Playlist: January 2018

IMG_8678IMG_8320

This is a month of 144 songs.

Already they are flogging chocolates in Tesco’s. I am ill-prepared for the purples and yellows, the curved edges of mass chocolate which we were taught as best for exam preparation. Reading old Moodle documents where we were wished a good Easter with lots of curved chocolate. The world curves as it splits. No really. Is this just trick synecdoche? The gaussian, milky worlds. I dwell in the sugary absent weakness. Bedtime cocoa. Night after night dissolves into day. Clung to all these ornamentals, my fragile sinuses burning well. I’ll go all the way through the night for this, the not-knowing and the implicit—which is it it it. 

You see there are several photographs in which it is shown that we have a thing that makes sense, or doesn’t. My fingers reach for the delicate foil, but I am frightened to unwrap what might perish in the light.

I’ll talk to you about fast food for hours if you like. No, there is an art to dwelling in front of elevators to avoid going up or down. We part in limbo again, the ice still clung but I’m not slipping this time. There’s a sense in which the sky is a tease. How could that blue come out of the grey? It is like watching some sick person acquire their first blush for months—so you might pull on that, luring them from their introversion. O blue sky, O blue day. Today I will wear pale blue and twirl. We debate the sentience of ferns because I am sick of rolling dice for you. Rolling leaves, tobacco and steam. Everything around is still dead and grey. The ice in our drinks is the precise kind, expensive. Like some character in a song by Belle & Sebastian, I killed you on the sabbath. New moon burning a hole in my books, so I would scoop wisdom from the alcoholic silt and taste it. There are so many words we struggle to assemble. Like hairspray your loquaciousness sticks and I find it in the morning, crusted all over my skin. Slit. 

It’s taken too long for me to discover ‘Farewell Transmission’ and now it might well be my favourite song.

Doubling back out of habit, platitude. My phone battery externalises the melt of my soul. My god however is it six in the morning again and leaning out a balcony I pretend it’s still night. Which of us picks up a cigarette? Drawn from the navy, thickness of velvet. So many thin white bars whose measured smoulder effects inverse to the light. The duration of intimacy with dangerous presence.

Dreamt I was in England and being shown around myriad ancient houses. The verdurous remains of a Fleet Foxes song, green apples and glittering fountains. Here you are as I was in my corduroy. There is a hypothetical coach journey that draws me to you. In her many cubicles, the rich lady assembles a wealth of dresses. I wear sequins to gigs so they can pick up my trail. Funny how it all lies down, like snow. In the darkness you can know everyone, share in their sweat and heat. The bass beats a death inside of me.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

The truth is a valley in which I dip occasionally. Best not to linger.

What is it with our renewed desire for psychedelia? Smell of dying pines? I long for the back of a van, a Nebraskan sunrise. Languid, shimmery notes which twang through the desert, tuning to all that mescaline seeping inside the cacti. Sleeping through the mad afternoons. There is a note on the fridge: William Carlos Williams dropping plums one by one through my Twitter feed. No really, it says will you take out the mouldy fruit; I could not bear to. All of our narratives resign with sincerity.

January blackens; it fills milk spores in the holes of my speakers. Drips straight into ear canals, oozes and congeals its murky secrets. The milk goes black, an aperture. It is fear or soot or the ink from a printer. How much have you spent on weighing up happiness? There is his to consider, then hers. A balance. We talk a bit about the problem of rhythm, but we are paralysed on the boat of my sofa.

Look back for old flake paint, for the topaz and green. Flash of light!

There are so many sunflower connections. Her new album (I’m picturing Oregon from a tenement window), his intentional outfit, my disposable developed (what sad and faded sunflowers they were!), a proliferation of emoji, paling bedsheets, yellow bows and cookie-huge pupils, rediscovering a hairband, that video with its dead assembly of meadows. A nice young man stares mournfully at the wilting array. The one plucked flower I held in the photo-booth, smile all red and sideways drooping. Petals of buttery yellow. Longing for symmetrical features is futile when you think of it. The Psychology of Attraction might be a good record title. Or is it akin to her perfect button nose, infinitely terrible? Undone like a blouse the clouds forget the order of day. Very photogenic. My god like why does he drink pint after sideways pint? I prefer those features slightly awry, striking, crooked. Look into abysses, the romantic state of traffic at five in the morning.

A good quick coconut shower, rinse and repeat. We keep on growing. She knows.

To live nocturnal is to cheat the impositions of ordinary living. As if I were ever going to be a glowing contributor! You know, when they used to ask, over breakfast or whatever, about my future career I’d say—I’ll learn how to blow smoke-rings, I’ll sit up in attics watching telly every day. How far from that is the present in question? THE QUESTION. Tiny daisies studded the front lawn, friends came to paint colourful ads on the walls. I’m starlit, trying to close folders to forget it.

What I am struck by is his absolute gratitude. The blueness cools, then emanates. Googling ‘good and bad feng shui’.

I properly have the chills, then I don’t. Sunshine comes out, dashes the opposite window and drips fucking genuine gold on my hip flask, glasses, sequin dress. What a marvel! We buy cups of tea and I drift along Kelvin Way lingering in the sparkly feeling. Later, as in normal days, I brush my teeth while simultaneously reading James Schuyler and occasionally catching my ridiculousness in the mirror. Folding red book betwixt fingers. It’s like forgetting to spell, that brief glitch where you see yourself wrongly. But he writes so well about sunlight and flowers and waking up to the sense of everything being around you. How could I resist that, melting into this clean teeth feeling. I fill myself with words, waiting for the kettle to boil.

So a wee mention in Dazed and Confused, eh? I did cartwheels in the restaurant and bounced my way home.

A good friend helps you figure out your feelings. It’s not as simple as taking a box of pick’n’mix and sorting it all by colour. Remember the last day of school, second year, talking to your crush about orange skittles? We agreed on a favourite and that was the first time I lied to impress or get close to a boy. It meant nothing then. I mean anyway, oranges became my favourites—everything before was soon forgotten.

Sometimes though, I still dream of red. He’d clack the streets on his skateboard home.

When doing the morning rounds, laying out cutlery, I feel so lucky. Where has this feeling come from? I don’t deserve the good rush from coffee, or the way my hair sits right the first day after washing. Is this a temporary clawing out of the void? An American asks, is that your natural hair colour, or do you ENHANCE it? My darling, everything must be a certain enhancing. She does not tip. She leaves her glasses, wiry black frames, but we cannot find them.

My mother’s SAD lamp does wonders for everything.

We are all in our bodies, separate but not. It is his flat and he is drifting. I catch him saying, to no-one: I love falling asleep in a room full of friends, you feel so safe. This is a truism I have carried and nourished since childhood sleepovers, though it’s been so long. In lieu of sleeping bags, we wrap ourselves now in serotonin enhancements. Sparkle and chat and videos.

The time is out of joint, or maybe no longer matters. They are selling Easter chocolates already in Tesco’s. No room for January discount vegetables, or the mad dieting schemes of the rich and useless. I take miles into distance, darkness after work. Every half hour another album. They closed the bar early. Do we talk about ‘our generation’ too much? How he hates the word ‘epoch’. 

There are these messages I receive in the dead of night. Friends from abroad or away. The beautiful and ever unexpected. 

Did you know there are poets who actually write about happiness? I am very glad. Jack Underwood in love and lifting his snail to safety.

Sometimes I miss you like I miss the sea in The Wind Waker. You’re there and you’re everywhere but are you really? There is all this cell-shaded feeling and the sense of whirlpools ahead. Maybe that in itself is the dream, the journey and stirring and searching for clues. There are two, the green and the blue. Tactics: look above, be only shallow.

It is not the same green as a bottle of Gordon’s. It is fake plastic green, these intimations of asphalt. Where you have crossed and skinned and promised.

A kind of lamentable, pore-torn love; looking up football puns in crumpled papers. When I look up from the pile of folded napkins and we clock eyes. Let’s talk dissertations. Let’s talk the lightning tree on the cover which you haven’t yet opened. I found another path through a wayward January. How anyone ever did this dry I don’t know. I used to be pure and decorous really.

Now there is a mist and madness to everything. The new year beginning with vapours. Dwell in etcetera and don’t pause for effect.

Those purple foils fill up the trash. How many of us deep down can help it?

*

Ride – Lateral Alice

Moon Duo – New Dawn

Oneohtrix Point Never – Chrome Country

James Blake – If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead

Mogwai – Party in the Dark

A Perfect Circle – Disillusioned

Anna Meredith – Calion

Hannah Peel – Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula

GoGo Penguin – Bardo

LYLO – You Have Your Father’s Eyes

Beach Fossils – Saint Ivy

Hookworms – On Leaving

Anna Burch – Asking 4 a Friend

(Sandy) Alex G – Bobby

Spinning Coin – Metronome River

Loma – Joy

Public Service Broadcasting – Turn No More

Red House Painters – Katy Song

Haley Heynderickx – Untitled God Song

Tom Petty – Wildflowers

Songs: Ohia – Farewell Transmission

Advertisements

Undercurrents

IMG_2953.jpg

Short story I wrote this morning in dedication to January, something about blues and time, memory, the struggle to piece yourself together…

*

It is a nightmare to wallow in all this time. She professes inwardly, however, a sense of relief at the expense it affords, all the things she might do or watch or read. I might pick up a book at random, take it to a café and just blitz it, you know? She uses the lighthearted, daytime tv voice in her head—semi-ironically. When she bumps into someone she knows, her eyes swim with gratitude. This is something she must stop.

It is January and no-one is doing anything really, just working. She is working too, except she gets minimal shifts. So really she is treading water.

It would be better, perhaps, to change the scenery. The man at work that paints the stage sets for the plays, he recently had a baby. That baby will grow up, she thinks, surrounded by boards of painted landscapes: haunted houses, verdant meadows, pastoral castles, seashores and fairytale forests. There will always be another reality, overlaid with this. She recalls being very small and trying to wrap herself into a book, almost physically. She would read in the shadowing confines of the wardrobe doors, read dramatic fantasy stories with grownup imagery and worlds the size of universes. In each book she nurtured a personal metamorphosis; maybe the worlds mattered less than the characters. There was this longing she didn’t understand, like nausea. The boys in these books always had eyes described as gemstones, like He looked at her with his hard and sapphire eyes. As a result, she finds herself mostly drawn to men for the colour of their irises. She especially likes the rarity of green, but two-tone eyes are nice as well. She knows a couple of people with heterochromia, and this is a word she relishes, its gorgeous vowels and subtle moans. The O sound.

It is stupid to describe people with eyes like gemstones. It is so obvious. More often, perhaps, they are like television sets, endlessly flickering, reflecting. Melanin, melanin. She turns it over, listening for it like the jingle of her many secrets.

There is just this expanse of time. She walks through the park again, where everything is bare and swept back and any remnant of leaf is like weetabix mushed in dark chocolate, fudge. There is nothing to kick away, nothing to admire. It is all such luxurious waste. This is the bench they sat in, kissing under her black umbrella, the day before things fell apart. That was two years ago now, so she hardly remembers the thaw in her chest when it happened, the way it spilled out like rain. This is the bench where she sat with her pal, six years ago now, and her pal was eating a panini from Gregg’s and it wasn’t vegetarian because she wasn’t, then, and they were watching the belligerent squirrels and it was all so wholesome. Then.

Climbing the hill raises heart rate. When she reaches the top there is such a release.

She wishes she was the type of girl to have a favourite café. Like, Oh this is where I go to relax or study. She sees these girls everywhere, shiny-haired and always smiling with MacBooks and frappuccinos in university brochures. They are so glossy, these girls, they are like anemones. They stick. Boys love them, clubs love them, gym memberships love them. They will glow and smother at will, with their gelatinous, rosy lips. As for her, she is more like a stickleback: swept in and out by mysterious tides, inhaling small quantities of plankton and other fragments of life. When this thought occurs to her, she googles the species: spinachia spinachia; sea stickleback. In Latin, it sounds like some Italian dish, but ah, the brutality of Wikipedia: ‘It is of no interest as a commercial fish.’

The shape of her career dissolves as in ink; she laughs at it, frequently, in bars with friends. Faces the details later, in sleep, where they rise to the surface, inexorably.

She picks up her pace, trying to escape the park where the children are being released from school and are swirling in gregarious shoals around her, screaming at the swings. I am not a commercial fish, she recites, over and over, twisting a smile. Sometimes it is good to get mixed up in these currents, wishing she was small enough to join in, or at least perfect the evolutionary acts of disguise and disappearance. Children communing their wisdom, every howl a perfect hour. For an hour is so much to children. An hour is so much to her; but not right now.

The alarm clock makes her scales ache daily. There is no reason to keep it on, but then again no reason to turn it off. The singular guarantee of diurnal rhythm. Her body is always late, so each time the blood is a dark surprise. She sees it spreading through the week, flowering outwards, like an idle fantasy of slitting one’s wrists in the bath. It is in my nature. Once, high at a party, she studied the arabesques of wallpaper, thought of the blood and tried to describe it when no-one was listening.

Daily she scratches at the elastic canvas of her skin, wishing sometimes she could shrug the whole thing off. She pictures the underneath as this diaphanous mass of sadness. You could only catch it in a blink, like a plastic bag snagged in a tree. A soul without skin gets caught on things.

The days are like videotapes. She takes the same one off the shelf and rewinds it daily. Out of the same, the red blue green, she will eventually find the perfect day, the perfect tape. The girl unwound inside of it. For now, all the good things are just pieces and snatches and moments, like broken-up Snapchat stories she can’t get back. Every replay betrays the truth of the memory. The boy that used to send pictures from abroad, shots of skies and doorways, what did they mean?

Late afternoon, and still nothing. She knew people that walked dogs in their spare time, cash in hand. People that did internet surveys for easy PayPal transfers. People that chanced a few on low-level gambling, even though they weren’t remotely into sports. She recalls a singular night at the casino, five in the morning, gingerly sipping pints of Tennents while he put coin after coin on the slots. It was Christmas and the tips were good; they came in fat bags of new pounds with the edges you could bump twelve times with your thumb in rotation. Metallic tastes, a key of Mandy. Pop songs and the sound of the rush itself, the beginning which kept on beginning. She supposes that’s what love is, for a while.

Nobody she knows is in the park, it is disappointing. Finnieston is where the sun goes down, so the streets are dusky and violet, save for the neon allure of sushi bars, chip shops. Everyone crowded inside so the glass grew steamy. She walks on the long road, chasing the vague direction of town, evading the afternoon. She is walking, pointedly, to acquire a sense of hunger. There are days when she is always hungry, days when the numbness swallows her appetite. Sometimes she can’t decide. She remembers a time when all people did was tell her to eat. That was a while ago—she deserved it then.

Now she sits at the window, night after night, cracking slabs of discount chocolate. This is something she must stop.

Feels good to say a cold one. He calls her at three in the morning but language is too raw at this point, so she keeps her phone on silent. The light in the window opposite is flashing on and off, like a signal. The world is always on the brink of breakdown, or disco.

It is a nightmare to just wallow, wallow, wallow. To turn the connections, to retrace each tread. Satellites above tracking her every location. Then a text message, the gaze of a stranger, vibrations. It is enough sometimes to just be acknowledged.

One day she will polish her gossamer scales, she will shimmer to the lights and dance in a prism of beautiful irises. Her great disappearance—captured on videotape, spinning away.