Timeline

Timeline

I’m primary school age

and it’s pitch black outside

a man pulls me from under my bed

and shines a torch in my eyes.

(I’ve blanked out what happens after but I still feel those wandering hands)

I’m in my teens

and boys don’t care if I come

they just force my head down

and I choke till they’re done.

(When I start learning whose pleasure I’m good for)

I’ve started self harming

the boy I’m with doesn’t care

he just takes off my jeans

ignores the fresh cuts that are there.

(When I start treating myself how they make me feel)

It’s my boyfriend’s nineteenth

we’re at the pub and he’s pissed

he’s talking porn with his mates

and bragging about the girls on his list.

(When I start paying more attention to where my hair grows)

Now I’m locked in a room

and this guy is touching my thighs

when I tell my boyfriend ‘I was assaulted at work today’

why do I feel the need to apologise?

(When I quit my job and I’m blamed for us being skint)

Not till my best friend and I are twenty four

does she tell me about her brother

I want to get a knife

and stab that manipulative motherfucker.

(When she still has to spend every Christmas with him)

Now I’m having sex and this guy

shoves himself inside me and it hurts

I yelp out with the pain

but he carries on. I’m unheard.

(When it’s never about when I’m ready)

Let me introduce you to Alex

it’s our second date

I tell him no

but I guess that’s not how you stop a rape.

It happened three times that night

then it finally stops

when I tell the police

they ask me if I came and offer to ‘tell him off’.

(When the system doesn’t believe you)

There’s more where these came from

but by now you should have the message;

when is sex about respect for women’s bodies, a loving touch or gentle caresses?

What is society teaching young women

about their own worth

when research shows we describe ‘good sex’

as ‘without physical or emotional pain’ first?

I refuse to serve jail time

for acts of war I didn’t commit

there’s a wild woman raging inside me

and she will not let you hear the end of this.

Until it is the end of it.

Fuck silence, watch me break out into song.

Fuck Slimming World

Fuck Slimming World

This poem speaks for itself

and my distaste for diet programmes

that program women

to project

society’s preferences

for our shape and size and self-esteem

onto the surface area of our skin

like it doesn’t matter

what lies within us.

For what happens

when we go back to basics?

Meet barbie,

I had sixteen of those

barbarically shaped

smile faked

false representations

for a woman full grown,

the only thing she was perfect for

was her plastic home.

I used to play-pretend

they were ballet dancers like me

pirouetting across the stage

like how

I was so vulnerable at my age

that I worried there were calories

in toothpaste,

or the time I watched

a teacher at my ballet school

put a single lettuce leaf on her plate

because she was ‘watching her weight’

as every other ten year old girl copied

when all we really wanted was the chocolate cake.

Then meet my mother

who measured my food intake

and commented on what I ate

till my relationship with food

was filled with hate

whilst my stomach stayed empty,

and it took till I was in college

to appreciate

that food could have a taste

that wasn’t guilt.

For my sister

this lesson came too late,

she’s spent half my life

in and out of hospital

as her body wastes away

into a state of decay

and I don’t know if she’ll ever get better one day

or if I’ll get the chance to say

to her face

that she does not need to be reduced.

But mental health doesn’t work that way

neither does mine

it just fills me with shame

that my mother’s voice

still goes around in my brain

like she still measures

the size of my waist,

and I am still fighting

to lay claim

to a body that has always

been mine.

Then I go to work

where most of the women

attend weekly weigh-ins

and they speak of sustenance

as a ‘sin’

and the bin

is full of weight watchers wrappers

but just as full as the biscuit tin

which most of them still go in

because society’s pressure to be thin

is too much to hold in

your stomach.

So not many pounds are lost

but their love of self is

and they comment

‘how can you eat what you like and stay slim?’

because they have no idea what goes on within

my own mind,

and I just wish us women

would stop comparing ourselves to one another

or instagram pictures with filters

when the only scale we seem to consistently stand on

measures how critical we are of our sisters

or wishing we had another’s features

when we were designed by the universe

to be unique and individual creatures

but instead

our insides are starving

whilst women’s magazines beat us

for looking like our genes.

Is mine the only soul screaming

to be free

of this fucking hypocrisy

that tells us to love our bodies

when we’re still compared

to the tits on page three

or the pliable and barely legal

that dominate the porn industry,

because if it was up to me

I’d like to see

a few more hairs

and stretch marks

and natural beauty

on babestation tv,

and then we wonder why

women get plastic surgery

and go under the knife

like we’re a fucking carvery,

because we’re so hungry

for some basic regard

we’re robbed of any capacity

for creativity,

and that’s how they get us

in the end.

Because there is no ‘supposed to be’

in the human body

and your power doesn’t come

from how much botox you’ve had done

or if you’ve survived the day

on chewing gum.

It depends on

your insides

and how much you feel,

if there’s joy in your heart

and wild lust for what’s real,

because we’re not man-made models

we come from Mother Earth,

our bodies are fucking miracles

so why do we shun if a woman has skin rolls

after giving birth?

Like it’s only your post-baby body

that determines your worth

as a mother?

And everyone’s got a beach body

so if you’re at the beach

and it’s hot

you’ve got nothing to cover,

and if you sit on the fence

it’ll never blow over,

and then where does that leave

the next generation of girls?

Because I want them

to be born knowing

they can run

the fucking world.

Life/Death/Life

Life/Death/Life

You happened upon my skeletons

and helped name them,

you see ours

and clothe them

for the funeral of all endings.

If I am Lady Death,

you are the instinct

which sings magic

over all that is tangled,

and sheds tears

to join our souls

into a force

that loves a lifetime,

till all I can hear

is the drumming of our hearts,

teaching us

that love and life

are to be lived

by the bones.

How They Make Us Mute

How They Make Us Mute

Trusting my own judgment

enough to learn to like

my outward appearance

is not easy when

you blame yourself

for the poor judgment

of another’s hands

and how they wouldn’t hurt you

and then tore your love

for your body

away from your body

from the outside in

and how it leaves you stuck

in a cycle of self torment

trying to forgive yourself for something

you didn’t do to yourself

but somehow allowed happen

but didn’t

till your own false sense of safety

deludes it’s better

to hate your body

for something another did to it

because look what happened

when you had the audacity

to like it.

Burning Midnight Oil

Burning Midnight Oil

I never knew

there could be hope like this

where I will we’ll grow old together,

I never knew

there could be faith like this

that life blossoms whatever the weather,

I never knew

there could be desire like this

lust for command, I surrender,

I never knew

there could be joy like this

found in the effortless scent of your sweater.

Like a Silhouette

Like a Silhouette

Standing in front of you

my heart beholds only a shadow,

so many of the molecules that make you up

without,

your thin, contorted frame

hides in the shade

living the lesser life,

lost.

Arms clasping at air

I try to reach you,

there’s nothing there.

This is how I miss you;

like a silhouette

marking the last few months of my life

when all I wanted was warmth.