Room # 1
He sits on the end of his bed, face
a blurred photo, surrounded
by the possibility and promise
Loves his mirror
but couldn't say why: its size, perhaps, how it slides,
or maybe it’s all the cracks of dust.
Under the bed
are Action Men, dried red
with Halloween blood, battle scars
nailed through rubber flesh.
with football tournament fanfare, matches
between Star Wars and Power Rangers
that always end in a fight.
One Christmas Eve he lay
pressed awake by noise
from someone's yard across the alley, and didn't understand
the presents swelling in the morning
beside his bed.
He's there now, sat
on that musty carpet, playing
with his cars, and staring
through the mirror's fourth wall.
They have spiders the size of bad dreams
in the country. This
isn't the country – it was, though, then. The streets
of the south were as clean as a set
and the grass growing out of concrete soil
was no imposter.
There's an alley
(more of a footpath)
to where a bad man lives, my little sister
is scared, which is good. Doctor X
has had his head cut open
and a teabag shoved in.
When you bounce a football here
it sounds like a door hitting its hinges
and the threat of a stranger neighbour coming
to tell you off.
Spiders live in the massive hedge too, swallow
lost footballs. There were weeds in our garden
and plasters on my sister's legs
and people with accents that stepped on mine.
At night I sink into bed
slowly, sleep is
very far down, the sheets
are white and it is dark. I flail
like a web, silently,
from the wall.
The posters are looking at us. Me and D. still
scrawny and short-haired. Half a gram between us
like a bridge, fuelled
by a star each, taken
in two halves. And I'm fine, Yeah, I'm fine, Don't feel
anything and Fuck the posters look at that they're
looking at us.
The silent threat of the hall
between here and my sleeping mother, ominous breeze
from precociously well-rolled joints
blowing out under the door.
I came for the first time in this room
and thought I'd broken something.
The walls are alive
with drugs. What I know now about movement
is ontological; then
it was him on the couch
me on the bed squirming at 4am doused
Framed soft focus, over-
exposed. Rub-eyed change
of colour and circle. Drawn out
space between the letting go
of breath from lungs and breath
from lips. When I left this room one time
I'd taken too much and fell
into the ground, between car
and wall – somewhere between
dying and floating. Morning light
can be sharp and rancid
as bong water, unexpected. The first time
I got a blowjob I thought
my skin was going to fall off – I
was high and you
were the culmination of everything.
Eyes can rattle doors without
as their sockets to face. There's sweat
on the window, strong enough
to kill a small animal, or a small child
hiding in the folds
of a teenager's scattered clothes.
This room has no history, or too much. Someone
probably lost their virginity here, or their will to live, or began
smoothing out the indents on their skin
from crutch-press –
perennial first-time building. Ugly purple
hugs the walls, best unseen
drunk. I eat food straight from the tray. In another county
many years away
my son is being born. I can't have sex.
through the massive window
I watch, all year, the hedge directly opposite: it is shaped like a wolf
mid-howl, moon irrelevant. I barely notice the strip and grow
of its leaves.
In this room
the future flops out
like a fat belly over the waist – it's tucked hidden
behind the tightest shirt I can find.
Each knock on the door
is an echo
of each other knock on the door already happened: maybe the key
to everything, and always
reduced to nothing.
When I'm gone the cleaning ladies pack
the first year of another life away.