Ordain

I used to be a handsome man, you even called me such
but years have come and gone, and the anguish in my eyes
has spread to the ruin of my visage
and when I say years, I mean these few months
since you abandoned my hope and my meaning
the fall to nihilism is a slide into the ugly

My veins once invigorated with the strength of love, now coursing with
ethanol and heroin and sorrow
and any attempt to dull this feeling
and the bags of my eyes are the luggage of a lifetime
I wish I felt nothing, and mostly I do
except in memory or a love I cannot let loose

You succeeded where all others failed, in bringing me
not to my knees — but supine on bare earth
where the worms feast on flesh and blood and bone
with soft-sharp teeth tearing meaning and light
into great gouts of blooded flesh and mashed mind
delivered by needle and glass

I am empty of all but the loathing I feel, for myself
that you gave as a parting gift
and the booze and the drugs and the anguish
no hell I could find would be worse than this, so I
welcome what comes as release from suffering and sorrow
I bless your name as I fall

Mythical

This is the story of my life, and it is not
some pretty tale, some fairytale
no happily-ever-after
the short story is I was born, and thus I die
as do we all
and along the way – suffering –
alone and in tears and in agony
I can count the ways, in which it has hurt
the death of my daughter
the loss of redemption for the things I have done
and though I believe in none of those things
a thought that I should be tortured
for eternities in hell
I suppose I’ll find out soon
I deserve nothing less
and you absolved me of my sins
in that brief moment of your lies of love
then threw me under to burn
and I do, in this addiction, in this pain
that only you could bring
I know how it makes me sound
that I would give again my daughter’s life, just to be with you
and ever give mine for yours
and you would give nothing for me
I’ll make all your dreams come true
by giving up soon, by allowing the darkness
to take me far gone, where you can forget
as you always wished
that I never was

Blue

A single teardrop falls with a lonely sound
splashing down to the floor below
to join the ocean in endless swimming
where the sea monsters lurk
You threw me to that watery expanse
anchor wrapped tight in chains
around my willing legs
no mermaids here, just your siren song
and the crashing rocks on which I fail
I’m lost somewhere between
Beethoven and Burzum
in rage and in love
and the need to be loved in the same way
that I love
I was broken and you healed me
before you broke me beyond redemption
as some special fuck you, just for me
callous design, cold lack of heart
as if you planned, from beginning to end
my destruction

Borderline

Today is the best day of the rest of my life
and today is a nightmare
the worst I’ve ever had
emotional overload and agony of spirit
it’s worse than yesterday or the day before
and tomorrow will be worse again
all the skills I learned useless against this onslaught
I no longer care to try for anything
more than this, and soon that too will be gone
I cry at everything now, each television show or errant thought
a reminder and a damning indictment
and all my worst fears are true and real
abandoned and alone in spite of love and your promises
I’m self-medicating my way into
oblivion and the void you left behind
and no amount of mindfulness or distress tolerance
is working anymore
the inevitable end will be a blessing
for me and I think for you
you must wish me dead and gone, a forgotten chapter
in your life

Cornered

I wonder if today is the day
and my dog says no
but how long can he keep me here
especially after that last episode
where my heart failed
and I failed
long ago in the last few months
and revived I was distraught
because death was better
in that black encompassed depth
than this forever pain
and I’d scream if you could hear
about the terror that wraps its arms
around me at the thought of non-existence
still better than this
it’s courage to be gone
more than suffering to carry on
but you don’t care
if you ever did
and I’m only a brief encounter
in your life
and people say there must be
a way out, or a better way
but there’s only this
not active, but that deep uncaring
it’s the same as you feel for me
my life or death not a matter for care or discussion
just an odd note at the end of the world
as interesting as a fly in amber
or a captured memory of love

Burlesque

It’s a tale as old as time
and time is all we have
although that too runs short
this fairytale has no happy ending
there will be no happily ever after
Boy meets girl and falls in love
falls like an angel screaming defiance at an
unforgiving deity
falls so hard his body aches for her mere presence
and she says she shares that feeling
then with a blink she goes
without gesture or word
putting the lie to her promises and pacts
Boy keeps falling
and falling
and falling
falling into nightmare and despair and the
cold hard comfort of sedative dreams
he tells himself he’s only smoking
but he knows the spike is coming
and again his veins will fill with fire and
sexless sensual incoherence
Boy keeps falling
and falling
and falling
crash landing back to the solace of solitary grieving
and the inevitable euthanasia of narcotic nihilism
This tale has a beginning and an obvious end
and it’s the middle that is hard
Boy meets girl
boy gets crushed
boy falls and falls and falls into calamitous collapse
and to the untrained eye it’s more comedy than tragedy
more farce than drama
more over than eternity

Confession

I find I can no longer tell if anything I write is any good. I know I’m my own harshest critic, but still I wonder. Each word I write is an outpouring of emotion and a journey into the very essence of my being. But I hesitate. I reflect. Do I reach anyone? Does any of it really matter? I am one man adrift in a sea of suffering humanity. I am not special or unique. That is a delusion I can no longer bear.

In my too long life, I have been many things. But I have always been a writer and a poet. I have been a father (alas no more), a patient, an addict (and you never stop being one), and many other words that are far worse or far better – but mostly all of those words add up to being who I am now. Most are neither good nor bad, removed from moral judgement, and simply are. Poetry is both the blessing and the scourge of our collective souls. It’s a little loved art in this age, and one I think we are immeasurably weaker for disparaging.

I have obvious influences. In my poetry I bow before the genius of Leonard Cohen, of Charles Bukowski, of Sylvia Plath. In my song writing I owe much to Nick Cave, to the modern bluegrass and folk traditions, and to a lot of old school punk rock. In my playwriting I try, in my humble way, to follow Pinter, to follow Beckett, to follow Williams. I read Kafka and Dostoevsky, Satre and Camus. In no way do I approach anything even close to the brilliance of those who influence me. But I write anyway.

I feel in many ways that I am merely a spectator to my own existence. One marred by such sorrow and grief as to be incomprehensible to many. A man should never outlive his child. A man should not find the truest of loves and lose it forever. So, I fall back into old bad habits. Seeking escape, seeking solace, seeking any fucking thing that will drive out the demons I have created for myself.

The Erinyes – the Furies (and should I call them Eumenides or Semnai so as not to offend?) – such an ancient concept. Alecto, Tisiphone, Megaera. They who tormented Orestes and Electra. I have created them in my own image as some kind of self-flagellation. I’m always struck by Leonard Cohen’s line about ‘invincible defeat’ (from A Thousand Kisses Deep). And that is where I feel I am.

As an aside I have an idea for a story or novella based on a modern interpretation of Orestes.

Throughout my life I’ve had to deal with various mental health issues (it’s quite the list and feel free to contact me directly if you want further information) on top of substance abuse. All of which are symptoms, I think, of a life blighted by emotions too powerful to contain or quantify. But I did get better. Driven forward by a love so complete that it enveloped my very being. I was, perhaps for the first time, becoming who I could be. Becoming a man of whom she could be proud – of whom I could be proud.

The whole thing was extremely complex, yet I believed within my heart of hearts that this was real, that this was that one true thing in a lifetime. She convinced me that it was fate that brought us together. And I believed it. I love her still, with every fibre of my being. For various reasons my time grows much shorter. Be it health or those old bad habits. It’s all rather irrelevant now.

Albert Camus once posited that the first, and perhaps only, important decision that anyone faced was suicide. The choice to live or die is the most fundamental of all. Now, before anyone gets concerned (does anyone really read this anyway?), I am not actively suicidal. At least not at this very moment. But I don’t care for life, it holds no import or relevance to me anymore.

My writing tends to themes. Loss and sorrow, obviously. And the great trove of love poems I keep to myself. And there it lies. Despite the agony, I am still so besotted by her that I write anyway. Even as I self-destruct. I’m not seeking sympathy. Or even empathy. I would rather be wholly forgotten – as unessential in death as I was in life. I know that’s a reflection on my mind. I feel neither deserving of love nor worthy of it. She changed that, for that brief moment in time.

So, what I do is pour my soul out in every word. A friend of mine says she bleeds poetry, that words are the only thing keeping her together. I feel that keenly. Words are all I have left and one day there will be no more. I think that when the words stop, I stop. For those who truly read what I write you have my thanks. I know many will simply hit ‘like’ without reading, without thinking, without a trace of shared humanity.

Over the years I have isolated myself. Call it some sort of protection from harm. Both for me and for others. She broke through that. I was utterly defenceless before her. And so, I gave her my heart and my soul in a way I never have before. And she swore she loved me. I, foolishly, believed her.

These are the ramblings of a man without hope. My pen name – Naomh Briste – is Scots Gaelic. It means broken (shattered) saint. I’ve fallen to despair and it is overwhelming me. I have no desire for ‘help’, or ‘get better’, or ‘comfort’. I can self-medicate my way into the grave on my own. I wish I could say I was numb. But I’m not. I still help people where I can, although I no longer feel any sense of reward from it. I live in the halls of despairing loss.

I do not want your pity. I do not want your advice. I do not want your scorn. This is who I am. This is who I was. This is the last will and testament of the damned.

Salient

The end of the world is upon me
not of some virus or plague that sweeps humanity from its perch
not in some global conflict of chaos and nuclear terror
but wrapped in love and blue eyes and soft-spoke devotion

The end of the world is personal and private
not some broad sweeping broom for all to partake
not the end for you or you or you or you
an intimate ending wrapped in memories of pale skin and soft kisses

The end of the world is exquisite agony
not some firefight in foreign fields
not a heroic stand against injustice and malice
but a return to bad choices and desperation spiked fixes

The end of the world is the battle lost
not a victory or triumphant song, no glory or honour
not the march of ascendancy or acquittal
but final surrender to love’s cruel cold heart

The end of the world is transacted in alleyways and parking lots
with small bills and plastic wrapped twists
and reminiscence of tenderness and soft sweet desire
now charred foil and the vinegar scent of incipient doom

The end of the world can be found in the empty bottle
once liquid or pills, a grasping effort to find absolution
or an ultimate escape from tyrannical reminders of delectable delight
a capitulation of self to the barbarism of benevolence

The end of the world can be seen in my eyes
blank hazel staring seeking her bluest affection
no laughter or compassion in evidence of life
but a plea for the end of the world

Dragon

First love sings to me
And I’m back in her arms after all these years
Comfort in despair and certain disaster
She tastes of vinegar and reprisal
Lemon juice and forgetfulness
The abandonment of sex for the approach of relief
hedonism is its own punishment
I am not becoming, so much as I have
become a transcriber of the foil
transcriber of some self-induced hell
I’m the journalist to her embrace
And will tell, in loving detail
Her depredations and desires
Awash with sudden bliss and consummate
disappointment.
But she’s the only thing to
Take your place, in any way so absorbed
And I’m inclined to let her take her course
In the barbarity of solace

Nod

There’s a vinegar tang in the air
and a cigarette between clenched lips
an empty bottle and a smoky square
folded and charred
Head down and (nod)
abeyance of consciousness for moments or hours
time meaningless as the stuck second hand
on a broken clock
this is not nirvana nor some acme of bliss
just another nadir of escape and the temporary
conclusion of sensation
Head down and (nod)
the culmination of decades in a moment
but forgetfulness can be the alleviation
of high-minded ideals and low-slung sorrows
this is not an ecstatic rite nor some soul serenity
just the discontinuation of feeling and loss
Head down and (nod)