Sam Rose - writer, geek, music lover, cancer survivor, optimist, Buddhist.

Tag: amwriting (Page 3 of 6)

The Longshort of June

June, d’you know
when you will end
can anyone tell me
when it ends
if it ends
I have been searching
for the tail of the thread
but it disappears between
my fingers
the month so short
already gone
yet not
but not
where does it end

in July
what lies ahead
what sinks beneath
the surface of calm
the surface of thirty
degree heat
of sweat
of sweet words
of meet again soon
of I love yous
of ways we amuse ourselves
press the panic down
press ourselves
into each other
grapple for something
resembling reassurance
resembling advice

we must voice
what lurks beneath
the fear that penetrates our skin
the worry we absorb
anxiety we bathe our muscles in
desperation that resides within
something akin to over-feeling
that overwhelm that sinks between

our skin and bones
and bones
and bones

when I die I want to be a tree

Listen to this poem on my Soundcloud:

I have been thinking about death a lot –
picking out my plot instead of turning away
and I have decided that I want you to hollow
out a tree trunk and place me inside. Don’t
chop it down, leave it growing and upright. Keep
the top open so that crows can make nests
in my hair. It is always a mess anyway. Leave me
there with my arms splayed like branches
so the local kids tell each other terrible stories
about the dead scarecrow woman who lives
in the woods. I wouldn’t want my stories to stop
after I have lost the power to tell them myself.
Could you also make sure I am wearing a welcoming
smile, not a grimace, as even though my face will be
hidden within my standing grave, I still want to be the
light relief. And we mustn’t call it a grave. I was never
that serious, more of a hedonist with tendencies
towards deceitfulness and an unreasonable amount
of laughter which I also think must continue. So with
that in mind, could you record the sound of my
snorts, my giggles, my guffaws and sometimes
play them in the forest, in the dark? Set up your old
boom box among the rocks and put it on repeat. I just
want to lark about and as the afterlife is still uncertain
I need my body to do the work. Just set this up
for me and we can both enjoy the looks of terror
on people’s faces as they rush by. Maybe when you die
you can be a tree here, too. I have been thinking
about life a lot – losing the plot instead of turning
away and I have decided that I want you to turn me
into a wildlife reserve, maybe take a knife to my
stomach where squirrels can burrow when it gets cold
and insects can borrow my eye sockets to use as their home
and the stories about the dead scarecrow woman
who lives in the woods will never stop being told.

Brain Blade

New poem! Read it below or listen to the audio version on Soundcloud:

the word is too big for my mouth
so it stays shut and won’t let anything out
and instead all the thoughts crowd my skull
like passengers being dropped  into a small
room from an escalator
squashed together and asphyxiating.
meanwhile my brain is playing with a blade
fingering the edges, wondering
what it would be like
to press, to gently slice,
to ignore all advice,
to plot its demise,
else the body will get there first.
is it better to surrender the country
before the invasion gets too much?
is it better to stop trying, to spend
energy on living brightly and blindly,
than to expend all resources on surviving?
my brain considers this as it tosses
the knife between its hands,
waiting to stop caring about
whether it grasps the handle in its fingers
or catches it by the blade mid-air,
a perfect curve of blood forming
across its fleshy palm
but never quite getting to that place
of complacency. We are none of us safe,
thinks the brain, though minutes ago
it was laughing manically. The brain thinks:
first it comes for the body, and one day
it will come for me.

the knife

there is a minute, literally sixty seconds
or less
when the knife you’re using at dinner
looks inviting
sharper than a butter knife, not quite
a steak knife
enough to elicit something red that just
for a minute
feels like a solution, despite you never
taking it seriously
before, despite your wrist’s resistance,
your arm
thinks maybe, your skin thinks maybe,
in the back of your mind a tiny voice
says maybe,
but you keep cutting up your chicken,
finish eating,
take your plate into the kitchen, put
the cutlery
in the dishwasher, let the thought
slip away
as quietly and unnoticeably as it came.

(I never have, and I won’t. It was just a minute. Please don’t worry.)

Messages from Floridian birds

I spend the first morning eavesdropping on the birds, carefully noting each inflection, every declaration. They trust me to handle this information with complete accuracy:

too, too
too… too too
whi whi whi whi whi whi
too too too too too

The meaning of this compilation of sounds is top secret.

A lone duck goes about its important business in shallowing waters. It appears there has been a drought here, but it is the place that makes me feel the most full, in many ways. Welcome home. There are only good things here.


The day smells like yellow with a hint of blue
and you look like petrichor –
a little misty around the edges
a haze following you

and who am I, I ask,
now the whisky has stopped
obstructing my view

who are we, in this fresh
morning with dew on our lips,
beads of it at the ends of our hair

and who will we turn into after
noon, when the sun is burning loudly
when our eyes can’t block out the noise
and my hands still smell like your voice

I breathe you in
and wonder if your mouth still
feels like how I looked the night before
spongey with alcohol and thirst
stretched with smiles and open, wild
tongue trying to dampen the fuzzy inside
of your cheek, like dew trying to reach
a dandelion seed

If In Doubt

If in doubt, grasp all of your words:
Close your eyes.
Reach into the lucky dip bag of vocab
like a child fishing for sweets.
Feel for the ones that best fit the palm of your hand,
the ones that mould to the hills of your knuckles,
that give way to the swirls of your fingertips without
leaving sticky residue on them.
Squeeze the words, with their hollow vowels and
crunchy consonants. Don’t crush them. Test them to see
which ones are hard, which ones will have the most impact,
which ones will bounce and which will fall flat.
Pull out those words and throw them
in the direction of your target. The page, the
cat, your mother. The armed robber in the bank with the
hostages. Make sure you get the delivery just right –
a gentle underarm toss or a heaving thrust for
those targets who are harder to reach. Let the words fly
and pray the good ones stick –
else be ready to flee for safety when it backfires, or to
work your arm until it’s sore and your message is received.

Lashings of Ginger Beer

I still have last night’s smell on my hands:
the fruitiness of my perfume;
the remnants of a spicy ginger beer cocktail;
a glass full of limes;
a whiskey I can never remember the name of;
burnt, sweet, sticky marshmallows;
warmth and comfort and heat and ease –
so much ease.

Another Dream

Another dream is dressing,
preparing for her entrance.
I hope she is good. I have
not paid for a ticket but
I have rights. The curtain
twitches and the lights
dim. I hope the dream is
in her best dress. Something
gold and glittery, hip-hugging,
trailing down to the floor as
the dream sways like she is
about to walk onto the red
carpet. Maybe her hair will
be wavy and flowing, topped
with a tiara. Stilettos lifting
the dream a little, making her
walk taller and stand straighter,
proud and excited to perform.

Sitting in the front row of the
theatre by myself, I am underdressed
in my pyjamas, but I am an
eager audience – stripy blue
and white bottoms and even
though it’s February now, a long-
sleeved top with Rudolph’s
face on it and a gimmicky
pink ball for a nose, which
strangely sticks out not far
from where my stoma used
to be. I am comfortable yet
vulnerable. I urge the dream
not to read my thoughts, not
to think about the day just gone
or the day about to ascend. I ask
her to perform a work of fiction,
to sing a happy, upbeat song
I won’t want to wake up from.
I pray for a play that strays
from my normal viewing –
that strays from dead relatives,
from haunted houses, from
familiar fears, from realism. The
curtains open and I see the silhouette
of the dream walk to the microphone.
I clap, my hands hollow and echoing
in my private purgatory. The
spotlight shines on her, and she begins.

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