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My Mirror Lies To Me

My Mirror lies to me.


Instead of showing me my face, it shows me a


Full of hyacinths, daisies and daffodils, a veritable Garden of Eden

So why aren’t they all there when I need them

Roaming the streets of London

Westminster, Angel and EC1,

The ears stand down to Gould, Ravel and Lennon

The eyes have it: as they pass there is a moment

Of the everlasting approach, as they encroach

On my person.

Look down, look left, look right

But even using all of my might

The image I remembered

So full of smoulding embers

Is long gone: every one a faceless judge

Until my brain turns to sludge

And my fears and worries do their star turn

In rubies, emeralds and Armani

My own creation, my own evil army

Hey remember, remember when you cried in the street?

When you tripped over your own feet?

Once again, my brain, now sleet, turns against me.

Dances, pirouettes around me, wearing my face of Eve,

Wiping my eyes now on my sleeve,

Poking, prodding: the judges have long since disappeared

And yet they were just the appetizer, what I honestly feared

Takes it’s bejeweled bow, shimmies, winks at me

Honestly and truthfully, my mirror lies to me.

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Jack slept in their bed on his back, arms and legs stretched out like a big cross. Like da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’, that perfect anatomical man as decided by nature and noticed by the genius artist. He took up the whole king-size so Sonny never had any room.

Some days he wore tight T-shirts that touched him all over – queer little T-shirts, though he didn’t know it. Ribbed. Sonny liked those days, they made him look like a nineties boyband man. Worn with Adidas sweatpants positioned below his hipbones, it was trashy. He begged to be allowed to show him off at the Sweatbox, an elusive Soho gym with moisture-frosted windows where steam piped through the walls and out onto the streets, attaching itself to the lingerers outside, making them hot. He would be the star attraction. He would be stripped in seconds, the tight T-shirts undoubtedly seen as a preview, and after a preview there’s gotta be a show, the regulars would say, peeling him. But Jack said he wasn’t ‘about’ all that. He dressed for work, not attraction.

But he must attract himself, Sonny felt. To wear tops like that which marked out his ribs and muscles, he must love to see the shape of his own body. And it was understandable – if he liked looking at men, why wouldn’t he like looking at himself? Maybe he hadn’t acted on his sexuality before him simply because he was content fancying himself.

While Jack was da Vinci’s man, Sonny was Hogarth’s. A dirty caricature with no hope whose life so far could be drawn in dingy vignettes with crosshatching. Looking at Jack on the bed, he knew that people would always do whatever they could to save a da Vinci’s man, the nice angles, the bumps and the smooth, everything was right, all balance and prospects. Looking at himself in the mirror he knew there was nothing people could do for Hogarth’s guy. A stumbling, black-eyed loser whose place was the curb, not the king-size.

Every morning he felt futility, that he might as well leave, put his shoes on and run away. How could Hogarth’s guy ever satisfy da Vinci’s?

Mich Sanderson

Extract from Queer As Coke

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