Deliberately or unconsciously, we sought each other
out in a crowded pub on a freezing Wednesday night.
I thought you were alright-looking, fine, probably
just another creep. As I wrote line after line, frenzied,
only stopping to guzzle beer or sniff a bump off a key,
I felt your eyes on me – a fly to fucking honey.
You were a writer for NME & carried the same notebook as me.
You wrote in blue ink, I write in black. We couldn’t read one another
’s work for the colour of the ink on the other’s pages was offensive
to our eyes. We trusted that we were both good at what we do.
That was all we needed.
:a personality disordered, coke-addled manic-depressive
& a traumatised, unmedicated schizophrenic with a death wish:
a(n) (im)perfect match.
Thoughts, speech, heartrates racing, we swapped psychosis
stories, compared meds, tremors, side effects, scars & four hours
later we were engaged to be married at Islington Town Hall
as soon as they had an open slot & I’d stolen a dress to wear.
We were acutely aware that we were running out of time,
that soon we’d die, that we had to make a day of this night.
We chain-smoked, danced to punk rock, ran fucking
riot, smashed up bars & cars. You punched a guy
who looked at me & I thought, “Wow, he really loves me.”
For the first time in my life, I felt equalled in insanity.
You proposed to me on bended knee in every venue we went into
& each time I acted soOoOo surprised, we got free tequila & champagne;
strangers everywhere were obsessed with us
(“OMG you’re like Courtney & Kurt, BUT WORSE!”)
& we were uncharacteristically glad to be alive that night.
I couldn’t believe my luck in having met you when I did.
You had money & I was homeless, had nowhere to be, nowhere to sleep.
You booked a fancy hotel on the canal: we fucked on the desk that was perfect
for writing our love story at & we were mad(ly) & completely in love.
Of course, after I left that morning, I never saw you again.
One morning last year, I awoke & knew, deep in my heart, “Michael’s dead.”
I know how you would’ve done it (we’d discussed it at length).
I checked the newspapers: nothing. Nobody cared
enough to have filed your obituary. You had no family,
only the nurses on the unit that you frequented
& you hated them thoroughly. I checked in at NME:
they spouted some shit about privacy.
I lost you, you lost me…
I still have the ring you gave me. It’s copper,
made my finger go green, wire bent in the shape
of a triangle. I love that ring. It’s such an honest thing.
(I keep it in the box with all the others).
… now we’re back to nothing, nowhere, nobody.
We wanted to die together that night, but it had to be perfect,
it had to be right & we were too wasted to do it properly
&, you said, I needed to turn us into poetry, so look:
Look, baby. Look what I’ve done now.
HLR (she/her) is a prize-winning poet, working-class writer, and professional editor from North London. She is a commended winner of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2021. She also won The Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2021, and was longlisted for The Plough Prize 2022. She is the author of History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) and Portrait of the Poet as a Hot Mess (Ghost City Press). Twitter: @HLRwriter
image: “Winter Midnight:” Amanda Rabaduex is a poet and writer based out of Knoxville, TN. When she has writer’s block, she plays with watercolors and a Canon EOS 90D. Find her on Twitter @ARabaduex or on her website amandarabaduex.com.