I feel so far removed from the thousand or so nights
that I spent splayed out on that broken bed,
smoking Afghan hash from Papa’s stash,
transcending misery to inhabit warmer spaces
built from art and truth and beauty,
leaving poverty and grim realities far below me,
escaping, fully, without even leaving the room.
After putting a record on and smoking up, my sad-starfish form would rise so easily above the old Indian blankets, above the hot-coal hole in the floor, beyond the window whose missing glass pane was replaced with cling film and sellotape, far away the blood stains on the walls, a lifetime away from the council flat on London’s main A-road with its mould and its danger and its lack of places to hide from the threat that lived inside. With music playing and Moroccan crumbled into tobacco and the door shut, I was not there, in the place that official documents deemed “home.”
Leaving the Prozac prescriptions and the unfinished homework and shoplifted box of tampons in a pile on the filthy carpet, my heavy brain would become seemingly weightless. It was a certain kind of magic to feel my soul drifting skyward towards majesty, my beaten body enveloped in the safety of electric guitars and drumbeats, always with the volume up so high that I could no longer hear my own thoughts or the thoughts of others, or the sirens or the shouting or the banging on the wall; to be able to hear so clearly those perfect, iconic rhythms and riffs, and the most exceptional song-writing; to listen to words more meaningful than any I could ever write yet words that sounded like they were written about my own self by geniuses who never had me in mind; yes, it a certain kind of magic when all I could hear were truths coined and voiced by men and women who had been as sad and lost as me, who had survived just long enough to turn their suffering into poetry.
Those evenings spent alone with Leonard or Jimi
or Francoise or Stevie or Bob or Amy or Lou or Janis,
those hours where I saw nothing, nothing but brown smoke
against the peeling plaster on the ceiling and the insides of my eyelids,
those evenings spent in the most comfortable paralysis,
not wanting to stir in case my movement frightened away all the wisdom and creative inspiration these remarkable humans had graciously bestowed upon me, not wanting to blink in case I found myself back in my sad reality, not wanting to breathe in case I accidentally blew away my newly procured bravery, not wanting to smile in case the high disappeared…