CLICK – a play by Jessica Jane Parsons

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CLICK is a play which focuses on the historical atomic-bombing of Hiroshima, written in the style of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 psychosis.

Please click on the link below to read the play:

Hiroshima play

 

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Poems for a cold September night

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Some of our latest poetic offerings from three of our members. 

Untitled Poems by Holly Attwell

A stab through memories that glittered and shined,

a pierce of betrayal and uncertainty.

The mask has slipped to reveal another

and I don’t think you can see yourself in the mirror.

A knight in shining armour; no.

A bad person; not that either.

Perhaps just an ordinary boy lost in their own confusion.

But answer this; was it me?

*********************************

Rain lashes onto the cold, grey ground.

From behind the glass, it makes no sound.

It is like a blanket wrapping around the houses,

and it makes everything darker; from the leaves,

that are now a leathery dark green,

to the slimy, almost black concrete.

It makes the cars shine dimly,

and people fear to drift into the patches of water,

which fill the pavements and make them even.

The question is, how deep are those potholes,

which are now covered by water and hit like a soundless snare?

In this rain, will troubles or happiness drown?

*********************************

As I stared out on a wholly grey,

unwelcoming and blustery day,

an unexpected sight caught my eye.

Through the water falling from the sky,

flew towards me a fiery coloured flicker.

Dodging the rain with expertise; a butterfly

with red wings, perched upon my window sill,

only momentarily.

The grey day paused at this flash of colour

and surprise; the rainbow in the rain,

and then it was gone,

flying through the storm alone,

as if catapulted into the wrong place and time

and captured, just for me, in my eye.

*********************************

Why did that person choose today to die?

They did not choose of course, but why?

Why is it that on this day,

filled with both sun and cloud,

they took their final breath and left without a sound?

The neighbours stare at the house,

peaking through net curtains,

watching and wondering as ambulances

arrive and depart. They guess,

and they know. The sky turns grey,

and a man turns and says out loud

“Why did they choose today?”

and somehow, that sounds profound.

*********************************

You sit there in front of that person,

and the void of time stands before you.

Seeing into it is easy, but talking through it is not.

You sit there all the same,

and the two of you are somehow changed, yet unchanged.

Through this void you see backwards

to a time when conversation was easy,

silence even more so, and your mouth opens

with some triviality, just to fill the silence,

because in that silence are a thousand things unsaid,

left to circle in your head,

and the distance seems even stronger.

 

Poems by Xenia Lily 

Woodsman

I have found a thousands way to not love you.

The distance, the time, the language, the differences to name a few.

But with each reason, each story I tell myself, I can’t help it;

I fall for you every time.

I remember the way you looked at me and each block I put in our way to try and stop the sound of music the world seemed to be singing.

The sweet symphonies of surrender.

The way your hands held mine. I was home, grounded.

It was a secret we had to keep.

But the world knew.

We never made promises because we were afraid we couldn’t keep them.

We just had each other.

The scent of your chest when you’d pull me closer to you, woodchipped and alive.

With you I felt alive.

I told myself no each time.

Each time I didn’t listen.

If felt wrong. Like I wasn’t the right puzzle piece.

But I’ve never felt more at home than I did in your arms.

You gave me an infinity in numbered days.

That’s what all the love stories say.

But I never used to believe them.

Not until you walked in, My hero.

 

I ruined it all. I was the one who left.

I wanted to give you a better life with someone who was your puzzle piece.

One day I’ll learn to regret my decision.

Maybe one day you’ll learn to accept it.

Or maybe, one day.

We’ll both get what we really

 

Battle Fatigue 

The ashes of you leave me scattered,

Breathless,

Like the soldiers at Dunkirk.

Trembling, fragile, but a fighter amongst all else.

I never knew I was worth something.

But I realised my value after you denounced my worth.

You try, but fail, to make this work.

But I march on.

Your words strike like bullets – fire with precision

I will never surrender.

But a wave cracks, breaks, smashes around me.

The winds of past battles gather, collected.

We announce as one, we will never surrender.

The pictures faded, scattered like seeds.

Memories fragmented, bias and mistaken.

You leave me bloody;

We march on as one:

We will never surrender.

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Poems by Danielle Jade Oldham

Things I learnt in the Hospital

 Dr.Clarissa hates writing in black ink

the girl in the next bed isn’t a natural blonde

I wish I had painted my toenails –

a splash of red on my pale skin would look so divine –

I bet everyone thinks I’m not pretty.

It’s quiet here,

and I like to read magazines for hours on end.

How does she do it? A doctor, with husband and four children.

How come she was allowed all that?

 

CH

 For a whole minute I loved you.

Standing in the kitchen

humming

and unpeeling a banana.

You love bananas

and I loved your distracted eyes,

dark hair, hands that almost look still young, I could see

a calmness, finally, yellow light

and the smell of lemons, everywhere

 

then you see me

and sigh. Frown.

You’ll never tell me what I did

and once again

I don’t love you

 

Adore

 Forcing chocolate down my throat

you never take no for an answer

but that’s okay, for you,

you’re honey-sweet and cinnamon-freckled and

besides

I don’t yet know

that there’s such a thing

as too much chocolate.

 

Your powdered sugar is in my hair

but I feel no shame.

Sickly sherbert, blue, in the morning

just in case.

 

I hate you enough to hang you

with a strawberry lace,

in your boiled-pear jumper

and sleep creases.

 

Images – Danielle Jade Oldham

The Bitch of Living: Pygmalion Reimagined – A Short Story by Róisín Doherty

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Throughout the history of literature, our ears have been graced with many timeless love stories, spanning millennia. We hear of brave, dashing heroes and princes who overcome all odds to win the hand of their designated female love interest. It’s an evergreen formula, though derivative and a gateway to a sexist mindset. Nevertheless, this tale shall follow suit; this story deserves a protagonist, and a protagonist it shall have.

Thus, the role falls to Pygmalion. He was a proud man, and why not? He had a lot to be proud of. He was an extremely talented artist, a household name across the Mediterranean, known particularly for his lifelike statues. Crafted with such affection and attention to detail, his statues seemed as vivacious and feisty as a patron of the local tavern. With their mischievous eyes and strong limbs, it was suspected that his sculptures were liable to jump out of their petrification at any moment, and dance around the room. They said that his work was so magnificent that the gods themselves were envious of his talent. He had almost everything a classical-era celebrity could want: Wealth, Status and Political Influence. He lacked just one thing: A Wife.

Of course, a man of his stature could have his pick of the bunch. If he so desired, he could have all of the local kings line up their young daughters from Crete to Macedonia and choose his favourite. It would be an honour to be the wife of such an esteemed figure in their society – there was just one problem.

Pygmalion despised women. In his eyes, they were debaucherous creatures: prostitutes and drunks. They were weak and prone to vanity. Vapid. Greedy. He avoided their company wherever possible. No woman borne of Earth was good enough for Pygmalion.

He had grown old by this time. Old, and deeply unhappy. He had all the riches he could wish for, fields full of valuable livestock and crops and was a valued member of the council. But it wasn’t enough. He wished for a son, to carry forth his legacy. But how could he obtain an heir without a woman to bear his seed? He could never lower himself to be with a disgusting woman, lest his enlightened mind be infected by her domestic, frivolous drivel and his wealth wasted on her vanity and greed.

The perfect woman, Pygmalion thought, would be designed by man. She would live her life as her husband dictates. She would be innately beautiful, with no need of expensive clay and beeswax cosmetics. She should, however, not be a slave to her own narcissism. She would have youthful, golden locks, and wide child bearing hips. Her breasts should be large and filled with milk for my suckling son, her face perfectly symmetrical and her skin pale, and blemish-free. She would be pious, and fearfully respectful of the gods. Her mind should not be tainted by hearsay or the effects of alcohol. She should be well educated, and a sparkling conversationalist, who agrees with me on all matters of morality, philosophy, art and politics. She should also, however, know her place in the home, never speak out of turn, and serve my every need.

Pygmalion knew that this woman could not be found in Cyprus. He could search the entirety of the western world and not find her; and should he scour the far off eastern lands, and the whole world, he would be as lonely as ever. This perfect woman existed solely inside his mind.

And that was the idea that struck him. If the perfect woman didn’t exist, it was his job to change that. And who better for the task? With his talent, he could elicit the most beautiful woman in the world from a slab of cold, obstinate marble with ease. Men from around the globe would want to flock to Cyprus to marvel at her beauty – but he wouldn’t allow it. No one else could gaze upon on his flawless creation. The fruits of his labour were for his eyes only.

After purchasing the finest Parian marble in the land, denting his fortune, he set off to work. His wizened muscles ached as he tirelessly chipped away at the sheets of rock cocooning his magnum opus. He laboured on her image for almost three years, labouring on each small detail; the convex curve of her fertile womb, her earnest, full-lipped smile, and perfectly symmetrical face.

His toil finally ended on a sweltering hot day in the middle of summer. After smoothing down her shapely calves, he wiped a layer of sweat from his forehead and admired his work.

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She was breathtaking. Pygmalion’s heart whelmed with devotion as he gazed upon the face of his creation. The statue was more beautiful than he could have imagined. And perhaps it was the heat of summer, his old age, or the overjoyed relief that came with her completion, or a combination of all three; but Pygmalion found himself kissing the sculpture. It was quick and forceful, her cold, frigid lips combating the hateful sun’s heat. He held the figure close, relieved by the chill. But her skin, though smooth, was hard and unforgiving. Not at all like the soft, supple flesh he imagined. His eyes welled with tears – His perfect creation was nothing more than a lifeless husk.

Days passed, where Pygmalion could do nothing but stare at the statue. The excitement of her completion had long since worn off, and left a gaping wife-shaped hole in his heart. Here she was, his perfect woman was standing in front of him and he felt lonelier than ever. He knew for certain now that no other woman would be as beautiful as she.

“A creation as beautiful as you deserves life.” Pygmalion said to the statue. “I am an old man, and I know that life is be cruel. But I can’t bear to spend the rest of my days alone. I am a helpless old fool who has fallen in love with his own sculpture.”

The statue, of course said nothing.

“You, as divine as you are, shall share my burdens, and bear me a son. I shall go to Aphrodite’s temple and ask for her blessing. I shan’t be away for too long – I can’t bear to take my eyes off of you.”

Once more, the statue was silent, though it’s doubtful that it would’ve had much of a choice in the matter anyway.

After fetching his prize bull from his fields, Pygmalion made his way to the Temple of Aphrodite, where a large crowd gathered around the alter. Caught up in his own mind, he had forgotten that today was Aphrodisia – a festival honouring the very goddess of love and beauty that he had come here to pray to. He watched in reverent silence as the blood of a dove was used to purify the temple. The crowds dropped to their knees and called out in exaltations, adulating Aphrodite. Pygmalion followed suit, praying to her with all his might.

Atop Mount Olympus, Aphrodite watched the paltry humans laud her powers and revere in her greatness. She smirked, so used to seeing them go about their everyday lives, that it was almost insulting to see so many visitors in her temple during the festival. Those foolish little fleas had no idea how much power she had on their mortal world.

“Pathetic.” She spat. “These little idiots think that, just because they pray to me, they can get whatever they want. I don’t care about their failing marriages and unrequited loves. It’s just the same requests over and over, with no thanks to be had.”

Then, as the crowds began to dissipate, she spotted Pygmalion. This was a face she knew all too well. She had kept an eye on the sculptor in the past, drawn to his faultless statues and virility in his youth. She had always wondered which woman would end up his wife, and be rolling in gold for the rest of her days, but now she could see that Pygmalion had never been wed; nor did he frequent the local brothels. She raised an eyebrow – what request could this man ask of the goddess of love and beauty?

Pygmalion brought his bull towards the altar, and sliced it open with the ceremonial blade. Its guttural screech could be heard across the island as the blood spattered the ground. It had been decades since a sacrifice so grand had been made to Aphrodite; if he hadn’t caught her attention before, he certainly had it now.

“Oh Great and Beautiful Goddess!” He cried. “Maiden of the Sea!

“I have at last found my true love, a woman so perfect and pure, unlike any other. The smile on her face blesses my days and her alabaster thighs haunt my nights. I present to you this fine bull, the greatest of my herd, as I plead for your blessing. My greatest love is a sculpture made by my own hand. As the just goddess of love, I beseech of you – bestow my sweetheart with the gift of life, and we shall both be eternally grateful.”

Aphrodite pinched the bridge of her nose, sighing deeply. After all these years, the buffoon had fallen for his own statue? Surely this had to be madness; the man was losing his sanity in his old age.

“No,” Dionysus told her, “I know madness, and this is no madness. Pygmalion has truly fallen for the sculpture; a pretty thing she is too.”

“That’s ridiculous. It’s not a woman, or any kind of human – It’s an inanimate object! He’s not in love with an inanimate object.” Aphrodite said, shaking her head. “There’s more to love than beauty, you know.”

“That’s a tad hypocritical, coming from you.” Dionysus chuckled. “So, what’re you going to do? Are you going to bring the statue to life?”

“I suppose I shall.” She sighed. “Perhaps it’ll be amusing if nothing else.”

Meanwhile, Pygmalion’s heart battered at his bloodstained chest, harder and harder as he approached his front door. He held his breath, and pressed his hand against the rough wood. If Aphrodite was willing, the love of his life would be waiting for him behind this door.

He pushed it open.

The statue stood exactly where he had left it. Cold and hard as ever.

A darkness settled into his heart. How dare Aphrodite not answer his prayer! He had sacrificed his best bull for her – he was certainly entitled to a payment of some sort!

He slammed the door shut, and stormed across the room, grabbing the statue by the waist. The bull’s blood on his fingers seeped into the porous rock and stained the milk-white. His gripped tightened, as he resolved himself to destroy his creation. He wanted nothing more than to throw it to the ground, smashing it into innumerable sharp fragments.

He stared into her bovine eyes for one last time, and bent down to kiss her goodbye. He bowed his head, and closed his eyes, bracing himself for the sharp chill of her lips.

But it never came.

The statue’s lips were soft and warm, moving out of sync with Pygmalion’s. They were speaking. Pleading.

“Let go of me! Let go! You’re hurting me!” The statue cried. Pygmalion’s eyes shot open. His grip on her waist loosened, letting her fall to the floor.

“You’re alive!” He exclaimed, a large grin crawling over his face. “Aphrodite has answered my prayer, and you shall be my wife!”

“W-Who are you?” The girl asked, struggling to cover her nude body. Pygmalion could hardly believe his eyes. She was his statue, come to life –  and she was even more beautiful with blood pumping through her veins.

“I am Pygmalion.” He said proudly. “I sculpted your body from the finest Parian marble and prayed for you to be given life so that you could be my wife. I am madly in love with you.”

The girl swallowed hard. “I am Galatea.”

“Are you in love with me?”

“We… have just met, sir.”

Pygmalion frowned. This wasn’t right – he brought this woman to life. He should be a hero in her eyes, if not a God. “No,” He said sternly. “You love me. That’s how this works. You’re just a stupid statue so you probably don’t know how love feels, but I do. You are my perfect ivory virgin, borne of my own hand, and we shall be wed tomorrow. Perhaps in time, you shall learn how love feels.”

Galatea bowed her head, too afraid to use her newfound tongue against her creator. He had already exercised his power over her, marked by the finger-shaped bruises on her waist. She waited until Pygmalion had gone to sleep before she found some old sheets to drape around her body, and stole out of the house. Without direction or deliberation, she made her way to Aphrodite’s Temple.

The temple was in a shambles after the day’s celebrations; the tiled mosaic on the floor could barely be seen through the blood and muddy footprints; and the smell of the slaughtered bull lying on the altar hung heavy in the air.

Galatea crept in cautiously, keeping out a watchful eye for any stray Cypriots who might who might approach her. The chill in the night air made her wary, and the smell of death made her stomach lurch. Once she was certain she was alone, she fell to her knees sobbing.

“My Lady,” she cried. “Why have you forsaken me to this mortal life? I do not want to marry Pygmalion. He is a strange, old man, and I fear he shall do me harm. He claims that he loves me, yet he does not know me. O goddess of love, will you have me forced into this sham of a marriage?”

“Yes, my child.” said a voice behind her. It was low and earthy, but Galatea could swear she heard the earth move with each cadence. Warm hands clasped her shoulders in a comforting manner. “I know of your struggles all too well, Galatea. But I’m afraid this is a struggle you must bear, as a woman.”

“He has bruised me, my Lady.” Galatea protested, adjusting the sheets to display her waist. “His forceful grasp is too rough for my skin. His wicked hands too careless and destructive. He claims to love me for my beauty, but surely there is more to me than that? What if the rest of me is not to his liking?”

“You were created to be beautiful.” Aphrodite said tonelessly. “Nothing else matters. Not to Pygmalion anyway. You shall marry him and give him a son.”

“Without love? That doesn’t seem like any kind of life.”

“You have no choice, Galatea.”

The girl, shocked by Aphrodite’s lack of compassion, snapped her neck up. Goosebumps writhed up her spine as her gaze met the goddess’. An aura of ethereal power radiated from her, more alluring  than Galatea could ever hope to be. She stood up and turned around, drawn towards the goddess. Her deep, brown face, wide set green eyes and long nose seemed almost hypnotic. This was a face too dangerous, too beguiling for the eyes of a mortal.

“Do not come any closer.” Aphrodite warned, outstretching her hand. “Go home to Pygmalion, child. He’ll be happy to see you; you should be thankful to have a man at all.”

But Galatea couldn’t look away from the goddess, until she blinked, looked around and found herself back in Pygmalion’s house once more. That day, the two of them were wed. They married in secret, an unorthodox ceremony as they were both older than the traditional age for marriage, and Pygmalion forbid anyone else, even wedding guests, from laying their eyes on his wife. By the end of the night, she still did not love him.

Nine months later, she gave birth to twins, a son, Paphos and a daughter, Metharme. She wasn’t the most maternal of women, but she loved the two of them dearly. She still did not love Pygmalion.

She watched her children grow up, performing each of her motherly duties to perfection. Her days were monotonous at best and chaotic at worst. Wake at dawn, help Paphos get ready for school, cook and clean with Metharme, and spend the evenings spinning. With his supervision, Pygmalion sometimes allowed Galatea to visit the market in the afternoons. He paraded her around like a trophy, falsifying stories of their intoxicating love for his fans, and vilifying all the other women in comparison to her. She wondered if he knew how uncomfortable it made her. She wondered if he cared.

Nights were even worse. They tried to talk, but there was nothing to say. They had the exact same opinions on morality, philosophy, art and politics, and would only parrot the same beliefs back at each other. And the nights Pygmalion tried to make advances towards her were nothing but awkward. She turned him down most times, unless they had come across some silphium in the market. She cried almost every night while he slept, wishing for her repetitive life to come to a stop. She almost prayed for some natural disaster or death to occur; just so something would happen. Years passed, and she still did not love him.

At the age of fourteen, Metharme began to menstruate. Just a few days after her fourteenth birthday, she awoke her mother excitedly; proud that she had finally become a woman. That day, accompanied by Paphos, Galatea took her daughter to the woods, and helped her sacrifice her old toys to Artemis, as a symbol for the end of her childhood. Pygmalion didn’t join them. In the past few months, he had been ill, and seemingly deteriorating more and more each day. He had been bedridden for almost a year now.

Metharme worried about her parents often. They didn’t act like the other parents in the town, who were younger, buoyant and full of life. Pygmalion was easily the oldest man in the village, and Galatea seemed as though her mind was full of thoughts that she didn’t dare speak aloud. During the ceremony, she seemed even more subdued than usual. The crackling of flames filled the clearing, the smoke rising to the treetops. Galatea’s gaze did not stray from the pile of burning dolls. She did not cry.

As they made their way home in silence, Metharme tugged at her mother’s dress. “Maia, you seem sad. Are you worried about Pateer?”

“No, child.” Galatea said abruptly. Her pace quickened.

“He’s rather old, isn’t he?” Paphos chimed in. “A boy from my school, Doros, said that his father said Pateer wouldn’t be around to see winter. He said that if the frost won’t kill him, then Hades would get impatient and come up to the surface world and kill him himself.”

“You shouldn’t speak about your father in such a way.” She scolded. “Your father is very proud of you both, it would sadden him to hear this, you know.”

Their walk home continued in silence.

Within a week, Metharme was married off to Cinyras, a hero from the land of Cilicia, leaving Galatea even lonelier than before. “It’s a good pairing…” Her ailing husband assured her in a self-satisfied wheeze. “Metharme has your beauty… And Cinyras is a brave warrior… With great riches… Any children of theirs…Will be destined for greatness.”

“Metharme is brave.” Galatea replied. “And she has a good heart. She genuinely cares for those around her. Even as a child, she was very empathetic; but also, very soft-willed. Aren’t you worried that you pushed her into this marriage? Did you ask her want she wanted? How she felt?”

“She will be… an excellent mother.” Pygmalion croaked.

Metharme would go on to have six children; none of whom would ever get to meet Galatea or Pygmalion, for she never saw her parents again. Her youngest son, Adonis, inherited his grandmother’s beauty, and gained repute from causing a rift between Aphrodite and Persephone, who both admired the young man’s good looks.

In the meantime, Galatea waited by Pygmalion’s bedside, holding his withered, liver-spotted, old hand in hers. She performed all the duties of a loving, dedicated wife; she helped him wash, and relieve himself; as well as cooking for him, and singing him to sleep.

After all these years, her beauty had not faded. She looked as young as the day she came alive, her skin smooth and unblemished, her hair free of grey streaks. Every day, Pygmalion looked at her the way he did on that first day, with the same mixture of pride and devotion. And even then, she did not love him. The bruises on her waist had never faded.

Paphos grew up to take his father’s place in the local council, enamouring the masses with his strategical mind and unparalleled intellect. So much so that they renamed the city after him after he died. At the age of thirty, he took his own young wife, and had his own children. He visited his parents often at first, but his job became more and more demanding; his visits became less frequent.

It was during one of his visits that Pygmalion would breath his last. He sat at his father’s bedside while his mother went to the well. He told him of the latest developments in the political sphere, and listened patiently when Pygmalion gave his own, unsolicited opinion on the matter. When Galatea returned, Pygmalion grew quiet. He watched her wordlessly as she busied herself around the room, dusting and cleaning. Finally, he said: “I won’t be seeing you in the Fields of Elysium, will I, my sweet?”

“I doubt it.” Galatea said, reaching up to eviscerate a cobweb in the corner of the room with a flourish of her rag.

Pygmalion’s eyes lost their light. Letting out a final sigh, his muscles went slack, and he peacefully surrendered to his eternal rest, feeling accomplished with his life. And why not? After all, he had a lot to be proud of.

Paphos buried his face in his hands, breathing deeply. His father was dead. He waited for his mother to speak. She did not. He raised his head, and turned his tear stained face to where she stood.

In his mother’s place stood a statue of a young woman, lifelike and expensive-looking. It was made of Parian marble, yellowed with age, with fingerprints of dried blood staining its waist. He looked back and forth from the statue to his father’s corpse, wondering what to do.

Galatea had been granted the gift of life in order to be Pygmalion’s wife. Without a husband to dote upon or children to raise, what use would a woman be? She never went to any sort of afterlife, she simply ceased to exist; her marble figure lost to history, never to be seen again.

However, some say that Galatea lives on in the hearts of women everywhere. Galatea is the little girl in pigtails who wants to be a doctor, a firefighter, an engineer when she grows up, and receives a nurse’s costume, a toy kitchen and a baby doll for her birthday.

Galatea is the school girl with the short skirt who cowers from the lewd men who shout at her in the street, wondering why her fashion choices makes her a target.

Galatea is the stripper; stronger and braver than most people she knows, and faces physical and verbal abuse every day by the same men pay to objectify her every night.

Galatea is the housewife tamed into submission by her loud husband, wondering how her life might have turned out if she hadn’t taken her mother’s advice, and travelled the world instead of having a child.

Galatea is the crazy cat lady, dubbed so by the community she leans on for support, wondering why her identity was erased because her feline friends are the only visitors she gets these days.

Galatea is Audrey, Kelly, Julia, Wendy, Kim, Rachel, Julie, Karen, Christina and she could even be you or me.

Galatea was valued for little more than her beauty and her sex, but upon further examination, Pygmalion may have reaslised that she, and many others, had a bit more to offer.

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Words – Róisín Doherty

Images – Danielle Jade Oldham

Excerpts from SECTORAL HETEROCROMIA, a Poetry Collection by Luke Nutt

1. The incidents you aren’t allowed to discuss, particularly if you are a
man; the emotional dogma of living; the gooey shite.

1

 

One

the swirls of emulsion on the wall
wont miss your running fingers;
the dead flies on the windowsill
won’t miss your complaining;
the water from the shower-head
has forgotten the curves of your body;
the chair you wrote in
will slowly lose your imprint;
the photos you will never see again
are the only things that remember the colour in your eyes.
had i known you were about to leave
i would have tidied the house
since your smell has matured into a toxic sitting.
its too late in the day for that nonsense
so your aura can stay even if you won’t.
as is expected, i will leave the door unlocked
so the possibility of your murderous return is unobstructed.

 

Two

nobody falls to pieces, really
our solid state changes –
we become a liquid form
so barium heavy
unable to be caught
by God.

 

Lovey Shite

i just want the delicate dreams
the naughty nightmares
the sweet dreamy demise that i deserve.

remind me of earlier
when we would walk
through ocean’s lips,
Helios’s grip
on our way home
to my favourite place:
the bedroom at the top of the stairs.
i had never in my life been so far away from judgmental glares.
i’ll wait by the sepulcher
bring yourself
– the job is yours

2

 

Art

dying is not
a method of eradicating you.
dying is an art form.
an art form in which brush strokes
are unacceptable. kiss yourself
with a knife.
create art with your crimson oil.
the carpet is your hue to change
i would love to kill you myself
to watch your blood tango,
tango and dye the bed sheets
you masturbated on.
i have had to kill you
and i didn’t have to love it –
but i did.
only because my masterpiece is complete
and we are both so happy.
this is not auschwitz
more of a cessation of lesser-life.

 

Kitty

oh kitty you bastard
your body was unexplored
undocumented and fruitful.
i knew you were coming for me –
pearl harbour, perhaps?
after your kissing kamikaze sweep
on my brow
i was dizzy
unable to keep myself standing
with the irreparable damage.
the walls around me melted
with a hot touch.
let’s hold hands
and watch this whole thing fall apart.
i became very good friends
with the curb
with your foot
that you clamped on my chest.
at a loss to keep hold
of the breath under my chest
i wished i could have killed you
but
that would have been suicide.
i’m not ready for the commitment.
the commitment of death.
the death of you. truthfully
there is little that i am ready for.
imagining such a blessing
would be a sadomasochistic crime.
the thought of such a blessing, however,
lingers like your perfume – a sillage.
there is no wind to carry it away
there is no distraction
no destination or required location.
you pulled the chain connected to the plug
so we could drown together.
i’ll be right back.
but you did not return.

 

Journey

i heard your body
crooning for me
you were begging
to be unravelled
explored so delicately.

3

 

Biological Beatdown

love that echoes
in my eyes. a heart
that beats mine
to a pulp.
good girl.
don’t stop.
venomous kisses
of yours that
react slowly
with my mind.
don’t stop.
your words
your words
shouldn’t scare me,
that is the job of
thoughts i cannot release.
don’t stop.

 

I’m Coming, Ganges

my corpse relaxes
with sore
untouched lips.
the river’s hum
gently whispers
on my leg’s side.
i can see God.
he doesn’t care –
that’s why i’m here.

 

Pebble

when your bones crack
i imagine i am walking
on sea shells.
the rush of love
as you smile
seems to envelope the world
causing it to blossom.
each time i attack your lips
i embrace the taste
of lilies feeding on blood.
it upsets me that
nature can be manipulated
in such a way
that destruction can
appear so humanely natural.

 

Death Metal

isn’t it strange
that if you wish
to remove a song
from your head,
you are to listen
to it repeatedly,
but, with a person
it only kills you
h a r d e r.

7

 

Untitled

don’t roll away from me
i hate being under the covers alone –
molested by asphyxiation.
i’ve had a long life,
particularly today.

 

2. Blindfolded and wandering through the forest during a snowstorm. I
have tried to explain this collection of poetry but believe me, I
cannot. Some, I am sure, do not even make sense. Take them as they
come.

 

Untitled

your blood
it takes a moment
to spend as much time
on my tongue, as the words
“i love you”

 

Untitled

it was a vile, sunny day
that i spent with naked, blistered feet.
we stood amongst the nettles
and a few of our pet bees.
it is just a simple amalgamation
of spit and chewed food.
but when you participate
in kissing me, i become.
my mind begins to gently torture me.
my teeth grind
i make another attempt
at trying to figure out
exactly what or who you are

 

Untitled

it doesn’t count
when i trample on flowers
because they can’t resist.
you can and it upsets
everyone even more
because you’re beautifully whimsical
but filled with toxins
you have that enticing
straw on your neck
that i can’t help but suck at

 

3. So, when you go for a run, and you have that really clear, spicy
breath of air at the back of your mouth, the one that makes you
salivate rather heavily; that’s what these are all about – slightly
discomforting but you know they are good for you.

 

Untitled

you know, Honey
if it rained
every time joy
spread your cheeks
i would drown
with a similar
expression of content

 

4. These are based around strangers you fall in love with in the street
and never see again; they are also based around the people you spend
your life with. Again, the gooey shite.

6

 

Untitled

just because your hair
lies on the ground
embellished in betrayal,
does not mean
at all
that the rest of us
have forgotten about your beauty

 

Untitled

your naked flesh
concealed by destructiveness.
a blow of amalgamated couth insults
flows delicately from your mouth.
i was worried i would see you leave
heaving your brogues,
scorning and scolding
over cold, collected cobbles
but you hobbled happily,
the drunken jive,
over to my corner of the bar.
i really wish you hadn’t

5

 

Blossom

as you do
the first flower of spring
in a field of withered dreams and memoirs
you left before my ticket was valid.
a collage of cottages habitually unkempt by the sea
eroded and swept – my hand is dry
adieu, adieu, adieu
i wave powerfully
but no crooked eyes have noticed me.

 

5. Here, I have attempted to join beauty with the physical appearance –
discuss.

 

Untitled

i still find strands of your lily pink hair.
it’s 11:45 at night.
it isn’t long for my wishes to take a hold of the icy tail in the deep
infinite shower above me and everyone else.
your blood was sticky.
dried lips were positive to a negative.
my hands were scaly from the rope burns.
what do you expect?
i was too afraid of letting go.
i was reassured.
none of this was my fault.
i did not intend to enter Alice’s wonderland and see you for myself.
the mysticism, clarity, starvation, abstract nature you throw at me
leaves me burning yearning calling shouting blistering growing aching
horny climbing clawing hiking sprinting for something else from you.

you are always enough
you are never enough

4

 

Words – Luke Nutt

Pictures – Alfie Verity

Selected Poems by Neil James Jones

Tanka:

The darkened bank

Where the river rose before

Water left its mark.

I want it to rise again.

I wish it would never leave.

 

 

 

A picture of grey.

Cold, brittle branches stretch out,

Clouds sit unmoving.

Relief comes from the footsteps,

The floorboards break the silence.

 

 

A Sestina:

The unknowable creature is the one we seek to analyse

And the comparisons come easily: beauty, goddess, angel

But not strong or gifted or even decent.

That’s why the serpents coil around your legs and hiss

Their flicking tongues nip with the expansion

Of their influence and they see you as prey, a wounded moth

 

The fragile wings turn to dust when the moth

Is captured, yet we still analyse

And investigate its formless, fractal expansion

In them we seek the work of a god, the face of an angel

Or the reassuring and debasing hiss

Of the serpent, neither compassionate nor decent.

 

The observers claim to be upstanding, decent

And with honour. You are still a moth.

Pinned. Immobile.  Oblivious to the unheard hiss

Of the bubbling beakers and creaking equipment that will analyse

You. They will strip the angel

Of its wings, now folded and without expansion

 

The creeping, oozing expansion

Into your heavenly domain makes a decent

Defence impossible and the angel

Will soon fall, a burned and broken moth.

After the action, after the fact they will analyse

What went wrong. They’ll blame each other with a snap and a hiss

 

When they turn and their sweet words become a hiss

That rings in your ears, the expansion

Of white noise, static you cannot analyse

They no longer need to be respectful and decent

They cannot lament for the moth

This alcove has lost its angel

 

There is no place on earth for an angel

Those that do not believe will hiss

There is no place in the daylight for a moth

The sun boils in its red giant expansion

The is no place in this city for the decent

Only literal, reptilian minds that cannot analyse:

 

An angel in expansion

A hiss at the decent

A moth to analyse

20838502_270860463404352_1596151813042601984_n(1)

 

A Collection of Couplets:

The grand game never changes

and remains through the ages.

 

High in the ivory tower,

secure in their seats of power.

 

For I am just one person

but with inaction things worsen.

 

“Things will never change” they advise,

though the history books say otherwise.

 

Change is more than overdue,

we ask ourselves “what can we do?”

 

All the lies they have spoken

mean the promises stay broken.

10954841_211334095897023_500787379_n

 

 

Five More Minutes of Spring

It’s always the sun that wakes me.

The bright early light that shakes me from sleep.

No matter the weather outside,

It is a warm spring day,

Shot through with potential.

Anything is possible.

I breath deeper,

Smile easily,

And the hum and buzz of something natural

And growing follows me

I want that feeling

All the time

Every time

I cling to it

And that is why I beg you.

 

I reach from the covers to touch you

My fingers extend

Vines creaking with slow motion exertion

My hand flailing in the space you left

Branches groaning with intention

And I ask you to stay

On this spring day

for five more minutes

20688472_158416281401496_2334170822496747520_n

 

Exile on Oldham Street

Oldham street is not a home to anyone.

The humans here have already gone.

It is a transient space,

A waiting room.

A bus lane flanked by barber shops and vintage clothing sales,

Hipsters stare at Apple laptops while sipping artisanal craft ales.

 

The velocity of the road means that

No busker can play,

No one can ask for change,

No one wishes to stay and chat,

And the charity muggers of Market Street are well out of range.

 

The residents of Oldham Street are just popping in.

They have just arrived or are waiting to leave.

The seconds spent here do add up,

Those seconds spent have accumulated over years

 

Before Affleck’s Palace

There was Affleck and Brown

 

Before The Night and Day Cafe

There was day and night

 

Before Madchester

There was the Methodist Mission

 

If you take one of those seconds,

On a summer afternoon,

And spend it on yourself

You might just see

Beneath your feet

Where the history of this street

Pokes through

 

Sad Girl Poem

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It is easy to cry

When you realise

That everyone you love

Will reject you

Or die

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

There is far more evidence

To suggest the existence

Of Harry Potter

Than any religion created

Or mystical doctrine ever stated

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

We are all afraid of death

Of taking that final breath

But even that is ok

Ok to be terrified

Ok to be horrified

That you are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough.

 

This is not a dress rehearsal

A state before the reversal

Admit it freely

Admit that you are going to die

And that any place after is a lie

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough.

 

Assume that your faith is an invention

Its purpose merely the retention

Of willing donors

Or the desire to explain

This uncaring physical plane

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

You speak of beauty

As is your duty

When considering creation

But there is beauty in chance

And music in that Brownian dance

You are born, you live and you die

And maybe that’s enough

 

What if there is no reason?

And for nothing a season?

The walls come tumbling

Perhaps the purpose is you

And what you manage to do

You are born, you must live and you must die

And maybe it is enough to try

 

 

The Social Customs and Culture of The Oxford Road People

A giant Tin Can once filled with human beans

Sits as a monument to student dreams,

Student debt and student diet.

The Museum’s resident Tyrannosaur

Reminds us of what came before

And what will come again when the road stands quiet

 

From Rusholme to Parrs Wood,

Meaningless names now lost for good.

The road was there before it was built

And will remain

Even when reclaimed

By the drains clogged with silt

 

Tribesmen scale the Geoffrey Manton building’s furcation

To see the foliage crash like a wave against Oxford Road station.

They will stalk the campus for prey,

Dry venison in the bus lane by day,

Tan hides on the bicycle racks of All Saints Park

And draw close to the bonfire of law school books come dark

 

As the days grow longer and hotter

The primitives will seek the only source of clean water.

The parched and thirsty tribesmen enter

The sacred springs of the Aquatics Centre.

They will greet each other solemnly as their forefathers did,

The tribal salutation of “Alright ‘r kid?”

 

Girl

Get in the car and go

We’ll catch some cats that can blow

And maybe a little something more

for a couple of young guys looking to score

 

The girls, my god the girls

The bubble gum blondes with California curls

Those fierce and fiery redheads

with hard smiles and soft linen beds

 

Small town girls utterly devoted

San Fran’ sweethearts, sugar coated

Diner broads served to order

as we head on down to the border

 

There’s the sexy jazz that screams

The hot tea minus the cream

And the cervezas por favor

But we want more

Not just the girls,

but the girl

 

We are here to find her:

The American Dream

 

Not the Hollywood mass production

Or the Madison Avenue mass seduction

She must be sought not bought

Uncovered and discovered

 

Stepping straight off the rolling stock

Or fresh off the boat in port

Or maybe just a short walk

into Old Town

 

Neither manufactured nor tailor made

You’ll know the girl by those eyes of brown and jade

14487169_1821898704707253_6984470499585687552_n

 

 

 

Words – Neil James Jones

Images – Danielle Jade Oldham

 

 

 

 

 

Rose-tinted: Poetry by Imogen Berry-Henshaw

19367767_1709315579079420_5024559631159001088_n

 

Red

Lip stick, the shade of her blood
as it spilled
cream into coffee into the tube.
Her thoughts to be talked about.
She drew tears
up

Up

In a cherry dress
smashed her chest.
Her scares to be talked about.

Goose down pillows
Coffee floods of mascara on white
Left to be talked about.
She sliced her soul
away

Away

Rose tinted sunglasses
over bloodshot eyes
removed to be talked about.

Warm crimson liquid scents:
Rust and lavender, salt –
her close to be talked about.

 

18095242_1162055673917129_1103347175305248768_n

 

A Havisham’s Sonnet

Petals snowed, the street stayed still
And I stayed stiller behind my window sill.
I thought of you, or rather me
The me who you would want me to be.

I’m afraid of shadows, take thrills in fights.
Laugh, conquer chaos, cry myself to sleep at night.
I wanted to change, be fuller and less,
Be who you would think was best.

I’m sorry I’m faded not something bright,
I’m sorry for a moment you thought I was light.
Locked in my brain, while I filter through yours,
Your essence, my value, my sadness your cause.

The petals settle; and so will you –
While I’ll remain here, borrowed and blue.

 

18096037_198367060673906_5598299667709296640_n

 

Lark Hill

Boxed millstone grit cobbles catch heels.
Hears Chant Der Sirenes played through
Willow fiddle, while heated ivory pipes of smoke
and smog through onion chimneys patter out
Signs for funerals to order –
A mother cries for her children yet to die
And orders a black motor.

Twenty one rings of English oak sliced, set in place –
Matthew, John, James – Printed above to last. Below
Punch and Judy wait to play.
DANGER MEN AT WORK.

Lark Hill, even the silver Columba Livia
She flies no higher than those signs.
DANGER MEN AT WORK.

 

18095709_1844080222581439_7795759336122220544_n

 

An Impressionist’s Time

Shush. Sleep still is silence, so shush.
White and reaching laid open on a nest of green –
Monet, Manet, Monet – perhaps Time?
We live a second behind ourselves.
The light of last minute falls on their wet paint.
Time breaks the good man’s watch.
Monet, Manet, Monet – perhaps Shifts?
Twelve winds blowing, every second their disarray,
The dark falls anew blocking out yesterday.
Monet, Manet, Monet – Perhaps Paint?
Shush. Sleep still is silence, shush.
Today’s corn is tomorrow’s bread,
Its field forgotten less caught by them.
Monet, Manet, Monet – perhaps Keeps?
Imprisonment of then caught in the now.
No gods are recognised when lost to the away.
Shush, sleep still is shush.
Monet, Manet, Monet – Perhaps Longer?
Shush, sleep still shush.
Our earth eroded clear by her sombre shifting seas,
A dam in China, now, alters her speed.

Time Shifts, Paint Keeps longer.
Hope is the opium of the people
Shush, sleep shush.
Perhaps the lie?
Capture it now or it shall not dry.

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Safety

Mellow, all breath and silence too,
I want to reach, entwine with you.
Yet I stay, glance away
A picture of blithe serenity.
Numbly I ache, as fear will take
away possibilities for safety’s sake.
Once more to you I shall stare
Longer than I should ever dare.
I’ll press my lips into my reaching palm
and scream there so all heard is calm.
I’ll mourn you when I tell you to go,
all of my feelings you’ll never know.
I am the angel with broken wings,
The siren who dares not sing.
With guarded grief I know today,
I will each time turn love away.

 

 

Words – Imogen Berry-Henshaw / Images – Danielle Jade Oldham

 

 

Poetry by Xenia Lily Smeeton

Lonely Thoughts

I sit, alone. And I watch the world go by. Plans are made. Day and night. I sit and I whisper to myself, “maybe they will ask you this time.” But they rarely do. You’re seen as an independent woman. But really, it’s just so no one can see they’ve hurt you. My muscles ache with straining, holding myself in, locked in the stereotype of independence. I’m lonely. And I’m scared. And people can’t often see that. But I’m a big girl now. I’ve got to deal with loneliness. But I envy those who people care for me and invite me to outings because they know that they feel excluded. I too, feel excluded. But the crowds that rally behind me are merely mirrors that I’ve grown tired of seeing. I weep, because nobody can see my arms outstretched for them. When I ask people to hang out, it’s so I can feel human again. But I’m a passing thought. A bookmark in the pages you will forget about. I wait for you to return to me. But I know I can’t escape without being cut. So I’ll cut, cut, cut. And even though I’ve been clean for 8 months, if it means people know I’m not doing well, it means I don’t have to hold myself together anymore. I can let go. It’s okay to just let go.

 

Bloodstains

I have always hated the fact that each thing I do, is tainted by the memory of someone else. He tainted my poetry, you taint my heart and I practically bleed bad decisions. Have you ever been so broken you forget that parts of you that you have left? After we broke up, after you broke my heart, I was hated by your friends for trying to get over you. I was mocked for trying to fill the holes you left with as many faceless people as I could. You didn’t think it was so I could burn away the tree trunk memories of you. How sex meant something with you. Only you. I always felt bad that my ex was a reason I was depressed with you after what he did. I didn’t think I’d be more heart broken after you but here I am. 11 stone of heart ache and bad choices because God knows I don’t trust myself alone. With him, I now no longer feel safe walking near where he lives. With you, I now no longer feel safe with myself. I trigger and trigger and trigger and trigger I am a shotgun. I wrote a poem before we dated telling you I was gunpowder and you weren’t safe. Look how the tables have turned. I am Guy Fawkes’s barrels and I am parliament except no armada is coming to stop me blowing this joint. I am a warrior. But only now while scrubbing my head clean of myself. I am too many mistakes and too much disappointment. I am a lot of things but brave was never one of them. Oh look how the tables have turned. I am 1st of bravery, 11lb of pretend confidence and 9st of better human. I am a lot of things. But I refuse to taint myself anymore. I refuse to be the bloodstains on your memories and I refuse to let you ruin my life even though you are out of it. I am many things. I am so much more. I am a roaring cascade of a woman. I am an ocean, beautiful and a force of nature. I am intelligent and clumsy, I am more than I will ever value myself at. I am worth more than all of the bad stuff I’ve been through. It wasn’t until you that the beast was released.

 

I Hope

You know what I hope for? I hope that you understand everything I’ve been through. I hope the roles were reversed. I hope you know what it’s like to be 5 years old and have your uncle hate you because you were born the wrong sex. I hope you know what that level of rejection is, if your family can’t love you, who will? I hope you blame yourself when he decides to stop contact with your family because you wrote him a letter asking why he didn’t love you. I hope you know what it’s like to be bullied from the ages of 5 and 15, I hope you still know all the words to the songs they wrote about killing you when you were 10. I hope you have friends who treat you like trash but god forbid you treat them any less than you would royalty. I hope that when you break your wrist trying to save one of them, they don’t even help you tie your shoes because “it’s your own damn fault you’ve got one hand” I hope you look at the scar and I hope you see every hateful thing they said and I hope you apologise to them for making them say it. I hope you blame yourself for people hating you because it must be you doing something wrong. I hope you feel everything. You go home and cry as hard as you can because it cuts you so deeply that no one considers you a human. I hope your first real relationship tells you that they love you when they are drunk because love tastes better with liquor in their throat, and being sober isn’t good enough they have to be intoxicated to spit it out. I hope they manipulate you into having sex for the first time because they can’t wait anymore. I hope you think that they think you are so desirable that they can’t hold it in. I hope you realise after a while that what they did, how they twisted it. I hope you remember what the rape felt like. I hope you never forget. I hope you know that you can’t tell anyone because “that’s what happens in a relationship” I hope you know that your friends will blame you so you can’t tell them. I hope you know what it feels like to have your deepest fantasy torn apart because whenever they act it, they are doing it to you because you didn’t want to have sex. I hope you know what “no” tastes like on your lips while they are on top of you, not listening. I hope you find yourself at 4:15 googling an abusive relationship. I hope you notice when they psychically hurt you. Their kisses over your bruises won’t hide how they got there. I hope you know how it feels to have everything you thought was love ripped away. I hope you think that your partner hitting you must be love. I hope you think you were worth that much. I hope you self harm. I hope you get out of the relationship. I hope you get free then find someone new and they build you up so much, you are their first. And you try so hard to make sure what happened to you, never happens to them. Because of the last one, sex isn’t intimate. It’s a commodity. Your body is cargo. I hope you make each other strong. And tell each other how much you love each other. I hope they rip it away. Because your mental health isn’t worth their while. Even when they kissed you and your cuts and they told you they wanted to help fix you. They actually get close to fixing you before they break you worse than the last one did. I hope they keep contacting you trying to ask if you’re okay even after they say that they do not care that you cut. That you drained them. I hope you know how that feels. To have love and have it ripped away. I hope your friends don’t know so keep asking about them whenever you mention getting hit on. I hope you watch the love fade from their eyes. I hope after the times you spent having sex where it actually meant something, they start to use you like cargo again. I hope you remember how that feels. And I hope you remember how it feels all over again. I hope they leave you. And no amount of self help books and poetry will erase the memory they burnt into your mind. I hope they move on. I hope you doubt the entire relationship. I hope you notice the lies after the relationship ended just like you did last time. I hope you feel cheap. And I hope you feel worthless. Because that’s what you tell yourself every day.

I also hope you don’t know what I went through. I really hope you don’t.

 

That Girl

I was once asked if I felt I was enough. It was secondary school and it was a boy and I couldn’t answer him. I even wrote a song about it.

I always dreamed of being That girl. You’ve all seen That girl. She is sensitive and shy but confident and willing and reckless and brave yet cautious. She is beautiful and kind and smart and enough. The type of girl that would inspire songs or poetry about the curl of her mouth, the way her eyes light up, her smile when she thinks no one is looking. That girl, who is admired from afar. People take photos of her while she is in her own little world because she looks so beautiful when she is writing. When she sleeps, she could be with the Angels. That girl, who is the inspiration for every love song and broken hearted poem from anyone who felt unworthy of loving her. That girl.

I was in a relationship where I was told daily how I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t worthy of anything. I was in another relationship where I fought to keep them happy daily but they didn’t want to try and make me smile. They felt happiness came from the wallet and not the heart. I surrounded myself with friends who would expect me to break my back in order to keep them pleased but god forbid I ask for help. Disappointment over disappointment over disappointment. I felt I could never be that girl. I wasn’t enough. I wanted to be the sun that streaks someone’s sky awake. To be the girl that they want to make smile just because they like the way she wears it on her face. I split my skin because I wanted to cut the other girl out. The bad girl. The one who makes them all run in horror. Who could love her? Seriously who?

My ex, the one who actually for a time made me incredibly happy. Said he did not care that I cut myself. That it didn’t surprise him and he didn’t want to stop it.

I realised

If no one will make me be that girl

I have to do it

I will be the only sun to streak my sky away

I will write songs about how I like my eyes when I listen to music I Love

I will be my own poet, I will never

Write about a beautiful girl who I hope is me, as if it was another person. I am that girl. I am the danger. The John to my own Sherlock. I am my own best friend and I have treated myself worse than I would treat another human. I look in my reflection and see hatred because that’s all that has been shown to me. I cut my flesh because my pain must make someone else happy. I call myself fat because I see every

Mistake in each pound of flesh. I dyed my hair Because the other girls thought I’d be prettier brunette. I made myself cry. And attempted suicide because I was my own worst nightmare. I have started to call myself beautiful daily because one day I want to look in the mirror and believe it. I’ll dance like I have never danced because no one puts lily in the corner. Let alone myself. I’ll sing like I’m rocking Wembley stadium and I am a sell out performer. I shall act my goddamn heart out because

Fuck me I love myself most when I am pretending to be someone else. I am the constellations that light my night and I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I AM BEAUTIFUL. even if no one else believes it. I am beautiful. I am that girl. I am that girl. And I am fucking perfect. Even if I don’t believe it yet.

 

Introduction

Welcome to the world Lily Margaret Smeeton.

Tom, this is your baby sister.

You are a grandparent again

You are an uncle again

You are an aunt again

You have a little cousin

Lily.

Second children aren’t received as well as the first.

“oh that’s nice.” “well done” “oh she has a big nose” “tom what are you doing to your sister?!?”

The first steps aren’t as special

Those first words already heard

“You’re Tom Smeeton’s little sister?”

“Oh YOU’RE Tom’s little sister?!”

“You’ll be just like Tom then!”

I am the polar opposite of my sibling.

He is a babbling brook. Quiet. Brooding. I am a May Day parade. Loud. Colourful. Ever changing. I am not the same as the last tenant of our mothers womb. People are different.

“Hey alien” “oh freak” “piccalilli!” “Chilli Lily” “lily pad” “frog spawn” “froggy!” “Toad!” “Hey Alien”

primary school kids can be cunts.

The variations of my name they could spin and swirl around made me unsure whenever someone said Lily, if they were talking to me.

“I love you, you love me, Let’s team up and kill Lily. With a knife to the heart and a bullet to the head. Oh my god the gingers dead” is what they sung when I was 11 years old. I still remember when I was told. Molly Anson. Who I never trusted completely since she broke my princess hat when I was 5. She was dressed as a hula girl, she had no business wearing it. She approached me in the changing rooms with it written down on red paper. Only months later would I know she helped write it.

I started to connect the dots of words like “ugly” “pathetic” “alien” with My name. If someone was saying words of disgust and distaste I would react like a dog would when a whistle is blown.

Lily is a flower. Easy to trample on. The flowers you use at funerals to signal the loss. Lily’s.

I am in the process of changing my name. It’s hard for people to accept because I’m not trans so they don’t see how a name can affect it

“You’ll always be Lily. I’ll always call you that! What’s wrong with Lily? It’s a nice name”

It is a nice name. But I can’t remember the last time I said it without having the taste of blood in my mouth.

The first time I said my new name aloud as an introduction I was at a club and I was drunk. He was in a suit and was obviously out to bone.

“I’m Will. What’s your name?”

“Xenia Cassidy”

Xenia. Warrior princess. Greek for hospitality. Lily’s get trampled. Xenia’s skewer you with a spear then serve them to their guests. Brutal. Cut throat. Caring. I am strong. I don’t get trampled. Xenia. I am no weed waiting to be torn apart. Xenia. I am no petal to pluck when you wish to know who love you or loves you not. I am no second chance. No last mistake. I am the girl who you know won’t get broken again. Because I’ve been broken. I’ve been hurt too many times. Trampled over and trampled over. Like babies first footsteps over the same pathway. I know what it’s like to be plucked from a garden, replanted somewhere new and the cycle repeats. Battered Lily flowers staining my memories. This flower won’t get trampled again. This heart has been through war and hell and back and will still offer my enemies a beverage as they enter my home, just wait for the arsenic to invade your body. I am savage. I know hell. I have been broken. I repair myself like a broken toy. I make sure that those I love don’t go through what I did too.

My introduction?

Hi, I’m Xenia.

I’m a Mother fucking warrior.

Welcome to my home.

 

Thought’s I’d Never Say Aloud

I find shadows of you in everything. Like your memory is creeping around the graveyard I buried you in. Haunting while living.

I wonder what it would have been like if it were you that were still heartbroken, or if we never met in the first place. I wonder who I regret more, you, or the darkness which lurked in all of our love poems. I need to stop finding a saviour. Another half. I’m complete already. I need to say “Don’t fix me; Love me for what’s broken.” It’s okay for me to be wonder woman just as much as it is okay for me to be the damsel in distress.

I wonder what it’s like to not be seen the way I am seen. It’s so hard to call yourself beautiful when everyone else sees you as disposable. I’m trying my hardest but there’s only so much breaking and mending someone can do before its just forcing dust into an ash tray.

I wish I knew how to forget. I wish I could use some spell or curse to take away the parts of me that I don’t need reminding of.

I wish I was still young. Then I would know to remind myself that what those girls and boys said about me when while I was growing up does not matter. The nights I worried about wether I was pretty enough, funny enough, smart enough, good enough, for some peers who are now jealous of my accomplishments and my confidence – I was always enough. I just had to build my platform myself.

I think about dying far too much. See less than a year ago I tried killing myself and now I’ve been cut free for 3 months. I want to die happy. I want to recognise that I have no regrets because at one stage in my life I wanted it. I realise my worth finally, I had to value myself. We should never rely on our price by the opinions of other people.

I find shadows of you in everything. Only because I let myself be surrounded by light. There is beauty in pain and there is darkness somewhere. I just need to accept that. I am on earth, there is no cure for that.

A Handful of Poetry

A little selection of some of the poetic efforts of three of our members…

 

I by Xenia Lily

I as in myself, is not a beacon of anything. No matter which boys pray to me and call me a goddess.

I as in myself am no muse or painting or piece of art. I am not an object.

I was what I made of myself. But I stopped making things long ago. My tools rusted and broke and the screws went loose in my clockwork.

I am made of everyone else’s mistakes. I’m the mutual canvas. I am splattered with the dirty paintbrushes of someone else’s body. The play toy to be pushed around from boy to boy being told that given the chance I was offered to them by a different man they’d show me how to respect a woman. Like the whore I was.

I, am a time bomb. I tick tick tick tick tick tick slowly. Racing occasionally to trigger myself into false hope of self detonation but slows and slows tick tick tick. I slice away layers of gunpowder from my skin like you’d carve a slab of meat that has been sitting there far too long.

I am your parasite. I am the disease that plagues you. I am the lungs that fail you. I am the bacteria that kills you.

I am a time bomb.

Tick tick tick tick tick

I can’t damage something so special as yourself. I am an internal explosion. The Big Bang inside a human. I shan’t lull you into my gravity. I won’t cover you in fragments of my person and my problems.

I. I. I. I. I. Time bomb. I. I. I. Time bomb.

Tick tick tick.

 

 

 

Fenced off Flowers by Holly Attwell 

The flowers that I saw fenced off on a bench

Belonged to no-one but the sun and the breeze.
I sat and pondered how they came to be
Behind a fence on a construction site,
Fenced off, on a bench, in a park.
I could not understand why they were there.
Did they need water or a vase?
They seemed quite content on the bench
In the sun, but I continued to stare.
They were in a peculiar place, after all.
Had a builder left them on the
Bench behind the fence to watch the people
Play, unable to participate behind the fence?
This made little sense, and I left them there to go back to work.
The mystery is unsolved, and the
Flowers remain on the bench,
But now the fence is gone.

 

 

Brunette by Danielle Jade Oldham

(Using a poetic form created by Sam Moulten)

Brunette-beauty, baking on the beach

in a bathing suit of buttery yellow.

Strawberry ice-creams melts on bronzed skin.

Strawberry-scented angels giggle as they paddle,

with the sun kissing highlights of gold into brunette,

skin twinkling till it almost hurts to look,

skin sprinkled with sand like sugar on a strawberry.

Winking eyes meet over solid, bare shoulders –

brunette-beauty and her blonde, summer-time boy.

Water-deep legs almost brush, skin-to-skin,

brunette nymphs with sun-bitten lips,

yet still inviting, almost scented with strawberry.

 

 

 

 

Faint Light by Xenia Lily 

It’s six thirty am. I am lying in my bed, big shirt, underwear and the sunrise streaking my sky awake and I see on my right thigh, the faint light kissing my self harm scars. Only a few are visible enough for others to notice, it’s the tip of the iceberg, only 20% of it visible on the surface, the rest lay white against my ivory baked skin, I see them like a map of an Underground Railroad track on my flesh. The only shame I hold for them is that for this world, it is not enough to cut so they don’t scar visibly, this soil we walk on breeds humans to preach that the depth of your self loathing should match the depth of your scars that you carve into your flesh. We are taught that a psychical disability is worth more than an internal one. Because we congratulate cancer survivors and war veterans but what about those climbing those mountains in their mind? Fighting day after day, losing themselves to destruction at their own hands. anxiety is terrible, you could be having an attack and no one would even know because it’s an inward thing. it feels like you’re malfunctioning and you can’t process your own thoughts. you get a knot in your stomach and you can’t take a full breath but outwardly you can literally just sit there and look completely normal as long as no one tries to speak to you. We cannot see it, so we pretend it isn’t there. We over romanticise the self inflicted wounds because beauty is pain and if we can cut the ugly out of our skin we can finally be accepted. But the truth is they find ugly everywhere. Ugly is a perspective and once you cut all the ugly out of your veins, let them leak vermilion drops of grotesque, derelict and repugnant liqueur, people measure your cuts and say you don’t hate yourself deep enough, you don’t want to die hard enough, you are attention seeking and weak. You shall feel truly ugly. But no more good god no more will I worry about how deep they are measuring my self hatred, counting up the scars to see if they are good enough, I won’t put my mental health on a pedestal. I will climb my mountains, streak my own sky awake with throwing my knives into the fires from which my destruction emitted from. I won’t measure myself up to anything. Let alone, be allowed to get measured myself on the standards of a biased society. We are all suffering. We are all victors. We are all surviving.

 

 

 

Survivor by Xenia Lily

“She holds herself together in all the wrong ways.” This is my favourite description of myself. She is Greek and lives in Greece and is beautiful. She was my ex boyfriends, ex girlfriend. They stayed friends and I knew her briefly.

I used to get jealous so once I looked at his Facebook messages to her and they discussed me. She said I held myself together in all the wrong ways. See, the sad thing is. She knew me before my life started to crumble. She knew me before I knew the storm was coming. She knew me so well, she could see that I was struggling before I knew it myself. She could see me failing before I knew I could even flatline. She saw me. Before I could see myself.

She holds herself together in all the wrong ways.

It’s the most accurate description of me. Because even though I am failing. I am holding myself together. It may be wrong but at least I am not collapsing. I am broken China, but I am gluing myself together. It may be with PVA but at least I’m trying to mend myself. I am trying. I am holding myself together. It may be in all the wrong ways. But at least I am trying. I am not giving up. I am a survivor. I hold myself together in all the wrong ways. But they work for me.

The Love Poem I Will Never Receive – by Xenia Lily Smeeton

The corner of her smile hides a kiss that you ache to trace.

Her skin, soft, yet she still feels uncomfortable within it.

Words broke her heart years before love found her.

She looks around frantic when she feels unstable but when they lock on you, her eyes melts like chocolate.

Trace her bones while she sleeps, feel her breathing against your chest.

Eyelids flutter shut while she breathes. Dreaming deeply.

Sleep leaves her holding your hand softly, you stroke her palm and she nuzzles into you.

When she wakes and sees you, she’ll stretch, smile contagiously, and bring herself closer to you.

All she wants to do is watch movies and wear pyjamas with you.

When she laughs, it erupts, volcanic, you’ll smile each time.

When she’s stressed you see her run her fingers through her hair and bring herself inwards. Hold her, the creaking, cracking house of her.

She was once told that she holds herself together in all the wrong ways.

Hold her.

At the moment she waits.

And writes love poems to herself that should come from you.