Keshia Starrett

window-smashing, buckets and spades & reasons to rent instead of buying

Keshia Starrett

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in a pub about to drop dead

from a vitamin d


because the windows have been

boarded up

(that’s a lie)

they’ve been

bricked up                     because

people kept putting them in

instead of putting bottles down

was not an option


a girl with eyes like pints

downing rainclouds

‘best price per percentage           please’

with hands too cold to hold or throw

a brick and so              sticks  stoned

                         staring           at

windows bricked

up crypt thick

                                                 to keep out other bricks

and any light that might

t  r  i  c kle  in a little

by other means than the fickle liquor

measured by fingers that know

they will visit the throat

later to retrieve a small percentage –

(that’s interest for you)

listen to the dull thud of bricks

aiming for a s-h-a-t-t-e-r-i-n-g

sound and instead achieving

a lowly clank or scrape;

a metal chain attached to       nothing

a key that can’t quite turn in the too-small space

their disappointment is tangible

their parents must have cried

as they looked on from their solid position

poised in camaraderie

and found their youngest lying

with glassy eyes in unmade beds –

not a part of anything

screaming obscenities at

wet cement

that’s her haunting ground –

building sites where she can be

the thing that binds and isn’t bound

so raise your empty glass to her

in a rigor mortus manner  

heave it now against the bricks,

the disappointed parents and the pricks

in the name of              unmade beds

                            and                          unbuilt walls

cackle at the sound of

s-h-a-t-t-e-r-e-d                        glass

feel the blood spatters at last

cutting up hands on broken shards

there is a keen blistering sting in my nose –

I smell nettles on a hot day

this is all I know

buckets and spades

for Ciara

when you told me your hair was

‘ginger’, after years of ‘strawberry-blonde’ –

‘auburn’ for a brief stint

I looked at your pale face,

eyes mum-green, ‘ginger’ hair aglow

and I could tell you wanted

to dig a hole

like we did when we were children –

me, armed with a red spade;

you, with a face freckling, burnt

angry at the turret that can’t be turnt                out

of the castle-shaped bucket

without                     crumbling,

and instead of you burying me

because I was smallest

(a likely excuse),

I’ll bury you and every freckle

or mole that might change

when we get old

because you’re the smallest now

and you need to hide

from the ‘not’ that’s been tied

to the end of your ‘I do’

with strands of ginger hair

in tired hands.

you feel the sand –

feel the pressure as I stand on silt

covering your chest

(let’s hide the signs that we’ve grown up –

let’s hide the sewn-shut-space where a breast                              was)

and gasp in gaps

between                                               an asthma attack

and the most comfort we’ve felt

                                                             in months.

I stamp my feet harder

drawing a circle in the sand –

buckets and spades;

worn-red shades in worn-out hands,

surrounding you

as we watch the tide come in.

you tell me the ring must be gone –

completely erased –

before I’m allowed to

dig you up, and

call the ocean to let him know

we need salt for the merlot                      stains

on the living room carpet. 

reasons to rent instead of buying

little house tattooed into my brain,

they’re coming for you,

little house tattooed into my brain,

I question your structural integrity

you’re a result of skin caving in

under too much pressure –

the bones of your picturesque

thatched roof splint/ered

by one ungloved, unsteady hand,

a tattoo gun is a reflex hammer

and I am a nail with no head

they left your beams

lobotomized –

the doctors who say

I was lucky         there were lasers

to burn you away

my mother didn’t have the same luck at all,

they cut you out of her prefrontal lobe –

a mortal sin, they said

when she slid to the hospital

she’d been wearing jumpers all summer

to hide her mistake,

a stick n poke with dirty ink,

heavy sleeves/

                        sweaty wrists

you can be sure any house I own

will be modern

will be slick as wrists

and the ceiling

will be inundated with elaborate chandeliers

don’t take this personally

but my therapist made me compile

a list of your faults:

thin mouldy walls, creaky doors, cupboards won’t close

tight, holes in the curtains letting in light

but worst of all

the smell of bread in the toaster

that never pops up

‘til it’s charred

‘til I stick a knife in and forget

to turn the plug off at the wall

little house tattooed into my brain,

I know you didn’t mean any harm

and before the days of fire alarms,

I would have afforded you the kindness

of a quiet match

lit in the night

Keshia Starrett

Keshia Starrett is 22 and is from Derry, Ireland. She currently lives in Leeds where she is creating a series of visual mental health poems for her PhD. She performs at a variety of spoken words events in Leeds, Manchester and Belfast. Her poems are forthcoming in Ink, Sweat & Tears and she recently won the Poetry Rivals 2016 Slam. Her first pamphlet will be published by Burning Eye Books in November 2017.