Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Four // Poetry


Two plus two no longer equals four.
The literature I purchase and the latest televised addiction
Resides in my head instead;

Absorbed without permission by sensory sponges -
No longer simplistic because
The sun is no longer a ball of fire
And the moon is no longer her best friend.
Children believe what adults deem unthinkable
And now there’s a reason why Catherine marries Edgar
And why motives drive our dreams,

There’s scientific reasons behind you and I
And for the price of bread to dramatically rise.
I wish that I still believed,
Believed that Tony Blair is an astronaut

And babies come neatly wrapped from God
And Catherine marries Edgar for love.
But it’s all settling inside through sensory sponges
In the irreversible clock that is my head -
Absorbing literary and televisual influences,
And bleeding out what once, equalled, four.


I’m really trying to enhance my poetry at the moment so I’d love to know if you have any tips or advice? Any recommendations for modern poetry anthologies that I might like are very much welcome too.

Fun fact: I genuinely believed that Tony Blair was an astronaut when I was younger…


{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Candy Sticks


It was sometime after 9pm. The evening sky was a shade of blue like no other, a deep shade that perhaps only night owls can appreciate and souls of a more dark nature can understand. The air held an essence of familiarity; we inhaled its purity deeply and profusely, wanting to hold onto that warm feeling in our lungs forever.

“It’s really nice tonight,” my brother said.

“Yeah, it is,” I reply.

“You know, we’re going to miss this. Once we leave. In ten years’ time our late night walks will be nothing but a distant memory, and this neighbourhood will have changed so much.”

“Yeah, it’s so weird to think,” I said, followed by us both glancing around, trying to capture mental pictures of each stone, each puffing chimney, each individual front door. “Who knows where we’ll end up.” I smile, and we continue walking up the hill that has our footprints memorised so well.

The wind intensified – my skin approved but my hair certainly didn’t - as we reached the top of the hill and crossed the road towards Asda. We only needed to pick up a few things. Our basket was soon filled: Milkybar buttons (my brother was craving chocolate), a loaf of bread, apple crumble etc.

It was when we began perusing the confectionary aisle that I noticed it. A rectangular red box, blended into the array of sweets and sugary goodness so that I almost didn’t notice it.

Candy sticks.


I picked them up with giddy excitement bubbling within. I shook the box and heard my childhood echoing in my ears. I was no longer standing in a supermarket, but instead was transported back to the day when I bought a Spider Man themed pack with my friends from the Co Op down the road. To the moment when those papery sticks were poised between our small, not-fully-grown fingers, pretending like we were cool kids smoking cigarettes on the corner of our street. To the days when my mum imprinted the temporary tattoos that they came with upon my unscarred skin. Still clutched in my hand, we hurried towards the self-checkouts.  

Please fully insert your card. We giggled at the monotone voice after scanning each item. We couldn’t help it; the child in us was resurfacing. The wind was softer now as we walked the long way home.

“Look at us,” I said. “Doing a bit of grocery shopping. It’s almost as if we’re fully functioning adults.” We both laughed.

We pulled out the little box – only realising a decade later that even the packaging looked like a cigarette pack – and just like before, we held them between our now more experienced and calloused fingers, exhaling imaginary rings of smoke.

They tasted like cardboard and left a bitter taste of chalk in our throats. But we ate them anyway. As soon as we got home, I rushed to the sink and after a minute of dabbing, an image of a Sith Lord was stained onto my left hand. I laughed at how stupid it all was. I don’t even like Star Wars… But it made me so unbelievably happy. It was comforting to know that my past is still here with me, that it’s still a part of who I am, even if who I am is so far from who I thought I was going to be.

Who would’ve thought that a small red box, worth 40p, containing chalky sticks, could bring me so much joy. I’m going to remember it the next time I have my driving lesson, the next time I research career options, and especially next Thursday when I go to collect my exam results that are going to decide my future. I suppose the unpleasant aftertaste isn’t so bad when it reminds you of the you that you thought was long gone.

{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Monday, 25 July 2016

“No one is unhappy at Seed…” (+ Short Poem)


Seed by Lisa Heathfield evinces the struggle of human growth and the dangerous product of a restricted upbringing. The protagonist, Pearl, resides at Seed: a nature-worshipping community isolated from the poisonous Outside. With Papa S. as their leader, values and beliefs are contorted and become one-dimensional. Yet with new arrivals at Seed, the conformist society once based on fear, deceit and control is challenged, questioning everything Pearl has ever believed to be true.

Heathfield’s oxymoronic portrayal of Seed was particularly interesting to read. The idyllic description polarises the sinister reality, therefore blinding the community and preventing them from uncovering the truth in order to maintain passivity. I have always been intrigued by books about manipulation of the mind. There’s just something about them that I find so fascinating, hence why Seed has had a lasting impact, especially through the questions it has forced me to ask.

I think one of the most heart-breaking thing, for me anyway, was reading about Pearl’s naivety throughout the book. She has lived at Seed, she has idolised Papa S. and has worshipped Nature her entire life. This is all she has ever known. Imagine someone telling you that apples are in fact full of toxic chemicals and your heart doesn’t actually pump blood around your body. You’re simply going to dismiss it as complete nonsense aren’t you? So to me, disbelief being Pearl’s primary trait is understandable, as seeds have been planted in her head since an early age and have been watered with a dangerous ideology, and are now further suppressed from being able to fully bloom. And it is for this reason that I simply cannot dislike Pearl. Her character rendered a sense of poignancy within me and I found it unsettling to read, making me root for Pearl more than ever; I became desperate for her to find the freedom that she deserved.


It wasn’t long before I realised that this novel is perhaps a criticism of God and about putting our blind faith in an omnipresent being. As a strong believer of God, I didn’t like this, but I was still curious, still open to what message Heathfield was trying to give through her words. Papa S. can simply say that Mother Nature told him to do something, making it automatically justifiable, the same way a lot of actions are based on God’s wishes. Heathfield makes it seem as though this is a terrible thing and that following something that can’t be proven to even exist is wrong. Which it is, in the fictional world of Seed. But is it wrong in the real world, where religion can often offer so much guidance, peace and comfort?

The concept of a restricted world reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue, a story told from the perspective of a five year old who has lived with his mother in one room his entire life. Just like Pearl, it is all that he knows and it’s shocking for someone like me to read, as I’m lucky enough to have received a good education and am able to make judgements based on more than one interpretation. But is that really true?

The dark nature of the cult in which Pearl belongs to feels all too familiar to the world we are currently living in, with corrupt leaders and suppressed ideologies. But do they perhaps give us a sense of belonging, safety, comfort? Or are we simply too naïve, or perhaps too scared, to believe anything else?

Which finally brings me to the question, are we living in our very own Seed?


***


I also wrote a short poem inspired by Seed…


Sunlight reflects against sequins
Dotted along her daffodil yellow dress,
Light flies like shooting stars of hope as
She spins in frivolous twirls with a spring in her step;
Laughter intersperses through the air
And her hair dances with the wind before she lands
In a giggling heap on the ground.
Fingers softly dig into the soil beneath,
Connecting her to her soul, breathing in and out in sync
With waving flowers of purple and pink  
Hidden between the grass holding secrets;
She whispers, “I’m free, I’m free…”
With a smile as bright as the light in her heart,
Blinding the monsters that creep in the woods from afar.


***


I really hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Seed. Even if you haven’t read the book (which I highly recommend you do!) I would love to know what you think in response to the themes addressed in the novel.

Do you like book-related posts? If so, you can read my thoughts on The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger here.


{Photo source: here}

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Dirty Light


June concluded far too quickly. Before I knew it, along came July, bringing dancing droplets of summer rain with her. She left the city soaked with that rich earthy scent that’s impossible not to love, transforming my world into a still and silent slumber, with golden energy imbued in the air from the sun’s awakening.

I have always been appreciative of that morning light. The dirty kind. The kind that intensifies gradually and filters through the specks of peppered dirt on the window, the kind that still manages to bleed through the blemishes.

The light is the thrill and the control that comes with my driving lessons. It’s the guilt-free act of watching episode after episode of 24 and Happy Valley.

It’s calming, comforting, soft and honey-glazed.

The dirt is the ache, as I remember the corridors in Block 4 and the classrooms echoing with laughter. It’s the noticing of the books still collecting dust and the yearning for words when there are so few left within.

It’s lonely, haunting, cruel and blue-tinted.

It’s a bittersweet balance: disquieting but necessary. Too much light would force me to squint and too much dirt would distort my thoughts. And I’m well aware that it’s simply the end of strict routines and infinite to-do lists that renders my summer of (supposed) freedom to seem utterly hopeless…

Or perhaps I just need to take a little time and simply clean the damn window.

(06/07/16 – 21:18pm)



{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Equilibrium



A fragile layer of frost gleamed upon windowpanes and rooftops, blessed with a blue-tinted delicacy that only the morning could bring. The sun’s golden light bled, chasing away the night’s silhouettes just in time, for the city was beginning to awaken from its deep slumber.

***

The bitter wind of the Yorkshire moors have been whistling through my head as of late. Studying Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë seems to have delayed the colour and delight of Spring, hence inspiring this very gloomy musing. I’m currently reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - my fascination with the Brontë’s is most definitely intensifying - and I realise that these books, though beautifully dynamic, are not what you’d call the epitome of happiness.

However, there is a quote that I highlighted from Jane Eyre, whereby an incredibly strong character named Helen Burns says: ‘I live in calm, looking to the end’. I remember reading it and knowing that this would be my mantra for the following months, as I scrawl key terminology onto flash cards and my aching fingers conclude yet another essay.

I hope that this phrase will render some form of equilibrium to my mental state, ground me, remind me that this will pass, that the calm will settle, and the end will be bright.


Photo source: Nabsticle

Saturday, 9 April 2016

“I'd just be the catcher in the rye...”


J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, for me, is a story about human behaviour and profound introspection. Holden Caulfield is a tragically flawed protagonist, a character so utterly sardonic: the ultimate anti-hero. After his expulsion from Pencey Prep, Holden wanders round New York City in solitude; the irony of New York being synonymous to a bustling city of dreams accentuates its poignant tone. Holden seems to polarise society’s conventions, unable to conform or belong, and subsequently cannot truly live because of it. His complex, and often restricted view of the world, has trapped him in a box of cynicism and self-loathing.

After completing the novel, my connection to it lingered long after. Its ambiguity was something that both frustrated and comforted me. I think that to really understand this book, you had to have been Holden at one point in your life, because otherwise he is nothing but an archetypal whiny teenager. His complexity and confusion is so human, that it scares me. I felt despondent reading it, often finding myself having to pause and reflect on my own past. Contradicting the plethora of reviews stating that Holden is ‘depressing to read’ and ‘irritating’, to me, the protagonist is not a bad person. And it would be naïve of me to simply place the blame on environment or upbringing, which unfortunately intensifies the tragedy of it all tenfold, as it comes to light that Holden’s pain is perhaps self-inflicted.

We are provided with only a vague idea of Holden’s past, with one of the most memorable, and largely upsetting event, being his brother Allie’s death. It seems to me that he hasn’t had a fantastic upbringing, but not a rough and unjust one either. He has simply given up. Does he want to die, as he so often mentions throughout? No, he doesn’t. But I think that he feels that if he went to sleep and didn’t wake up the next day, or perhaps unexpectedly got hit by a car, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.


Reading about his transition from childhood to adulthood was particularly interesting. Salinger doesn’t ever sugar-coat this, thus creating a raw and refreshing read which I can very much appreciate. There is a beautiful part towards the end of the novel, in which Holden is watching his younger sister Phoebe riding the carousel. It keeps turning, never stopping, on a continual loop. Change is evidently a terrifying prospect for Holden, as we watch him desperately wishing to clutch onto his youth.

I can’t articulate how glad I am that I read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, but more specifically, that I read it now. I have been Holden these past few months. God, I hate admitting that. I’ll save you the upsetting details (perhaps more disquieting for me than for you), but I will say that reading this novel has taught me that my emotions, though undoubtedly rough and hurtful, are very much human.

We, unfortunately, can’t be the catchers in the field of rye. We can’t save everyone, we can’t protect our youth and innocence. The world is a discomforting place, and Holden deals with that through his loathsome and erratic nature. But my God, I get it, which is why I’m so thankful for this novel, as it has ultimately provided me with a sense of comfort and control.

There’s so much more I could discuss but I think I’ll leave it at that. I would love to hear your thoughts on ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. How did it make you feel? Did you relate to Holden in the same way I did?


Photo source: here

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Wild Lavenders // Poetry


I want to breathe through you,
Not because I’m struggling for air
But because your candour fills my lungs
With fresh lavenders; the wild kind
That refuse to be tamed.
I begin to crave eternity
And your electric eyes fool me
Into believing that you can give it.

I want to breathe through you,
Not because I’m incomplete
But because my languid emotions
Dream of finally setting sail.
I begin to crave your hand guiding mine
As I decorate the sky with graffiti;
The colours bleeding, intensifying,
Weaving between yours.

We smile and we breathe, together,
But you leave and I stay with
Nothing but fleeting glimpses
Caught In rushing corridors.
I feel myself shying from those bright
Electric eyes that no longer fool me,
Yet the scent of fresh lavender lingers;
The wild, untameable kind.


It was strange, and almost disorientating, to only realise after the metaphoric ink had dried that this was written for him. This is a poem about human curiosity and understanding, but it’s also a poem for the stranger who made me feel careless and invincible, who showed me that I should never tame my wild lavenders.


{Photo source: here}

Friday, 1 January 2016

1st January 2016


The mundane ambience of the past couple of weeks had rendered a poignant ache to reside within the core of my anatomy. My sore eyes woke at 12:00pm after finally entering sedation at 3am the previous night; a static routine as of late. I wrapped myself in copious layers and kissed the rim of mugs, fulfilling my craving for warmth as papery flecks of skin peeled from my lips. I pushed through wintry evenings – the insufferable gloom overhanging as a relentless downpour slapped the ground below in violent gestures.

The repetitive nature of the holidays had built a despondent mask upon the calm composure that once existed. The unwavering determination that I held before dispersed as unread literature piled up and unfinished essays stared back at me, pleading for some form of energy to find its way back into my limbs. My apathy was potent and frequently seeped through the indents of my weary bones. Every possible sense of clarity became distant.

2015 is gently decaying: A disposition of fluctuating emotion.

And so I sit and wait for the starless canvas of the night sky to crack, to release itself from the shackles of anguish, allowing the tender rays of light to make their grand appearance and fill me with purpose once again.

I’d be lying if I said I were ready for the New Year that looms ahead. I’m not even slightly prepared. And perhaps the ache will cease to ever subside, and a great fraction of the next 365 days will be spent in reclusive cynicism. Or maybe it won’t, and 2016 will be a year of soul-relieving progression.

But I’m going to disregard these polarising outcomes, because there’s an abundance of meanders that this year could potentially pursue, and I strongly believe that there is comfort in ephemeral chaos. So for me, to have the power to embrace it, would be more than enough.  

{Photo source: Nabsticle}