It was thrilling, in a guilty way,
the feeling when it took control.
I used to hate people, so easily,
that it was almost comforting,
a bottled, rage-induced religion,
sermonised in bitter diatribes.
These days, anger is a pen-pal
shouting from across the pond,
and daily life, with all its trials,
brings little more than sour sadness,
temporary indignation, irritation,
where hate once reigned supreme.
This must sound very positive.
Yet, they never showed me this,
the art of how-not-to-be-angry.
I was born to be a loaded gun,
a double-barrelled death stare;
transitioning is harder than it seems.
This book has changed along the way.
It was about surveillance, censorship,
communication and degeneration,
but in five years' time I will be thirty
and I'm already sick of being angry,
tired, of the inconvenience of hate.
My uncle's husband, clever man,
told me that I need not worry.
He said, think about when Dylan
shifted from acoustic to electric;
not everyone will like the change,
but you just can't rage forever.
Someone told me it takes time,
learning how to open doors.
I have been vulnerable, before,
unwilling and afraid, useless,
as a fragmentary larval child
suffocating in my cell,
until the day I grew beyond my shell,
split the seams, dug my claws
into the earth and wriggled up on land.
My evolution brought a new conclusion;
there is value in preparedness,
the instantaneous cartoon escape hatch,
a hidden blade, a kevlar vest,
the assurance that I still know best.
The years have taught me
how to safeguard my own interests;
lock the door, transfer the data,
screenshot every temporary value,
cut the line, backup the system,
record your conversations in a secret folder.
Catch them, in a web of their own words.
Flip the bayonet against them.
It's 20:22 and I am Southbound,
on return from Red Light Reading,
bleary-eyed, when all at once,
my sudden insecurity becomes unshakeable.
And I am flooded with a new grief
for the death of certitude, the loneliness
who shared my bed in many forms,
sober and awake, empty vessels
lingering in coffee shop reflections,
faces of the lost-but-not-forgotten.
She challenges my way of being,
chips away my steel chrysalis
with kindness, thoughtless gestures,
cover versions of our favourite songs,
morning coffee waiting by the bedside,
quiet applications of sustained metaphor.
Because of her, the twilight hum,
the inevitable bedside whiskey,
is at risk of dying young.
She deserves more than this,
a future made of glass and eggshells,
playing around firewalls and cold,
Someone always gets hurt in the end.
I hope it's not her.
Venom resonates within the box.
One tick, and you're home again,
a sleeping fixture in the cobwebs,
calcified like sullen architecture
in the temple of your memories.
Through the excavation process,
you unearth yourself anew,
a morbid wind-up toy surprise
waiting to explode, pressurised,
a sandstorm in a treasure chest.
One last time, I cradle you,
feel you shifting in your catacombs,
listen to the spiders running
through your desiccated wasteland,
and as always, you say nothing.
You were never quite a father.
In my role as your eternal guard,
perhaps, I can be something more
than you: free, but never quite free.
Unable to forget.
Marc Brightside is a UK-based author who discovered poetry under the tuition of Julian Stannard, his work characterised by darkness interspersed with humour and introspection. His debut collection, Keep it in the Family, was published in 2017, while the poems featured here were taken from his second manuscript, Personal Impersonal. Marc be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @MarcBrightside. He writes at https://marcbrightside.wordpress.com/