Hours & Days (Susie Campbell)

Posted on October 17, 2010 by in Heightened Talk

Wednesday 8th September 2010


tonight i really feel like going for

a swim. the pool of course is closed. most days

i force myself to jump straight in, flesh bumped

with chilly hesitation. but tonight

i want a skin of cold water wrapped

around my fevered veins. my brain hot-wired

from my screen’s blue suck. i am electric,

scarlet jelly flung against the wall, limbs

stretched, sliding, translucent, pink and thin


Friday 10th September 2010


i am seeing things in an eden light,

innocent. with a particular clarity.

morning cold. brightness blocked into backyards

by deep shadow. a golden net of safety

through which lucifer will fall. blazing. alight.

i’ll be seeing things in a 9/11 light tomorrow


Saturday 11th September 2010


he’s there every night and early each morning

neck bulging, biceps inked with tribal blue,

he only lifts steel. wrangling iron girders

as if he’s building a ship in a wet

dream of a dockyard. he’s clocking in for

a hard shift each time he punches in

his number. goes home to a lonely tea.


Monday 13th September 2010


other people collect photos or songs

to remind them of places and people

they don’t want to let go. i keep weather

reports on my iphone. i chart climate

variations. each precipitation

recorded on my phone like a souvenir snowdome

one shake and cities spin, applications

tumble, but the weather stations assure

me it will be warm and dry tomorrow


Wednesday 15th September


swimming in cold water tonight, i feel

the plunge into autumn. a flock of geese

fly overhead, an arrow swinging south.

a solitary swimmer, i breastroke

expansive lines. i feel the chill: last swim

through geese, and chlorinated summer time


Thursday 16th September 2010


came back from the funeral and stuffed my

face, i couldn’t eat enough. bagels and

cream cheese, crisps and cake. my chin was smeared

with melted fat, the matt-black of my stiff

dark suit glazed with jam and sugar. bingeing.

it was my own secret burial. cramming

a six foot hole with carbohydrates

as if i were somehow starved of life and the

only recourse were to swallow, swallow.


Saturday 4th September 2010


the day i heard about my father’s death

a crow just missed colliding with my car.

its claws outspread, it ski-ed across the roof,

slid down the screen and figure-skated off.

dark patineur. with wings held wide, it fell

surprised unhurt, then on it flew. we’d missed.

i tried all day to miss the news, the squeal

of brake and squash! blood, and the smash of breath.


Sunday 19th September 2010


it’s perfectly normal for me to be

a little bit mad although each time it

seems a catastophe. the layer that

separates me from my words is membrane

holding white and yolk together. deafens

me with its drum, tinnitus of myself

in my ears. to rupture it i peck my

way out, emerge each time naked sticky

and hideous. my own bloody albatross.


Monday 20th September 2010


this tightness in my throat feels like unshed

tears, this weight pushing heavily on my

chest must be the heft of guilt or press of

dread piled on my psychological self.

so used am i to magnifying each

twinge of pain, each swing of mood, the virus

of multiplying neurotic thoughts, i

fail to identify this, the fever

and ache of the common cold. like warring

worlds of science fiction, i am toppled.


Wednesday 22nd September 2010


I never drive so dangerously as when

I’m driving home to you. i know it’s wrong

to break limits but my limits are breaking

too. the world is moving at a slower pace

than me. the urgency swells in my

feet making me press down harder, speeds me home

along a road filled with sheep and waltzing policemen.


Thursday 23rd September 2010


i filter the unbearable likeness

out of my blood’s recognition. his face,

an 80-year old play on the features

of a younger brother who died out of

chronology: my father, who lived so

much more intense a life and used it all up

as though a greedy brother might steal it.


Friday 24th September 2010


i went to the gym instead of writing a

poem. harder on the legs, less hard on the

mind. sometimes the treadmill seems Greek, their

idea of hell or Dante’s vicious circles

but some days there is no torment so long

as the rack of reluctant words or slow

as the







Saturday 25th September 2010


the tree lay in pieces all around him,

branches scattered broken on the ground. he

stared bewildered at hands hot and sticky

with sap, the axe’s clumsy head askew.

that’s how they found him: standing with blank eyes,

clutching at leaves. the tree was past saving.


Monday 27th September 2010


one stray thought is all it takes. ‘this is like

that time when…’ and I’m in freefall. my mouth

fills with panic, tongue like a dried date, sweet

and dessicated. except that, last time

didn’t feel like this time. it was unique.

without history. snipered me. but apart from

that, this time is just like last time, only

I’m different. I foresee the blow. strike

first. shadow box. precipitate the fight.


Tuesday 28th September 2010


i wear time like old elastic, baggy

and stretched so far it can hardly hold my

reputation up. Missed three trains tonight

believing erroneously I could

number these lines in time-tabled phrases.


Saturday 2nd October 2010


i walk around with a corpse on my foot.

it’s dead alright, paper-light and stuck to

the wool of my sock. weighs nothing but drags

me down with its rustling reminders of

crazy: not me. merely a corpse. zombie

energy moving by reflex and old thoughts.