My first experiences of poetry were in school, although I paid no attention to it. I felt pretty detached and was shit at concentrating. By year 10/11 I was quite cocky, disruptive; a bit of a dickhead, basically. Poetry and writing never felt like something that was meant for me – something that only happened in that class. Inside books. It was snobbish and posh. Nothing landed. It was difficult to read, and never seemed to make sense. None of it was relatable. I grew up in a pit village in the middle of Barnsley and Doncaster, it wasn’t a place inclusive of creative expression. I was a product of my surroundings and the toxicity of the masculine norm that surrounded me. Poetry wasn’t on the agenda.
The positive of my schooling was Mrs Beevers, my English teacher in year 11. She spoke to me about music an art and, in hindsight, tried to make feel comfortable with who I was, not what I was pretending to be. She could see through the mask. She put me on to A Certain Romance by Arctic Monkeys who had only just come about. Sheffield was close and their voices were like mine at the time. I fuckin’ loved it. She said that it were poetry with music. An I suppose seed was planted. It didn’t have to be what I thought it was.
Though the seed was planted at 16 it didn’t germinate ’til I was 23/24. My sister Hannah was and is an amazing poet, an had started sharing the stuff she had written with me. It felt different, I could feel what she were saying, and it landed in a completely different way. Our Hannah said it always helped her to get it out of her head and on to the page and that I should have a go.
At this point I was in a real dark place. My addiction was all over me, oblivious to why I felt like I did. I’d worked myself into a particularly bad spot and needed to get out of what was surrounding me. Hannah took me in for a while. One day before she went to work she gave us a pad. So a had a go. I don’t really know where it came from. It was like a mad release, all this anger and frustration come flowing out. When she got back a read it her, and cried for first time in years. I’d not felt anything like it. So I carried on doing it.
Since coming to Liverpool for recovery last year, I’d had a massive gap in writing, punctuated by sporadic bursts of coke-fuelled shite. Previous to the admittance I was fucked, my writing served its purpose for where I was at, but was full was of blame, anger, frustration and second-hand self-hatred. I couldn’t look at myself. It was all pointing out. No one gave a fuck as much as me, but I wasn’t willing to do fuck all about it.
Today I feel at ease with me, a care much less about what I think and what folk think. No one’s arsed, really. Most of the angst has dissipated through the internal work I’ve done this year. Living in Damien John Kelly House, a recovery living centre in Wavertree, has given me an immense opportunity to reflect on why all that angst was there in first place. To hone in on who I am, drop the masks and say what I want to say.
We’re all a bit fucked whether ya like it or not. So have a go, have fun with writing. We’ve all got tales to tell – they won’t tell themselves.
Green lighter fluid and indigestion,
Too much sprayed weed,
Brings about lethargy.
Headaches for the walk home,
Eat all you can in the twilight.
Piss while you walk.
No one cares for the apathetic beside the pathetic.
Pull out the mattress from behind the 3 seater,
Set it down by the fire.
Wake up and put it back again.
Set it down,
Put it back again.
Set it down,
Put it back again.
Set it down,
Too fearful to move on.
Don’t wana stay in.
Don’t wana go out.
The tea tastes fucking shite,
You know I don’t have sugar.
Three beds too small for 4 heads,
Adolescent pangs often turn red,
In the unfinished kitchen.
It’s shit init…
Ye it is…
Time’s a mystery how it drags like it does,
And speed up when it doesn’t.
Too much time on young hands.
The football’s lost its leather.
The milk bottle’s fed the cat.
The neighbour’s not best pleased.
Fuck off back ya Dads.
It sunk in like a frog down the throat of realisation.
Can’t be me.
You seemed so much better last week,
I woke up with my head still in bed,
An at end of day it were gone.
Whose coming pity party?
Me and I.
Orchestrate the pieces into place,
Manipulating hands unseen.
Pleasantries of a forgotten tongue.
Lap the finger and thumb.
Puppet master pulling the lines up, up, up.
Dangling in the tangle,
I’m not autonomous,
I’m not in control of the proper setting,
Behind the console of beaded eyes.
Smoke drifts in then out.
Who me, who’s me?
You’ve as much as him in the distant rear view,
All back slouched,
Purgatory’s waiting room,
White plastic chair table arrangement.
Carpets tired from countless feet,
Sat in front of ownerless bodies.
Black chuddy circles,
Rotten eggs from the paper mix,
Pull the lost colour together.
Who’s he? He’s you too.
Blind to my own deficiencies.
A malign witch.
Beg off Peter to pay Paul.
Hands in pockets,
Absolutely fuck all.
Roast dinner for the chess champion in the burgundy corner.
No eggs for me, I’ve had enough.
Dog talk in the window sill.
Chicken wing decorated pavement.
Were all phone bag heads.
Blue thumbed click bait.
The adverts lie all the time,
It’s not your fault you feel insecure.
Wrist watch time piece,
Unaffordable in the pipe dream.
2 minutes full power,
1 minute full power,
Long sighted twat.
Shut the blinds or else they’ll see,
How bad it really is.
Bare walls, bare chested.
Leave it all or take the fall,
Wet eyes in crushed velvet.
Living in the bit no one else sees.