[words on the washing line]

my poems are mostly unfinished. i leave the words out on the washing line to dry and come back to them a few weeks later. sometimes i leave them hanging there. to be taken by the wind.

words on the washing line

sgh

[mind on the sky]

her mind drifts with the tide. storms in and trails out, back to the beginning. floats upwards like a kite, flutters through blusters of wind. sometimes i find her crashing at the days end. other times she soars on rooftops, not a cloud in sight. you can’t trace her, you’ve tried. you won’t know what she thinks, not ever. she is pure glorious. you love the way she sees the world. how she tramples on its unkindness. makes it smile. you feel safe when she is near. because she is good. she is changing. and if she is weak today she will be strong tomorrow.

 

sgh

[bothy]

outside an uninhabited
house with boarded up
windows and crumbling stone
i spy a plethora of lilies
growing in quiet

 

sgh

[evenings in mid-june]

evenings in mid-june
coming to a close. confessions from
midsomer murders hum into the whispers
of nine o clock. mum is asleep
on the sofa, stray hairs from
her blonde fringe jump
up happily to the sighs
of the window gaping.
forgotten to shut. apple pie
left out on the side. the custard
carton sliced and oozing. i do not
mind these life messes at all. nor
the rickety trains on tracks in the
distance. i am warm. the low sun spies her
time to turn in.

 

sgh

[good people]

believe in tomorrow and good people with kind smiles called toby or lily and their blonde dog. place your faith in shoe polish and homemade pasta bake. take a trip to a beach with messy sand dunes and rocky shores. watch the tide come in and then, watch it go out. favour tartan. lose yourself in the cluedo mystery. the biting tension of your next scrabble word. write honestly.

don’t be conquered by love
be championed by it.

 

sgh

[describing the happiness of that morning]

that morning i sauntered 
into the sun as it spilled on to the
street. i skipped past the transparent blotches
on the cobblestones like puddles on the
table from the water jug over breakfast.
i looked up. the sky was a beauty that morning.
a newborn baby. flickering waves on the water.
airplane clouds ahead. i was ready to chase the day
through the fields and up the hills for miles. just
run recklessly with dripping cuts on my knees.
rips in my shirt. knots in my hair. not a care in the world.
it was the type of happiness where
if i picked up a harmonica for the first
time and blew so hard, cheeks puffed and rosy, a melody
would play forth. and just like that it would sound like Bob Dylan
and the Beatles on ‘love me do’. i could’ve made
a melody out of flatness that morning. i could’ve basked in messy
dreadful music, and laughed. i was batshit crazy. i was off my head.
i was so in love with you that morning
on my way to our first date. you damn near
blew me away, with your rising smile and moon eyes
you took me in one swoop

 

sgh

Since I last blogged.

Since I last blogged, I became an auntie. My niece was born in late December and she’s small and soft with a tuft of hair. Jillianne and I bought her some duck-beak slippers. As of a few days ago, she has begun to smile.

Since I last blogged, I’ve climbed two mountains. Mount Ozzard (750 metres) in Vancouver Island’s Ucluelet and Ben Bhraggie (397 metres) in the Scottish Highlands. I have also climbed the Callander Crags, but I am not sure if this counts as a mountain, but it is worth a mention at the very least. I’ve found that I really like to hike, because I imagine the feeling of reaching the top is better than any drug. Plus, lying down in leggings on the sofa upon my return to the house is really nice. Two mountains is better than none. Next up is Ben Stack (736 metres).

Since I last blogged, I’ve had several genuine near death experiences and lived to tell the tale. A most memorable one is in the North Vietnamese outback on a motorbike with Jillianne, trying to push our bike through slippy wet mud piles and ditches everywhere as our phones navigating us dropped to 1% battery and darkness fell around us. Our motorbike crashed more than once and we plummeted into the mud. We had to wash in lakes and drag our weary bodies back somehow. This is me telling the tale.

Since I last blogged, I’ve driven through the Canadian Rockie Mountains. We started in Vancouver and drove as far as Canmore/Invermere in Alberta. Then we drove all the way back to Vancouver to fly home. It took us about nine days in total, full of hotel stays and egg and cheese mcmuffins, and the occasional pee by the roadside. The sea to sky highway is as beautiful as it sounds. The type of days I will look back on when I’m old and grey.

Since I last blogged, I reached the most northern point in mainland U.K. It is a village called John O’Groats, in the north east of Scotland. There is not much there, besides a gift shop and a couple of coffee shops and the ferry to Orkney. We visited the lighthouse and the cliffs of Ducansby Head. We stared at the chopping seas spilling over stone gates. I don’t know why, but have always felt a sense of safety and comfort the further north I go. Maybe I feel like no one will find me or know who I am in these tiny villages. This trip set it in stone. I am so excited to continue to explore every nook and cranny of Scotland. 

Since I last blogged, I’ve hugged trees reaching 800 years old. A douglas fir tree in British Columbia called ‘the Big Tree’. It was thick and wide. It made me feel very special to be standing underneath it, a mere human by a magnificent tree. The greatest of companions.

Since I last blogged, I watched my sister get married to the love of her life. Watching her cry as she walked down the aisle in a place very close to our hearts is a moment I will never forget. She was the prettiest bride. 

Since I last blogged, I watched my brother get married to the love of his life. His speech was excellent, and I still believe there is no one braver, or funnier, than my big brother Tommy. Also, he was the coolest groom around in his flat cap. 

Since I last blogged, I’ve spent Christmas and New Year (Hogmanay) with dear family, including my girlfriend Jillianne, for the first year of many happy years. We had a great time in Leicester with some of my family and Dornoch with some of Jillianne’s family and we are so excited to start our own traditions one day. 

Since I last blogged, I have tried and loved, veggie haggis. 

Since I last blogged, I have been rejected for every writing job I have applied for (in Glasgow).

Since I last blogged, I got a job as a swimming teacher and I currently teach kids around Glasgow city. My greatest achievement at the job so far has been teaching adult and baby swimming classes, which I was terrified to do. 

Since I last blogged, I have visited spectacular waterfalls, including Cao Bang in Vietnam, on the border of China. The Falls of Shin, in the highlands, where fish are known to make a huge leap eight times their body length. The Big Burn waterfall, which I showered in, with my coat still on. And more recently Bracklinn Falls in Callander, Loch Lomond. Afterwards, we hiked and picnicked on top of the Callander Crags by a cairn for Queen Victoria and it was pure stunning. 

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Since I last blogged, I have had an MRI scan. Pretty cool and pretty scary in equal measure. If you haven’t had one, it’s very loud and it sort of feels like a club in Berlin playing bad grime and there is no escape. On a positive note, there is no inflammation at all in my brain! 

Since I last blogged, I’ve watched some heartbreakingly good TV shows and films. Greys Anatomy, ofc. Good Will Hunting. And if you haven’t seen Killing Eve, I beg you to watch it before season 2 spoilers start leaking!

Since I last blogged, I set up my own poetry Instagram account (@sghpoetry) and bought my official website domain name (sghpoetry.co.uk), promoting my creative work. I hope to publish my own poetry book in the next year, which will pretty much be the best thing I have ever done. 

Since I last blogged, Jillianne and I have moved in together in our lovely wee flat in the Southside of Glasgow. We have been here for three months now, slowly decorating it with candles and blankets and making it our own. So far, we have already hosted several dinner parties, with lots more to come! 

Sometimes, I still cling to the hope that one day everything will fall into place. But right now I don’t need it to. Right now I am so content and warm in love. I want time to go by slowly, so I can savour each 9am morning when I am filled with so much excitement at what might happen today. Special thanks, as always, to Jillianne for whom 90% of these things were done by her side.

© Sophie Grace Hollis 2019. All rights reserved.

 

A woman’s heart is in her Apple iTunes

This is something I know to be true.

A woman’s heart is in in her Apple iTunes. 

For a depiction of her recent moods and emotions, consult her recently played. To understand the person she truly is, past the flesh and down to the bony core, examine her top 25 played of all time. For if you’ve ever allowed someone to browse through your iTunes music with their casual sliding finger on screen and furrowed brow as you anxiously watch their every expression, you will know this: showing someone – anyone – your music is a very intimate act. You are giving away a part of yourself and exposing it to silent judgement. You are removing your Zorro mask and stepping into the dazzling light, and who knows how your daughter is going to react when she finds out you’re her father. She could hate you bitterly, she could love you devotedly. She could not understand who the hell you’re meant to be.

I feel it is only right to tell you that when you share your music with another you will never be able to walk away from it unscathed. You will not be the same again, ever.

I remember one – potentially two occasions where I let someone look at my music. It is not something I do freely, because it feels like my music. Although I am not the artist who put mouth to microphone or fingers to key, nor did I play the chords in order to churn them into a beautiful song, when I listen to music alone in a darkening room with shadows playing on the walls, or staring out the window on a packed miserable tube, and I am completely engrossed and honed into every syllable that chokes out of their rough throat, it feels like it is mine. It is a conversation between me and them that I don’t have to answer, I can just sit and watch, sit and wander. In many ways, these songs are my home. If they could morph into a physical inanimate thing, it would be my bed – a place where I can strip off my clothes and sink into the sheets time and time again on awful or blissful days. A place where I am unapologetically my own.

I like music to take me somewhere where I can wander. These wanderings can be about nothing particular or niche obsessions, I don’t mind which. But if a piece of music makes me fuck off for a while where time passes me by or traps me still, if it can seize some part of my mind and make my heart swell to the point where I have to squeeze something, it has done its job.

I will reveal to you a few of the songs that do this to me, as featured on my Apple iTunes playlist ‘SGH All Time Favourites (I want to die to these songs)’. Why? Because why not. It’s healthy to reveal some heart every now and then. On a seperate site note, some of these songs will also feature on my Funeral playlist when I inevitably pop my clogs. (My funeral is going to be so lit, I wish I was going.)

God – John Lennon 

This song is the one of the saddest. I first heard it watching the film Mr. Nice starring Rhys Ifans. It reminds me of black birds taking flight, for some reason. It is bitterly sorrowful and heavy, whilst at the end the song teeters on hope when John Lennon sings ‘I just believe in me’. John’s mind must’ve been a wonderful and terrible place to be. This song is one of my number one’s because it has made me cry, smile and feel all sorts. I love it.

There She Goes – the La’s

I just can’t get over this song. I fell for it when I was about ten years old watching Lindsay Lohan arrive in my home city of London, leaning out of a black cab as she waved to a living statue (and it waved back to her). Over a decade later, I fall for it nearly every single time I listen to it still. This song is lifelong for me, and that’s all I can explain about it really.

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Friday I’m in Love – the Cure

An ardently loved classic for many people, myself included. With its hoppy, almost childish electronic melody Friday I’m in love takes you to dreamy heights. When you have this song in the back of your mind, you can do anything in the world and nothing can stop you. How one song can make you feel so overwhelmingly brave and high on life, I don’t know, but this is the Cure we’re talking about. The Cure are pure magic.

Another Sunny Day – Belle and Sebastian 

This song is by one of my favourite bands who I finally saw live in Nottingham earlier this year. When this song plays, I imagine a three o’clock sunshine, picnic blankets, tinnies and quorn cocktail sausages. It is late spring and everything is pretty in bloom. The song carries with it the same sense of haziness that you get after lounging about all day in spring-time, too. It’s all ‘let’s smoke a blunt and take polaroid pictures’, and I’m always about those vibes.

Drive-in Saturday – David Bowie

I wrote my university dissertation about David Bowie, so David holds a place in me no one can quite replace. I love so many of his songs so much, but this one tops them all, and honestly I couldn’t tell you why. When it comes to David Bowie I can’t tell you much, and I have a funny feeling being a fucking bizarre mystery was his intention all along.

Only You – Yazoo 

The first dance song at my sister’s wedding that grips me with years and years of emotion piled one on top of each other. This song has it all – sometimes I think it’s the lyrics, other times the jazzy drum beats or electronica, but I can’t put my finger on it. This song also makes me think of my best friend, Elizabeth Strain, and the hours we spent chucking a ball to each other in my caravan and ordering 463648 pizzas when she lived in Stoke Newington. I miss her terribly.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival 

There’s something about the croaky and sharp American voice of Creedence lead singer John Fogarty that speaks deeply to me. I remember listening to this song on repeat on a 45 minute train on a weekday commute, and it made the journey infinitely better. Since that day my love for it has only climbed higher. I also seriously enjoy rain at night, when it comes down in sheets and you can see it in the street lights.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

Gary Oldman once appeared in a documentary about Elton John and said ‘I just find his voice heartbreaking’, and now it’s the only way I can fully describe old Elton. He is the red-specs boy who holds the nation’s heart (as David Bowie still holds mine) in his hands and this song of his has a piece of mine. Psst: I once named this song correctly in the music round of a pub quiz in New Cross, South London, and was the only person in the joint to get right. I guess that’s why they call it the bluez bitches.

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Africa – Toto

An orgasm hidden within an octave. I think you understand what I’m saying here so I won’t go on. Also special shout-out to my girl, Emma Beynon.

Live Forever – Oasis 

This song makes me feel like I can live forever. And I don’t even know whose garden they’re talking about, but I don’t really want to know if their garden grows either. Oasis have an incredible talent of coercing you to believe what they believe with fiery northern passion and I believe it all, whole-heartedly.

This has been a revealing of some of my favourite songs. Now I think you need to discover more of yours, so sail off into the sunset with a pair of Sony speakers and all of that hoo-ha. Just remember – upon sharing your music with others, whoever it is, you won’t be the same again. That person will take a part of you that you can’t get back, so be careful who you give it to. And yes, you will know more of her heart after scrolling through her library, more of what makes her tick, the notes that make her cry, but alas, that doesn’t mean you’re any closer to getting it, soz. x

© Sophie Grace Hollis 2019. All rights reserved.

A monologue about love, ugh ffs

You’ve seen a few films in your time, so you’ll know what I mean when I talk about the dramatic monologue in the last minute of a film sequence, when the main protagonist (probably) is talking about what they’ve learnt throughout the film’s narrative. How all the twists and turns that they suffered or nearly did, which may or may not have been their fault, have affected them. Maybe they nearly died or something, and in the end we discover they’ve sprung back to health with a naked smoothie in hand and full gym membership that they are using semi regularly. When the film has drawn to a close, as the audience we hope they have overcome these hard times. We hope they are on the road to recovery and have seen the light, at long last.

Whatever I think about the character in question, I have a real soft spot for these revolutionary monologues. They hit me in the chest. I feel their pain, I feel their joy. Although it is not the focus of this article, the opening monoglue in Trainspotting deserves a special mention, just for being one of the best pieces of fucking writing I’ve ever heard. (If you haven’t read/heard it, you need to right now.) You see, myself and the character have been on this journey together for nearly 130 minutes and I need them to get the ending they rightfully deserve. This stubborn need, above all else, is inside me like a primal instinct. It’s like my nesquik milkshake before bed, I just can’t give it up, and I don’t wanna know a world without it.

An example of a monologue like this is by Billy Crystal in one of my favourite comfort films, When Harry Met Sally (1989). Crystal’s character, Harry, met Sally (Meg Ryan) when they were in college, and of course, they hated each other from the beginning. They join each other on the long drive back to NYC from Chicago and have a lot of time to kill on the journey discussing (and arguing) the big topics: sex between platonic friends and that four-letter killer term, love. They arrive in NYC hell-bent hoping they never see each other again. In the years after their first meeting, they meet again by chance in a bookstore, and again, years later, through work. From the first instance when they shared a car together, to all the random meetings since, they had chemistry you could feel in the air and cut with a knife. They had that something you can’t quite put your finger on, but was there, lingering, blatantly obvious to all those around them but they were blind to themselves.

Life flies, they waste time. They date other people and break up simultaneously. They have moments where it nearly happens, and then it doesn’t. You want to shake them, because it’s taking them so long to see what’s in front of them, it’s taking them literal DECADES to take what they want. To grab each other’s face and kiss it. To have the bravery to look each other in the eye and fucking slip out the words they’ve wanted to say this whole time. IT’S YOU GODDAMMIT. I WANT YOU. I ALWAYS HAVE WANTED YOU. YOU SHAKE THE GROUND I STAND ON AND STEADY IT AT THE SAME TIME. IT’S YOU. YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, MY HEART AND SOUL. THE PERSON I ACTUALLY WOULD PULL A ROMEO-AND-JULIET FOR. THIS SHIT IS IT FOR ME, YOU UNIMAGINABLE BASTARD!!!!!

Harry doesn’t quite say this, but this is what he does manage (on New Year’s Eve, the holiday of all revelations and love confessions):

“Well, how about this way? I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts, I love that after a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

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Well said, Harry. And that, ladies and gents, boys and girls and beaut non-gender binary folk, luvvers and fighters too, is why I can’t help but get so sucked into romantic films, no matter how predictable or camembert cheesy they are. This stuff is the real deal. Love may not conquer all, in all the varying circumstances that it should or should not, and sometimes love makes you want to fight, or breakdown. Love can make you question who you are and what you believe. Love can hold you down until you think you can’t summon the energy to see the light of day again behind your curtains, and love can build you back up again, soaring higher and higher than before. Only love can achieve such great heights, there are some days that I believe only love is worth anything at all.

What I know of love, is that love, is. It is what you give to it. It is how much you open yourself to it. Let it fill you up. It is only when you are willing to let it break you, that you truly understand its power. So you are right to be scared. Face that scary unknown with a puffed chest and clenched jaw. I am trying to love without fear and be unafraid in what I want. Maybe one day it will break me. But it might just make me, too. It might just be the biggest regret of my life if I let her go. Remember that most of the time life is not simple, but we can forget (or ignore) how much of it is.

Love with everything you’ve got. After all, isn’t love all that we’ve got?

© Sophie Grace Hollis 2019. All rights reserved.