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,
on promises of something better

and desperate attempts
to experience whatever it means

to feel alive while being
mostly dead inside.

Freedom encourages ruination
and the birth of the worst version of myself

simply 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 don’t 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: I am the danger.
I smashed the tiles that I was meant to dance on.
I tell you to pour me another one, but it’s never just one.
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
that this is what I’m supposed to do
because I am young
and I can lie smoothly when I want to
and because I’m drunk I sometimes I believe my own lies
that everything is fine fine fine


“Do you enjoy it?”
“Do I enjoy it?”

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

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

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

“I don’t enjoy it. Not really.”

I need it I want it I love it I need it a love so bad it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s all good, good at awakening good at encouraging good at welcoming the worst version of me so rapidly, so easily, so completely I love it I need it I want it I need it I love

“No, I don’t enjoy it at all.”


I don’t want 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,
a shipwreck, other lives living on her, off her, in her,
leave her alone, let her sleep,
she’s so tired.
She is so fucking tired.


I fill the void with three 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;
in good ways and bad ways,
whatever, it’s asphyxiation all the same.


“Something’s gotta change.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I need to change.”

And so I quit
cold-turkey it

Usually something bad has prompted my decision
(remembering last night’s actions and over-the-top reactions)
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

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 and inside-out 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
I’m dying
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 peoples’ memories
work far better than mine.


“You don’t care about yourself, do you?”
“Not really. Not anymore,”
“Well, you ought to. You should. You should start caring for yourself.”
“If you carry on, the rate you’re going, you won’t see your thirties,”
“Precisely,” I reply, quietly.


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


You may have read variations of this poem before as I’ve been working on this piece for a couple of years now, but after much editing I’m finally pleased with it. So here it is, the final draft, which I’m delighted to say has been published at Free Verse Revolution in response to November’s prompt ‘metamorphosis.’ Big thanks again to the amazing Kristiana for her encouragement, and her hard work in making FVR a truly fantastic platform for us to share our words ♥

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