I read some poetry and prose out on at a short story night. This is the first time I have done such a thing, and it was terrifying.
My hands were shaking. I was wearing too much grey. I had torn a bit of my paper off to put chewing gum in without thinking. I read too fast. People were sitting in intimidating chairs. I started with a poem. I didn’t know how to write poetry. It didn’t rhyme. I had drunk some wine (lots of wine.)
But it went okay! Like, I think. I don’t know. No one punched me afterwards.
But there was a live illustrator (man in the hat on the left) who was drawing one of the pieces over the course of the evening, and the readers had not been told which one he was doing. Took me a long time to realise it was one of my pieces. In fact someone had to point it out to me.
Too much wine.
But here I am with the final piece, inspired by my ‘poem’ Hands.
Less of a poem, more of a …. thing.
I once knew a man who couldn’t keep anything he made using his fair hands. He would bake bread only to mush it into a yeasty pulp whilst his hungry children looked on in horror.
He would draw maps to distant lands, pubs and locally recommended restaurants only to burn the paper before the tourists got a chance to memorise their routes.
He would write me love letters, references to Dante and Beatrice, Richard and Julia, Kylie and Jason then wheel out his portable paper shredder and turn his odes to kindle.
He would darn up the local amateur dramatics costumes only to bound on stage in the middle of Ophelia’s death scene and rip her bodice to shreds.
He would shape, mould, craft and sculpt whole villages, miniature railways, ships in bottles and glazed animal characters and then he would smash, pulverise, squash, tear and destroy everything and anything he loved.
I once knew a man who held my face in his hands like it was made of glass, traced his thumbs along my jawline and down to my neck and told me in no uncertain terms that he was on a ledge, and he was talking himself down.
I once knew a man who tore out his insides, burned his bridges, took back all his flowers and gestures and well-wishers and balloon sculptures and inscriptions and dedications, and retreated into his tree house, which he later dismantled.
I once knew a man, but I don’t know him anymore and he sits very still surrounded by a ruined kingdom of cogs, cardboard, crumbs, wires and bleeding hearts and he doesn’t recognise me but he knows he used to be good with his hands.