Lost One

All the world’s a stage, so

You ad lib, ad infinitum

You never show remorse – you say:

Why bother be nice to them? 

People fade and dissolve

Faster than the tab under your tongue

Well I’m over trying to show care,

All that jazz like love,

Now I do me and you can stay sprung

 I don’t know you and you

Won’t ever get to know me

My mistake was in trying to build you, déjà vu

Now you can stay in your ignorance

But you can’t drag me down too

Now you need me for this and that

Want me around, every second

How delicious it is when tables turn

When all of a sudden I don’t have a minute

To spend on you?

 
Keep your precious feet planted firmly

In the quicksand of our past

You were just another one – temporary

So when you’re done reminiscing could you please

Erase my name and number from your memory?

I.Z.

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First Blood

Morning
Morning blood
Boiling through tired veins
No sleep for the wicked
Because they’re the ones being betrayed

Sleep
Sleep evades
As the sun forces through into dark stretches of night
The overwrought body burns into day time without a wink of rest

Fail
Fail to keep
The promises of others honoured to you
When you stay true, but not others
What really can you do?

 

On the plane they always say,
As the handsome cabin crew begrudgingly demonstrate,
That you have to put the oxygen mask over your own mouth
Before you do so for those around you.

Because what good are you semi-conscious and heaving
When the plane spirals out of control
Sending you stuttering prayers you hardly remember how to recite?
What good are you, cold-sweating the fear of death out of your pores
As the plane prepares to turn itself inside out?

 

The Crusade

Where has my Johnny gone?
He’s gone on a crusade

And when will he return?
Hopefully not too late

He left with a bloody heart in his left pocket
And a hanky in the other
’to wrap the heart in before it’s buried’
It will be proof for his mother.

His sword is heavy on his hip
It makes him limp and drag his feet
But for his soul, he’ll make this trip
And with reality will he meet.

She’ll cheer and beam, full of pride
’Did you kill them, like you should?’
’Yes, I did and here’s the proof:’
And from his left pocket he’ll pull it out –

’I stabbed and skinned this one alive
But funnily enough, mum,
she knew she couldn’t survive
So she stared me in the eye
As I carved out her heart’

Quietly they will have dinner
While the heart sits on the shelf.
’Later I will clean it’ and
’Later I will bury it’

Days and months will pass
And the heart will sit on the shelf
Sometimes he will study it,
But never longer than he should.

Meanwhile I lay
Skinned, bloodied, heartless
Waiting night and day
To feel warm and seek redress

People ask each other:
’Where has her Johnny gone?’
’He’s gone on a crusade!’

’And when will he return?’
’Why bother? She is dead.’

 

I.Z.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

After binge-watching a bunch of Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food episodes, I got totally stuck into one of his dishes: Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

I ended up making Mac n Cheese without the lobster on two occasions – once with a well-planned shopping list (Let’s call this Mac 1), and the other on a complete whim (which means I used whatever I could find in the fridge – Mac 1a-be).

On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being easy cheesy macaroni, and 10 being show-off), I’d rate this a 5.

Serves 6-7 hungry humans

Mac 1

2 yellow onions
4 cloves of garlic
50 g unsalted butter
1 pinch of nutmeg powder (freshly grated would be better)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch of paprika
3 bay leaves
2 anchovy fillets
200g beef bacon, diced/cut up however you want them
50 g plain flour
50 ml cooking cream
1.1 litres milk
2 teaspoons English mustard
100 g Cheddar cheese (Mature or Sharp would be best)
100 g Parmesan cheese
400 g macaroni
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Mac 1a-be

All the above, plus:

½ cup of breadcrumbs (Make your own – whizz up stale bread in food processor or Panko would do nicely too)
2 extra cloves of garlic
½ cube of chicken stock (cube) and
100 g pepperoni instead of beef bacon and
100 g of Mozzarella instead of Cheddar

Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Chuck the butter into a deep-ish pan (you’re making the sauce in this) on medium heat, then cook the onions, garlic, anchovy fillets, and bacon. Resist from eating and don’t worry about the anchovies – they’ll melt away into umami goodness. Once the onion starts looking translucent, stir in the flour, followed by the milk, cream, mustard, nutmeg powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Mix well and simmer for 10 minutes. It might look clumpy and crap for a while, but trust me it’s meant to look that way initially! Sorry I don’t have photos of this step as I was too busy freaking out myself… If you’re a noob in the kitchen like me, congratulations! You’ve made a roux.

While waiting for the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, get your macaroni cooking in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain. It’ll clump up and stick to each other as it sits aside, but will separate once you put it in the cheese sauce. Go on and pre-heat your oven at 180°C while you’re at it.

If you’re using chicken stock, crumble and add it to the simmering mixture now. Stir until you’re sure there are no clumps of stock in it, and turn the heat down to low. Here comes the best part (Second best, best is the eating part) – add the cheddar and parmesan while gradually stirring the mixture. Leave at least two handfuls of cheese for the topping though! Now if you prefer your sauce to be thicker, add more cheese or flour (gradually, in small increments), but I recommend patience as it will thicken naturally after you let it be for a bit. If you prefer it runnier, add milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the pasta and gush over how luscious the whole thing looks and once again, resist from eating. This is your last chance to taste it again; check if you have seasoned it enough. Pick out the 3 bay leaves and dispose, too.

Once you’ve mixed all the pasta in and each piece of macaroni looks reasonably smothered in sauce, pour out into a large ovenproof casserole pan like I did for Mac 1, or into individual ramekins  like I did for Mac 1a-be. Sprinkle the leftover cheese and top with the breadcrumbs.

Stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the top layer looks golden brown, with obvious crunchy bits looking perfectly toasted. As you can see from my photos, I was much too impatient and the breadcrumbs hardly had time to get a tan…

Mac n Cheese 2

This is Mac 1.

It tasted better than expected, but would’ve been loads better if I had added more salt to the sauce and breadcrumbs to the topping. I threw in a tiny pinch of chilli flakes before tucking in and it gave it a really nice warmth. Overall, it had a better flavour profile than Mac 1a-be, possibly due to the types of cheese used and that Mac 1a-be had way too much garlic in it. Also, having had assistance from the bf who is a cook helped a lot. Who am I kidding I was the assistance lol

 

 

Mac n Cheese Ramekin 1

 

This is Mac 1a-be.

This was so close to being great! Unfortunately, my itchy hands led to a disastrously overpowering garlic taste. The crunch from the breadcrumbs was so good though, and the chicken stock really bound all the flavours of the sauce together nicely. I’m not against the sexy cheese strings produced by the Mozzarella used, but would have been better with Cheddar in it.

 

 

Mac n Cheese

Sexy cheese strings

 

 

In future, I’ll be making Mac 1a-be with the right cheeses (Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere if my budget allows, and maybe some Mozzarella still because – refer to .gif on the right), beef bacon, and only 4 cloves of garlic…

For now, I’m gonna stuff myself silly with leftovers.

The Daily Grind

 

Blow after blow after blow after shot
No shock springs alive through overworked synapses

As haggard figures move slow through the molasses
of what we know as survival of the silliest,

Mourning how infernal days pass slow as death
And nights faster than the blind man’s wink.

Looking glass tells truths we wish were lies
Defining a self foreign to our own eyes

Only echoes from the past give an inkling
of who it is we’re meant to be

Confined to molds too small to carry
all the indescribable forms of you and me.

 

I.Z.

Fluky Observer

I saw that tuft of dark brown hair
Out the back of an old oak tree.
Baritone laughter wafted in the air
Along with the smoke rings that rose free.

Your hand emerges,
beset with light freckles
And flicks deftly to the ground
some cigarette ashes

The crunch of a twig
underneath your heavy shoe
I heard, before I saw who
Was standing there, next to you.

She too, was freckled and slim
And golden from hair to skin
Her hand stroked your hair
So then I had to look elsewhere

I walked away in odd noon silence
Contemplating the coincidence
Just then, I think I saw you
And just that will have to do.

 

I.Z.

Sleep

I cannot resist you when you are cloaked in slumber…
When your eyelids bear the burdens of your working day
And when your limbs lay splayed in resigned, otherwise awkward angles.

It is the time of night when even the churning of the pipes downstairs
sound like the wordless speech of the house, telling me to
Go to sleep, and next door’s old television murmuring listlessly
(not even trying to rise above the static) saying it’s time for bed.

Yet all I seem to do is face this bright screen in the dark,
contemplating the words to string together to describe
the feelings I feel in this visual moment…
Fondness – familiarity –  fascination, perhaps?

My own fatigue is marked by an air-grasping stretch and yawn.
As you roll over on your side, the bed makes the tiniest,
most suggestive creak that amplifies its soporific appeal and I’m sold
Because I cannot resist you when you are cloaked in slumber.

 

I.Z.