Yours

If it makes you so unhappy why do you let them do it?
Run a wrist down the side of your waist let it stop,
stop
crying,
(it makes it seem like you’re lying),
 stiff upper lip –
keep tight, keep your mouth closed,
it is not theirs to open.

Your body is yours,
so why does it feel as if your insides are filled,
with the hands of the universe?
and a ticking clock for a heartbeat?
Waiting to set off the alarm to tell people that they can have a free feed.

Your strings are attached to so many different brains
you no longer have one of your own,
stretched out of shape,
soft,
and selfish.
You’ve thought of nothing but your own skin for days on end,
and how many times you can cut it
before it rips open completely,
letting out the marbles that once lived in your now empty skull.

Sometimes,
you think about sewing yourself back up
and pouring the marbles down your throat
but every time you do,
someone quickly fills your veins with
hungry flies and
sews your mouth shut so you’re no longer you
until you let them out again.

Right now, your skin is red-raw.
A picnic blanket of infested sandwiches and oozing juice.
Cover it with a thick layer of grass,
and dirt,
and fallen leaves,
and nasty, nasty thoughts
and poems to hide the stench of
unhappy and
imperfection.
Hide your ugly face.
With a layer of smiles,
and a kind voice,
just to fool the world into thinking
that it’s fine
for them to rest their hands on your open wounds
and private poems.

Horror and The Writer

The way that writers write about horror is constantly evolving. Humans have been telling horror stories for as long as we’ve been able to speak. From the Vikings telling horrible stories of war, to the Celtic peasants telling tales of terrifying creatures and spirits that would steal your soul whilst you lay on your deathbed, (make sure to close all the windows facing west if there’s a chance you may be passing over to the other side any time soon).[1]

Watch out for those cheeky Sluagh…

But the specific Horror genre didn’t come about until 1764 when Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto[2], which centres around the supernatural, and was the first book to be considered a part of the ‘Gothic’ and ‘Horror’ genres.

Although the supernatural remained a constant theme, the antagonists and concepts in these horrific tales changed over time. From tales of bloody battles from the Vikings, to conversations of the human psyche during the Victorian era, Horror is a blatant exploration of Zeitgeist and primary evidence of key cultural events experienced by the writer.

 “The 18th century was a time of great reflection and “enlightenment” resulting in the questioning of society, and changes in science which saw the belief in evil spirits regarded as superstition”[3]

It is easy to see in the work of Victorian/Gothic authors, such as Henry James, and Bram Stoker that this was the case, mental illness being at the forefront of the plot, often insanity being a fate suffered by female protagonists, as some form of female ‘hysteria’. Edgar Allan Poe’s work is a clear indication of this, from his plots referencing the human psyche, to his clear formula for writing seen in his work, especially as he himself suffered with ‘bouts of insanity’;

  • “The isolation of the reader
  • The stunning of his sensibility
  • The victimization of his emotions
  • The premature burial of his reason”[4]

[

The one and only King of the Gothic

As time goes on, there is a difference in what we become scared of as a reader, and this means there is a clear difference in what a writer will find horrific and will go on to write about. The 1980s in America saw the hysteria around the AIDs virus, a worldwide fear that put the 1960’s – 70’s sexual revolution on the back burner.

“The message to kids coming of age in the 1980s and ’90s was that sex—even thinking about sex—could kill.”[5]

And Stephen King used this to his advantage in IT[6], published in 1986; in which Beverly’s fear of becoming a woman, and therefore having to face up to her sexuality truly navigates the plot. However, despite the key differences in horror over time, there are solid similarities. The fear of isolation and the fear of ridicule, all social, human fears that have not changed over time. In Poe’s work it shows an isolation from society, in IT you see children being separated from the safety of adults, the children being deemed as crazy or over imaginative.

“He thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts”[7]

1990’s Pennywise taking a fag break

You can even see this in the 2017 film adaptation of the book. Whilst sex is not at the forefront of the plot anymore, the clear themes of isolation, and ridicule are shown in the form of bullies and controlling parents, and are key themes in the film, that fit our current generation of Horror consumers, the children’s main fears even being changed to fit a more current view of horror, (creepy clown dolls replacing werewolves etc.) and King most definitely agrees;

“I had hopes, but I was not prepared for how good it (the new movie) really was. It’s something that’s different, and at the same time, it’s something that audiences are gonna relate to.”[8]

Although innate human fears remain the same, they’ve been given different masks as each era passes. Horror Writers have adapted through time to provide work that will realistically frighten readers of a certain generation. We are all frightened of isolation, but as a generation, we aren’t really frightened of werewolves anymore.


[1] https://celticlife.com/top-ten-mythical-celtic-monsters/

[2] Walpole. Horace, The Castle of Otranto, 1764

[3] http://www.ashfordstpeters.nhs.uk/19th-century-mental-health

[4] David R. Saliba, A Psychology of Fear (Washington D.C: University Press of American, 1980), p.17

[5] https://www.alternet.org/2015/03/9-social-panics-gripped-nation-were-totally-false-and-did-horrible-lasting-damage/

[6] King, Stephen, IT, 1986, Viking Press

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/850416/IT-movie-Stephen-King-Muschietti-book-differences-Pennywise-Losers-Club-release-date

Horror and Me

Ever since the day I latched on to the concept that there were things in this world that I couldn’t quite understand, I made it my mission to learn everything there was to know about absolutely everything.

Even a trip to Thorpe Park with my friends wasn’t complete without endless days of research… As a result, I could tell you all the mechanical ins and outs of most rollercoasters and rides… but I won’t do that right now because you would probably get very, very bored.

This obsession with needing to know everything has become the bane of my existence. When I was thirteen, I knew something was wrong with me, I felt different and strange. I liked things a certain way, and would regularly get anxious and upset over the silliest things. I spent hours researching what I thought it could be, only to be caught out when a trained medical professional told me it was Autism. I was devastated. Not that I was autistic… but that I didn’t see it coming.

What can I say? I’m a control freak.

I have this genuine need to be the cleverest person in the room. One step ahead of anyone or anything that’s out to get me. I tell you, there’s nothing scarier than playing the Sims 3 late at night in your room when you’re supposed to be asleep and watching a burglar tiptoe across your screen when there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

I guess you could say my relationship with horror stems from my need for control and knowledge, and I’m not alone in this. It was M.M. Owen who said: “Horror thrives on discombobulation.”

I think that’s why Stephen King frightens me so much. His work is never predictable… until it is. I was shaken to the core (and honestly kicking myself) that I hadn’t realised that ‘redrum’ was ‘murder’ spelt backwards.

Owen went on to say that “the best way to survive a horror setting is to be supremely, boringly, sensible: don’t talk to strangers, don’t stay the night in a foreign town, don’t go to the aid of anyone who looks sick, don’t go in to that crumbling old building. If a very attractive stranger tries to seduce you, it is almost definitely a trap. Respect tradition, do not commit sacrilege, listen to the advice of elderly locals. At the heart of a lot of horror is a conservative craving for the predictable and the known.”

And in all honesty… I quite agree. As humans, we fear the things we don’t understand. This is why the concept of the uncanny is so terrifying. The whole idea of everything I know suddenly being switched for something else that’s pretty much identical makes me feel quite sick.

Muriel Gray’s ‘Roundabout’ is a perfect example of this. An utterly normal, (even boring) setting, but behind that facade lies a lurking beast, ready to change your life completely.

People read horror for many different reasons. Personally, I read it to cling on to the normalcy and boringness of everyday life. After all, “by putting normality in jeopardy, it creates a desire for its return and future security”

And if you’re like me, and want something genuinely terrifying… go and watch one of those driving safety PSAs… I’m still absolutely petrified by the fact that I NEVER SAW THE MOON WALKING BEAR.


Permanent solution

I never saw it as a permanent solution
Bathroom to bathroom,
skipping the important moments,
distancing myself from anything that mattered,
that’s how I did it but
you always have to come back,
(miss one too many moments and your brain starts to spin)
Nobody ever noticed. Not until it meant too much.

I never saw it as a permanent solution
Just a walk away for a little while
away from all those faces that make me hide my
eyes.

I saw it as a temporary fix,
a drug,
a way to feel alive, but safe.
No one missed me, I always came back.

I never thought it could be a
permanent solution.
I sat in that park all day,
I walked around and
I told myself:
“Don’t go back.”

I never saw it as a permanent solution
 I thought maybe it could be the fix I needed.
No stability,
no people, alone for
all of time.

But isn’t that what got me here in the first place?
Lonely even in the loudest places,
didn’t belong so I found a new place,
where nobody could make me feel
lonely because nobody was there to tell me that
I should and that I’m
a piece of shit and
that was the first day I felt the feelings leaking from my throat and in to the toilet bowl along with the remainder of those who had kept me company that day.

I never saw it as a permanent solution.
It never made me thinner.
I never lost weight.
I lost self-esteem,
tumbling down the plug hole of a cold shower,
the water drinking my tears as they came up with
half a tub of ice cream.

I never thought it was a permanent solution.
I never told myself it would last longer than a week,
just like my other bad habits.
But there I was
half a year later,
failing my AS levels and
longing for the relief of a dirty toilet bowl and
an empty stomach
just to make me feel less
useless.

I haven’t done it for a long time.
Sure I’ve hurt, but
it will never ever hurt the way that feeling did,
does.
Always aching,
always screaming at me to
DO SOMETHING,
MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So me and this feeling we lie together at night.
I don’t need to feel lonely,
or ever be alone.
I always have the feeling.

I never saw it as a permanent solution.
Maybe it wasn’t.
But I sure feel better than I did without it to fall back on

Know

 

You know that I need this sweet breath of air
to fill my lungs with dreams that find my head
my love, you try to stitch me up instead
the lack of you, it leaves my lungs so bare
I cry for your love, I scream for your care
But to you, I still lie, chained to the bed
Surrounded with an air of hasty red
My sheets now show the stains of spirit shared

You try to tell me all will soon be lost
A careless spill of courage and of doubt
For someone so soft, so sad, so damn sick
But you are worth no, love, or care, or lust
No matter how you try to show me out
A girl like me, you just can not unstick

This

It never gets better than this.
The aching sound, the dullest taste.
Your stinging fingers on her waist
you pull her tight, you tell her this
“The nicest girl I’ve never kissed”

A shining light, a painful tongue
you want to love, you want to feel
her mouth has what you need to heal
you want to touch, you want to run
But this love has just begun

And then it ends, the feeling dead
you see the blood roll out her eyes
A gift just for her empty thighs
But she sits so still inside your head
An image only you can agonise

The beautiful girl, the dying look
her lips a gap you want to fill
you hold her hand, you feel the chill
of pages turning in a book
the feeling, she could make you spill

The Headless Dance

pexels-photo-129932

The music slowed to a grotesque tempo as the headless men lined the walls, their lined jackets flickering under the light of one thousand wax candles suspended from the ceiling.
The dark, dim room span in slow circles, making the men dizzy with anticipation.
Months had passed and tonight was the night.
Tonight was the night that the headless dance would commence once more.
The headless men waited in the light for their counterparts to reveal themselves from the shadows that they thrive in for weeks at a time, their eyes glinting in the flames of their own dark desire.
As the music picked up speed, the women were enticed forward.
They step in time, their high heeled boots clicking on the cold ground, to the tune of each man’s heartless corpse.
The shadows twirled towards the waiting line, each bony caress of their hands encouraging their heartless chests to beat harder and with an elegant longing
The bodies two by two joined the ballroom floor in a jolting harmony.
Heartbeats beating in heartless ribcages in time to the songless symphony.

They dance in shaky circles; one step left, two steps right,
a simple lift and a silent plight.
Backwards, forwards, left and right,
into the dark, then in to the light
the heartless men come dancing
Their footsteps are advancing
The men move faster, the women resist,
he places a kiss against her wrist,
the blood pumps round to her heart and back,
but the man’s shrivelled heart is empty and black.
His hand takes a hold and she shivers with cold,
her skin becomes pale, his breath becomes stale,
her eyes become wide, he soon slips inside…

Her neck stands alone
She no longer exists
Her heart has been thrown
From the blood on his lips
So the men line the walls and they wait for their chance,
to find their new prize at the next headless dance.

Ache

 

My legs ache like they’ve never ached before and I
Didn’t know it was possible to feel this lonely even
Though I am surrounded by people who know me the best but
If they know me the best then why am I so
So
Alone?

You can ask the questions but you’ll rarely get
The answer.
Maybe there isn’t an
Answer just lots and lots of
Questions and queries and thoughts and unanswered phone calls
At 3 in the morning when you’re at your worst, but they’re at their best fast asleep and
Dreaming of a new day when you’re hoping that this will
Be your
Last.