Inspiration from Cosmo

Someone’s telling me how to dress again

They say my boyfriend doesn’t like the way I do my hair

Or the clothes I wear

And that my skin isn’t quite right

Too oily, too dry

That I have to buy something new

To make me look like you?

They’re teaching me how to get my best angle

To make my bum look bigger

And my waist smaller

And they’re telling me I’m not good enough

And that I need to change

So that the person who I thought already loved me

Can love me again

Prufrocked and Rushdied

I don’t often recognise references or allusions in novels. I think I gloss over a lot and miss much of what makes a book special. But, when reading ‘The Golden House’ by Salman Rushdie, something stood out. It was a line at the end of a piece of prose, poetry? The line read, ‘…is this what you meant? Or this? Is this what you meant at all?’. It was the rhythm that caught me. Made me stop. I turned to my phone as it was closer than the book and googled ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’. Now, looking back and knowing more, I see so many clearer links to the poem. For instance the reference to the narrator being ‘prufrocked’ and the almost direct quotation, ‘I have see her like a yellow dog rubbing her back against, rubbing her muzzle upon, shall I say, licking her tongue into the corners of his evening?’. Nonetheless, it was the rhythm that caught me.

Let me explain.

When I was in second year of university going through a rough spot. Rough? Maybe it was more weathered, or stormed? Anyway, I found it harder and harder to fall asleep. I tried all sorts of remedies but nothing worked. And as always when stuck in an unsure moment with no one to turn to ( or maybe someone but oh god not them) I averted my gaze and found myself looking at poetry. The one thing that seemed to make a slight difference was listening to T S Eliot reading his poem ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ each night. The 7.52min recital mimicked lullaby. The ups and downs, peaks and troughs, cadence of his voice sent my body into as close to sleep as I could muster. It became a ritual. I’d lie and let Eliot sing to me. I’ve always believed poetry should be heard not read and this poem proves that precisely. It is a joy to listen to. Makes reading seem unsubstantial and pointless. Makes my eyes redundant and my ears gold again.

I listened to it again after my recent early evening revelations and my body went into an almost paralysis, a lucid state. I was hypnotised by a familiar voice who had tried many times before to knock me out. But this time, although my mind was preparing to shut down, I wasn’t. I was still revelling at my newfound knowledge. Insider knowledge. Like I said, I never make the links. I can never cut as deep as others into the many facets that make up and inspire a novel. I’d struck gold and it felt amazing. And so, as cliche would want it, I couldn’t sleep that night. My head full of things I wanted to share. And so I share it with you. Below is the discussed extract from the novel ‘The Golden House’ by Salman Rushdie which I recommend no one reads but everyone to have read.

“The first night and the second night, the first two nights of the new year, she demonstrates her wares, let’s him see the quality of what’s on offer, not only physically but emotionally. She…and here I rear back and half myself, ashamed, prufrocked into a sudden pudeur, for, after all, how should I presume? Shall I say, I have known them all, I have seen her like a yellow dog rubbing her back against, rubbing her muzzle upon, shall I say, licking her tongue into the corners of his evening? Do I dare, and do I dare? And who am I, after all? I am not the prince. An attendant lord, deferential, glad to be of use. Almost, at times, the Fool…But, setting aside poetry, I’m too deeply in to stop now. I am imagining her already. Perhaps kneeling beside him on the bed. Yes, kneeling, I think. Asking, is this what you meant? Or this? Is this what you meant at all?” (p.78)

The Rude South

Commuters are like buses

And I am human

Or bus

Stuck in traffic

And everyone around me is beeping

Their voices

And the buses are ignoring each other

And no one is giving way

Or talking

Because we are all too desperate

To be away from each other

Not because we are the rude South

Or because London is lonely

But because this is life now

Or something like that

Girls and boy

I was at the same time the best

and the worst

 

I felt myself torn apart

My bottom half was theirs

and my top was his

and he would stroke my hair

whilst they dug their nails

into the skin around my ankles

and in the moment when I’d look up

and see him staring down

I’d feel that wordless adoration

before their claws once more

plucked my toenails from my feet

and crawled up my legs

used knives to scar me

each one on each

 

So I found it hard to balance

with such a mess at my feet

Maybe I had to give up that part of me for him

 

I would give up anything for him.

Monday

Another sun

Or maybe the same

Wakes us early

And forces us to change

Again

But remain very much the same

And hustle into another car

Which gives good news

Exciting scary news.

 

Us three

Walk down past ruined castles

And beaches

And talk about each other

And laugh about each other

And queue for something

Very much worth queuing for.

 

Home again

To spend

Another never-ending night

Talking about

How amazing it has been

And I think

How strange it is

That your thoughts are mine

And I cannot wait to wake up

Tomorrow (and for many more tomorrows)

In a good mood

‘I think it might be your fault’

Sunday

Another morning is ours

And waiting

When we open our eyes

To sweat and sun

And cover ourselves in more

Or less

Cloth

And meet him

Who I haven’t seen in a while

And miss.

 

In the car we gallop

Down motorways

And get caught in a storm

Of people

And when we land on the beach

We seek shelter

To eat our sand sprayed

Sandwiches

And listen to poetry

That I haven’t written

But wish I had.

 

At home we waste hours

Eating, drinking

Listening to me talk

And listening to him listen

A soft hum and nod

And then decide

To take the night

And watch other’s laugh

Upon borrowed bikes.

 

And it feels so good

To have him

And to let him have me

Because I have never met myself

Or seen myself so closely

And he’s making me love her

And telling her

‘You’re not the only one’

But meaning something other

To what ‘he’ has said before.

 

Saturday

Hungover mornings

On their balcony

Smoked salmon

Bitter on my tongue

Melting with the aftertaste

Of martini

But soothing too

And friendlier.

 

We walked to the dene

And bent down to speak

To lower creatures

Who melt me

And her

And then to spend our last few coins

On ice that’ll melt too

When licking at our tongues.

 

And then it’s into a busy street

To buy disposable things

Plastic time

And plastic love

In the heat

And through pathways

That sound like Fleetwood Mac

And drawn out summer days.

 

And home now to enjoy

The freeze of tap water

On my bare legs

We drink rose to soften

And numb our limbs

And push and rock our bodies

Into corners

Of our round heaven.

 

It’s 7 o’ clock

And we’ve forgotten the time

So hurry into clothes

And onto metros

And drag our half-drunk minds

To meet sober ones

Who remind me of older times

Before him

Horrible times.

 

We skip home

Me speaking nonsense

And him

As always

Catching each word

And cherishing it

And telling me

‘You’re drunk’

As if he isn’t too.