Alvy Carragher

Numb

 

a mouldy old house party crushed into the dustbin,

as he kissed me, the smell of a dead fish,

and I was thinking, this is not ideal, not ideal

kept glancing over his kisses at a girl in the corner

passed out from space cakes and a dog with cross-eyes

I could have sworn wanted to save me

 

in the cold room, just upstairs, my hands shivering

in the new moon of a fresh  year

thinking this is not what I resolved

the burn of whiskey

between us trying to mean something

and I was thinking, this is not romantic, not romantic

his hands snatching at me in darkness

the black of spiders crawling in my eyelids

the scrawl of his body pushing me backwards

and I was thinking, not here, not here

 

but he didn’t know what no meant

didn’t know that it was a barrier I was setting up between us

that it was a wish not to wake four times from my dreams

to his hands and all their nightmares

it meant keep your trousers on and the lights off

and he might not have heard the words

the first hundred times

 

no meant that it hurt to be drowned in desire

no was the white of my mind as I shut down

and off  until it was all just silence

till it all just became movements

no was my eyes fixed on a ceiling crack

as he moved above me

hoping it would splinter outwards

and let the stars through

 

no is a word I’ve had misunderstood before

by a long term boyfriend

after we first split,

and he whispered to me in the

back room of my mother’s house

the same thing:

the step too far,

the kind of guy that doesn’t know

what no means

afterwards, saying we’ll get married

and my heart screaming no, no, no

as I lay there crying

my heart saying, baby,

you don’t know what you’ve done

 

and I thought it was my fault,

blamed my short skirt,

or my big eyes,

how they were asking for it

under all that mascara

 

I’ve heard this same story too many times

and most days it’s not even mine

these skeletons of men that don’t know

what no means

and we tell each other stories about one night stands

that don’t sound like one night stands, laugh-hollow

at things we don’t understand, not realising that

the way you said no, it meant something.

even if he never heard you

this is not our fault

no short skirt, or lingerie, or red lipstick

can speak for you

 

because no means no

and what about the wedge of another word,

beneath your tongue

not sure you should say it,

because it belongs with strangers faces,

and dark alleys and spiked drinks,

rape is a whisper from another girl

a kind of helpless stranger

 

I kissed both those men goodbye

said I’d call or text

because I wanted it to be more

than a headache of memory

more than a dead thing sitting on my chest

more than the thought of them

criss-crossed and dead eyed above me

how it happens again and again and again

more than just a girl being fucked-over

and under until she can’t remember

if she said no

can’t remember if she meant it

 

 

Here is a video of Alvy performing this poem.

 

Alvy Carragher ricochets between writing poetry and weeping over the financial hopelessness of it all. Her poetry has been put on lists (often long and sometimes short) to assure her that it’s of OK quality. She’s been published here, there, and everywhere (there’s a poem in Mexico somewhere). In a fit of self-delusion she ended up on stage and became Connaught’s Slam poetry champion. Her blog “With all the finesse of a Badger”, is allegedly the funniest in the land (according to the Irish Blog Awards) and should provide you with an appreciation for how together your life is.

@ALVYCARRAGHER

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