I promised

I promised once
to keep you close
but as fine wire
I was cut by my oath

I promised once
to help you shine
but tarnish remains
lungs swimming in brine

I promised once
to give you hope
but I am a wild horse
and you were the rope

I promised once
the stars were bright
but you draw curtains
burned by the light

I promised once
to never let you go
before the summer
faded into snow

I promised once
I wouldn’t leave
but I trade your suffocation
for an ocean breeze

and without you
I begin to breathe

Stray cats, stray thoughts

I am real
for the first time
and it hurts
I am tender as
the butterfly that falls
when freshly burst

I can feel
for the first time
sinced the world burned
all I know
is freezing snow
stinging me
as hornets
blinding me
as did my wrong turns

I can see
where I was blind
and my stomach churns
the end of the road
was a circle
woven with sins and clover
that tore at my stomach
as a hungry wyrm

I can listen
where before I spoke
now I find new words
but the fire within
I cannot quench, nor give in
and all that I have learned
lingers as the leopard
in the verdant branches
waiting to tear a throat
mine, or hers?

She matters

It’s endless
Phone off the hook
A shark that swam away
but still carries steel
and will close teeth again

before this dawn is over

Receiver held carefully
as a venomous beast
A voice of propriety
brings the doom
Another matter
of lost strays and identity

awaits beneath the bridge

To protect and serve
the rats scurry to and fro
Blinding uniforms and tape
begin to ice the bones

Indifferent to tears
as the snow that fell

and the air
is a paper cut sting
Whip of a thousand wounds
You may throw up
or burst free of your skin
as scent smothers
this new normal

The routine before breakfast

They die in droves here
after all
or thrash and fade in clinical beds
Bathroom tile chipped as their teeth
Broken mirrors
and bloody porcelain
crimson on knuckles

A metaphor, portrayal
of the lives we are forced to lead

or did
To vultures in yellow
she’s a number on faded paper
‘missing’
All of us are missing here
She wasn’t just the shell
of a desperate, strung out girl

She had red hair
curling in the damp nights

She was more than track marks
her soul was smooth, unmarred
She has… had a smile for everyone
except her mirror.
She could charm the devil
or brings angels to swooning
Too high to feel the cold

She loved cappuccinos
She lived in stilettos and stolen bangles
She loved us with a fire
to light the moon
and everything that walked this earth
Another story ends

at the dead end of a road
I feel too dead myself to wonder
if these are tears I shed
or the freeze that fell to rain

Detox and dreams (stream of consciousness incoming)

You never realize you’ve hit roads’ end until you run out of air and slam into the metaphorical brick wall that was always waiting beyond sight.
They tell you that your years of self destructive inclinations and the years spent wasted in all senses have paid off, as you began to value the idea of life.


That you’re damaged inside, that the next drink you take to quiet the voices inside could be your last when the stomach ruptures as a gorged larvae and floods the body with self made poison.


And you miss the poison.


Without it the colours are too bright, smells too loud. The world flip flops between being a place of wondrous beauty and a dark pit ready to swallow you once again. Your mind is set alight where before it remained chilled thanks to the bourbon or vodka; whichever was closest.
You recall every mistake, each word you could have taken back and the days you lost to the emptiness that is as comforting as it was frightening. When the dark times come you long for oblivion again, because oblivion is the absence of everything.


Regrets scrawled onto the stones in your pockets, you long to walk into the lake. Your body shakes and trembles despite the medication and the nightmares are once again vivid and very real. Each door in your head swings open in tandem to release the demons you’ve been hiding from since you picked up a bottle.


You consider the world that was and the world that is, and wonder at the years left behind and those you could not bring with you. You become aware of how short the days are and all endeavours become frantic and rushed, as though you’re in a steeplechase and the other horse is death himself wielding hooves as knives.


In the brighter moments you feel alive and for the first time remember the smell of snow; the feeling of cold water on skin, what it was like to be real and laugh and dream. Imagination begins to creep in, quiet, urging you to hang on to the pieces of the person you once were and find a way to patch yourself together again.


But it’s a nebulous thing, hope: the chemicals in your brain slosh the way the liquor did in a glass and soon enough you swing back into the darkness and the unending battle with an urge both painful and irresistible. You find yourself at opposite ends of the rope; pleasure or pain with no middle ground.


The non existent health service tell you that things will settle, then hang up the phone. Why ought they care or show sympathy after years of neglect and malpractice? Why ought they care when the damage finds itself done and you have become another lost cause. Another statistic, a name on a label one day.


So you fight to spite them. You fight to see a better day, to be better than you were before the world had stained you with indelible ink. Blood that won’t wash from your hands; the heart pounding panic each time a car backfires or fireworks go off for a solid half hour. The terror you feel that this second chance cannot last by any means, that you are as weak as they believe and will again succumb to the night that awaits within.
The darkest night is the one blooming within ourselves.


The only way it ever falls is via giving in or giving up. Others will call you a failure, tell you that addiction was a choice and you should have been strong enough to win battles alone. Such people lack empathy and life experience; they tend to live in a comfortable bubble and rarely do they stray from the ignorant sanctuary they’ve walled themselves into.


In some ways they suffer more than you, but the difference is that they brought such despair upon themselves. The only way to conquer an addiction or illness is to plunge through it, and the only way to conquer fear is via knowledge and compassion.


Whether you’re one day sober, one week into the hell of detox like me or you’ve been fighting for years you should be proud and know that you are not alone. You have slain a dragon while they were throwing stones from glass houses. You have found yourself burned and scarred, beaten down and bruised but the wounds will heal and leave you able to bear what they cannot imagine.


The only way to fail is to give up. To stop living, to fall into a spiral of excuses and squalor, to build a bubble of delusion around yourself and continue to repeat the same destructive patterns a lifetime over.


To grow and overcome, you cannot lay down and curl up at the foot of the wall that lies before you. You cannot go over it, under it or around. You have to find a way to punch through. It isn’t an easy road and it happens at a slow pace, baby steps that sometimes feel as though you are walking in reverse.


But there’s no other choice. You must find a reason and a way to live again for yourself, because nobody can save you or take the journey on your behalf. You can fight or yield, and there’s no other choice and no one else to do the work even in the darkest moments. You can have the most fantastic support network in the world and still have to do the heavy lifting: the majority of this battle is waged in the mind and heart, not upon a bloody field.


Find your reason, find your will. When you’re going through hell keep going, or fall and burn where you stand. Hold onto the glimpse of hope, to each sign of beauty you see. Do not forget the past lest it be repeated, but do not allow yourself to suffocate on quicksand of your own making.
This is a war, and not everyone will make it out alive. Wars are won with the will, by standing tall when your head is so heavy it may fall off. You will find no help in those who handle you with kid gloves, those who enable your negative thought patterns or accept your excuses. You must learn to master the art of self control and apply discipline to every aspect of life, and it is tiring.


You must learn to let go of those who wallow in despair and would drag you back into the pit that devours all with them: if you are devoured, you lose. All life has meaning and where there is a heartbeat there is hope, but you cannot save everyone and trying only leads to a vicious cycle of grief and destruction. Letting others go is never easy; change is always scary and the fear of failure multiplies itself when backed up by past misadventure. Be brave, and fight for yourself. Or fade.

Della.

Note: this is my second detox merry go round and I’ve recently had to cut a few people out of my life. It wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do, as I’ve realized that the people we surround ourselves with tend to influence our beliefs and actions on a subconscious level. It’s a difficult choice but there is nothing shameful about doing so. We exist in a society where to let go is seen as callous and cruel, even if it means saving ourselves. We do not owe others anything: not our time, not our love, and not our energy. I am no longer going to allow toxic influences to impact my decision making process at such a delicate time, and neither should you.

When someone says they do something that hurts you because they love you, that is toxic.

When somebody values their feelings over the well being and safety of yourself, that is toxic.

When people treat you as a crutch and refuse to change it is exhausting, and it is toxic.

Do not be afraid or ashamed to cut the toxic elements from your life and reach out to surround yourself with better things. I’m very lucky to have the support network I do and I’m aware not all possess such, but change and growth require proactivity and interaction with people to find those who truly resonate with you and want you to be all that you can be. That’s what everyone deserves, but you cannot save others without first saving yourself and building fresh foundations from granite, not sand.

Do not feel ashamed to let go of what drags you back.

Heart

tie rags to a stick: pack your shit
you took me as a fool
but I’m the rabid dog that bit
the hand that offered vanity
your medicine turns you to stone
can’t catch knives but you tried to throw
when I took aim
I didn’t stop til I hit bone
blood lost along with sanity

life is a barn door you missed
it’s only toads you’ve ever kissed
and I hold the weight of my worth
not in silver or gold
my breaths are paced out by merit
not by the way you measure it
each emotion ‘pitching a fit’
so get off of my boat
we simply don’t have a spare berth

if you wanted to play the game
you should have chosen
a swan with a little more shame
no ballerina wrapped in stars
no princess will declare for you
the faery spread her wings and flew
beyond the dawn
far from the vile, simmering stew
with which you debase the word ‘heart’

London

When the concrete was your duvet

Blinding neon beams your nightlight

Flickering eyelids

you’d never close fully to the world

And the river

Diaphanous as wings

A butterfly cries out clearly

as the water sings

The city’s oldest morgue

A deep freezer for the bodies

of those who were lost

but one day will be found.

You learned to live with death

and the spattered paint of human violence

Those stains have washed out

but it has left a brand on the birdcage

that cradles your heart.

The curried goat you swallow

Casual, in the face of anarchy

The rats and cats emerge

from long buried facilities

They twirl in a form of ballet

Delivered by the scent

that floods the tunnels for miles

Roads of broken smiles

and a world we left behind.

The flash of steel in bras

with no wires

Your head held as high as the moon

as songs of the sirens

works themselves into a lather

The adrenaline

The endless flow of scarlet ink

that once held a palace of memories.

When the streets were marbled with the rivulets

and remains

that no rain could weep away

When cemeteries opened their gates

to listen to whispered words

When you were on the brink

The edge of the bridge with no care

A bottle and a cigarette to carry

you into flight

while the others danced and laughed and screamed

That was love

And you were a real girl.

Monsters

I know no longer
The sting of dread
Ivory buckles loosen
The wolves have all fled.


The moon threw herself
into the ocean
Wanton abandon

cut loose by realization
For all my stories
and all my worlds
People drawn in typeface
Given life with words


For all that haunts
shadows as moths
Fire flickering, a taunt
of

something I used to be.


As the tunnels flooded
the sky fell and bled
The world a broken carousel
A constant ache in our heads
I discovered


I was the monster under my bed.

survive

You blazed; the meteor
Extinction event
Alighting each page in my book
save the prologue
Perhaps to escape a goodbye.

You strode with cunning
the tiger skimming cream
from the tops of stolen, suburban bottles
Half frozen as birds in December branches
in blushing dawns’ indignity.

The scars your claws left
on what remains of me
lash your tongue to the ice.

Your glance broke the chain
A collision course, inevitable
The momentary impact of light
weaving fabric from all left behind…

that which we could not take with us.

Wreckage and a horde of rats
Once we shared their skin
Built to endure
until the day we weren’t
You smiled and scattered pennies
Fish scales flashing in water

Each a snapped vine of a broken promise
Now the ivy cannot restrain my heart
or the tears that close
over my everything, as a pillow smothers
the mothers’ madness and weeping.

I hoped you’ve learned
I wasn’t yours for keeping.

Requiem for louisa

If I borrowed another heart
could you love me?
When split apart
with silver smile

If I abandoned memory
could you teach me?
To bring flowers
not treachery

If I forsook the words spoken
would you teach me?
To mend broken
skin with staplers

If I were not a reminder
of the savage
callous, strangers
clipping our wings

Another place

It’s strange to realize I’ve made thirty laps around the sun.


Anyone who’s known me since childhood could doubtless tell you stories of my mothers’ strange, and overprotective nature. That’s not to insinuate she was a bad person in the least; we all deal with fear and trauma in different ways, and her response to any danger was to cocoon me.
Either way, some of you know I had this thing about never making it past seventeen. When I grew up my brothers’ death shadowed everything at home until it felt as though the lights had all dimmed. People are unaware of how such a tragedy can ripple through time, and shape the years to follow.
Perhaps that’s why I was reckless and treated life as a frivolous thing: riding the most dangerous horses, taking the most treacherous trails on my fixie, free climbing. Standing upon the precipice of a piece of living history wound in stone and blood, and wondering what it would feel like to fly.
It’s been a strange year, full of hospital rooms and blood and fire. But it’s also been a year of reconnection, new communication a hope. A year where for every unkind word or sideways glance, a dream came true. For every local chav who shoots dirty looks, someone to converse and laugh with. I’m not a huge fan of new years’ resolutions as I tend to break them three minutes after midnight, but if I had one promise to make it would be to stand beside those who have stood beside me in my battles, and them alone.


Life is too short for fairweather friends and fickle blood that hasn’t bred true.


A year of misplaced trust, and the lessons learned. The mistakes I made and the falls I took only made me stronger and more determined to beat my illnesses and the opinions of others into the ground. I’m grateful to find myself in the company of the family I chose: from Moscow to Texas to Tenerife and India, from central London to the forests of Guam, you know who you are. The people who laugh and cry (and laugh until we cry) with me, who soothe me when I’m on one and the ones I worry about endlessly as it seems I am an anxious ball of hellfire and glitter if nothing else.
There are simply too many people to begin to thank in a simple blog post, but we came through the worst apocalypse ever the way we have done everything: in fabulous style, and if at times life was a mess we made it a glamorous one. The world may have tipped sideways, but we’re used to the vertigo. This pandemic will end as all things do, but the world will have changed.
People have changed.
Everything has changed.


In times like these the true nature of a person shines through, and the cruel and ugly have their own list. One thing I’ve learned is that karma is a bitch, and I wouldn’t want the punch some people have coming.
Putting the last year and all we lost and have to carry aside, in February I begin riding again on some of the finest native ponies in the country. In a way I’ve finally come full circle: in the midst of tragedy and fear I found myself after all, I think the silly cow was probably stumbling about in the dark looking a while. For the first time in my life I feel a sense of purpose, and I know what I want the future to look like and how to get there. It won’t be easy but nothing worth doing ever is.
It doesn’t matter, because I’m lucky to have found my tribe and I know that if I stumble into shadow, there’ll be a sarcastic Russian or London girl wielding a joint to drag me out again. The road ahead is a long one, and it climbs. I work on my leg each day, and it’s hell. I practise the violin each day, and it’s heaven. People build this idea of a perfect life in their head realizing there is no such thing: there will always be adversity, a problem to be solved or something to be conquered. It’s the nature of life.


I’m learning that the secret to a beautiful life is to revel in the joyous moments with wild abandon and let sleeping dragons lie. May this year be full of dreams and new endeavours, hope in the face of despair, sand in the face of fire. May we find something meaningful and pull together to put the world back together.
As for those we’d rather shove in a meat grinder?


As someone I love dearly said, ‘may the bridges you burn light the way’


– Della

P.S. My new collection, Dawn, is in the works so watch this space for tantrums and bad first drafts and poet neurosis!