Neko

to suffer to the syllable, the simile, the scheme

in masochistic reverence of the creative dream!

we dedicated our lives to poetry in 2010, and ours focuses on themes of trauma and recovery, mental health, and lived experience. we have two main styles: a classic rhyming verse style, and a prose-poem vignette style. we perform our poetry at open mic nights local to us, and if you know where we live, please come along!

the easiest way to read a collection of our poetry is to get your hands on our self-published book. it is available on amazon, but if you are comfortable with us shipping it to you instead, we'd prefer to do that, as amazon takes a high fraction of the revenue. it costs £10 + shipping, whether you buy it through amazon or directly through us.

our book is called the lizard's dance.

the author is j pyrite / manyface.

if you don't want to buy our book or don't feel like reading it for whatever reason, but are still curious as to our written work, you're in luck - because here are a few samples of our words. currently, there are seven poems here, but that number may increase in the future! (the book has sixty-nine by the way. nice!)

Flint and Striker

The names of our loved ones are carved into bark:
We could not escape without leaving a mark.
Our childhood home is a haven of weeds,
The place where a snake sheds her skin in the dark.

Our father would scornfully laugh at our needs -
The flesh of a girl was predestined to bleed,
But skin can't remember what trees will retain.
The ooze of dark sap trickles down in black beads.

A family photo is pinned to our brain.
Our smile sheds viscera, ripe and insane,
While everyone sings of a summery sea,
While everyone prays for some salt from the rain.

So what will it take, to be happy and free?
Is there a community where we can be
The serpent that feeds and the woman that sparks
A flint and a striker to burn down that tree?

The Russian Dream

In my dream, I speak in Russian. The words fray from my half-open mouth, swaying like palms in the wind, fading like gifts of sand and smooth green glass. I am at the seaside with my mother, and my memories drift away. I am submerged in her language, and it rinses me clean. Water pools in my open hands and trickles down to the parched earth.

In my dream, I speak in Russian. I know that, bit by bit, I am losing my tongue. When my grandmother texts me, I struggle to reply without the coarseness of brevity. Sometimes, I need to use Google Translate to pry the sentence from my English mind. If we still video-called, I would be ashamed of my insidious accent. I can no longer construct comedy nor can I craft a tragedy, and I hope she is satisfied with simplicity when I tell her that I love her, I still do. Am I lying to her? The Cyrillic script barely retains the shapes of my thoughts, and it’s not like I think much about her. Communication is a beautiful thing, yet my words are washed dull and clumsy in spit and falsehoods.

In my dream, I speak in Russian. It drags behind me like a golden weight, turning to rust. Lavished by the Black Sea, my history crumbles. I am a precipice, eroding day by day. I know for certain that I will never regain what I have lost, what I am losing now - and yet my dreams hide fluency and clarity under their waves. Though I have left my family for good, their estranged love reverberates deep within me. I am trapped inside the heart of a whale, clawing at its gilded aorta. The skin on my palms corrodes as I plead.

Пожалуйста, спаси меня! Помоги мне! Я больше не могу!

I wake up disoriented. Even my Russian will no longer reach her.

Dandelion Seeds

My soul was sleeping soil, born to raise a thousand flowers,
But then he dug a grave and laid himself to easy rest.
In some ways, I was blessed, so when the worms in me devoured
The god-flesh and the history of something sharp and bright,
A thousand shining scalpels forced their way out of my chest
And dragged me screaming mercy as I faced the planet's light.

I grew a second skin around his corpse in solemn honour.
My vessel-body-church became a perfect place to sing
Amen upon each organ of my memory's lost donor.
And though I have succeeded him, I pray to him again
For what I have inherited. He gave me everything.
I know exactly how he died, but I still wonder when.

He's there in my mythology that mocks me with its truth,
Too strange to fake with fiction's frame, but one day I won't need
My lord to guide inside me as I navigate my youth.
Beyond what was bequeathed to me, I'll champion my worth
And pray for him, two hundred thousand dandelion seeds
To bring a dead god down forever, deep within my earth.

The Rejoicer

The Rejoicer arose.
He, breathless immortelle of flaming petals,
spell of deathless fortune,
needlepoint.
Simultaneous - from the steppe in Stavropol,
stepping out from my closet and
into my childhood.
His summer smouldering: asphalt fumes,
burnt rubber.
Eight-year-old kids learning to smoke.
Eight-year-old kids learning to set fires,
dying trees picked clean of their bark and branches.
Dry grass ripped away
from dry dirt.
We'd burn our mothers
if they'd keep us warm at night,
burn our mothers
if they didn't buy the matches.

The Rejoicer, my firebird, my salamander -
wish-granter, goldfish in plastic.
I know he could only have arisen
from this.
This cremation of a folktale.
This skeleton of a sparrow.
This journey across the ocean.
This loss,
this terrible loss.

Everything grew brighter in his wake.
Neon scales leaping,
arpeggio from the freshwater.
Eight-year-old kids learning to play Für Elise.
Birds casting rainbows from their wings.
The Rejoicer arose from me like a promise,
knocking on my window at dusk
to welcome me home.

We made love all night,
the Rejoicer and I.
He knew the first name I was ever given,
though it felt foreign to him too:
Alexandra,
Defender of Men.
Discarded like the tail of a lizard,
still writhing.
Sasha,
now that one stings!
Call me anything you like.
Speak to me and tell me that you love me,
your love arising on my skin.
On my lips, on your tongue.
I traced the streets of a city into his back
with a palette knife.
We pretended it was Moscow
and he was laughing like a beautiful god.

I kiss him goodbye
as he lays himself down onto my canvas.
The paint enshrining his precious mouth.
Once more, I say,
in the language we live to forget
and would die to remember.
До свидания!
Until we meet again.
And we will meet again, but it is dawn.
Quick, before the acrylic thickens -
before I can touch
the artwork without ruining it,
he tells me to be happy.
So I arise in splendid colour,
aflame to a flower to fruit.
Eight-year-old kids eating sour cherry plums.
My roots meeting the earth renewed
as the Rejoicer.

Harmonic Thrones

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was the sister of a great god, and that made her a goddess in her own right. The facet of reality she chose to embody was life, and she took her divine duties even more seriously than the earthly ones. On earth, she had to please her parents with perfect grades and a permanent smile, but in the secret place reserved only for gods, she could create universes upon universes. Happiness flowed from her hands like clear water, and alternate earths were nourished by her joyous tears. The people living on them were happy and did not know her name.

One time, the mother of the goddess of life ran over a pheasant while driving. The goddess cried, and decided to bless the next few flocks of birds she saw with peaceful immortality.

Years later, her brother went missing. Everybody thought he was still alive, but the goddess of life knew without a shadow of doubt that he was dead. However, the axioms of existence did not invert themselves as the strings were cut between them and the hands of the god of truth, the many-eyed manipulator.

What, then? Was his divinity a lie? Of course not, thought the little girl. She did not know exactly what she was, but she had the memories and insight of the goddess of life, and she gave life to two axioms previously unknown to her.

When gods die, they are gods no longer. As long as there are those willing to carry reality on their backs, it will never be destroyed.

Tired and grieving, the little girl left the secret place reserved only for gods for the very last time. She had no use for her deityhood with her eyes like empty inkwells. She did not want to be remembered as a mother.

Somewhere far away, a different little girl accepted the power of omnnicreation into her heart, crying, laughing, shaking, smiling with a certain permanence.

Our Lady of the Reeds

The river is an animal. It hunts, that beast, it feeds!
That feverish dominion of deep water and disaster
Will swallow up each daring man who deems himself her master,
And so we must pay tribute to our lady of the reeds.

She rises, sharp and radiant, and drops of human blood
Run red and stain her breasts with love we know not how to give,
Because she is divine, and she reminds us that we live
In reverence and fear of the forever promised flood.

At five years old, they tell me that I would not say a word.
I was to be surrendered, left to die in her embrace,
But she refused the summon, would not look upon my face.
She never takes the children, so my silence went unheard.

The years I learned to speak, they did not like what I would say.
I suffered, and grew dimmer, and survived by quiet song.
If being brave was wrong, I would just sigh and move along
Until the river’s currents led my teenage heart astray.

I saw her first in winter, and my tears were quick to flow,
For she would die of thirst if I were destined to deny.
She drank them from my eyes and kissed my cheeks and said goodbye,
Evaporating fast into the glory of the snow.

I know she still remembers me, the girl who fed her verse
Under a swollen sky, my reason rhythmic in the rain.
In water, there is pain. I know that we will meet again,
The poets of our village disappearing by her curse.

Our sacrificial ferrymen destroy the thousandth tome,
But she is still so hungry, and my voice is what she needs.
My lady, stark and shivering, emerging from the reeds
To lay her wild claim upon the girl who leads her home.

There Once Was An Ocean

Success is what they beat you with. It has your father’s face:
At home in every mirror, every nosebleed. You will eat
His memory departing to the airport every month;
His shadow cut to pieces with the knife of his ambition,
As if it will sustain you. Well, what else did you expect?
The womb you were born into forces love on all its children:
A brand on a dog’s belly, the clipped feathers of a parrot
Abandoned by its owner for repeating dirty words.
Who taught you how to speak, fucking commands into your larynx?
Regurgitate the world before the sprawl of empty cities
Infests you like cholesterol and kills the wildest weeds
Still clinging to your fat, pretending that you once could nurture
The garden on your windowsill. You live in an apartment.
Your landlady is kind because your rent is due tomorrow;
She looks just like your grandmother who begs you for a visit
And knows you will refuse her every time. You are alone.
After you die, your roommate will not show the sea your ashes
Because it costs good money to enjoy a coastal view.
You dream of oil spilled into the gullet of a gannet.
You could be working harder if you did not dream at all.

well, if you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading. we appreciate it wholeheartedly.