Tag Archive | identity

The boy with wheels

The green grass was pressed

into two wandering routes

as the little boy rolled away

toward the trees and their roots.

A voice without words

inside a rigid little frame;

“that boy, he has wheels, mummy”,

diagnosis: his own name.

Caring hands push him onward

to live as much as any other;

a boy who loves what boys love;

a son, a nephew, a brother.

Difference stands between us,

and the child is left unseen;

It defines him and reminds him

of the boy he could have been.

Parallel, he lives

against what he wants to be;

yet he smiles, nonetheless,

the little boy by the tree.

Advertisements

On the rocks

There I stood
a shape of shame
in front of the man
who stole my name;
He took my soul
and turned it black
and cut the line used
to find my way back.
His eyes were mine
but resolute and dead
and sunken deep
into an untamed head;
I could barely see
beyond my mind
the man I was once
trying so hard to find.
A monster stared back
in every glass,
whispering to me
this must be your last.

Self storage

A light burns dimly
through the veil of uncertainty
as we set fire to the trail
which leads us back to a time
when you stopped being you,
when you stopped being mine,
and began to lose your way
in other people’s lives.
I don’t know why you chose to bend
your starry dreams to accommodate them.

Amongst the crowd,
you shared yourself
and, at the day’s end,
were left with nothing else.
Now I look into the glass,
the shine behind your eyes,
and see more of myself
than the self you denied.

Puzzles

Her eyes had faded to a foggy grey-white, looking onward with a glossy forever stare. She looked beyond death and beyond me. Her cheeks sat high up on her face; the left cheek had sunken slightly from the blow and made her look ugly. In this yellow light, the blood shone like thick tar across the backs of my knuckles. I tried to wipe the blood away, but it had worked its way into my skin and, as I raised my hands to the dying bulb that slowly swayed from the ceiling, I could see the outline of every cell – every cell marked in a thick border and made to stand out. I examined my skin and followed each cell as it interlocked with the next; it formed an endless puzzle of me.

The television had been switched to a station of static during the struggle. Perhaps we had accidentally rolled over the remote control? The television hissed at me as I picked up a small shard of glass from the floor. This fragment was once a part of a champagne flute, now it tells a story of something more. An empty champagne flute represents celebration, perhaps the celebration is yet to happen or maybe the party has already taken place. The flute glass is a synecdoche of good times, wealth and progression. A smashed fragment of a champagne flute, however, speaks beyond itself in such an uncanny way. The sharp glass piece cuts through the perfect image of celebration and turns it into tragedy. This shard represents the fall – a fall from the height of celebration. Now what went wrong?

I pressed the glass into my skin and carved out a cell. Well, nothing went wrong because the celebration was a lie that she chose to believe. Tragedy was always expected from tonight. I knew this and, to some extent, I think she knew it too.

The glass moved away from my skin to reveal one singular cell balanced delicately on its point. This was a part of me. It still is, but it now lives out of context: an artefact to an unknown city. This singular cell can now break away from me and live its own existence yet is also still historically connected to everything that has happened before. It is a lone puzzle piece which exists in its own right, but will forever evoke the ghost of the entire picture. This cell is my lone puzzle piece for those who protect our rights to be civil, who fight to keep the monster at bay and the idea of morality intact. You call these people the law and you run scared. You hide beneath the wings of the law because you are afraid of the chaos that can be found within yourself when you are completely unbound from civilised structure. This part of me will be a gift to keep those men and women, who protect you from yourselves, searching for the entire picture. In the end they will find the monster they are searching for. I hope they say “thank you”.

My blood filled the incision quickly and created a tiny dot which held a dome shape for a few seconds before the surface tension gave way and let the blood dribble down my skin. My blood washed with hers. A sex of dark reds raced down to my elbow and formed a large drop on the tip of my elbow. The drop swelled until it released itself and fell to the floor. A vacuous calmness had now occupied the space that primal thrusts and drives had resided moments ago. The ancient snarling animal subsided into the darkness and all that remained was silence.

I sat there by her side until the morning. We stared into each other, unblinking. I worked her face into a pretty smile and invented a little life for her. She had not previously told me her profession, but she looked like a teaching assistant. She – her name is Macaria – would early arrive to class, twenty minutes before even the teacher, and go over the plan for the day. Macaria was enthusiastic for everything in life, had the ability to flood a room in a calm that could wash over all.

‘She was magnetic, in a sense that life was drawn to her’, Mr Macaria will say through tears, eyes staring deep into the lens of public sympathy. ‘She was so kind…I just don’t know how anyone could do this to her…My beautiful baby girl’. The end of the sentence will be sobbed out violently, the words will be barely audible, but we will all know what was said. How unoriginal death makes us. There is a plethora of adjectives in the English language and all that can be said about the dead is how ‘good’ and ‘kind’ they were, even if they were absolute demons. You never see that, a man stand up in church and speak the truth about his dead daughter: ‘She was a slut and I haven’t seen her for years because of it!’ Now that is passion, my friend! But no, Macaria was not a slut… or a terrible person. I had not known her long enough to see anything about her character that suggested this, thus I decided that she was in fact an amicable young lady. She had given herself to me and for that I was eternally grateful.

Unfortunately, Macaria was now all used up and she needed to leave my life. I took a serrated knife from my suitcase and began to turn her into a puzzle. The flesh cut well, but the bone needed to be broken. I stamped down hard. I was a hammer. Fuck me, this made things extremely messy. By the time I had broken her down enough to fit into my suitcase, chunks of flesh swam like islands in blood. She had exploded into the pieces of herself and now I saw in her what I had always been – a scattering of pieces slowly drifting away from each other. There were no words, no communication between my pieces, just a continuous overlapping of broken thought. A mind muted by the vacuum of violence between its pieces.

After I cleared away all the blood, I walked over to the hissing television with my luggage prepared. The static stations always reminded me of pins and needles in the feet – such an uncomfortable buzz of broken noise. The power button made a numb click as I pressed it. The television sighed, the light on the screen raced from all corners to its centre and then, darkness. I opened the door to the hotel room and paused momentarily to listen to the night. Silence. Well, not complete silence. A faint murmur swam below the surface. I closed the door behind me. The murmur followed me into the night. It was drowning dead air – static noise, perhaps; an endless game of Chinese Whispers and, of course, chaos.

Nameless

Why don’t I have a name? People call me Jonathan, but it does not stick. I am not a Jon. Someone called me Stephen once. She must have been mistaken – stupid bitch. Stephen is a friend and we talk so much that his life has rolled over into mine. Why am I so tied up in other people to not know where my identity begins? Never be too social; you’ll lose yourself. Friends help, yes, but if you float along on someone else’s tide for too long you will lose the lands from which you came.

My sister’s friend – I always forget her name – believed that I looked like a Jake. What does that even mean? She could not tell me specifically, although she went on to suggest I resembled one of her friends called Jack. I know this Jack she was referring to and, trust me, we look nothing alike – he lacks the beard.

My parents have repeatedly told me that they had firmly decided to name me Charlie. Charlie is not my name though. I have queried this and they have said I did not come across as a Charlie once they saw me. This confused me to no end. How could I be a Charlie in the womb and then, as soon as I hit the air, suddenly become someone else? Was I someone else? If so, that would suggest that identity is intrinsically linked to a person’s name. That cannot be. If I did not have a name would I simply cease to exist? Surely not. Names, they must have some other value then. An external value, perhaps, to other people. I am Jonathan, supposedly, because people recognise me as Jonathan and as no-one other than Jonathan – except that girl who called me Stephen. What if others began to call me Stephen? Would I change at all? Would I become a Stephen? Talk and act like a Stephen? How does a Stephen talk? Or act for that matter. Would I change because my identity was now intrinsically altered or would I change through a subconscious awareness of the social expectation to be a different person, to act like a Stephen?

Why do I question myself so? Fuck me, that’s something a William would say. A name soaked in such poetic and philosophical turbulence that it would suit me perfectly – even if it was just for pure irony. William is such a rich name. It is tied to so many great and influential men. This makes me wonder if I would even deserve to possess such a name. Or even want to possess a name of great value. Would I walk an inch tall against the other Williams before me? It would be too much for me to live in the shadows or be crushed by the rock of expectation to do great things, to change the world. Fuck that. Fuck starting off life with a handicap, chasing a standard set by history. Usurped from birth; how fucking cruel.  Christ, now I have snowballed onto the idea that a name could stand tall enough to cast monstrous shadows over a person’s entire life. No-one really cares this much about the weight of a name do they? Evidently, I do. 

Lay a particular set of letters in a particular order and, for each person, there will be a face. Order, that’s all it is. We need to organise people. We need to keep track of those we love, those we hate and those whom we chose to forget. A woman told me that she hated the name Samuel because it reminded her of an ex-boyfriend. Each time she heard that name the past clung to it like a ghost. She even stopped dating a person who she had grown fond of because he shared the same name. She told me that their faces seemed to over-lap in a way that he – the ex – would always break through and haunt her. I have seen both men. They bear no resemblance and I cannot fathom her avoidance of the name Samuel, but I guess I wasn’t present during the moments of her past where that name soaked up so much blood.

That must be it then. Words are saturated with the past. Names can summon the ghosts from a person’s memories and haunt them. But this cannot be limited to names. All words possess this power of staggering and folding linear time in a way that the past pushes through the present.

For me, it is the sunset that summons the past.

I remember a fire that used to burn on the horizon. Its flames could be seen day in, day out: forked tongues licking the underside of pinkish clouds. It was a magnificent Sun that shone like a smile. The blues of the sky spread themselves out in shades of arctic water every day. I would stare out towards that gold-pink line, ghostless, with her at the end of each day. The end of things was so beautiful. 

The sunset now sparks a fleeting electric green as the sun sinks and, although it is only visible for no longer than half a second, this green washes the pinks, blues and gold from the sky. Green, a colour soaked in envy. Envy: an emotion of irregular desire. The desire of comparison. Why do I not have the strength of others to sit still and become a reliable fixture? Why couldn’t I stop the shaking? Surely, I was more shatterproof than this? You let her drift off like an abandoned ship. ‘Hang your head, son. You let yourself down. You’re a captain, you should’ve gone down with that ship.’ Thrown from paradise, choking on that last bite. Together, you had a name, an identity. Separate you stand, ‘Jonathan’, staring out at the empty sky, ghosts burning at your side.

Second-hand shoes

Look how easy it is to fall
into the default cast
and move through time
tied to the shoes of the past.
We grow into them with ease
as if by some incurable disease.
The sun will always rise
and bleed the same light
across the skies
until the return of night.

We are but echoes
who scream into the darkness:
Die young and save yourselves,
before you become someone else.