Tuesday 7 October 2014

Draft: This Woman's War

Something cheerful for you this Tuesday morning. Yes, the title is a Kate Bush reference.

This woman’s war

Digital flare above trenches of sleep,
eyes tighten at the brightness of the screen
bracing for the first assault, the numbers by the bell,
the pixelled envelopes, the blue world
with its warnings labelled red,

the morning’s propaganda, last night’s fallen,
the latest ‘allies’ to go over to the enemy;
the severed ties, the necessary mutinies,
their continuous reprisals, our few victories:

then out the door to meet the tracer
eyes of haters, chasers, taking bullets
on the platform and the train,
no purple hearts in this campaign,

no medical evacuation
when you’re standing being stared at in the station:
midnight or the morning it’s the same.
Get to work and you’re already bleeding.

Now: the next wave, voices without end,
your throat grown ragged, fearing a betrayal,
the mouths that grin at how they’re doing well
in a world which set you up to fail

the moment you were labelled boy
and ushered into life. A battered mess
by five-to-five, you’re praying for the grace
to make the evening run on time,

but there’s almost always one more ring
before the clock ticks over,
always one more little thing
and now the crowds are rougher

somehow, or you’re worn down,
waiting to be back behind
familiar lines: you slip the ‘phones inside
your ears so you don’t have to hear

the laughter, which might not be aimed at you,
but after the day you’ve been through
it hurts to hear either way, and anyway,
it’s dangerous to think you’re ever safe,

dangerous to trust a smiling face,
a word of praise, a pair of eyes gone wide
in what might look like admiration.
Bruises follow from infatuation

in the best-case outcome. No love
in these trenches, no safe rolling
in this mud, no ecstasy of fumbling
in the corner of a club that won’t

end badly for you. Kill the thought
of love before a dream of love
kills you. Love isn’t what we struggle for.

For mere life, we fight a losing war.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Poet of the Republic, Architect of the Month...hang on, wait!

Dear reader: it's certainly the case that a great deal of transphobic, misogynistic, ableist, poor-hating, homophobic crap remains to be tackled in this world - we had David Cameron's Tory Conference speech today, after all - but for the moment I would beg you to turn your attention away from such things and look, instead, at the front page of the Apples and Snakes website. 

And I would direct you there because, first of all, you will find they've named me Poet of the Month. But that's not all! They've also used the film I and Laura Degnan made of my poem 'Letter to a Minnesota Prison' to represent the many excellent films made as part of the Architects of Our Republic project I was involved in last year. Which feels brilliant. It's great to think that something I worked on a year ago still has a life in the world, and it's even better knowing that the piece chosen to represent the project is a poem about CeCe McDonald, a genuine trans heroine. For obvious reasons, I've been performing 'Fallon' a lot over the past few months, and I usually introduce that poem by pointing out that Fallon Fox takes a lot more risks for trans rights than I do - well, that goes double for CeCe, who not only had to defend herself against a brutal, transphobic attack, but was put in prison for doing it. Please familiarise yourself with CeCe's story, and, should you happen to have some spare pounds jangling around in your bank account, you could do a heck of a lot worse than send some of it towards the Free CeCe Documentary, a film created by Jac Gares and Laverne Cox which uses CeCe's story as a prism through which to examine the culture of violence experienced by trans women of colour. 

And if you've came here from the Apples and Snakes site, here's a bit of an easter egg, as it were: the video of me performing the 'unplugged' version of 'Letter to a Minnesota Prison' that I was moved to record after hearing the excellent news that CeCe was to be released earlier this year: