‘pink mould is all Me Me Me
and she says byeeee
goes down the drain into the nether world
where the sky is smeared all microsoft blurple
and the bubblegum clouds are furred with plaque
and I’m sinking my teeth into the orthodontist’s pink mould
it’s the same sensation
as when I bit your arm in my sleep
cool rubber embrace
and the wrong flavour.
I lie dripping like a sink as the pink rubber fingers
climb in my mouth, clean cut cardboard cutout of a man
screwing and unscrewing, clipping off excesses
I drool along with the radio while he stops time in my mouth.
the passage of molars grinds to a halt
and on the way out, pink blossoms falling on my head…’
‘He was thinking of the summer days when he and his family would drive down to the west coast, to join the throngs of other city-dwellers for an afternoon of sitting around on those golden, sewage beaches. All the people seemed brand new, like lambs, squinting and paralysed by the sun, the reflective ocean. His sisters would scream and tackle each other in the waves; neighbours would shout across the sand in recognition; his mother would constantly be slathering sunscreen on each of the children, declining any herself. He, Michael, would shift uncomfortably on his small towel. There was so much distraction; there was never enough time to read.‘
‘At the start of the summer a girl called Lydia brought us to a hill in her step-dad’s Fiat Panda. We had met the night before at this party, and she was telling anyone who would listen – Hey, I’ve had this idea, I’ve got this great idea, what do you think of all the wind farms? – and she showed me this video on Facebook of this group of girls who knit, like, scarves for trees, and before I could say anything she was like, That, I want to do that but with wind turbines, will you come? Will you bring your friends? and it’s not like I said Yes or anything but next morning there I am in the backseat with a dry mouth and my friend Conor, who if anything is anti-environmental – he’s a real asshole – sitting next to me, wishing death upon me, but it’s not my fault he slept on my couch, and it’s not my fault that my dad makes him go outside to smoke and then Lydia saw him there and made him come with us.’
‘I love my job
contrary to the belief
of huffy parents
bringing neat kids
to the uni up the hill
‘I studied english too
loved every second’
the mum and dad
exchange a glance
sure I’ll be in debt
forever but why not
have fun doing it’
‘they say only when you’re old do you experience symptoms of confusion and panic: explain, then, lying in the bath, heart hammering, brain duller than the steam rising from my body, the inner thundering I cannot silence with mindful breath, and the hellish thoughts that come stampeding from my chest?’
‘Music in ears pounding, though ears sore, music softening the nervous brain, the motorway rolls around and is transformed by the narrative of a song. If the earbuds were to be removed, an exhaustive silence would be revealed. Engine softly revving, each passengers’ buttocks reverberating in perfect rhythm.’
‘the current wage for a young apprentice is £3.90
but I can make you a six-figure man.
hustling around The City in sleek black cabs
we yell horizontal into our palms the demands,
our – yes, our – demands! far be it from us to accept
the daunting prospect of others’ incompetence:
you and I, with belligerent intelligence,
will outbid them ALL.’
‘motorways became the romance,
the soft crush of the bus chair pattern was a nervous hand on a leg.
I went forth with no seatbelt: that was love.’
‘In the beginning, Megan’s world is completely drab and brown, save for cheerleading. As soon as she reaches the conversion camp True Directions, however, life takes on a nauseating brightness all cast in hot pukey pinks and neon blues.
What follows is a crash course in Heteronormativity 101. Women are the caretakers, both emotional and domestic. Men are bluff and buff and love sports. Of course no one fits easily into these roles.
In the midst of this, Megan falls in love.’
‘A group of fleshy things, below, squawks deep,
preventing me from glass-eyed sleep.
I screech back. Hyena of the skies,
I laugh and laugh till all sound dies,
and tiny lights in strange-shaped rocks wink and stop.’
‘The night melted along like that. Out on the street, the snow had gone completely – the weather always behaved that way. Nothing stayed for long. Rivulets and gushing streams made a waterpark of the pavement, dully lit by orange streetlights. The overfull gutter dripped loudly. Angie was glad not to be outside, glad to be feeling the reservoir of heat emanating from the cheap wine in her stomach, in her cheeks, at the base of her skull.‘
‘it’s not enough to know what’s going on –
to know what the book’s about,
to know the hands are moving,
to know that time goes.’
‘you ever stand up too fast and see flashes
of blue ribboned curtains superimposed onto everything?
for like, a microsecond?’
‘It is my special reward to recall, vaguely, vividly, the brief, unencumbered hours of childhood. The days, how they blurred! One into the other. The punctuation of time is a weapon. I no longer remember my original crime, only that I am scared to die.’
the spines of all his books
arrow straight, in regiment.
the iron head of all his learning
feeds here; but there is some
leakage, there is a hole that bleeds
freely: he is not a tin man, as i am copper woman.’
‘First there’s the conversation. Before the conversation is the party, and before the party is the girl emotionally atrophying in her room, and before that is the girl learning to breathe in. And out and in. And out. And in. You get the picture.’