They drift in and out of my life each day.
Their faces adorned with stark, lurid colours.
Warpaint, as they go about their business.
Are they even real?
These automatons. These androids from outer space.
And whilst their expressions are seemingly blank and impassive, they are also revealing.
There’s a crack or two beneath their cool facade.
But what does it mean?
Are they just lost in thought or, almost imperceptibly, communicating with me?
Do they even see me?
Or am I just grey background? White noise?
Perhaps I’m the ghost and they’re the most tangible thing in this world.
Wearing their warpaint proudly, like armour.
For each day, to them, must surely be a battle against the grey ghosts of patriarchy.
The menfolk who leer and lust, all licentious and salacious with their gaze and their thoughts.
For I am one. I should know.
Maybe as men we should paint our faces, too.
For our own insecurities are buried, perhaps even more so.
Hidden behind layers of bravado and testosterone.
The knowing nod to a fellow male.
The slightest of hugs.
The tough guy handshake.
For we are men.
And we’re out of our caves now.
Our spears have been replaced with smartphones and laptops.
We’re just a few clicks from killing that woolley mammoth. That saber-tooth tiger.
Or ordering some more crap on eBay.
(assuming we can stop watching porn for more than five minutes)
So maybe colour is what we need?
Brush strokes of empathy across our face. The eyeliner of compassion.
The mascara of understanding and acceptance.
God, this is starting to sound like the weirdest fantasy game ever.
But there’s hope in these ramblings.
There must be.
For these painted ghosts and forgotten men.
All trapped in the ether between realities.
Drifting through life with abandonment.
I’m not sure when they started to get worse.
But nowadays, the sly pain of a migraine burns through me quicker than bright flames.
Leaving me looking at life.
And wondering how I might change.
Cos it’s only over the last year that it’s become a problem, you see?
Now I often find my head pounding.
Like I’m smothered, drowning and longing to breathe.
My features vexed and grotesque.
Like the poster boy for a monster retreat.
With the veins in my temples straight up stressful.
As they thump out a rhythm and foster a beat.
I wish this was more of a game, you know?
One with an end-of-level boss to defeat.
Cos battling headaches are a mystery, like smoke and mirrors.
And fighting tends to leave me broke and bitter.
Am I being punished?
I mean, granted, I’m no token sinner.
But to me, this game feels rigged.
So if we changed the rules, I wonder how these votes might differ?
Cos the white noise in my head is just a deluge of distraction.
Honestly, as a headline its caption would be ‘mostly filler’.
So I gotta fight back, Tiger style.
You know, like Wu-Tang and Ghostface Killah.
But first I must breathe.
Lest this pain suffocate me, and then I’m liable to choke way bigger.
But it’s dawn now, and the sun is piercing warm clouds like broken grey glitter.
So if I can be more mindful and avoid my moments that trigger.
Then I’ll stand a chance at this dance.
As I navigate fast down this potent, dark river.
Lately, something’s been bugging me.
Why won’t the Lord of Dreams just come and take me lovingly?
Has he forsaken me suddenly?
Cos I just want a sleep that’s trouble-free.
I mean, he should just let me slip into his warm embrace.
So we can intertwine and fornicate.
Until I all but collapse like a fallen state.
Cos our union needs to happen.
And we need to accept our foolish traits.
So if he wants, he can be shy and coy.
And tease me slow with that lying voice.
But an open mind is all it takes.
And sleep WILL claim me.
But I’m not gonna force this race.
Because a slow seduction is what works best.
I mean, everyone knows it’s what good form dictates.
But right now, insomnia beckons.
As I grudgingly turn my back on the Heavens and stare each night at Hell’s rapidly falling gates.
Cos I know if I beat this, I’ll probably be dubbed one of the lauded greats.
But tonight, I’d love my mind to get just a few seconds swimming in a sea of calm darkness.
Drifting serene in a simple dream.
Through space and time like the Doctor’s Tardis.
Instead, my boat of thought is getting battered by this storm.
So I’m kept awake by whatever wave rocks it largest.
And lying here, in the early hours, I’m amazed at how the mind drifts.
Thoughts pinging like an arcade machine.
Bouncing around in fractured time shifts.
Striking at will, like an assassin set to kill.
Destroying me softly with hundreds of fine hits.
But this rough patch won’t break me.
Mentally, I’m cold fire lately.
Cooking dishes better than those Rick Stein gives.
Cos this is war.
So watch me attack in a power stance with a primed fist.
Until I obliterate unwanted thoughts with positivity.
Hell, I’m going to kill my mind with kindness.
For years I’ve harboured a dark secret.
That I’m an extroverted introvert.
This is my confession.
I know it’s a daft weakness.
But I need a good way to convey this to people.
Maybe with a smart leaflet?
Nah, scratch that, I need more passion.
Someone get me a charmed priestess.
One for casting spells and raising hell.
And setting out my manifesto like she’s writing her stark thesis.
I mean, I need something radical.
Because when people say I’m confident I panic.
And find my mind racing but hidden behind calm features.
Maybe it’s because I’m like an IT nerd, focusing on the detail.
Coding my life in a vast sequence.
But for the most part I avoid my flaws.
In general for a host of large reasons.
But none are valid.
Which means this approach I just can’t give credence.
But in reality, the main problem I have is that I wrestle a dichotomy.
My mind torn between outgoing and withdrawn has my head a ripe vessel for lobotomy.
Am I normal, or the next Jekyll and Hyde?
Walling off emotions because my gut heckles inside.
Bending under duress as I’m put to the test.
Like a blacksmith beating at metal that’s fried.
Which is debilitating, and kind of makes it tempting to hide.
Cos even though my mental state is under threat, I’m not done yet inventing these lies.
Using the introvert as an excuse to keep saying I’m shy.
But when I do get out there.
The extrovert gets swollen with pride.
So maybe I should take a step back.
And be at peace with both sides.
Because my mind is a blessing.
One I should really grow and invest in.
I mean we only get one.
And mine’s a treat in disguise.
So you’re on a night out and things are going swimmingly.
But something splits your thoughts like divorce.
And so you’re ill at ease.
Are these people really your friends?
Or just here to witness your social life implode and slowly descend?
Cos nights alone at home got you here.
And now you’re just making amends.
And yeah, maybe fair enough and it’s all too little too late.
But you’re a problem solver.
Experienced now, you’re wiser and older.
No way will you let life dictate your slide from grace like a fallen soldier.
Cos now’s the time for that plan for battle.
Put together all casual like you’re planning your travel.
Cos you’re gonna nail this friend game with moves utter genius.
No chance you’ll be an outcast.
Doomed to insanity like mad King Oedipus.
If there’s anything that an old legend like that teaches us.
You just need stay calm and ensure your next moves are subtle and devious.
But there’s a fair chance people will say you were a sociopath.
Ego inflated… pure calculated doing the math.
Cos sometimes you stumble.
And get left thinking you’ll never get through this intact.
Stuck making small talk in some bar.
Proudly reciting dubious facts.
Or like you’ve met your girlfriend’s family.
And you’re hyper aware of impressing her dad.
But maybe this is just a phase?
And you’re trying it out and testing this fad.
Cos as you lay down the law and keep score you can’t help a smile.
Then slowly you return to arresting the damned.
So you’ve heard of S.A.D.s right?
That seasonal winter disorder.
You know… the one where your social skills take flight like a ship in the night and you can’t get aboard her.
And any activity outside the house is only going to exhaust ya.
Cos you just wanna hibernate.
Well I get it bad each year.
And its tendrils settle on me like blanket fear.
But I gotta fight this trait.
Assuming that it’s a flaw in my character.
Cos maybe I’m looking at life through the wrong lens?
And I need a new kind of aperture.
But I lack skill and feel ill; chasing these good vibes.
This ain’t what the doctor prescribed.
I’m such an emotional amateur.
Trying to squeeze positivity out of every beat.
So effectively, I stave off defeat like a social scavenger.
And yeah, maybe I need a CT scan presented in a nice little 3D plan.
If that’s the case, then someone better call an examiner.
Get me signed off work for a month or two.
And yeah I can put on a positive front, it’s true.
But I need to up my game to fool my manager.
And people keep telling me to chill.
Go run a bath for my ills.
To help soothe my troubles while I drown in lavender.
But all I can do is count down the dark days on my threadbare calendar.
Looking ahead to when my mood lifts.
And I stop taking these rude hits.
And then maybe life will feel less like I’m a coasting passenger.
Toasting my demise with haunted eyes as I witness my own exquisite massacre.
I swear she came to me in a surreal and lucid dream.
On a mission, this little vision.
Keeping me topped up with a hot cup of elusive tea.
Cos she was my hero, this jazzy and beautiful weirdo.
Grinning at me as she plotted to cause an amusing scene.
And of course, yes, she was a potent force.
But one infused with inclusive glee.
Allowing me into her personal space and turning up after a right battle.
There she was with mad hair and a gentle stare.
She greeted me sweetly, this wonderful little Pineapple.
And yeah, as far as first meets go with a DiscoLeopard.
This one simply could not have been bettered.
Cos as I stood there all spacey, battered and weathered.
And dispossessed of thought with my mind in tatters and severed.
It was clear, this had been a night of surprises.
And if I thought I had nothing left to give I was dead wrong.
Cos from the start we didn’t shoot from the hip, but the heart.
Going back and forth like ping-pong.
Background of the club fading away as we danced to the beat of our own theme song.
Cos our chemistry was evident.
And the people round us irrelevant.
Hell, we were headstrong.
And if you thought our encounter would be short-lived.
Then damn, you’d have guessed wrong.
Cos since that first night we’ve been a little unit with a thirst to fight.
Defiantly singing our best song.
So don’t just stand there on some sort of lyrical ceremony.
Cos this is none other than our physical testimony.
As we’ve got each other’s backs in a tag team rocking tracks.
Outperforming you at karaoke.
Basically we’re the Bandit.
Running rings round you as Smokey.
So look, I’ll be candid and draw it big for you in the form of a huge emoji.
As she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
And honestly, life has never looked as rosy.
And out of all the guys out there.
I have to say, I’m still in awe she chose me.
So I’m at work a zombie, froze and stupefied.
Vacant stare like an airhead as he or she goes to beautify.
Failing at the most basic tasks.
Cos my mind is warm in this bubble.
Here I’m protected and can’t cause much trouble.
It’s the safest chance.
But the rub is I’m failing to make good use of my clever smarts.
Which got me thinking.
Annoying morning people say the early bird is the one that’ll catch that worm.
So they’re likely to succeed at life if they go and snatch their turn.
Probably sharp each day cos they go to bed and rest their head.
This is something I cannot learn.
And truth be told it’s got me all concerned.
Then there’s those they call night owls.
In the morning they’re quick to darken.
Like an clear sky that suddenly fills with white clouds.
And their faces tell a story.
One that says you should probably pipe down or be prepared to fight now.
Ask for anything before midday then it’s lights out.
Then there’s those in-between.
Aka, people like me.
Permanently exhausted pigeons.
Cos during the day we twist and fidget.
Our minds chirp from lack of sleep like a swarm of crickets.
So be alert.
Or we’ll invade your society gleefully like a horde of misfits.
High functioning insomniacs.
Our brains beat thoughts at us rapid tempo.
Like a drum ‘n’ bass Goldie track.
And we’re about as fresh as a poorly prepared chef.
When all he’s got left to cook with is mouldy fat.
Stressed and on edge, we fight when cornered.
So don’t go backing us into a cul-de-sac.
Cos it’s clear our next mental gear is primal fear.
I’m just stating facts.
And the energy we have when leaving home, I’ll be honest I just don’t know.
Holy crap, I’m kind of surprised we make it back.
And daily life can bore us.
Cos most talk we have with people is just wasted chat.
Our minds elsewhere as we flirt with despair and then fade to black.
But don’t get me wrong.
We can be chirpy mothers too.
Honestly, we yearn for positivity if you catch us in a thirsty mood.
So coax out our best bits and see them bursting through.
And yes, this behaviour is rare, it’s true.
So for this sort of thing to happen we need a fair excuse.
But in the absence of one we’re kind of stuck in this loop.
Eat, sleep, work, and repeat.
At this point we’ve got nothing to lose.
It’s like the opposite of substance abuse.
Because we need life purpose.
It’s time we break free and chase dreams and find a place where life might hurt us.
‘So this latest session was a minor indiscretion I’m guessing?’ she says.
And this time I know, there’s no second chances.
What I’ve done, there’s no way she’ll look past it.
Not with those glasses.
Magnifying her contempt like I’m a total bastard.
Cos right now, I feel like she’ll stab me in my sleep.
Like that Christmas dinner I ruined burning the turkey.
She’ll choke me as I breathe.
I relationship was built on lies you see.
Basically, I’ve flattered to deceive as she’s watched me squirm and scheme.
Leaving scorched earth in our forest like I’m burning trees.
I just didn’t want to hear it.
Crushing her spirit like I’m spurning dreams.
With no simple way out like Jack’s magic beans, brother please.
Most I can hope for is she doesn’t parade me at her lover’s feet.
Cos if I’m honest, I’ve had enough of this heat.
And need to learn fast how to govern the beast.
But then, when do I ever learn?
I’m less likely to evolve as a man more crash and burn.
There’s a special queue in hell for me.
And all I need to do is cash in my chips and wait my turn.
Sit patiently because my fate I’ll learn.
With cool calm she eyes me like a tennis player.
And I know she’s about to break my serve.
Cos I’m lying to myself thinking I can make this work.
So she lays down the law, her eyes raw.
And it’s clear to me she can’t fake this hurt.
Then I take a step back and assess the damage.
Her sweet face pains me.
I confess it now looks ravaged.
Her brow all creased up, her mood savage.
I did this.
Leaving her in a state of rude damage.
Looking at her I ask myself…
Do I walk away or do I choose to manage?
This thought makes me panic and I want to vanish.
Damn, this chick has baggage.
And honestly, she’s no easy challenge.
Yes, this is a special kind of hell I’ve brought on myself.
But there’s a way out if I can find the passage.
However, this rant right here, it’s all about me.
What are her wants? Her needs?
Cos right now I’m classed as an enemy soldier.
Camped down in the trenches when I need to be bolder.
Letting my conscious hide in the bunker.
When it should be sending me over.
Making me face my demons and embrace these feelings.
But corrupt thoughts consume me.
I need to chase those heathens.
But like a wretched vessel I sit here and wrestle.
With my warped psyche that I’ve put on this pedestal.
All the while she looks on with a glassy-eyed stare.
Eyes like pits of darkness as she plays with her hair.
Broken bottles and frantic squabbles as two fighters get down and dirty on the rancid cobbles.
Their sweat and blood staining the dirt.
Looking for that killer punch.
A right royal haymaker to get their opponent tasting the earth.
Their whole lives have built to this moment.
But so far they’ve been wasted since birth.
Endlessly killing time chasing the skirt.
Constantly competing and racing for first.
Yet here they stand again.
Two titans, these old men, only making it worse.
Both hungry for the kill.
Like old lions facing the herd.
Feeling ill, as they taste blood and it quenches their thirst.
One uncaged lunges in a rage, but the other dodges.
He’s evasive we learn.
His mind sharper, reflexes faster as he braces and turns.
Facing his foe ducking low.
Looking for that knockout blow that’ll end this damn curse.
Heavy hitter, but each fight just leaves him bitter and he’s getting jaded and worse.
Song fading as he plays out his verse.
If only he could make the other fighter see sense.
Serve him up a cease and desist.
Instead he gets to meet with his fist which weakens his wrist.
Cos he likes the other guy.
And try as he might he can’t be faking his hits.
Fights like this come around less often than a lunar eclipse.
And if he’s honest, these clashes give him an excuse to exist.
Who is he to resist?
Slowly it dawns, he’s getting to grips and getting the gist.
He was made to battle.
Cooking up right hooks coming in at a lazy angle.
Nothing phases him.
It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Scratch that, he’s a Lord passing judgement now banging the gavel.
Fists ripping through the air at the speed of sound like they were made to travel.
He’s schooling this guy with moves so fly.
Should have his own demo channel.