existential crises forever


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you are part of me, yes
but you seem so
far away and surreal
not quite a fairytale
not quite a fantasy character
from my little picturebook,
but you have lived only
in photographs for so long
that the thought of you
somehow existing in my reality
is almost laughable

you could almost have been
my imaginary friend
or a once-loved doll
from the toybox,
lost to the years and
faded now in adulthood
with nobody really
too sure on the
specifics of your life’s breath

I remember the sting
of dettol on my grazed toes
that I got dancing
through steps and wild
the first week we moved
the scars are long gone now,
but I bristle in joy
each time I see a strawberry
growing on the side of the road.

I remember my baby heart
turning into stone
when you sucked in your
last laboured breath
tucked into clean white sheets
your bones are long buried now,
yet your soul’s suffering
is still taking up
too much space in my mind bank

should I surround myself
with strawberries and slippers
brown LP sleeves and men who
grumble and laugh like you
used to do, before
you were dying?
will these things
ease my inheritance of your pain?

only that I had
been just a little
bit older
perhaps you’d be
an anchor instead of
the salt sea breeze


when my hands were
hot coals,
that burned and scorched
any living thing
she held them,
with little regard
for what blisters
grew on her own.

when my orchid
was dying,
going brown at its petals
ready to be
thrown into the compost
she stayed
and watered it,
so gently spraying
each lost little flower
until it bloomed

when I swelled
with joy
and life,
she stood and shared
so simply
never questioning
never asking,
never doubting.

her love
in each
golden curl
in her
freckled silk-skin
her smile,
dresses of orange and blue
so stark and beautiful
against the grey of the world.

they named her
it would seem.


read biblical stories as a child
waiting for my
vision to appear from the dirt
to tell me
how things were going to be

pored over pages of hope and joy
looked into the eyes of adults
to search for
the saviour who
did not come

do I need to know
why and
how I internalised
the shame of being,
so young?

was it a
single word, or
repetitive injuries to
my little ego?

I do not know,
cannot remember
or will not remember

my little ego,
is still in there
wounded and so
desperate for
something she just


I saw her there, in the drunken mirror, reflected in the glass dirtied with smears of black and orange, fingerprints and hairspray trails. I saw her there in her purity, and I marvelled at every inch of her being; a drunken mirror, maybe, a dirty reflection, but one so pure and bright I could not ignore it.

a little woman, she stood there in black, peeling off her layers of wet clothing and laughing unfettered, until they were all laid out to dry. she stood twisted and I marvelled still, at each perfect fold of skin; where her thighs met her buttocks, and led down legs of gold and grey and black, to the gentle lines across her stomach, the creases beneath her ribs worn in from how she sat.

and she did sit, I knew, in the past; but now, she stood, and turned, touched her arms at their angles, one by one. more she touched and more I marvelled, at her skin so golden-bright and smooth, so proud with its pockmarks and scars and stains, bearing such a dreamlike contrast to the streaks of dark hair that danced so lightly on her back as she turned to laugh more, more, more.

I looked and sought her, perhaps only for a second, and saw so much that I had to look away as quickly as I went. what a thing of beauty, what wholeness she emitted in only a moment, I thought, I thought, I thought. I longed to touch her, to reach her, to smell her, perhaps forever, forever and ever more. in the mirror there was only a moment, but I learnt so much I felt tears prickling in the corners of my eyes. I wondered if I dared to look again, what I may see, if those paradises so absolute could possibly remain, of whether perhaps they existed only then, in that light, in that reflection, at those angles?

who is this, I asked myself, that can stand and turn and laugh so readily, so beautifully, so purely and freely, who can posses such vibrancy and gleam in nothing but a moment in a grimy mirror?

I dared, and I saw her again. staring back into my eyes, seeing me. she is. I am. and I soar past my years of hatred and coldness, my denial, my pain and pointless suffering, my self-loathing and denigrating. I am her, with the golden legs and soft stomach and black hair and curved ribs. I am her. I am, I am, I am, and I sink heavy into bed that night elated with the knowledge of the truth;

I am, I am, I am.


he is a
wooden a-frame
an old one,
resolutely standing
at the side of
the school hall,
just waiting
to be climbed and clambered upon
by the tenth generation
of children.
you would think
time should have
weathered the pine,
should have
made it splinter and break
but still it retains
its polished surface
and strength,

I am
not a wooden a-frame,
more a hanging rope
that burns the hands
and sways unpredictably
fun to climb
hard to
get down from.
but a treasured
piece of
school gym equipment,


just a road like any other
suburban to the very core
full of grey paving slabs
and comfortable family cars
each house square and dignified
with just the right amount
of curtain twitching.

the shrubs are lined up
outside the short brick fences
each one alike in its nature
each front garden path,
trodden in with memories of
grown up children and
school mornings past

the holly bushes of the house
that once was ours
seem to glitter in
the dim night light,
but not looking nearly so
inviting as they did
all those years ago.

I steal a sprig from the front
a perfect thing, its points
all frosted with white
some fairytale thing,
it seems it my hand
a little piece of green is all
but dripping rich with
vibrant memories of the plainest

but so wonderfully pure
so wonderfully formative
so like a dream,
that I scarcely can believe
they belong to me at all.

joy hits me
heavy in the chest
with a fist
as I look through
painted green window frames,
still existing as they ever did.
and my sadness
comes off the roof
as mirror-like summer heat
or through the old brick chimney
smoking logs that we burnt
for three whole Christmases.


the sink is my
porcelain paradise
running water and
safe smells of soap
my porcelain paradise
my porcelain prison.

contamination lurks
all around it,
once-friendly taps and
plastic bottles
seek to ruin my
little ritual with their
looming possibilities of infection

an elbow to the door,
the faucet,
a towel to turn the water on,
little fingers to turn handles and
the indexes to scratch itches.
everything feels dirty
and wrong
no matter how rigidly
I stick to my
fucking stupid little ritual

I sit in my bed,
another prison of comfort
surrounded by my things
my things that were
so clean this morning
now besmirched and dirtied
by what I
fear so greatly

I am a lapdog prisoner
content to lock the door
of my own cell,
to bolt the windows
and suffer
even though
freedom would be so much

but so full of danger.
I should be done with it,
and cut my own hands off.


I look down at my own
softened and
slim-fingered hands
and see my father’s,
sweetly caramel,
sallowed by dirt
and smelling of copper.

I look into my own
red brown eyes
wide and staring
and see my mother’s,
deeply set behind glass
and crinkling with laughter.

I listen to my own
smoke-laden voice
japing and cursing
and hear my brother’s,
curling around each
sarcastic riposte
and cackle.

I examine my own
proudly defined
and delicate collarbones
and see my sister’s,
marked by graceful shoulders,
and a long neck
all straight as knives.

what a wonder,
is our blood,
all so full
of each other.


as she is lowered
the swaying
undulating heat
of the underground cavern
she breathes deeply
the smell of hot metal
and foot soldiers,
and asks
is this
my home?

she asks
is this my home?
where is my home?
does it matter
at all?
is home some
abstract feeling
of childhood safety nets
that dissipate into
nothing, with age?
we lose our homes
and gain
weathered lines,
crow’s feet at the eyes?

she stands by
the quiet beggar
with his whispered
pleas for help
and change
he knows where home
could be.
perhaps one so
much more lost than her,
could share the secret.

she cries
out in the night
for that great thing.
home is nowhere
for anyone
she realises,
a thought of comfort.
home is inside
their hearts,
not their things or their castles.
she knows this,
she knows this.

and so her mother says
get to work
on your little heart,
my girl.