Tar Poems – Giacomo Pope

I Will Watch You Die


You wanted me to never make mistakes,
So each of yours was hidden under sheets.
Their sharp edges defined in the wind.

To teach me to be happy,
You were never sad.
With heavy eyes would tell me that you were “just tired”
And I learnt to answer your questions weightlessly.

The glue between each broken piece never dried
And my life crashed through you with every wrong word.

I didn’t realise how helpless you were.
How useless my small voice was at cutting through the tar that spilt from your lungs,
That slept with you between your sheets.

I would cradle your thinning skin but I could never stop the blue soaked paper tearing apart between my fingers.

I have now learnt the dull heat of depression’s teeth.
The deafness to the words from those who surround me with their love.
That the struggle to open the jaws which extended from the knots of your skull
Only ripped the flesh from my hands.

I have watched the death of each lie
Calcifying in yellow bile,
Cutting into closing fists.

You taught me to love from a distance
And for their intentions, I have learnt to love each lie,
Which now live in child eyes that looked up to yours.

Those ugly tears still live in the bags under your tired eyes,
But I no longer think they’re my fault.




A Date


Your skin is raised red like torn tissue
Pulled from wet flesh and her knuckles are
Swollen in the heat.

As she bent her arm to yours the skin
Stretched uncomfortably and I worried
For the mess from how it could split.

The sun dried you out and like cat tongues,
Eyelids lapped over yellowed glass.

That thick white from mouth corner
Met in pasted kisses and breath collected
In the cracks and folds.

It was the smell that came from creases.
From behind ears and under nails.

A smile widened beyond tooth to
Retreating gum. The love that coated
Damaged lung and spilt over ulcers.

From over the table she crushes a spot
Between chipped blue nails.
The yellow then red then pink hole
Cleaned with crumpled paper from your plate.

You place money on the table and leave.
Sweat wet fingers locked together.

Alone, I am clean and unloved.



A Painter


I remember running through London to see you
For fifteen minutes but with no coffee.

That wasn’t something you did.

I had been in a gallery when you messaged me.
You had un-cancelled and wanted to meet me for your lunch break.

I thought I would love you
Because you were beautiful
And meeting you in the door of where you worked
I thought you smelt expensive.

That night you rang me in tears.
You asked me to come to you,
But I was sat with someone else.

On my phone, outside the restaurant,
I looked at my empty chair surrounded by new friends.
You asked me to run to you.
I asked to meet you in the morning.

As I walk past your shop now I think of you and how you stopped replying.

I saw that recently you’ve cut your hair.
I don’t think I would run to you anymore.



I Cannot Hold the Memory of Every Mistake I Have Made


In my notebook I have written “when we were last together i made you cry” above a poem I was writing for you. It has been so long since we were last together, and I felt guilty for what I must have said.

Later, I realised I have never seen you cry and your tears are just another thing you have hidden from me all these years.

I think of the people I have left with wet faces and the mistakes that fall from my mouth, but I do not remember who I was writing to.



Death by Kicking Moving Cars


Screams so loud in your head that your brain shatters.
Screams that rip across chewed cheek and off backs of bent teeth.
Screams so loud in your head that it crawls out your mouth.
Head-butting speeding cars, crushed under bones that splinter.
An endless scream in your head that is louder and fiercer than every scream from each mouth trapped in the wheel arches of burnt out cars.
Shattered brains so sharp that open mouths bleed.
Screams that tear out your throat with razor-edged brain tearing into peeling gum.
The smile of blood and splintered brain that trap wheel-spinning tyres screaming inside your skull.



I Think I Am Too Full of Your Blood


A buzz saw with steel tongues for teeth that cut deep: one thousand cold kisses licking through your chest. The thickness of pain that falls through wet openings. A black tar coating and slowing the blade such that each bright tongue widens you slower and slower, until the only possibility of progress, for that last chance of emptiness, is to slam splintered bones into saw’s flashing kisses. One hundred frozen tongues exploding into a fan of rotting silver; too tired and too sick to bore into you. You flail like a drowning fish — desperate to bleed but never clot. 





Yesterday I watched a man weigh himself in the gym. Looking concerned, the man stepped off the scales and from his pocket he handed his phone to a woman stood close to him. Stepping back onto the scales the man waited for three beeps as his weight was displayed. Looking defeated the man held out his hand and took his phone back, and walked away.