being able to be ‘out there’ in that wider world is okay.

I know that for me I only seem to ‘progress’ in specific environments and once you take me out of that environment I’m like a fish out of water.

So obsessed with the idea of being and becoming ‘useful’ we have become that we want to try and make people fit a square peg through a round hole.
We want to get people like me to a certain point of ‘functioning’ and then say, “Farewell and good luck.”
And if I say I don’t think that day will come and or should come for something that is lifelong I will be labelled as someone doesn’t want to help themselves. Someone reluctant to try.

But I’m not saying I don’t try or won’t try, I’m saying that when I function my best I’m not functioning my best because I’m now suddenly ready to be ‘out there’ it’s because in the best environment for me.

And it’s not to say that I don’t wish to challenge myself, but rather that so many ‘normal’ things are challenging for me.

When we say, “Farewell and good luck,” What do I do then?

Dysmorphia

Ugly
Fugly
Staccato of laughter
Echo
Echo
After time
I don’t hanker
Staccato of footfalls
And dripping taps
Remind me who I still am
And have.
Drowning
realising there is no rafter
Pastel face smudged away
No happy ever after
Paint a crooked smile
A clown, a gargoyle
A monster
A crocodile
Frankenstein
Fucking mouths
Hostile
Mutant
Ogre
The periphery
Of mirrors
Framing the freak

The words on my lips
“Please don’t look at me.”

 

Smoke

In shades of neon light
We sit
Smoke shared between
Lingering like ghosts
Hosts of the cancer
Delving deeper in our bones
We’re crying
Without tears
Cuz we’re so fucking full of empty
We can barely breathe in the nicotine
And everything is false
It’s all smoke and mirrors
When the sun unlocks her vault
Blue skies misleading
We might just think it’s not our fault
So take my hand
And we can vanish into the smoke