12 December 2012


Though it is the same everyday this journey is different and really I don’t make it everyday. No matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to form habits. Good behaviour equates to nothing as does bad. In a way I’m free as can be and in another I’m doomed. I wait for seasons to know how to dress and act and how wide to open the window. All these I's and me's disagree. We’ll never work in this town again. Hey at least my pancake batter’s the right consistency, or, consistent. Then it rains all summer and everything is fucked again. I am considering finding some ways, any ways, and adopting them.

11 December 2012


A certain state helps. Hooded. Face almost fully covered. Why this helps I don’t know. A number of jumpers. Scarves. Quiet. Tea from him. Breathing deep and yogic. Middle distance. Not looking directly at the sun. Not looking directly, letting eyes find focus. What is important makes itself known. No slamming doors. Blinkers. Tiny windows. Just hands, eyes and brain. Make the body warm and comfortable so you don’t have to think about it. I’ve never had a decent chair. I resent all chairs for their indecency. Bed is my chair. Extracting teeth. Blood from a stone etc. Articles and prepositions bore me, who cares what and where. I just want the good words, strung together with a minimum of string.

29 November 2012


Half hoping to find something in the middle distance but it’s just fag butts and bottle caps and other people’s conversations -

no that’s not right -

not hoping. Not anything. Just coming back to consciousness to find I was nowhere specific but maybe it was better there.

Not even imagining. 

It’s not at all unpleasant.

The occasional thought, an observation. Boredom prevails. Nothing is interesting.

Well at least I have never seen my town from this angle before. An alleyway I’ve never walked down, the slant of the sun -

but look: a gesture, a body, a desire, something waiting, willing linkages, subtraction is the opposite of addition, division is the opposite of multiplication.

26 October 2012

House on a hill/San Francisco

Half staring out of the window.

Green tablecloth. Green tea bag. Memory of green eyes.

Perfect level of breeze. Everything is soft and sweet. Music at a perfect volume.

Hills proliferating from here on up, houses spread haphazard but of course not really. Towns and spaces have been carefully planned and petitioned for. This is no slum. Hill houses in Jordan and Mexico aren’t like this. Hills there are to be struggled up and balanced down. Not prime real estate. Here the roofs point perfectly up, windows promise expensive views. Slope up and down in beautiful slants, simple as breath. Colours are nothing to be scared of. But there is a muteness, something traditional lurking, something silently agreed upon that fears deviation from deviation. Something agreed upon as modern and open minded. Something that makes me want to only wear black in the sunshine.

What is behind each window? What allergies, fantasies, letters of complaint, drawers of vitamins, ulcers, sunscreen, junk mail, photographs, pets, doubts, desires, clothes that don’t fit, barely tolerated people, books? House guts. Inside the black bags of Tenderloin’s homeless. Street kids’ rucksacks on the Haight – memorabilia from the family homes they run from and to. Surprise that everything is the same – something to wear, something to drink from. Joy that everything is the same time and time again. And equally different. And what really happens is only ever between people – but again, the same and again different.

From the outside a kiss is a kiss and a kiss only.
From the outside you are unlocking your front door and nothing else.
From the outside a face is gaunt and lost and only that.
Every dot is the present point of an infinite line stretching back and reaching forwards into an infinite web.

Betrayal. Actions mean as little as words. But what is produced? Languages where there are five words for one. Shades. Infinite manipulations. Repeat prescriptions. Memes. Saying I love you one million times and it being the same and different every time. Hundreds of windows and hundreds of tea cups and hundreds of pleases and thank yous.

So if not action and not words then what? If what I say and do do not match and what I say and say do not match and what I do and do do not match then everything is an anomaly, anomalous, unmappable and you will have been right about chaos. But patterns emerge. Habits too but patterns are more interesting.

A house on a hill. A leaf on a tree, a house on a hill, a kiss on the forehead, a leaf on a tree, a house on a hill.

Branches of chain stores all smell the same.

The thousandth time I’ve heard this song.

Turning to you in the morning.

The pitch of a bark.

Recognition. Strangeness. Remembering as tool. Context. Points in space. Another cup of tea. Another inhalation. Boredom. Exhilaration. Everything all at once.

16 October 2012

15 October 2012

Morning, about three weeks ago, Italy

It is just me wondering about irrigation at this time in the morning. How can this damp ground explain itself?

It must have been E who left an overturned tumbler of wine out here in this patch. The sun has made it viscous and blood-like. I pour the drops out onto the cracked land and think of Bible landscapes full of ritual and miracle and life coming from nothing. Distant train sounds like locust swarms.

I check on my trees. I pretend they are mine. I have not yet learned how to surrender my possessive urges. Anagrams. Figs black and withered in rings around the tree, telling time and age. Some small, hard and green, waiting for rhythm. Some, very few, purple and ready - but ultimately lacking heart. I stand in the kitchen and peel the skin, I tear it open and study the inside for as long as I can stand, I eat it up, eyes closed, back to all doors, remembering the sound of cars on the roadside and being invisible and knowing how to use it. Not about meaning. Never anymore about that – experience. The first part of the day. Silence, water, silence again.

A wasp and two giant ants delving into the decapitated head of a silky silver anchovy. Raw on the white plate, twelve fishes, iridescent, sleek as cars in traffic jam sunshine stretching back for miles. Metaphors metaphors. Always a crutch, never exact, never right.

I trap an ant under my mug and immediately let it go. Someone, perhaps the only person I’ve ever hated, did that once and I swore I’d never do it. He caught the ant in the dip in the base of his wine glass and dragged it across the table cloth. The ant died and smeared all over the white paper covering and the man talked and talked and wouldn’t shut up.

Strange sleepiness and pain contributing to this arrangement of thoughts. Still something I can’t understand. Hate hate love and hate again. Sleeping back to back, gorging on hot skin, thin white sheets, green lights.

Things dissipate as people wake up. I am still hated and loved. Other consciousnesses bustle and rise. Mine flips and starts and stalls. Anchovy head still shiny but eaten from inside. Looks the same but feels all different. Others eat up your insides. The wasp curled right into its neck, precise and nasty, knowing the value of what it had. I feel for scavengers though. There is something in that. Being lazy though I’ll never really know or try to find out what. Bed beckons but my thighs are hot and I want eggs. I want a perfect spreadable yolk and a slow morning fuck.

13 October 2012

Fractured West

I have a very short story in the latest issue of Fractured West. It's called 'The Family Cat'. Read it!

12 September 2012

Black and Blue

I wrote a short prose/poetry piece called 'Decagon'. It's in issue one of Black and Blue. You can read their manifesto here and buy the magazine here. It's only £5 and really very good. I fully endorse this project.

1 September 2012


Flat. Free to run across an even surface, balance. Now I want the woods. Dark corners, recesses, murk and mud. Feels familiar and close and musty and bodily like musk, swamp and dirge, cloying and viscous and wrong. Aural, a variety of sounds, a variation of screams – from the throat to the mouth, bitten and bruised and sleeping with the window open in the middle of a summer’s day. Breeze cool on bare skin, outside may be better, more noble but inside smoke curls all pretty and things smell rank and fun and fleshy as papaya. Forget the track, park full of strollers and fruit, stay inside and watch the trees shake in the train breeze for nature. Then back to the red inside your eyelids. White ceiling. Day passing.

13 August 2012


Purple suit lining flashes as he passes plus the smell of some sort of strong aftershave that's supposed to smell manly.

Emaciated girl applies lip balm for as long as it takes the man to change from red to green.

Many Canadian tuxedos.

A balding man finger combs his hair over the patch.

Sweet sweet popcorn smell.

The street we kissed on. Every time I pass it I think again of that odd blue time.

Apostrophes all wrong everywhere again. Beginning to take it personally.

I've never been back to the pub on that street but I think if I did there would be no hope or sorrow or romance just a sort of confused cruelty hanging around like when it fucked up. I'll applaud myself for knowing the difference but still be sort of sad in a stupid stupid way.

The council have bolted these chairs to the ground in groups no larger than three. Unstealable. The effect of community. As if you've bumped into a friend and they've pulled up a chair haphazardly and you've talked for hours without realising.

We sat there cold drunk and horny waiting for the bus and eventually just walking.

See how Brixton has changed for the better? Chairs!

25 July 2012


I can smell their coffee. One girl brings the thermos to the other's lips for her to sip. A gesture so tender. Pronouns confuse. Everything is she and her and her and she. They speak, slowly, in Spanish. It drifts my way and I dream in it that night.

A woman, young, conservatively dressed, blonde, cradles her dog in her arms, belly up, in a stance of absolute trust.

11 July 2012

Girl crush

'Women that use their bodies in the ways that we do—both of us in a way engage in the self-portrait—are often dismissed, have been dismissed historically, seen as attention whores, narcissists, etc. I think both of us have been interested lately in the notion of the girl-cipher—Green Girl was inspired as well with the celebutante, with Britney and Lindsay—and how the girl is interpreted in public, is over-interpreted. I feel that Heroines and now Slapping Clark Gable, a new critical memoir/essay book I’m working on now—is trying to theorize how female artists are perceived, especially women who write of worlds perceived as “unimportant” or “unserious” or who write the body or self or emotions in any way—and to attempt to trace the genealogy of all this.
Kate Zambreno in conversation with Kate Durbin

Britney in the Everytime video

6 July 2012

Writing as...

writing as smoke signal
writing as witness
writing as confession
writing as declaration
writing as love letter
writing as revenge
writing as occupation
writing as solace
writing as space
writing as freedom
writing as solitude
writing as celebration
writing as salvation
writing as damnation
writing as lie
writing as sin
writing as decision
writing as consciousness
writing as dedication
writing as manifestation
writing as destruction
writing as torpor
writing as love

12 June 2012


Restless, the trees sway. Now, the trees are restless. Everything has led up to them swaying now, just so behind my bedroom window.

Trains pass, disturbing them. Dog barks. Bird sings. Dog barks, trains pass, disturbing each other. Bird trills, is quiet, trills again. Dog barks.

I came in with blisters. My feet were blistered. I mean really blistered. The heels, the little toes and that awkward point beside the bowl. The awkward point beside the bowl was the part that was most blistered when I came in.

It feels like a sort of heart. Full and mellow with pain. A heart mellow with pain. Full to the brim.

Specificities of people reveal themselves on the train. The train is brim full with specificities. People, full of specificities. And each person fuller still with other people, who are full again, to the brim, with other people still. Infinite.

Restless now I find a needle and warm it up. I warm a needle over a flame. The flame is restless, swaying now, just so. The needle is hot over the flame. Heat travels to my finger tips but I don’t mind. My fingertips register the heat but they don’t mind. The needle is clean now.

30 May 2012

Pool (from memory)

First, learn to float, thin and mobile, become agile. Want water. Full of imperatives. No photos, child protection. Bounce, smiling, to your father.

Counting her visible ribs, playing them like a glockenspiel in my head, hollow, marrow sucked out.

El ano pasado, flashes of Spanish, I understand easily.

Aggressive front crawlers with flawed technique draw grumbles from surrounding bathers. Unwritten rules are being broken.

Old ladies with their hair pinned up, gossip & glide, gossip & glide.

Many shapes: compressed curves, scrambled edges, widths. It is good to see all these bodies. Still people try to say: this is me, you can tell by my sunglasses, by my gait and by who I'm with. Today I love this.

No longer longing for uniformity. Be full and multiply. Adorn yourself. Exclaim. No hate today.

Flesh spreads white and molten, careless.

Stripes florals polkas blocks florals polkas blocks stripes polkas florals blocks stripes.

Black and red ants gathering.

Colour and light, cool water, coffee with ice.

Luc Tuymans: The Swimming Pool, 1989

8 May 2012

Joni Mitchell on the relationship between drawing and songwriting

(Irritatingly the piece she's talking about is uncopyable, go here to see it.)

At this time, the way I laid color to outline an existing line was very similar to what I was doing musically. When I recorded a song I would play and sing at the same time, which I would say represents the black line, then I would take two or three words and stack one or two harmonies to them. One harmony would be like running a band of color and two harmonies would be like running two bands of color along the black line. These drawings have a lot of space and at that time, as I say, I was just recording voice and guitar, which is by nature a lot of space. As I became more and more color conscious and added more and more lines of colors in my drawings I seemed to crave it musically too. So, aesthetically, with music and drawing, I was intuitively concerned with similar problems.

from StarArt book

27 April 2012


She is self conscious, she walks without moving her arms, sucking her stomach in when she laughs. Her legs do not seem to move from her hips. When she wakes up she looks at the pillow to see how much eyeliner has been lost, she reapplies and puts her bra on under her pyjamas then comes down to breakfast. I am dishevelled and unsupported, my home hair cut feels suddenly obscene, an affront to something I do not understand. She winces when I paint over chipped nail polish.

13 April 2012


I find an apple in my bag. Everything is simple. Love is ordinary and good and engraved onto benches and plaques along the pier. The sky’s so blue I could puke. Time is not a source of worry. Nor is age or tooth decay. Nothing matters. Only water and stones, birds and minimal shelter, trees and sea. The air smells of lunch. K is quiet and calm, but dangerous like a razored Halloween apple. Clouds brew and blacken, priming for rain. The sea will rage. I will read nothing into it. I’ll eat my apple and go inside where I will do something until I want to do something else. 

9 April 2012


from Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son (1992)

Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn't know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That's what gave her such power over us. The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated in there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I've gone looking for that feeling everywhere.

from Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts (1941)

There, couched in the grass, curled in an olive green ring, was a snake. Dead? No, choked with a toad on its mouth. The snake was unable to swallow; the toad was unable to die. A spasm made the ribs contract; blood oozed. It was birth the wrong way round - a monstrous inversion. So, raising his foot, he stamped on them. The mass crushed and slithered. The white canvas on his tennis shoes was bloodstained and sticky. But it was action. Action relieved him. He strode to the Barn, with blood on his shoes.

5 April 2012


There is time. Like any other. Before the others have woken. Before the postman has come. Before the sun proclaims itself. It is as though I have lifted up a rock and found a wealth of crawling insects, slithering with life, teeming. Existing regardless, existing in the dark, existing under a rock. Where I thought there was no space are whole systems of living. Even in the darkest places.

24 March 2012


In the recesses of the city pigeons cast their shadows like spells.

Liquid ball of orange sun spreads the sky light pink and wild as fuscias. Reflects off tower block windows. Someone opens one and there is a great flash, reverberating like an earthquake, like an echo - a neighbourhood mystery.

Girl with mean scraped back hair reads her Kindle. She has bright orange earplugs stuffed in her ears. The only colour in her humourless outfit. Black undermined by neon. She doesn't want to hear anyone breathe. I imagine her weighing her food out before cooking it. She will warn her children against potatoes. Hopefully they will be fat and shiny to spite her.

The Bussey Building houses hundreds of secrets, half visible through smashed windows. Red light bulbs, cork boards, evangelists and artists inside. Oh come all ye faithful. Believers in line, shade, god and hell.

Train moves on. Sun sets. Soft light. Same Ikea cutlery holder on every single kitchen windowsill. Stations now the homes of businesses not people. Transparent bin liners distorting with waste. Allotments spread patchwork-like over sudden hills. Tiny scrap of space but deep as can be.

23 March 2012


'The reason it's worth standing up for punctuation is not that it's an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning. Punctuation herds words together, keeps others apart. Punctuation directs you how to read, in the way musical notation directs a musician how to play.'

from Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Trusse

29 February 2012


Sick of being big. Wanting precision, regardless of shape or sound. No longer hungry for tumult though always a little. No more wishes.

A slant; tiny, ineffectual, aware.

An oi from the back of the crowd.

A deceptively small door leading to cavernous insides.

Alice. Wide as a yawn. Even my big gaping mouth, open as possible but still a tiny little nothing. Bunch of cells and wet stuff. Mostly invisible. Free as mud. No matter. Woven in. Sensitive skin, osmosis. Smallest form of life. Still breathing, turning pages, blowing out flames, inhaling, ageing, shedding skin.


Headlines confuse me. Half the words are missing. Series of nouns. Been inside too long. Oily one hit wonder ex pop star ex husband ex father ex heart throb ex star fucker turned children’s author advocates literacy. In the photo his hands are open and spread because he is communicating.

25 February 2012


Cheokov’s most positive statement about himself was made in 1889 when he was twenty-nine and had already achieved a considerable degree of self-mastery. In a characteristically impersonal way he suggested bitterly to his friend Souvorin that Souvorin should write a story about him, “a story about a young man, the son of a serf, schoolboy and university student, brought up to fawn on rank, kiss the hands of priests, accept without questioning other people’s ideas, express his gratitude for every morsel of bread he eats, a young man who has been frequently whipped, who goes to give lessons without goloshes, engages in street fights, tortures animals, loves to go to his rich relations for dinner, behaves hypocritically towards God and man without the slightest excuse but only because he is conscious of his own worthlessness – could you write a story of how this young man squeezes the slave out of himself drop by drop, and how, on waking up one morning, he feels that the blood coursing through his veins is real blood and not the blood of a slave?”

quoted in Frank O’Connor’s The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story

23 February 2012

Peep show

Reading porn in stony silence of waiting room of suburban train station. Everyone in black and grey. Feel like a giant throbbing stupid clit in my red jacket. In the story a girl details just how much she enjoys her job. Peep show. People lean against the ledge outside the waiting room windows. Their backs and coats and straps and necks and hairs are pressed against the glass. The only other spot of colour in the room is the fuschia of the pursed lips of an old lady. The colour looks obscene on her mean face. I imagine her big white pants drying on the line. I imagine her folding them and placing them in a lavender scented, pouched and lined drawer. I want her to surprise me. I don’t want to think old people never screw. The fading on the floor shows the perfectly predictable motion of other people.

16 February 2012


To take a step towards, or away from? To go forward into a new world where I do not speak the language; or to retreat into something which, while it looks still and stale, is actually tiny, potent, quiet and precise. Begin again, build better or both? Manifold personalities, multiplying communities, hungers, interests, desires, questions; or obsessions, Brontes, solitude, no scenes, no scripts, just digging for gold in one spot.

21 January 2012

from Chekov's About Love (1898)

I understood that when you love you must either, in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.

full story here.

5 January 2012

Still life with objects from my aunt's house

Embroidery of Jesus: Byzantine folds, shining Oaxacan heart. Rococo bedspread, fake bronze statues of angels, pictures of blonde, blue eyed cherubs. Photographs of wedding days from the late ’60s to 2005. Romance novels and MegaCorp, Danielle Steel and The Little Book of Calm. Locked drawers, labelled medicine cabinet (antibiotics, anti-anxiety meds, pain killers, sleep aids). Defunct fax machine, ornate light fixtures, misaligned ceiling moulding, mechanical reindeer, racially diverse wise men. Soduko, crosswords, laptop tables, a collection of lighters, raw cauliflower heads in a bowl. Gifts from a colleague, gifts from a mad girl, gifts from a maiden aunt. Scented sachets, drawer liners, secrets to wrinkle free skin. Three hairdryers, eight Christmas guests, two packs of Silk Cut Silver, one pack of Kent, one pouch of Golden Virginia, Kleenex, Vicks, Flake, four remote controls. A half eaten orange, three cups of water, crocheted doilies, chew toy, knitting needles, rogue decorative bauble.