Monday, 13 March 2017

Christopher Andrews

Anytime, I hear the word Marine, I'm reminded of a call I took a couple of years ago when I was remotely working for Pizza Hut in Texas & New Mexico. One night, during a long shift I started to feel not only bored but; thought I was going to lose my mind being tethered to my phone. Then I received an order from a gentleman who told me he had ridden his bike all the way from California to Texas and who was absolutely famished. While I was finalizing his order I asked if he required any plates and cutlery and at first he said “yes please” what he said after surprised me “wait, I'm an ex-Marine I don't need cutlery and a table setting I can make do.” At that moment, I'd realised how much in my life I'd taken for granted – to genuinely appreciate the little things in life is genuinely a gift. A few words I'd like to say to Christopher Andrews on this snow falling Monday is “Thank you so much for your service!!!”


not so pretty

i kept her in the cellar
gagged and bound with
electrical tape
in the dark
but she kept whimpering
and
i could hear her
through the floorboards
the muse would not be silenced
the monster needed to be fed
needing me to
make her feel
ruined and useless
this one already knows
how beautiful she is
she has had enough of
men making her into
some sort of pretty bouquet
something to put on a shelf
or to display in a vase

don’t make me one of them”

she said

don’t make me like those
other girls in your books”


don’t make me
so pretty baby”

break
me
down”

i wrote and i sang and
i fed her ink and Beethoven and
blood and dressed her up in
the finest of ligature marks and
sweat and spit
her tangled wet hair and
soiled wet sundress and
purple wet lips
all coaxed and urged and
stirred the pit in my stomach
where she kept digging
and no matter how far i went
she always only said
one word

more”

Although quite macabre – this piece is also quite touching towards the end. It's almost as though this writer is trapped by the charms of the character, that's been cultivated via the medium of what I imagine to be liquid blue ink. In the final stanza there's a line that completely captured the essence of this entire piece for me “all coaxed and urged and
stirred the pit in my stomach where she kept digging...” This time is was the character that wanted to go all the way but; a writer that was hesitant to cause even more pain than had been endured throughout casual abuse. I like that concept because it genuinely turns your world as a reader – when you're expecting the poem to go one way as it transpires in an opposite direction as originally intended.

this is not a poem
i thought that i would write you a poem.
not that you asked
or that you would even want one
But this isn’t exactly a poem
and i am not exactly a poet
i wasted most of my good words years ago
some were received and some left outside to die
either way they all ended up wandering the streets
after the rain washed away the scent
of those they were created for
they just haven’t ever managed to find their way back home
i left the door open for them
i left the porch-light on
Sometimes I think I hear them
scratching at the window
or shivering in the crook of the tree outside
sometimes when the cat cries at nothing at all
i think that maybe he sees them
and he is trying to tell me.
then i remember he is a fucking cat
and i am not a fucking poet
i know you deserve more than this
this was supposed to be a love poem after all
i am supposed to be moved to create something
something to bring you over to my longing and my disgrace
i owe you that much
something new
something new because your beauty is new
and shrouded
and wet
you tell me that you want me and i want to call you a madwoman
you say that you need me  and i want to punish you
instead of running straight into your arms and your bed
all I can give you is words
and they still haven’t come home
tap tap tap...
I suppose i could sit here and spin some indulgent metaphor for your beauty
i could talk about your perfect white skin and your eyes
how i shake sometimes because i think i can feel it or
how i can always feel your eyes ignoring all that i think is ugly and wretched
i can smell the kitchen and the morning air as you cook breakfast
i am hanging your pictures
i am teaching your children about the evils in the world
we are adopting a kitten with one good eye
but yet I sit here
i lie here
with nothing to offer you
just leftover words
as each morning i wake up and
reach out to touch the dawn
which i have a thousand times
mistaken for your mouth
but i am not a fucking poet.

I've been sitting here for the last 30 minutes trying convey exactly how this poem makes me feel and every single time I start a sentence – my cursor ends up eating all of my phrases alive leaving only blood in the water. Ok, so maybe now I can give it another go without erasing anything this time. At the beginning of this poem Chris writes:

i wasted most of my good words years ago
some were received and some left outside to die
either way they all ended up wandering the streets
after the rain washed away the scent
of those they were created for
they just haven’t ever managed to find their way back home
i left the door open for them
i left the porch-light on
Sometimes I think I hear them
scratching at the window
or shivering in the crook of the tree outside

Can you imagine being a poet, having all the words you used for poetry in the past – lost and frightened only wanting to go home – I felt such empathy for these phrases – for all they wanted was a home. But the clincher is that many strong phrases are used in this piece not lost to the world at all and dare I say – yes this is a poem.

anything

i swear
i’ll go to bed after
one more glass of wine
after one more handful
of pills
anything to
help me pass out with
nothing but the lullaby of a
purring black cat
and to not
wake up screaming

anything to
make it through another
night without the
sound of you
calling me such
despicable things
anything that makes me
too tired
and too lazy
and too acquiescent to
the silence
to seek out the happiness of
a warm gun in the mouth that
awaits me
down the hall on
the bedside table

anything that makes the
things you said
not ring in my ears and
makes them not feel more and
more
like the truth

Heartache can transpire to chronic pain – believe it or not the loss of someone you were in love with who left could leave a heart seriously scarred and longing for a death wish. Anything to silence the voice within a heart that simply beats in a way to constantly seek a slight amount of solace concealed in lies as one reaches for the truth.

scrambled eggs & suicides

i woke up this morning
again it was
without you
i looked around anyway
just in case

before getting out of bed i
reached under the sheets and
rubbed out a good one first
after i got up i
gave the beard a little trim
plucked the white hairs
and the black hairs
fresh head shave
brush
floss
rinse
shit
shower
moisturize with that
nice Crabtree & Evelyn avocado
lotion mom got me for Christmas
i look in the mirror
tilt left
tilt right
hmm…i clean up pretty nice
Joseph Abboud shirt
and sterling silver monogrammed cuff-links

black Armani tie
Calvin Klein slacks
Stacy Adams gloss wingtips
Café Bustelo in the French press
two eggs
pan-scrambled and from
vegetarian-fed
free-range hens
shredded potatoes with
a little garlic salt and cracked pepper
fried in extra virgin olive oil
served on a 14 karat gold-rimmed plate
from the china cabinet
i set the table
platinum fork
platinum knife
nickel .357 magnum
pour the coffee
1 cream
1 sugar
1 teaspoon cyanide
just for good measure
on just another day
without you here

I genuinely relished the flow of this piece, the beginning is very human. Preparing for a day with all of these quality name brand items – shows the natural progression from the moment we awake in the morning -- to preparing a simple breakfast like scrambled eggs on a beautifully set table. To pair two things together like scrambled eggs & suicides is quite brilliant. On one side you have the simplicity of beautifully prepared eggs and on the other you have a heavy handed subject such as suicide. Quite the poignant piece. I especially enjoyed the concept of careful preparation that really sets the stage for this emotive piece.

In his words...


Christopher Andrews was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He lived there until the age of 28 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps immediately following the attacks of 9/11. He served for 8 years before being Honorably discharged for disability. He continues to work for the Marine Corps as a civilian and resides in Virginia with 3 cats and 1 plant. He's recently published his 8th book Scrambled Eggs & Suicides now available on Amazon. Please feel free to follow Christopher via social media on Instagram