Proofreading Life

I check, again, my letter to you,

like one would do a suitcase.

With every paper and full stop and shoe

and every ‘yes’ in its rightful place.


I check, again, the words in mind

hoping they won’t come out wrong.

Cover hurt with paint: red and blue; make them kind

and hide my arteries between lines of song.


I check, again, my Swiss army knife:

the spoons, the blades the fork,

“We’ll camp again,” they say; never wanted to in my life

My throat shut by a cork.


I check, again, my memory,

for facts and theories and concepts.

For all the things you never said to me,

and extract the images you want with forceps.


I check, again, my sketchbook

for a gift to you; you always think in pictures.

You don’t know that; I do, just look

the theories and things I see; my innocence in sutures.


I check, again, for my passport.

Just in case, even though its clean:

unstamped, for I never needed transport

to dance the theories they like – whatever those mean.


I check, again, behind me

’cause there’s always someone watching.

I laugh; there is nothing to see

but bitter paranoia – a fallen king rotting,


I check, again, it’s stopped making sense

Who you are; who am I?

People turn to lists through this dirt coloured lense:

of flaws and weaknesses, threats in my eye.


I check, again; I can’t help it.

Neither can you, so please don’t try.

Your efforts make me cringe, bloody git;

Push up my glasses; “I’m fine, don’t cry.”


So I’ll check, again, this letter to you,

like one would do a suitcase.

With every bone and organ and –

Every “love” in its rightful place.

I Am Made of Rules

I am made of rules. Little, quiet things I line on my mantelpiece, as if they are silver, or gold, or roses. I follow every word they say, and listen to the little lies they whisper into my ears.

The people around me – they have rules of their own. Sometimes they break mine: to prove a point, or because they have no point. They break my little rules, let them shatter on the floor into smithereens of bleeding glass. It hurts, I don’t tell them. Silence is one of the rules I keep in my pocket, safe from foreign touch. Silence and secrecy. Perseverance. Stoicism.

He has no rules.

His mantelpiece is full of wishes, dreams


silver and gold and roses.

When he writes, he writes


,unhindered by the likes of

‘Show, don’t tell’ and

p l o t h o l e s .

He tells, when

he wants to,


when he wants to,

and it doesn’t matter, because it’s all so good in the end. He has no rules – and he is

f r e e .

Perhaps there is some sense in my envy. Perhaps not. For people who have no rules will never learn how to break them. How to break anything, for a matter of fact. Not silence and secrecy. Not perseverance. Not stoicism, or bones, or hearts – or a man’s spirit.

I know, though. I am learning. So for now, for this year, for this day:

I am made of rules.