Somebody – by HLR

Stumbling out of the pub last night we heard the helicopter before we saw it. “Air ambulance,” he said. “Trouble in someone’s home tonight,” I replied.

Then, first thing this morning, the news:
A few doors down from the house where I grew up.
Mass brawl turned into knife fight.
3 men stabbed.
2 in hospital.
1 dead.

The street where I learned to ride a bike,
where I used to play football
with the other neighbourhood kids,
where I used to climb the trees,
where I had my first kiss
is now a crime scene.

Murder inquiry. Police cordons. Forensic tents.
The street that held so many innocent
childhood memories now runs red
with the blood of three young men.

Immediately, panic. “Please God, let it not be somebody I know.” Panic, panic, panic, thinking of the people I know who live around there who would likely be involved in such a thing. There are many names running through my mind, too many. But no confirmed names. So we all keep praying: please please please don’t be someone I know.

Text to my brother: are you alive???

The rumour mill starts up. Gossip. Nosy neighbours. Twatter. Somebody who knows someone who knows someone that was or was not there or was nearby or heard something or spoke to a copper or knows a guy that knows another guy who heard something somewhere from somebody.

Text from my brother: yah just seen the news. way too close to home man

The story changes every 2 minutes. “Foreigners.” “Domestic incident.” “Polish.” “GMG.” “Drug dispute.” “Blacks.” Whole human lives and a world of misery reduced to a word or two. Still we wait for names and pray to a God that clearly isn’t here.

Text from B: Very sad. house has been taped off back garden has blood everywhere waiting for the forensic people to come out let you know if I find out anything

Text from J: Fukin terrible mate. Streets aint safe anywhere anymore. Waitin on names to come out hopefully not anyone we know

Text from M: omg do we know them? jesus this horrendous !!! RIP.

Text from D: Just heard on radio, bloody hell. It wasn’t outside the pub was it? x

Text from S: ive herd 10 diffrent stories! better not be anyone we fukin kno xxx

Text from F: Sad news about our street. What is wrong with the world 😥 Hope you’re keeping well babe, must meet soon, it’s been aaages! ❤

Then, news from a reliable source. “Not from round here.” “No one we know.” “Not one of ours.” Relief. Sick relief. Cruel relief. Shameful relief. Inappropriate relief. Insensitive relief. Somebody died last night but not someone we know. Thank you, God. Shameful relief, but relief nonetheless.

Then, anger. Somebody died last night. What the fuck are we going to do about this? How do we stop this? Where are the police? Where is Sadiq Khan? What on earth are politicians doing about this? When are judges going to start giving hard sentences? When are prisons going to become less like hotels and more like hell? How many more people have to die before something changes? When will this stop?

I fear that knife crime in London
will only cease to be a problem
once everybody has been
stabbed to death.

The heavens have opened over north London.
The rain has come to wash the blood away.
Another day, another slain by a blade.
The forecast for tomorrow: more of the same.

HLR is a 20-something writer of creative non-fiction, mainly short prose and poetry. She writes about challenging subjects such as mental illness, addiction, suicide and grief with an injection of sardonic British droll—a style acquired through years of mental angst and too much time spent in the pub. Perpetually on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough (sometimes both) HLR was born and raised in north London, and is yet to escape. A list of previous publications can be found here.

Find more of HLR’s fabulous and powerful writing here on her webpage and with the writing collective Hijacked Amygdala  here

Girlhood – Kristiana Reed

she’s the tough girl. soft girl. doesn’t get involved girl. the too much girl. yet never enough girl. smile girl. what are you laughing at girl?

cry girl. middle of the dance floor girl. she’ll hold your hair girl.

she’s his girl. my girl. will always be the baby girl. daddy’s girl. shy girl. get them out for the lads girl.

she’s a show girl. not much of a grower girl. innocent girl. lost girl. missing girl. the nobody knows her anymore girl.

she’s the ‘you’ve changed’. learnt how to be brave. the woman you fail to recognise. because you do not use her proper name.


 

Kristiana Reed is a writer and an English Teacher living in the UK. She is the creator of My Screaming Twenties on WordPress and she is currently working on her debut poetry collection which will be released this Spring. Her work has been published in several poetry anthologies (Swear To Me, All The Lonely People, We Will Not Be Silenced), in the feminist issue of MAELSTROM Zine and the inaugural issue (flight) from Nightingale and Sparrow.

She has grown out of herself – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

The girl, the gash, the glory
she was once even referred to as happy whore
sinister slut, fake good girl
the girl of multifaces
is no longer a girl
she has grown out of herself
the sharp thorns of her virginity
long bled
she is now a woman of dubious age
standing on the hemmed periphery of other girls with elastic limbs
their body language leans away, saying; she is no longer their sister
(they whisper, they whisper)
an aging divide
four and five, divide by nine
long multiplication
she has been subtracted out
something about the lines in her eyes
she’s not one of us, they say in collective pollen count
coming together like a quilt
leaving her to wade out into flat water
only five years ago, only less than that
when she had a full head of bright hair and nimble back
she somersaulted in their field
picking irises
and they did not bat an eye
she was under the radar
nar, nar, nar!
old enough to be mother to some
those angry girls with tight biceps and lungful of words
but they did not detect
the softening of her cleavage
the jello in her thighs singing its spring bulb
they only saw her pretending
thought her good enough and one of them
til the sickness left its indelible mark
a red hand print covering her left eye
the one she could not see well from
(Premature macular degeneration, you may lose your sight, the optician gleefully sung)
turning her with its yellow dusted baptism
honest to her guilt of years lived
I am four and five not divided by nine
I smell different to you
this is what men sense when they sniff around us like
wolves come from rain storm
instinctively keening toward the coltish and fawn
as we who are older turn like wine
another vintage they have no taste for
she could fool them well but did not, after her visit to Hades
wish to pretend to be a girl anymore
only a woman could have survived
and it was stamped as surely as Ash Wednesday
a third eye
the slow drain of life began
she saw it first in her hands, then her mouth
it did not so easily tell stories
when Spring came, they knew her truth
without saying anything, left her out
of their Mayday circle
all the light-footed snow rabbits and their daisy chains
now when she tried to join in
they circumvented her, like
she was a parent, a teacher, an elder
with respect, but no thought given
of her pattered exclusion
maybe she did the same, when she
had such halo radiance
just as boys turn to men and wish
to scoop up girls and remain
ever held in youthfulness
she saw her own extinction
in their slow passing over her gaze
she was becoming invisible
first her hair, then her arms, then her feet
gone into deep water and not returned
she swam out to the lighthouse
where piercing rays caught
undulated water like a lovers stroke
and by fevered spray of waves against rock
stared at her future like chain and ball
why does a woman have?
first the pummeling of her elders
constraining her flight?
then reigned condemnation of those
wishing to corset and divide
and finally, as she ages
the talisman of wisdom enveloping her
an unspoken rejection by her own sisters
who think themselves invulnerable
far removed, not tainted yet by
her approaching wither
til the only one left to speak
is her own voice
and in unblemished muslin sky
she becomes a single long tail bird
seeing everything
from on high
that lonely place
of insight and exile
how she longs still
to be pulled into the sewn circle
embraced by her daughters and shimmering girls
given the crown of daisies
led whirling and laughing
around mosaic may pole
like a girl who has remembered
her life before she was born
again clasping the soft hands
of future
fearful of nothing
in the rawboned bosom of her sisterhood

Telekinesis — HJD writes

Yes, I say, yes, I am not well Forgotten: consumed by flames of authority, failures in the past My mind – love the stories you tell, scared by your indifference fear no evil when it’s all around me primate circus where everyone plays their role no content is needed as long as it rhymes and […]

via Telekinesis — HJD writes

Neither you and neither me – Candice Daquin

 

Behind closed doors I am a different animal

I eat my food protectively and with great bites

I play dress-up and pretend

I am a typical only child used to a secret life

sometimes it is lonely and sad and often after

socializing I long to rid myself of the feeling of being

filled up with too many people and too many words

the reason I have few lines on my face is

I don’t speak for hours often gallivanting in my head

stories and themes and wonders

whilst outwardly impassive and calm.

When I was younger I loved to

wear fancy dress and make up stories and climb trees

when it became the time to give those things up

I did never find a suitable replacement

if I had my way I would dance and blow up balloons

eat cake and make love and little else

a hedonist with a conscience, one friend said

you care so much and then you wish you did not

people have always remarked upon how

well together I am, with my matching colors and my greese-proof make-up that doesn’t run when I scream

but it is absolutely a mask, clowns buy in bulk

one becoming a little threadbare as I

get out of practice and grow older

my hands resemble a milk maids and the times I have howled

show in the corners of my yawning mouth like apostrophes of regret

in the past I’d just have plaited

ribbons in my hair and worn a torn chemise

all the world would have said; Adorable!

But now, damn it, I want to be liked for who I am

not that miracle of long hair obscuring

layers and layers hiding, the girl beneath

who never did like how she looked

too masculine, too strong jawed, too high forehead

as I age I see the thin-lipped hydra smile of my dad more pronounced

vanity whispers; Botox and Rejuvaderm can solve that

yet I hesitate

something unbrushed and feral in my blood saying

don’t give up being wild and seeking the rheumatic lore

thinking in my mind of all my family, how

like short-lived butterflies they bloomed young and grew old fast

in things of skin and bone

but their spirits were always wild

like they continued to roam

and I love that

it’s the one thing about my legacy I am proud

when it is quiet and I am sorrowful and piteous

I think of my grandmother stomping in her big heavy boots

lines around her mouth from dragging on her fags

taking the dog for his seven mile walk

up into the heath we clambered

her giving me tips on avoiding a receding hairline (well coconut oil didn’t fix that)

whilst I longed to sneak off for a cigarette myself

we’re a nest of night tokers until we become unwell

or if there had been a lover, a little bit of slap and tickle

I was always unrestrained and apt to be naughty

she was exactly the same that I knew

we all possess a fierce loyalty to the idea of love

even if it disappoints

you might say

we’re a cracked family of romantics

ransoming reality for a second bite of cake

I smoke in my dreams

and I kiss you with closed eyes

I don’t want to be 34 or 73

even as we all shrivel and decrease

I long to find that diving pool again and

swim underwater long enough

when I emerge I am neither you

and neither me

 

Your bloody daughter – Candice Louisa Daquin

What would you tell her

The you of twenty years ago

Your bloody daughter

Wiped on doctor’s sleeve

What would you say?

Lying there with your legs open and mind shut

Would you tell her about all the false starts?

Or pick a cliché, like time goes so fast

Would you sit by the river eating damp sandwiches

And say only one thing

Don’t forget

Oh please, do not …

Because it runs out

And the music stops

You realize you didn’t find

In squirming crowd and nubile bundle of years

That self-assured hand of worship

Divination and objection

Pulling you out of horror

A soaking crimson thing

Searching for tapestry within wider weave

Throwing runes in fire pits

Eating the marrow of after birth

To discoverment

What would you tell her to look for ?

Learn the meaning before running

Barelegged catching scratches, leaving blood

Weeds pressed at their fragile necks by the thunder of your sprint

Straightening afterward, leaving no trace

Swaying all, in direction of beckoning wind

Tumbling off high rocks

Their granite faces scowling

Disapprobation carved into their carbon

As surely as your little chest heaves with the labor

Of surviving