Noose

Swing then! In gentle breeze when you reach the end of your rope
the bloated corpse of the past and the rotted flesh of no future
tongue swelled and blue against sallow skin in moonlight
eyes bulged in lifeless stare under boughs and stars and moon
redemption at the end of the line

Stare then! Empty-eyed gaze into oblivious night, eternal
endless – dreamless and bereft of breath or beat
some calculated drop with body weight and fall and the short snap
of neck, or the slow gasp for breath and swollen lips
drawn tight over old leather skin and crushed pipe

Sleep then! Dream not of days past of lost hope, no tomorrow plans
or years to come. Dream nothing now, forever lost in dark grasp
with no tunnelled blaze or angel’s song, no demons await just this
desire for the loss of all sensation and being and end
redemption in the grip of the noose

Tie then! That noose that awaits us all, just sooner and more violent
than most that wait in shadows and the gathering of loved ones
and if in violent ends these delights do bleed, then be it so
best that than ever aching need, for that which is gone in your blink
be brave and end this nonsensical being

I apologise in advance for the mess

Immolate

We like to afford, to those in great distress
the right to end their suffering. We say –
in dulcet tones — that they have the choice to end
be their cancer or disease or awful pain
We are right to afford that solace to those
who need release
but what of the others
who suffer in infinitesimal and infinite amounts?
what of the emotional suffering you discard even as you say
that they are loved or wanted or needed?
in my new-found sobriety I question it
the how much is too much
and why should those who labour under
the intensity of the too much
be afforded less than those whose physical agony
overwhelms. Is my torture less somehow
because it has no physical cause? Is your suffering in some way
reduced for lack of a nerve ending or tumorous growth?
I am sober now, for now, right now
and while I might be less inclined to share that
bitter pill, it hits harder for lack of the intermediary
from Hamlet to Camus we have asked the question
would be it nobler to suffer, or to end all
in the choice of Ophelia, we see answer
resounding through time; painted
on a river flow and impasto impressionism
There is no solace for the damned, as there is none
for the ravening hunger of tumefaction
if you would be kind, then let us go
as you would those who push the pump
to eternal end in their distress and their glory
let us too, sleep
without guilt or guile or shame
let us too, dream no more
and be forgot in course

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

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

Omit

You are watching, on some flickering screen, bathed in blue light
the self-destruction of the poet
a man without hope cannot continue
Bear witness now to this insignificant event
stretched over days and weeks
as the pain grows and the body fails
There will be no sadness, no mourning or loss
just a physical end to an emotional despair
and none shall grieve
This cuts through bone and flesh
driven by tears and callous disregard
and manifests in physical distress
Did you know that you can die
of a broken heart?
All the king’s horses, all the king’s men
cannot put the poet together again
She will inherit the flotsam and jetsam
of a life once lived
but she will not lament
any more than she will read the words left behind

Erase

It could be days, or weeks, or months
before they find that husk
with none to miss and none to pine
erased in form and memory
by way of biology and chemistry
a mass of rot, or as desiccated
as the salted heart that drove the
lesson home

There will be none to weep, none to mourn
none to raise a glass and tell jovial lies
none to cry themselves
to sleep over some wistful remembrance
or sense of desperate longing
buried, burned or abandoned; in dreamless sleep
as in the full light of the sun

There will be no wake, no misty-eyed
reminiscence and carefully wrapped tales
of fantasy or illusion
no marker to say that this is where
the lonely shell resides, where once was the writer
of love and light and longing
leaving only these words, and a few worldly goods
all of which are yours to do with as you please
and you too, will not grieve and lament
no tear will fall to your cheek, no sob
escape from your cherished lips
then as now, lost in your heart
like the fading remnants of a stifled dream

Trigger Warning

You do not see these weeping eyes
You did not see that failed body
On the gurney when they brought me back
To a life I did not wish
With machines and drips and courage
Uncalled, unasked
As I lay unmasked before eternity
You did not hear the rush of siren
Or the frantic push of the medic who
In their miscarried panic
Sought to bring back to life this foolish husk
That still thought only your name
And each day is worse than the last
Each another step closer, another harrowed end
When my heart stopped, I thought of you
When no light came, no brilliant beyond
Your face filled my mind
Blue eyed grace and pale white skin
A vision of beauty’s essence at the end
Before forever night
took hold in its embrace
truth be told I seek that grasp
that silent squeeze into oblivion
an encirclement of encompassing arms
I held tight the letter I wrote to you
As the glow faded from my eyes
Those words of love and loss bleeding
On the printed page in sorrow and in rage
Dear Danica
My love
Beloved as I depart
You never see me cry, at night or in the sun’s rays
You do not see this failing or this descent
Into darkness and cold still
You see only the raging of the depleted heart
And the solemn end to funereal days

Circumstance

I woke the other day
rushed away in silent sirens and muted noise
and you never saw the speed
of each day worse than the last
each moment a devastation
heartbroken, and breaking
because somebody said
a risk
a risk of what is my question
of despair, of loss, of forever
hypotension they said
with the help of some small white pellets
at 75/50 they were ready to say gone
at heart attack they were set to pronounce bereavement
to nobody in general
not you in particular
this was not an accident
not a calamity of personal casualty
This was a deliberate and desirous decision
I woke in that bed
angry, unhappy with the cognizance of awareness
I despise their heroics, their assignment to life
in keeping this useless shell whole
can we stop
in this pretence that every being is worth saving
can we stop
in this veneration of life
with no realization of loss?
I am not worth saving
I am not worth
I am not
I am
I
stop saving me from inevitable fate