Where You Are

Where You Are

Sometimes the world gives out

a little of what we need, and it isn’t greed

to take these opportunities, free our minds

from all the things we think we should be.

Lift your chest, raise your head,

find space between each rib bone;

it’s more than just a cage.

Stretch out each muscle in belief

that what it’s reaching for is worth the wait

and the growing pains from overcast days

are a sign for us to pay attention,

sit up straight, interrupt the chain of events

that’s causing our voices to shake,

to forget our breath. Whoever says

it’s not okay to stop and rest

hasn’t felt your feet aching,

hasn’t seen the sweat from your brow

as they drip down like salt tears,

tired and lonely, falling to the ground

like the perceived gravity of your fuck ups,

when this Earth only birthed humanity.

A Bigger Picture

A Bigger Picture

We measure space as the distance between two objects;

destinations, travel time, our indecisive minds.

In the middle exists inertia’s shelved life –

TV screens and celebrity magazines

injecting the senses with anti-ageing regimes

till every self-love drugs test comes back clean.

When did we turn numb to natural beauty,

who decided we are done with the inbetween?

This Earth is crying for our attention

neglected more as years pass by,

it broke the sky to give us thunder and lightening

but we all just stayed inside, texting loved ones

with apologies for the minutes we had been away

and blaming the storm for poor phone signal.

We think this planet owes us a cloudless day

like it hasn’t already sacrificed its riches;

how could the rain be so selfish?

A Manifesto of Stolen Moments

A Manifesto of Stolen Moments

i. Space

I never knew existence could be so heavy, that loss could mean a weight

pinning me down with a hand around my throat, he squeezes the scream out of my skin

and it stains the ceiling, from where I stare through glazed empty eyes at my floating soul

looking back at a me unrecognisable; that is not me and not my body. The room is shrinking,

imploding in on itself to a black hole and I am plunging deeper into futility

through night terror territory into one-dimensional existence.

The void threatens to swallow me whole but I am too absorbed in life light years away,

amongst the planets in far off, distant galaxies where I visit dying stars

until gravity has its way. Flung face down on the concrete dirt floor, a year grounded

with spirit split in pieces, until a word tugs gently at the torn hem of my dress;

it is ‘Hope’, gazing graciously, wide eyed and innocent,

she offers a carefully folded slip of paper

and I caress the crumpled surface, screwed into a ball tightly clenched in my fist,

a touch of reality passes in whispers through the pores of my skin, till palm unfolds

and pages begin their reverse origami, multiplying blank page after blank page.

Mine to fill with the words I could not speak, those conceived in silence, grown in the dark

and birthed by some sacred entity, some Mother Earth

who would not have me give up on this life lightly. The writing comes in clumps,

forms on the page like poorly fitting clothes, I had not measured the depth of my feelings

nor the circumference of these curdled thoughts. Their presence demands

each letter is loved into its lines, that each sentence is scanned for signs of life

and shown how to breathe on its own. I fill these rooms with rhymes.

 

ii. Water

When raindrops escape from the clouds and lick my exposed skin they taste sadness.

It is why they are always coloured blue or grey, and not pink with shimmering glitter,

because everyone knows the flavours of sunlight and rainbows and happiness

without the need for touch, but poetry must be absorbed and drill deeper than the senses.

It is why I wear shorts in thunderstorms, why each droplet feels like a kiss;

it’s how the words soak in, and it doesn’t matter if I sink or swim

because there are still more words on the river bed floor, carried by the currents

back to their source, eroded by those who have used them before. With thirsty lovers

drinking scrambled letters as if hearts were a limited resource. I wash off their scent,

running a bath with the words that stay as I patiently wait for the hot ink to flow

as once it runs cold I know what is lost and grieving has found a new story

and I can move on to the next part of mine. Warm, wet sand between my toes

and I wade into the ocean, the words lapping at my ankles.

I wonder how I was ever afraid of the change in weather, how it took so long

to discover the water cure. I collect the wild, wandering, infant words in my net, tame them,

teach them how to paddle, and when they come across another wild, wandering woman,

drowning as I was, I ask them to let fall their anchor, fill her lungs

with the most delicate creations, keep her afloat, bring her back to land

and show her poetry.

 

iii. Fire

I have burned your strawberry fields to the ground. These flames taste sweet on my tongue,

dead plants breaking under my bare feet. I have been screaming since that June full moon

but Ceridwen used the twilight to brew me a potion and now a magic curse

runs words through my veins. Did no one teach you that witches don’t die at the stake?

We reclaim every cell of our bodies with centuries of words bled onto these pages,

for all the times a woman’s voice was hated and her rage was painted as something pretty,

without substance, without solidity, flimsy against the prison cell bars

that restrained our creative spark through history. We strip these silences down to their bones,

rebuild skeletons and hide them in closets till least expected, speaking in the language

of our ancestor’s ghosts, our words demand to be unchained from our throats

and now you can’t say you didn’t hear us say the word no because its embers

are scorching your sheets. Maybe now the next generation will read that freedom

is more than a concept. When anger melts into soft strokes of calligraphy,

I scribble a passionate prayer that our darkest points

do not brand us with armour nor harden our hearts. These ashes of dead letters

will fertilise new soil, for what are women made for but courage and fires in our bellies.

I will not stop writing till I can taste the ripe, delicious, sweetness of a strawberry

without it reminding me of you, and still then my writing will continue.

I will wet my finger, trace directions into the dust, brew courage on the stove,

hand out mugs to every woman who has ever felt the sting of a man’s branding iron,

marked by his hands, his skin, his cells.

A woman’s creativity cannot be kept in a cage and this collective fury

incites collective change. There may be tigers above and tigers below

but this moment is just one page in a library of feminist action,

I will not water down my reactions. The women before me offer their shoulders to stand on

as I hold fast to the torch that lights the way for the next one.

 

iv. Air

To me, poetry is oxygen. I don’t know how I ever breathed before without it.

The air is enriched, the wind brings ideas and phrases bit by bit

till they settle on the pen. With words I find freedom, lost in the images

formed in my imagination. Since I was a child

I pretended I could write stories and perform them, copying pages from books

and claiming them as my own creation. After dark, other children

would turn on the television, or creep downstairs for a midnight snack, but my feast

was a dim nightlight and a book of poetry. Reading is my meditation, writing my escapism,

I need them like I need my organs. Inspiration is all around us,

and those who don’t feel its breeze don’t know what they are missing. We live to create;

whether art, music or words on paper, and I can’t surround myself

with hearts and minds whose lungs don’t function the same as mine.

Creativity is the purest form of human expression, every inhale is a lesson

and exhale a forgetting, a letting go

of the poison that no longer serves us. I may be miles from ones I love,

ones I hope to see again, ones I have never seen and never loved

but where we share a connection, a swift breath, but still I can tie my words into a parcel

and send them like a hot air balloon across the sky in the hope they touch these others

and envelop them in another temporary reality, for just a short passage of time.

This is what I live for, and the more I get the more I want,

a shamelessly haunting addiction for fact or fiction. I have been in the position

where I wanted to die and a poem by Atticus saved my life. I have been in the position

where one I love tried to end their life and where no one else understood what it felt like,

but hooked up to a ventilator filled with poetry I begin to feel alright.

 

v. Earth

She both has roots and yet has none that tie her down. She aligns herself with the planets

but stands out from the crowd. She knows there is a past and a future but lives

here in the now. She calls herself Mother Nature and to her wild wisdom I bow.

Her words connect humanity and speak of love as a verb. Her thunder and lightning

demand to be heard.  She uses every season to bloom and to grow,

she nurtures plants to flower in spring then kills them off with snow.

She serves the world with stories and rhymes, she passes on tales of old,

whilst we encourage the youngest to fill our shoes and pray their hearts

do not grow cold. She formed me from her blood and soil, she kept me safe with tears,

through the river beneath the river she guides me through my fears. She refuses to stay silent

about the matters of the heart, she names the deepest emotions and turns them into art.

She matches words to the world outside, she gives song to my soul and she empowers

me to speak my senses and leave no shame untold. She translates my mental states,

whether blessing or disease and she welcomes in my demons and makes them feel at ease.

She seeks out what is missing and speaks in prophecy, she understands the universe

and how it takes care of me. Her heartbeat is the purest sound,

synced with those who have come before, they teach me how to love my scars

and turn them into words with doors. She encourages me to share of my darkness

and my light because vulnerability is my power and I find this when I write.

Her touch breeds electricity that generates the words, which fall independent

to my hands direction, I hold the pen for but a turn. Her chemistry breaks down the bonds

to the reality we know, the reaction liberates the words as they burst out and overflow.

She does not intervene with my free will but moves me just the same,

she knows when to make a rainbow and when I just need rain.

She spurs me on to leave my work out in the world alone

because the words will always visit as this was their first home.

She reminds me of the beauty in this nature’s sacred earth

and that I am made from the same fragments so should appreciate my worth.

She taught me how to speak up and how to project my voice

because words belong to everyone and how I use them is my choice.

She wants us to change the world one stanza at a time and own our stories

like they are held to ransom and we are fighting for our lives.

For we are not separate bodies, we are all parts of a whole.

Some may sing, scream, write, paint, dance, or simply listen

but we each have vital roles.

So if your God is a woman, you are both blessed and likewise cursed,

for we can’t ignore the pain and suffering but we can write them into verse.

 

Plucking Rainbows

Plucking Rainbows

Are you blue as the sky in sunlight

or blue as the depths of the ocean floor,

Are you red like the sky at night

(shepherds delight)

or red like strips of blood on ice,

a baby seal clubbed to the head

so someone else can wear its colours,

Whose team would you support,

(loyal to the end),

and when we’re running colours

how do we make the ground white again?

Plucking rainbows

will not cover the black soot

staining our souls

when you peel back your layers

and freeze to death

before you burn in Hell

for stealing Mother Nature’s colours.

Sunlight (Dedicated to The Sunlight Project)

Sunlight (Dedicated to The Sunlight Project)

You can’t trust the weather

to keep you dry;

it has a thousand different moods

and just like you

it has to rain sometimes,

with Mother Earth’s tears

collapsing the sky

as you try

to hold the world up

and pretend everything is fine.

You survived the thunderstorm

but the lightening struck your heart;

its current blasted

through your body parts

and blew the fuse

that gave your life its spark,

leaving echoes of your former self

to search for meaning

in the grieving

of the stumbling dark.

Through what seems

like endless night

the storm will clear the way for stars;

each one is a person’s wish

that you may know

how not alone you are,

so go outside, and with your hands

pluck the stars and hold them tight

until inside your chest, warmth spreads,

and you will find

there’s sunlight.

https://www.thesunlightproject.net/

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.

Natural Disaster

Natural Disaster

Sometimes, I am the tsunami

disturbances in body

waves compounded

my salt tears crash against the shore

watch me drown in them.

Sometimes, I am the volcano

searing pain below the surface

always dormant, never extinct,

the eruption is toxic; acid rain, volcanic ash

watch me choke.

Sometimes, I am the hurricane

thick pressure on my chest

inhaling panic

towers of thunderstorms surround me

watch me spiral down, down.

Sometimes, I am the avalanche

the forces on me exceed my strength

covered in so much cold

frozen solid, numb to the core,

watch me go under.

Sometimes, I am the bushfire

one strike

sparks uncontrollable

intense destruction

watch me burn alive in it.

Sometimes, I am the earthquake

shaking on the surface

stress building, fracture growing,

fault after fault after fault,

watch me break apart.

Sometimes, I am the sinkhole

swallowed up in depression

collapsing under the weight

of everything carefully built

watch me fall.

Always, I am one with the Earth.