Tatamae and Honne

This was prompted by the wonderful The Queen Creative.

From Wikipedia:

Honne and tatemae are Japanese words that describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (本音 honne?) and the behavior and opinions one displays in public (建前 tatemae?, lit. “façade”).

I absolutely loved this prompt, I really enjoyed writing this, so thankyou very much.

1. Sent Up For Good (Tatemae)

I’m a convincing stranger.
My Englishness pulls at my
Starched white collar.
My fingers,
So piano fine and buttoned down,
are little sticks of ivory.
My spittle mouth brushes away
indigo blushes
of spent ink
and my hair
has a perfect parting
separated by
a red pencil
in the morning.
A little gentleman in
Tom Brown tails,
Nervously buttering bread.
Hammy, clipped,
Knows it off by heart,
(Lucien tells me that
He plans to get a new suit made).

2. Sent Down For Bad (Honne)

In my Prince’s bedchamber
My Englishness pulls at his
Starched white collar.
My fingers,
Like white-wine and goose down,
Flick with the
little kicks of bribery.
My little mouth flushes
with overflowing gushes
Of his spent ink
And my hair
Has an imperfect parting
Which will be separated
By a red pencil in the morning.
A little temperamental man in
Nude detail,
Gluttonously giving head.
Jammy lipped,
The School Tart,
(Lucien tells me that
he plans to fuck a maid).




(Not a home, I said.
An address.
The badges and the blossoms
Bragged ‘excess’.

Etched into every tree

The word:

S U C C E S S)

I am London
And he is me,
Not ever knowing which London to be,
A button eyed orphan,
A one man band,
A Dickensian madman
Whey-faced and untanned.

I was a Ruby Infant,
Via turreted school
(Machiavellian lair)
My conspiracy of ravens
The guardians of lore,
Falling in feathers
To a barbershop floor.

My mind is confetti –
From each Westminster wedding,
Each pill, each stumble,
A little be-heading.
I first kissed a girl in Trafalgar Square
And the memory of her is still there in the air,
In the backdrops of photographs snapped up by tourists,
In the lost eyes of pigeons,
(I know it, I’m sure of it –
because I love London
And he loves me –
We flow into each other
Like the Thames, to the sea).

Gobstopper blowjobs in Whitechapel lanes,
Knee-deep in the streets, leaving opal-ghost stains,
The bleeding graffiti of Mary Jane Kelly,
Our deaths, our murders,
So many, so many…


Cradle me, London,
My thorny silhouette,
Settle me down
in your newspaper bed,
Love me,
Watch over me,
And when I am dead,
Make me a martyr,
Smooth out my head
Swallow me up in your gum-studded streets,
Somewhere busy where I can feel millions of feet
Treading into me,
Over and
Over again,
And every so often, now and again,
Play out your bells for my syllables four,
Ding dong ding dong
Four and no more,
To remind yourself, London,
Of silly old me,
Who like you,
Never knew,
Which London to be.


The back of my head
Is looked at more times
Than I dare to dream,
On buses,
Before the lights go
Out on the cinema screen.

That’s the first
Place I want you to touch

Where my hair tapers
In wisps,
With your thumb
In the dip of my brain,
Touching across the centuries –
Go on
Push a fingerprint
into the prehistoric

Mould your hands into
the backs of my knees,
Hold them
like shields,
And fight all of
My body’s wars for me.
The trembling there
is love,
my love,
and not

Nudge the wild treasure
under my arms
like an animal
with your wet nose,
go searching for
the smell of gold,
in the sand,

take my hands
and love my blue veins
like little ribbons,
follow them like rivers
to the sea,
to my mouth,
to the mouth of the sea,

spread out my sails,
my shoulder blades,
and swim
with your fingers
under my ear,
that bit
chandelier earrings
hit girls,

and find the
backs of my thighs
and paddle
as hard or as soft
as you like,
just enough
to keep me

then up up
an inch or so,

a little circle,
as though
you’re rubbing
spilled tea
into a wooden tabletop,
a circle
a little ‘oh’
my head pressing
to my pillow.

inspired by this article in The Guardian this morning:

memories of hospitals poems 1-3


Oh my God my heart is slamming

Off the walls in squishy thuds,

Oh my God my mouth is jamming

All my words are wordy muds –

Muds? Muddles!

I’m befuddled!

Watch my lips all slobberdrool!

My big black lungs are outerspace!







Remembrance Day Poppy 

It stands for


In the soil,

Sleeping there,

Full of holes.

 It was currency around the ward,

Slashing up our weekend goals.

 Red all red,

Little wars,

Little pins,

Behind the doors.


Week 2, Roehampton 

I tried to pull out my teeth.

Ghosts sat on my


And seethed.

I was dying.

I was seventeen.

I was hooked up to a magazine,

where skeletons wrote

All the news.

I was

D A Z E D  and



C O N F U S E D.

Glossy boys showed off tattoos.

I tore them up with determination.

A seroquel-doped


A precise



man of the house

You have eighties shoulders
Of twill
fish bones.
You speak in rumbling
R.P tones.

I know you’ve never
forgiven the time
you heard him thump
my dark design
behind the door.
Incestuous, yes,
and so
much more.

I’ve never been one
for jealousy.

She sat herself upon
your knee
and dipped her fingers in
your tea,
She was more of a boy
Than I’d ever be
and worth ten of the men
that I’ve had in me.

(Oh, the horror in your masculinity!)

Certain men I’ve met have said,
whilst reclining heavily on a bed,
that they blame daddy
every time,
(they sit up, take a sip of wine)
and say that hands thrust down
their kecks,
is replacement for arms around
their necks.

But your arms just weren’t made for me.
(No, I was made for HIV –
Is that what you once said to me?
And heroin and ECT?
Let’s agree to disagree.)

You are the marble pallid giant,
Silver statuesque,
I’m the pigeon on your head that
loses footing,

(I want you.

You know that,

Don’t you?)

You eye me up,
Your spoiled brat boy,
Like a child in some deflated joy
would finger a scratch
in a favourite
Hating my madness and sexuality
hating hating hating
You hate my writing,
Hate my books,
Hate my mother’s French good looks.

(And you especially hate
my inherited size.

It affords me
the ability to
you with glorious,




I miss

the billowy cotton of you,

I  miss

what I haven’t forgotten of you,

I miss

the willowy half-life of you,

and dismiss

the way that you seemingly threw

your life

into holes that I can’t crawl into.

I insist

that you wait for me out in the blue,

because I miss –

oh darling I miss,

I miss you,

and I wish

that we’d both gone and got that tattoo,

 (before you made up your mind you were through)

 and I wish

 we could sit down at dinner for two,

 (and I swear I won’t order for you)

 and I could kiss

 I could kiss

 only you,

 before your billowy cotton

 turns blue.


Polka dots

Little beads

Rain drops

Cloudy seeds

Pastel pink

Lipstick red

Take too many

Wind up dead


Pills for mania, laughter – blue,

An inappropriate colour,

But what can ya do?

Pills for thyroid, goitre, shakes,

Bottle green like the bottom of lakes,

Pills for pain,

Black –  red  – pink,

Pills that can’t be mixed with drink,

Pills for anxiety, phobias, fears,

Fleshy coloured,

Like children’s ears,

Pills for dreaming, dozing, sleep,

Pure white

Like counted sheep.