Monthly Archives: October 2010

north london morning

The sound of steps is so altered.
Where rubber soles once padded under slight frame–
shuffled, really, not stepped–
there now echoes wooden heels:
click-clicking across the room,
into my mind.
‘You’re off now?’ I ask.
She smiles slow, red lips revealing white teeth.
‘I am,’ she says. ‘For the rest of the night.’
I take her hand,
lead her home.

The city is alive around us:
buzzing and squalling in the night,
awake in a world of sleepers.
I used to think it strange,
being conscious at three a.m.
Now it seems wrong not to be.
When I look at her next,
her eyes radiate neon:
pink and green from artificial light.
‘I love this place,’ she tells me.
‘So do I,’ I whisper back.

A cab ride later and we’re back in Islington
at our little flat in Crouch End.
The rugs smell like cat piss
and the walls are stained,
but we don’t have time to clean.
Not on the weekends.
Not at three a.m.
All we have time for
is a quick drink,
a chat,
then bed.
Tomorrow will be another day.

She slips off her pumps when we walk in the door,
dropping back down to the height I know.
She tugs off her earrings, the pearls shining bright
(her lobes are red from the added weight).
As we head for the bedroom
I watch her unfold:
sequins and stockings sliding to the floor,
wig and long lashes disposed upon the dresser.
He wipes at the lipstick
and musses his hair.
‘I turned my ankle.’
‘I know,’ I say.

His smile is slow, his hands are sweet
as he pushes back my hair.
And he wiggles and grins in his paisley skirt
when my eyes light up at him.
I tug him down and switch off the light
to stave off sleep a while.

Tomorrow morning,
when my mother rings us after Mass,
I’ll have to ask her the best way
to wash my boyfriend’s lipstick
off my neck.

1 April 2006

© Charlie Pevensie

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song

I wake up in the night and your hands are on me
and your mouth is on mine
and the world is nothing but our tangled limbs.
I wake up in the night and your hands are on me
and it takes the joining of our bodies,
the repeated thrusts for me to realise that there’s music playing in the background
and it’s what you left on your stereo for us to fall asleep to,
back before we climbed into bed,
when I first caught a glimpse of your bare chest and dormant heat,
when I first considered this beautiful sin.
You ask me to say that I’m yours and I do;
not because you want to hear it, but because it’s true.
You ask me to give you a beautiful smile,
I give you what I can
(you make me so happy and carnal and rare).
It’s three in the morning and I’m lying awake
and all I can think of is you.
Do you think of me too?
You said once that all you wanted
was someone who would write you a song.
I’m trying my best to give you that chance…
But this is the only tune I know.

June 2007

© Charlie Pevensie

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.tender.loving.care.

I held her until she had to leave,
Four-thirty early morning in March.
We curled up on a couch and sat and silence
Just like we used to.
Just like before.

I fell asleep on her belly a while;
Heard in my mind those telltale kick-kicks.
A few months or so, give or take, maybe more…
Could’ve been real.
Not anymore.

She was smiling as she stepped outside,
Climbed into one of those shitty-ass cabs.
Didn’t say much as I watched her go,
Didn’t admit that well of regret:
The cold cold damp in the pit of my stomach;
The little voice screaming for another chance.

I know it’s wrong. Don’t tell me it’s wrong.
This isn’t where we’re supposed to be.

Went back home and curled up in bed,
Wound tight ’round the only comfort I had:
Two commas lost in a sea of sheets,
Knowing not saying, listening to you breathe.

‘I fell asleep on her belly a while;
Heard in my mind those telltale kick-kicks.’
I choke. I sob.
You run through my hair.
All gone now. Won’t get it back.
Goodbye, Lillian Marie.

7 March 2007

© Charlie Pevensie

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longbranch, summer 2007

There’s a man who’s wandering too close to our table
in a blue polo shirt and a faded pair of jeans.
One hand’s in his pocket or slapping his thigh,
the other pushes short drags from a blue smoke stream.
In a minute he’ll start bouncing, fist pumping in the air
or run screaming foul words through the glass-plated door;
it reminds me of that Dylan song my ex would sing to me.
The damaged sky and one hand waving free.
The waitress keeps throwing me indecent glances
whenever she sees my bruised bare shoulder.
I can’t decide if they’re because of the raw, red marks
or because she knows that those marks are from you.
You.
You’re sitting across from me, immersed in your book,
pausing often to toss me a silly, small look.
Your finger is teasing as it traces your lips:
rough knuckles caressing the plump, tiny pits.
We hardly speak.
………..I watch your eyes.
…………………..And they devour me.
There’s a gang of indie rockers in the front corner window,
debating their important things; I think they’re smoking cloves.
I look around and see all quiet, distant faces…
each comfortable in silence in this crowded little room.
The words are getting harder, growing scrambled in my mind:
I think I’m only writing to do something with the time.
Your leg is bouncing spastic to the music in your head.
The first man takes his cigarette
………………….walks quietly away.

June 2007

© Charlie Pevensie

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on the drive to champaign station

little black girls in little black dresses,
suited up for sunday morning
pouring kool-aid in the sidewalk grasses
to see if they grow violet instead.

my right-wing grandfather lounges in the front seat
futzing with the sun visor above his head,
pushing me to take another yard sale bargain,
calling out ‘street’s clear’ even though it’s not.

my mother is an aging belle
who never found herself,
despite the hours alone and searching
all those years ago.

if you try and listen closely,
past the ripple where the road bends,
you can hear her heart’s sorrow
crying through her voice’s laughter.
sitting in the back seat, pen in my hand,
i try to watch and understand:
chip back the layers, scoop them up…
my efforts will never be enough.

1 October 2006

© Charlie Pevensie

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to the man who ruined my life

Dear Sir,

yes, I’m still here.
it’s been a few years
and I’ve gotten a little taller
and, my, have you grown.
I’ve kissed a few boys
and a few girls too,
and I’ve tried to pick up
all the pieces you left of me
and put them back together
but I’ve realised that I can’t.
my body looks as though
it’s been assembled
from cut-outs of a magazine
and nothing seems to fit quite right.
I think my eyes have gotten bigger:
those big blue eyes you liked so much?
it’s funny how you looked at them
more times than I can count
and you never saw my soul.

a man of G-d who led his sheep astray
when the wolves were out and hungry–
but not me.
you kept me in a five-foot pen
and wouldn’t let them hurt me.
I bleated so when the wolves found the others–
bleated and beat against my cage–
but you wouldn’t let me out.
your littlest lamb with the big blue eyes,
you’d never let the wolves hurt me.
not a speck of red would taint my white wool fur
but you’d set black cancer on my heart.
and when the other shepherd came
and drove the wolves far, far away,
he didn’t find me.

you sat on my bars with your mutton and ham
and you laughed your heart away;
and when it was gone
you pulled mine right out of my heaving chest
and wrapped it up in a cardboard box
and put it on your bookshelf,
next to the pictures of your boys
who left the men’s room smelling of urine;
and when you left us at last
you wouldn’t give it back.
so I had to make a new one
out of tinfoil and paper Mâché.
and when I put it in
I couldn’t find my family,
and the little lamb with the big blue eyes had gone
off into the Land of Forgotten Things
with Jesus and Confidence beside her.

now I’m Victor/Victoria torn from the script
and forced to live and breathe–
at least last time I checked–
but he/she can’t tell which part
is pretend and which is real.
I’m a tom-boy drag queen
who’s lost the audience
and I can’t remember
where the make-up starts
and the costume ends.
life’s become a set of events
in someone else’s serial,
but I tried out for the part of me
and didn’t get cast.
if I could remember what you did,
I’m not sure if I would hate you more:
I’m not sure if things would change
or if I’d remember that my daddy
wasn’t Satan after all.
oh, no. that was you.
with your tight white collar
and your shiny black shoes
and the accent I haven’t learned to trust.
you made me a racist somehow.

yes, Father, I’m still here:
with my marked-up script and my magazine life
and those great big eyes you loved so much.
I’m going to pluck them out and bring them to you:
I’ll get my heart back
and spit on your shoes.
then I’ll peel off the costumes
and the layers of skin
and try to find whatever it was
you decided to leave
deep inside this thing called me.

Summer 2005

© Charlie Pevensie

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{i used to write love poems for you}

i used to write love poems for you
on scraps of paper and notes in school.
the seven years war and a sonnet of you
across the pages of college ruled.
but you never saw them, never knew.

January 2006

© Charlie Pevensie

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