Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Unhappy But Still Glorious

Spring still clings to the ground as it stares up at the leaves, who are able to live without toppling from the trees, for now, because while nothing gold can stay, they are green, for now, gleaming in the early sunlight.

There are flags lining every building, like the leaves line the trees, and as I wait for the Jubilee to come and go, I wonder if Our Liz likes to watch the way the seasons change, as I do.

I started calling her “Our Liz” ironically, and now I can’t stop. She’s not the type of girl that runs through my mind constantly, usually, but I see her everywhere that I go, these days, so into my mad little mind she slips, for a second, and I start asking myself what she thinks of trees and things.

I wonder if Our Liz likes a cider in the sunshine? She’ll be tied up with a long weekend of things I wouldn’t want to do in her place, but I wonder if she’ll steal away for a moment, sipping a cider in the sunshine with a slim lucky strike, as Cliff Richard carries on.

We really are alike but totally different, I’m sure. When we were young, those who loved us called us “Princess” but only one of us got half of the World for their twenty seventh birthday. Still, who can resist the best part of a bank holiday? Maybe she and I will split some spirits?

We both ate free when we were at school. Me, because I was poor, and her because she was rich, but I was rich in borrowed books and ideas that weren’t locked away like her diamonds, so perhaps, even with my house that is humbled by her many palaces, I won.

I read once, in yet another borrowed book, that she loved to learn, but was never allowed to expand her mind in the way her family expanded their empire. I felt some sympathy, but she never had to learn about Mummy skipping meals to make ends meet, so it really was as little sympathy as I could spare.

Now the leaves are green, summer is on the horizon and flags are fucking everywhere. I know little about the woman who stares up from pound coins and puddles that reflect the tempest of decorations. I wander the streets, wondering what goes on in her mind, and what goes on behind palace doors.

Do you fancy some shots, Liz? It is your special day, after all.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Personal, politics, Writing

Yes, In Your Back Yard, Katherine.

I saw a plan for new homes this morning,

in the newspaper.

Oh.

Thank God.

I thought.

Surely they’re needed.

The streets are no place for people,

but people find their place on the streets,

and homes are good.

Necessary,

nice, even?

Right?

Wrong.

Not to be NIMBYs,

but the neighbours have lost it at the very thought of it.

“Schools are too full!”

“Roads are too busy!”

“There’s no room at the doctors!”

There’s no room at the inn, apparently,

which would be funny,

because it’s almost Christmas,

but isn’t funny,

because it’s winter,

and there are people who make busy roads their home,

kids who live in broken down B&Bs,

going to school with growling stomachs,

lungs full of damp from the cramped hotel room they share with their mother,

who was running from fists that don’t care how much she just wants to live.

So,

we have to make room at the inn.

We have to make a little sacrifice,

because it’s Christmas,

or we’re human,

whatever works,

whatever gets people off the streets,

whatever gets poor families from busted B&Bs to a real home,

whatever gets people,

real people, by the way,

somewhere secure.

You can find somewhere else to walk your dog,

Katherine.

You could write to your MP about expanding infrastructure,

Katherine.

You could accept that people other than yourself have a right to a home,

Katherine.

They called it “Out of sight, out of mind” in the paper.

It reminded me of home.

The estate that made me,

high up on a hill,

crouched behind trees,

with ravens in branches,

rumours of horror and crime to keep “good people” away.

We were terrifying,

I’m sure.

Most people forgot we were there,

except the postman,

who took pity on us,

and didn’t see the poor as a dirty secret.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Personal, politics, Writing

Abuela’s Ashes

They sense you,

you know,

your songs spill to the streets.

They hear you,

in the line outside,

discussing a new centrist party,

that will definitely work out,

and an article you read,

in Lenny,

about why ironic, hipster racism,

is actually the best weapon against the far right,

or something.

party jennifer juan.jpeg

They are hunting you,

as you enter the club,

but you are safe.

They watch you,

you know,

as the long suffering bar staff,

patiently wait for you to finish talking,

about this totally amazing girl you saw,

singing new wave acoustic death metal,

at the local fair trade coffee shop.

They can see that the bar staff want you to shut up,

order a drink,

and go away.

party jennifer juan 2

They see you,

dancing with your friends,

but,

as always,

you are safe.

They approach you.

They smile at you,

and from the pockets of their pressed suits,

they produce,

a bag of my abuela’s ashes.

You smile too,

and you are suddenly dancing in a new way,

that only you and they understand,

and into your hand,

goes my abuela’s ashes,

maybe some other people too,

but don’t worry,

just as it always is,

you are safe.

party mask jennifer juan

You escape,

once again to the bathroom.

They are no longer hunting you.

You inhale and return to the party,

clothes,

red,

blood on your hands,

up your nose,

but you,

you already know what I’ll say,

you are safe,

just like always,

you are safe,

and so are they,

buying and selling abuelas and tias,

hermanos and hermanas,

from Colombia,

Peru,

Mexico,

Bolivia,

and now,

on your own streets,

your city’s blood,

is all across your face,

grinded down to pleasant powder,

the human cost,

in a format you don’t have to think about,

so you are safe.


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Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Personal, Writing

Council Estate Girl

I was born,
and sped to work,
in a British society,
not quite high society,
council estate girl,
lost in the trees,
staring up at stars,
and making plans,
in crayon.

I worked on my grammar,
to get into grammar,
but my grandma always told me,
it was better to shine in the safety of the state,
than to struggle at the top.
My school died as an academy,
starved by those I used to want to be.
I tried to believe that they meant it,
when they said,
with rehearsed and reductive smiles,
that it didn’t matter where I came from.

DOGgbIbWkAAJPm6.jpg

My life is a really long commute,
from my mother to my god.
Traffic jams,
and dandy distractions in between,
choking on air pollution,
born of my own ambition,
and some days,
I still believe,
that I’m rushing towards something,
other than the realisation that I’m not.

 

Work myself to death,
living somewhere in between,
but no matter where I run,
how many of the classics I read,
or how many times I drown my rough accent,
in elocution lessons,
and later in cheap cider,
I am a council estate girl,
lost in the trees.
Scared to climb down,
to the grass of my past,
that glares up, in disappointment at my betrayal,
and the fact I never call.
I am a council estate girl,
terrified,
and ever so dramatic,
disgusted,
by what waits above me,
and the plans I had for them,
created in crayon.


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