The Retrogression of Self


With every drink
comes degeneration

and every disco dabble
brings deterioration,

the reckless demolition of
a mind that thrives

on vague ideas of happiness,
promises of something better,

and desperate attempts to
experience whatever it means

to “feel alive” while being
mostly dead inside.

Devastation comes with freedom
and my worst version of myself

isn’t worth my immersion and
participation is what is commonly known

as “having fun.”


Maybe some people
don’t suit fun, or don’t deserve it.
I do not understand fun:

my definition of having
a good time is as warped
as my vodka-vortex vision.

I have no hair to let down,
I ripped it all out.

I do not care for my safety —
everyone that I love is a stranger
to someone.

I smashed the tiles
that I was meant to dance on.

I spend half my life trying
and failing to order more drinks

long after the bell
has sounded for Last Orders,

and leaving after the lights are out
and staying after the staff have gone home.

I feel gross, and I know I am a mess,
but I pretend that this is fun,

and I am an exceptionally good liar
so sometimes I even believe myself.


Do you enjoy it?
Do I enjoy it?

Sparkling powder on dirty cistern
on painted thumbnail
on shattered iPad
on kitchen counter with breadcrumbs
on dusty dashboard
on pirate dvd
on corner of stolen credit card
on someone’s toned stomach,

with banknotes
with lottery tickets
with a strip of the Evening Standard
with doctor’s notes
with fluorescent straws
with glass test tubes
with torn-up takeaway menus
with your brass house key,

up it goes,
up a nose that used to sniff out love and success
but now senses nothing but fear and desperation.

I don’t enjoy it.
Not really.

I want it, I love it,
a love so bad it’s good, it’s all good.
Good at awakening
good at encouraging
good at welcoming
the worst version of me.


I don’t want any of this anymore.
I don’t want to fight
this person anymore.
I want to kill the bad half of me,
just strangle her while she’s in bed
with a stranger, strangle her
until she enters a sweet, forever-sleep.
Sleeping beauty, sleeping disaster,
leave her alone, let her sleep,
she’s so tired.


I fill the void with
two litres of cheap wine
and morph into a monster in a mini-dress.
Really though, one sip is all it takes
for the worst version of me to arrive,
uninvited, aggressive, ridiculous.
I want to strangle her
and I think other people do too.


“Something’s gotta change.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I need to change.”
And so I quit, cold-turkey it, miserable, isolated.
Usually something bad has prompted my decision
so I just hide inside and want to die.
And the change is bad,
and the change is good,
and the change is very good,
and then I go back to my old ways and it starts again.

I hear them mumbling something about leopards,
and spots, and dogs that can do tricks,
and how an addict will always be an addict,
and that I’m going downwards and backwards
and upside-down at an astonishing rate
but I’m not really listening because I don’t want to
hear it,
I’m laughing, standing at the bar
and knocking back another jar.


The next day I always feel
more panic than shame:
it is dread, utter dread,
and fear at what I have done and said,
and it’s terrifying.
I try to push it out of my mind. “It’s fine,”
I say, “it’s fine.”
I forget that other people’s’ memories
work far better than mine.


“You don’t care about very much, do you?”
“Not really.”
“Well, you ought to. Start caring for yourself.”
“Question… Would you still put food out for a cat that is dead?”


Something has got to change.
I think that “something” might be me.


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