Suzanna Slack

Old rose bisexual 2, six diary-poems in sequence

1. The reading.

What was pleasure/erotics? In this world where it is no longer possible to (think we can)

escape surveillance and militarization, perhaps it was only found in the telepathic (jokes,

dreams) & also the epistolary- (letters love letters). The technology for those in real

precarity was telepathy, I observed earnestly in the old rose notebook. I didn’t consider

myself poetic I said but

poetish. I had been thinking about the terrible word activist and being activish & the

innocence and complicity thing Nat and Mijke had been talking about.

I think I’m writing the anti erotic, not the playfully erotic, I would have liked to have said.

The “pleasure” was in rewriting family and rewriting writing, rewriting work, or things like

that, I wrote down, in my preparations. & I tried to remember which writer said that the

decomposed RECOMPOSE. The map of correctional facilities > provinces> pipelines -

that kind of map. When we write its supernatural, I did manage to say on the little stage.

When we write our bodies and also the bodies of others take over if not take over than

certainly meets with the mind and subdues it the mind is not leading

Or something

These were incantations, maybe I said, it was not possible to talk about writing or this

clairvoyance, especially with sex or ex sex workers who also wrote the work of sex into

something that was not writing but sure it was in the body anyway

finally people were talking about food prices it was all I had wanted to talk about in that

crowd 10 years ago, apparently it had to get this bad first.

You can’t resolve unfinished business in your writing, you have to do a lot of that work

first I was possibly just making shit up. To exit the body and the body of the book with an

incantation, verily we lived with an incantation and something out side of time. I wanted

to just write a letter to dead mothers and living mothers and those who didn’t want this

identity of mother even if they had it or couldn’t have it or those who wanted it more than

anything all of which is a “gender” all of its own

That incantatory dimension meant more to me than what anyone else thought about me.

Maybe it’s against work it’s against writing and against words against the family as we

understand it if you wanted to call it diary or letter writing I’d be really happy with it. I

tried to memorise these thoughts like I was taking an exam. These revolutionary

practices of diary and letter writings work like spells some of these old technologies are

the most powerful I wrote in the notes: letters, placards, diaries, graffiti, anything done


That book was a bit of a prank against and about that in a way.

There’s always a persona -

I might have been a saboteur - we could just go home, I said -

Didn’t want to hear ‘sex work’ mentioned ever again because there was something

beyond what ‘it’ was that interested me more - I didn’t have a voice - i was just a medium

- an intermediary for something -I remembered a gurlesque flyer around 2002 brought

back by my then husband from Sydney to inspire me - who I then saw in London for the

Candy Bar nights when girls only took over Madame Jo Jos

But then I found out that now it was a poetry genre - abolish genre I said in that cinema-

venue-institution that hurt my wrists - what was I on about - then adrenalized by washing

up liquid and helicopters overhead - fading away sadly like his vapes - how we could let

other people shape us - beauty products and takeaway foods hurt my soul - I put my

Paris sunhat on for the morning light in my kitchen -

I wanted to be a silhouette like Irene Silt - aced - out my head wasted on the London leg

pain - incredible milk - my lactic aches in the legs - I blew it and wouldn’t get asked to

any more literary soirees - you can’t make writing your life but you could make life your

writing - was it “punk” or poseur to mention Aldi and cleaning instead of BareMinerals

and pill dust? - punks always ended up in nice houses - I came to want what Dorothy

wanted- there’s no place like my ant base - my legs were fucking up my head - all of their

incredible milk - sometimes I wrote from spite and sometimes from glee.

“Those who express sympathy for the views of opposing groups may experience

backlash from their own cohort” it said in an article about Babylon, possibly - I once drew

a cartoon blue cat in an apron who knew it - it was the year I deleted that Twitter and

wrote even in code to myself - “targeting dissenters or nuanced thinkers” - “everyone had

a dart gun” - it was just muddy but good - “people who try to silence and intimidate their

critics make themselves stupider, almost as if they are shooting darts into their own brain”

- this was all around - I sat in its surrounds again - upgrade to GPT-4 - where was my

little hand-drawn cat - “The Supply of Disinformation will soon be Infinite” - bisexual

annoyed everyone at different periods of history perhaps because it supposed the binary

we were so attached to - I had been attracted to those who were supposed to have one,

but lied - it was so truthful it was a lie. I think it was a sexuality of knowing sexuality itself,

whatever that was, was lying.

2. Calls

spidery angel dancers captured in bottles of oude - you cost a lot - I was in a too long

silky skirt with blue sky and clouds - it was beautiful but I felt encumbered by it - some

years later I even made a pavlova - Wim Hof and a seasonal tablecloth - a paint spattered

Dalmatian on a gift card - like a cat upstaging photographs - audacity was also mystery -

the three men on this side of the block of flats came out like cuckoos in the clock - happy

easter said each - eggs and the cat and the flowers, walks and nice things to eat - a huge

Zeppelin everyone came out to admire - a colossal weapon- it needed a test run - it

permitted license - issued certification - I wrote for my dictionary a list of whitenesses in

a faraway book I had written (the lilies, the tablets, the frost and so on) -

I was trying to encrypt it and it had me in a vice when I reread my own book - I threw

myself a gauntlet - what I knew was that my adult daughters wore it well for me - they

also knew how to parody it and we spoke the code and all of its jokes -

Back then you and I went looking for it in straight strip clubs, not queer venues, in the

early 2000s - the marble of Rodin - my hot milky drink face - the milk in lettuces and

Inanna - the pillars of the ICA - crystals scattering prisms - anything to do with crystals -

and semen. “A book of retirement”. Astronauts. Glittering white like Perrier and stars in

the sky and that we could go there, own them. Or know them. plastics beneath my

fingertips hurting my soul and to gaze upon it took out my eyes. Sunblock had stopped

my eyes working and gave me many rashes, a severe relapse. A little draculaic. The

most beautiful boy in the world was cursed by the expression - beheaded in Midsommar

- so much whiteness about this man he was charred, that happens.

I shed everything about the glitter and the communist and became retired and draculaic

again, - at all costs perish the sun

The mane flaming

The masculinist superfemmes ebbed away in their perrier glitter, their diamond night sky

we may be looking down at - just fall into it - the whispers of the twenty teens. The bus

went past Bethnal Green, everything’s over and how nectar - I taste the flavour of altitude

- I overcharged my laptop, that was diamanté and cellophane itself

- block out the light - like sunlight or drugs in the tap water - the cancery light and the

cokey taps

- - learned to love the micro plastics in my bloodstream

Dear Fernanda Laguna: it was the look in your eye in a flower pot in a magazine around

2002 and I wrote a love letter to my husband’s lover who didn’t reply, about how she was

a crow over my face all the time and I could smell her breath and the reflection of her

wings in a lake beneath me somehow like you in a plant pot. We had to make art but I

wasn’t making any except for that letter you never got and I can’t remember if she did.

Lesbian love, like: why do we let men make us shitty? Let’s make beautiful or weird stuff,

and at that age I felt so unmanageably pretty I mean,

It hurt, it was so uncomfortable. In your teens and 20s its throwaway but I was around 30

and what did I do with all those collisions of felinity - that’s an autocorrect, I wrote

femininity - let’s go with felinity - all those collisions that wanted to raise children, strip,

have more kids, feed them with my body, scream and shout about the clear information

that men were alien bullies, take action against the gynecological warfare and cut up

pictures and make drawings just like my children did, buy clothes and wear them,

outrageously, hilariously, I cut out your picture for example from a magazine having no

idea who you were I didn’t know what anything means and I still don’t.

I was domestic and angry and stripping as a form of protest and being a wife had

wrecked my life perhaps I wanted to steal her from him: I wrote to her we’re like Fernanda

Laguna in a plant pot but did not know why I only knew it from the look in the picture in

the magazine’s eye and she, my husband’s lover, never replied. Maybe I called her on his

old Nokia and read it out loud in my shitty 1950s museum-kitchen

Love, Suzanna Slack

…in my big white sunhat in the same kitchen, no longer 1950s shitty but the light’s

dazzling. Why, I will make my home a little gallery. Got celery & white tulips & more paint

spattered Dalmatian cards - trolleys full of pig corpses on my way to buy them - the chip

in the worktop I covered in somebody’s forgotten glittery black Barry M polish - the doll-

pins to make those cakes only came in caucasian - I kind of wanted to make my own

caucasian doll pin cake in a sugary gown - because I was working through a theme -

maybe a dictionary like in Bouvard and Pecuchet - reread L’Assomoir’s feast - show me

how you think with your heart Daddy, said a very small girl in the waiting room at the

doctors - you need to close your eyes and practice now - there was a great urgency to

her voice.

If the moon’s an ice cream scoop what flavour.

Coconut, not vanilla, gravestone, cobble? She was very prominent in my dreams, at

some point I took a huge gathering with two others at the front - someone heckled - you

three look like you’re on a date - one of my co-convenors muttered quietly what a

threeway -

what flavour - if the moon’s an ice cream scoop what flavour. 23 years in a place gives it

an echo or flesh of some kind - the bluebells were fox pissy there were ants I had bought

so many bookish books I thought I had to read that (still, still!) .the secret of whiteness

would be revealed and I could live within “it”. “it” being inside the cockroach maybe and

it was the inability of the white woman to know or see her maid.

Everyone was mourning 2020 but guilty about it.

I remembered editing in 1997 with scissors, the paper drafts, with Teletubbies on, which

seemed so futuristic and prophetic (it was). It was such a craze of adulation. I did not

know then that I was Tinky Winky. What would have happened if I hadn’t done that for

myself? That book being “something you can set to one side” meant everything: I’ll

come back to you later. There had been an unusable room in that house that began to

haunt me in my dreams. It had loose electrics and was dangerous but sometimes

someone went in there.

C said nothing about housing was right anymore except refusing to be a landlord.

And although she was holding forth at the intersection as though nothing had happened

since January 2020, I was so pleased to be home to hear her say so. Even the anarchists

or the artists or your friends, if they’re being your landlord then everything’s wrong. I had

no recommendations for the revolution that was inevitable.

you fucked up and you fucked up - sure, as a woman and a mother - as a queer ‘boy’ or

some sort of masc- as a lefty - as an organizer - as a worker - as a schoolgirl - as a

stripper - so this notebook of 1996: why was there so much snow that winter? I was

swept into a cult and slut shamed and set to work - and I never worked enough - but

without my not-enough work we wouldn’t have done so well -

- I just wanted to be good and uncover the soul (it was only possible by being bad)

I got very bad the harder I tried to be good - the sensation and atmosphere of ‘goodness’

prevailed again - good ways to live & eat & spend the days, make money - good

boyfriends - ah, there were none of those - good parents who made good sons - ah, there

were none of those - we couldn’t crack the code - the good son to marry - the good job -

the good outfit -

- prank calling the dead - prank calling my own self from the future.

3. Little bird

Girls-only sleepover photos from 1990: - the order to dress as stupid and as slutty as

life’s simple - a sort of hilarity, constant pastiche - when I died you must remember the

whole point of a spiritual awakening was parody

A sweet little bird kept flying at my eyes and trying to poke right into them with a very

sharp tiny beak and I just laughed and kept batting it away - I was reborn in the vampire

castle - I was right at the time about not buying the Prada shoes with the rose on the front

and the heel base shaped like a crescent moon - tryin to recapture their mystery - they

were behind a window n I was a tourist - it’s good to be a covetous tourist - it’s own holy

state. The shoes were like the Madonna col Bambino e i. Santi Nicola, Pietro, Benedetto


Marco of


Just exactly like it. - full of laughs n sport n treasure. It was a sort of Instagrammy trip in

1996. It would have been great if I’d got pregnant that following summer and immediately

divorced him, but then I wouldn’t have the child who taught me everything.

3a. gurlesque

A telephone number (2 - so he could be found in London, Sicily or Bologna) of Gianfranco

who he clearly fancied the pants off. I spose the most you could still imagine was the

cause of the widow - that chewing gum wrapper n keeping it, sweet - “how white she

was, how white, all hollowed-out and be-devilled by it” - I got that right - “Her blood must

have run out and trickled down a gutter..or stained her hands blue like ink” - oh yes, this

being the work - “the white of her devilish skin” - here comes the naked pony and pests

in the home, wrote god - environmental hazards -

Then there was my list of clothes to take and that list was great.

what was it about all this junk n tat that was destroying us? (and was it a good orgiastic

demise) - the right kinda whiteness tinkers gathered to assemble as a project - that

project was about the lie of words - words were whiteness too - I would go on to cosplay

whiteness in almost every way - today’s a perfect day - girls n their gurlesquez were

bringing back the just-graduated breathless tomfoolery - tickin off lists n bein a dick -

perhaps because of dick - taking life so seriously and people sayin I’d lost myself - I find

my “family” a weird game I was not equipped to play - we wanted the receipts or

snapshots - material evidence - there they went carousing thru this stability I could (after

all) create- the astronomical horse and the tourist carriage and the vintage perambulator -

pulling it forwards goin clip clop like a story-game - stop - it was fun there in that little

treehouse u knew it - I would make all sorts and out burlesque every horse of history - by

being a clown, sleeping, watching tv - I perfected the art of being poor but I hated it -

didn’t you - all I wanted was to survive it as the unlost driver.

4. Loaf

“If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire”, I had

quoted, but during those years I had never heard of Simone Weil.

The bluebelly garden getting sticky. How much work it was to install the nothingness - a

very natural environment wasn’t necessary - those envelopes full of thoughts scribbled on

receipts -hey, try & buy imported fancy envelopes to put in another black book to tuck

messages for the future into the envelopes - then tie ribbon around it + put in a box - this

process is no longer one of failure or secrecy or defeat but their opposites -

There was a cutting: a paragraph in The Erotic Review about how sinister we were, thank

goodness for the cancan girls that followed us. The fruit platter girl a long time before it.

My kids liked that I went out and danced like a fool, I wrote.

- that tipping point of the clown and the influencer and the whore getting tangled -

a year or so ago, who knows

a review too of the mythical night Rude Girls of 2002 - it was all failure - beautiful failure -

the skyline erupting when I cycled to Aldgate East - dwelling on the past is a message in

a bottle (in an overwrought cartoon envelope) to the future - a blue arcline - Charlotte

Bronte’s miniature book published by NOWHERE age 13 on sugar packets & wallpaper

scraps just sold for the largest sum of money EVER so it could “go home” - the

workaholic in an adjoining room was always the outside dream beginning - I wanted my

own Dream back:

the street girl I locked in a box- she worked in a shop and bought turquoise suede short

shorts with her discount - writing her way out of a cardboard box and never a doctor of

poetics or attending a biennale- oh to be the kind of white lesbian of dubious ethics to

rescue her - but buying gummi pizzas and overpriced envelopes instead - sickened in a

fleapit - why didn’t she waste some more time? - oh with pleasure and with aplomb - they

hang their Outside Dream up in tote bags - to live somewhere without the right totes - a

tote free zone - I wasted time with aplomb, like a bitch - my totes said so - they carried a

Venetian image - serendipity’s bitchy.

was your life mapped out to be a wife and mother? - you’re gonna get further away & left

behind her - forget about owning property and “getting it” - working out how to crack the

nut - what if you decided to forget “it” and live - what if.

I found real embarrassing whiny despair and nothingness - but the proof of living was

clutched-at - a need to have lived - because so many things were determined to prohibit


- I was too weak but I got a swan card and a cake card and a “milk roll” and one red

geranium - this poverty’s delicious and serendipitous - - the little punnet that hadn’t

bloomed yet was a real breath - - the ghosts came across the moors - this bread

situation - that snow time - the edge of hypothermia - the Buddhists and the Kundalinis

were no match for Morrisons geraniums -- I truly loved the "Americans" - despite everything

- like the communists - geraniums were a form of rose - mayday after the £9.80 loaf -

gave up on attendance - attendance was a kind of dance I couldn’t do - saw the loaf,

circled it twice with my empty basket - “I need clarity” - the bluebells in her vases - help

me out ghost - it was twice I said so - once to a plant and once to the vases for the

foxpissy bluebells - 2 hair grips, a rosette, a paper decoration, a garland of butterflies, a

swan card, a cake card, a cake for eighty yes eighty pounds, perfume, Retinol - fucking

supermarket roses - Venetian tote stories - walking through the marinas - the suede

shorts on with white legs n cankles - a lilac silk shirt - this white kiosk hat - we’re prowling

the marina - deciding against the Croisette hotels to chambermaid - we sail off and leave

Barry John and the last minute girl - her name was Annette. Annette. We drove and

drove. Dark, so someone could piss and my WEEJUN fell. I require assistance with my

disability. The word WEEJUN now abolished, perhaps, by GH Bass - who would use that

word - a WEEJUN in the dark Camargue - where they celebrate Sara e Kali - our

indigeneities on the dark roads - something is wrong, something is wrong I thought - we

were afraid to go without men - three men circled my life by circling the life of my

daughters - again men circled my life - I was a lost shoe on a dark Camargue road - an

abolished WEEJUN protesting Annette - shown by my father the one pistol legal in France

- don’t take your pistol out across the pink marble - an incandescent glittering rage that lit

up the tiny house

This displacement of her rage which belonged to his body parts and not his measly

French pistol which, obedient to her for this one time, was never seen again.

An ace world is wild - a lone shoe protesting its racist name by roaming the Camargue.

5. Rain or Guile

Bar Wotever in 2003- experimenting in togetherness but in privacy - or something - it was

mean - beer on the floor - the floor was always slippery - lesbians were always so thirsty -

gay men were always so hungry - straight people were always so empty and nothing was

what they wanted to eat or drink -

simulated rain in film almost always looks tragically wrong - why did people say always

already as if it was cute - the road to the gym was going back and the road to Aldi was a

ghost train out - I remembered buying two circular tablecloths in a sale at a department

store that wasn’t there anymore - opposite Liberty - maybe a Debenhams? - also a pink

floppy sunhat -

Marilyn they called “animal”. what wasn’t animal but the “innocence” we were

“complicit” in - we were complicit in the perpetuation of an idea of innocence - perhaps

we should call this guile - there was a great deal of guile at large.

When I read an interview with a fine poet I felt like Marilyn - I wanted some crib notes to

put in my purse - the possibilities around mistake-making - I understood that reading was

like dreaming - I thought that Marilyn was trans - care work and caring/those words: fie I

could not hear them - alas and alack! Arthur Miller called her a whore.

I owned a pale blue coat I didn’t want - an Ava Miracle dress in Hollywood Red I may also

not have wanted - I may have wanted these clothes very much - I may have wanted to

stop time - I may have wanted to exit words - put them in my handbag - like Marilyn put

notes in hers when she met Arthur Miller -- was whiteness guile or audacity -

Here I was in the aftermath of miracles - it was unnecessary to ghost so many people and

think ill of them - pure talent’s sweet - slaveowning, slave-port owning, owning - imagine

owning less - not even your “name” - imagine if everything really was for everyone.

My compassion really was terrifying - I put on my white Parisian sunhat to heat an Aldi

fish pie - you should light a fire - “you should” - a mind full of shoulds could splinter your


knowing I skipped thru time and the novel - unstitched memory - come on Grandma I

said to the drooping plant she gave me fifteen years before she died, and which

continued to live if not thrive

wrote a hologram diary - in which the imperative got unstitched.

- The me before me wrote: “I dreamed about what it was like to lose my memory + see a

book I’d written - a really nice peaceful feeling and total detachment, yet satisfaction” -

“my own press I assemble is a house in the wilderness” - the me before me wrote that

they were writing “out of the house”.

- Marlen Haushofer wrote in The Wall: “the boredom that often afflicted me was the

boredom of a respectable rose grower at a motorcar manufacturer’s congress. I spent

almost my whole life at just such a congress”.

Suzanna Slack is the author of the memory trilogy Is This It?, The Poor Children and The Shedding, and another memory trilogy Happy Birthday Story, Luxury Profile and White Spirit Videotelephony.