Monday, 26 October 2009

The Ghost Factory

Sunrise, and I’m watching Time falling past my window like morning rain. Past my memory, past my outstretched fingers, past the anatomies of stars laced across the window pane is a street, deserted. The scene is grey and flickering, grained like an old movie, and there’s a silence spread thick, coated on the roof of my mouth like peanut butter. I’m waiting, and the world holds its breath.

Gradually, the colour begins to drain away, and the sky washes to violet, sepia, ash; crinkled like elephant skin. Around me the silence starts to hum and blur, like a television, disconnected. I am a jumble of abstract words. I am oscillating, iridescent, a daguerreotype of imperfections ever shifting in the light. I am losing touch.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I am falling. Everything fades, and I feel myself slip under
.........................................................................................................into the dawn.

It’s dark, and I’m hiding between preternatural boundaries, fragmented in prison-bar existence. Silver penumbras dance at the edges of the pale light refracted off the glass that lines the walls. I graft a film of skin across the windowframe to shut out the sun, and watch the shadows seep across the floor.

Here, I am constant, locked tight in my own bone-white carapace. Cinereal, I hover, trailing fingertip tracks across the glass – old jam jars, milk bottles, miniature medicine vials – and marvel at the grime that has accumulated. Dust particles float through the air like tiny fairies, twinkling like ash. I hold my breath and stand back to admire the ghost factory, glinting ominously in the gloom.

This is the sanctuary of my intravenous demons; my litter of moons - for sheltered in the shadows of this filmic labyrinthine mind, I am growing ghosts in glass jars. Spectral faces fog the crystal walls of their containers like the glitter sores left by breath in cold weather. Each wraith is small and malformed-ugly like an imp (as if something of their faces had been lost in translation), with delicate ivory skulls like egg shells. Tiny limbs float free in dislocated fluidity, and skewed mouths gape a jarring language of pith and amnesiac dreams.

I come to the end of the line where the most recent addition to my factory shivers and tremors inside its tiny glass prison. It’s fresh enough to be more viscous than the cloud-like forms of its counterparts, being still bedaubed in a thick, deep red, but the contorted expression of anguish is distinct. I tap the glass, intrigued. The ghost clatters and chokes guttural, embryonic words, whilst its red skirts swish and swirl around its miniature form. It’s almost pitiful.

One day, my ghosts will learn that here they are safe, as if in utero, and will be able to sleep, curled-up, foetus-like. Then, maybe, I will get some peace.

But now the little ghost’s affliction is painfully wretched. It’s distressing its siblings, too. I can’t bear it much longer. Its screech is a child’s, pathetic and pure. Panicking, I grasp the jar, and hold it to my chest.

I scream.

There’s a sharp pain in my abdomen, acute and knife-edged, as if my gut has been ripped open. I double over, back arched – the glass falls to the floor, shatters. The room begins to shake – I’m convulsing, reeling – the glass clatters like teeth, as one-by-one my ghosts smash to the floor. The noise hits me like a wave; a choking primal screech of asphyxiation as the factory is obliterated. Smoke-forms unfurl and swarm around me, a multitude of aborted faces and burgeoning screams. I’m drowning; being swept beneath the waves and feeling air and colour and time rush past me as I am dragged down, down. I’m heavy, full of so much sound, so many ghosts, and so much water in my lungs I could burst, and the light’s fading, the sky’s caving in and I’m so, so tired...

I lie on the floor; empty, holding my waist and trembling. Staring in the face of oblivion.

I am back in my room again, now flooded with the light of the pale winter sun, which has risen high, smooth and white like an egg. There are stains on the sheets; mottled crimson, maudlin.

And outside, it’s raining.

* * *

Why do these things never turn out quite how I want them to?

This took way longer than it should have done to write, and it still infuriates me. I think my brain may have short circuited.

Friday, 16 October 2009

I'm Here

* * *

'Hir' - a transcript:

Melissa sits in the back of the classroom afraid to speak up.
She pulls akwardly at her extra loose khaki cargo pants,
She doesn't want the boys to notice her.

James finds himself at the back of a classroom,
His baseball cap casts a shadow on his pimple stained forehead,
A wide shirt hangs from his broad shoulders,
But no one ever noticed him.

The teacher asks,
And she says nothing because she is not here,
And Melissa has never been here,
Because Melissa is just some abstract jumble of syllables that doesn't fit her position.
She is not what she seems,
She doesn't want to have to explain to her mother for the 232nd time
Why she doesn't want to wear a dress to prom,
Doesn't paint her face it's cause her whole body is painted on.

"Melissa, Melissa"

James doesn't want to have to explain where he came from,
'Cause with the exception of Melissa he has been deemed an abstract reality by everyone.
All he wishes for is to get to wear a tuxedo to prom.

And Melissa has been tucking in breasts that will be growing for three years now,
Been using duct tape to press them down and mould them more into pecs.
She just wishes that people would understand
That at birth her genatils didn't know which way to grow,
Mad at God who couldn't relay a message directly to her hormones
That they should produce more testosterone.
The only person who understands her is James,
And they have been playmates since the age of four,
Around the time girls notice boys and boys notice girls...
See James' family wanted daughters instead of sons,
And Melissa was always like that male beetle that everyone called a ladybug.

"Melissa, Melissa where is she?"

Sometimes she wishes she could rip the skin of her back,
Every moment of everyday feels trapped in the flesh of a stranger,
As she stands to her feet wanting to say:
"I'm here, I've been here since I was born,
So quit asking me if I'm a him or a her,
'Cause when you combine the two pronouns you get H-I-R -
Hir -
And God combined the two genders and put me in this body transgendered,
I'm here so quit talking about me like I'm not here."

James falls back into Melissa's skin,
And the two comfort each other in a syncapated heartbeats,
Waiting for the day when Melissa can finally scrub off this made up genetic make up;
When the teacher asks for James and he can say
"I'm here."

* * *

I think this requires a little explanation...

I first saw this video when it was featured on the other day, and it really struck a chord with me. I thought it was both a great performance and an emotive exploration of what it's like to be transgender.
This is not something I feel in a position to be able to comment on - I myself am not trangender, and I don't know anyone who is - but still I felt I was able to relate to 'Melissa', the transexual in the poem. This is because I can definitely relate to the feeling of being torn between conflicting identites.
I also think that Melissa and I relate to the issue in similar ways. Melissa knows that she would prefer to be 'James' ('all he wishes for is to get to wear a tuxedo to prom') but she is stuck with 'her whole body ... painted on' both because people don't understand her situation, and will not accept her as transgender, but also because, to some extent, she is in love with her own ambivalence. She does not want to be known as 'he', but as 'hir', a combination of the two identities.

And that is, I feel, where I stand with my own multiple personalities (though they are not quite as definitely defined as 'James' and 'Melissa'): I take some kind of sadistic pleasure out of my own ambivalence, and revel in my confusion, however painful it is. It's like walking into a dark forest, knowing that you'll never find your way back, but carrying on walking anyway because you want to find whatever's in there - you're convinced there's something there - however hard the journey may be. Every step taken is over hot coals, but still I press onwards, into the depths of myself.
Maybe one day I'll be ready to accept myself for who I am, however many identities that may be, and be able to define myself as 'here'. Until then, I guess I'll just have to keep searching...

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Today, I feel empty; as if someone has taken an ice-cream scoop and extracted all my inners. It feels as if there is a hole, somewhere in my chest, which is made heavy with the weight of the nothingness that crouches in there. It’s a monster that attaches itself to every fibre of your being; seeping into every pore of your body, so that each thought and motion you attempt is like releasing a lead balloon.

I wonder if emptiness is an affliction or a state of mind. It is certainly something that crawls inside, lodges within the gaps amid your bones and sleeps between your lungs, but it is also all encompassing; all consuming. You get lost in it; you drown in it, but all the time it is within. It seems paradoxical; impossible almost, but it is a nothingness with several dimensions and no shape.

It is not just emotionally consuming: it is also time consuming. It remains with me for anything between several hours, days or even weeks at a time, and all the while existence seems pointless. I do not feel like doing anything, I cannot think straight, and everything around me just seems to wash over me, erasing me. Each time the emptiness sweeps over me, I lose myself a little bit more. It’s so frustrating when, at my age, you are desperately trying to define yourself, make life-changing decisions, and just be you, you find that for every step you take closer to your ‘identity’, you’re taking twenty steps back.

Or maybe this is me, faceless, doomed to be forever lost in emptiness, and a sea of fabricated facades that I’ve constructed myself to get me through life. Each one different, likeable, and well-meaning; but disappointingly lacklustre and one-dimensional. I hate them, but I depend on them, my multiple personalities, to hide behind, for safety. Even if they are only a collection of hollow puppets, at least I am the one pulling the strings.

I would like a nervous breakdown, to collapse, to finally lose control. I am sick of being the one who’s always so composed, so collected, so empty. I put so much pressure on myself to retain this visage of immovable perfection – what I think others want to see – that I am left defenceless to emptiness. I am imprisoned in the carefully constructed house of cards that is myself. I long to let go.
For even in madness, there’s freedom.

Freedom from myself.

* * *

Sometimes I just want to scream and scream and scream.

I'm not sure if this is fact or fiction.