That woman is me

OC_vanishing1sThe woman sat flaccid-bottomed on bath lip

squash of emotions beneath sturdy hips

pieces of her, no-one ever sees

water on full, hitting porcelain as drums beaten to recall

steam filling small room, obscuring

her grave emptying breasts as they urge to droop lower in hour

whisper of a nipple, against empty arms

when was the last time? She felt hands on her

lifting drummed grief within, recoiling of sadness for

blur and smooth music of touch?

Is she still a woman able to appeal?

or become the damp drying of paper walls

pealing and perishing with carved silence

and who would caress the broken parts of her

with equal ardor? Not minding

how her stomach rounded and slid

slightly sideways in its phantom gelatin mold

where the folds of her neck roosted

her opening legs a trust, erased

for she holds within herself an

eternity of scolds and loose threads

disliking the belch of flesh around her thighs

or the downward pull of stretched skin

marking its silver lines across her

like marauding seafarers

she is told she is beautiful

by those who over-use the word and

glut on dispelling fears like caged witches given

their freedom

but in her heart of hearts

where rosy trace of girlhood is long swept and vanquished

and mirrors are to be run past and shunned

the puckering of her forehead, and thin skinned clavical

knows the real scales of her drying self-hood curling inward

in its invariable regret

she is not the smooth melatonin

goddess of her dreams nor even young enough to stop

another heart with any part of her

physic movement or grace

yet she possesses still

a smile, pulled from depths, capable of

illuminating others darkness

and when she is not

angered by slouch of age and

hours spent hunched over making

worlds with words

withering in slow motion on the vine

of her choices and that stayed

moment she quit opening for sunlight

she remembers the fleet-footed

girl of yesterday, taken in the arms of those

who would give her ease from solitude

in their reverence of her youth

though, it is not now, now she is alone

the bath filling high and her wish

to step into hot water and be absorbed by fantasy

to be touched again in feelings now stored away

only taken out briefly when facing herself and

the strange quality of her diminishing reflection

a voice within

rarely permitted to verbalize

the absence and loneliness of her skin

for if it could speak

surely those words would, catch the damp of her

ardor and unsaid want and cry out

oh just once more! Let me feel the rounding

desire we take for granted in youth

a touch through time, relieving ache

of years spent sleeping, back to the wall

hands beneath pillows, unwanted in disappearing skin

the burning of such need

a fire beneath closed eyes

seeking refuge in other worlds

where you are as you were

and have always been

devoured by your passion

the feeling of you inside, reminding us both

of life abundant

without loathing nor reducing

that woman

reaching out

is me

til Death – by HLR

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1. It looked like the scene of a crime and I suppose it was:
manufactured by a fucked-up mentality and fuelled by pity,
it was a crime against sanity, a crime of stupidity,
and now I’m gonna have to serve my time until one of us dies.

2. I’m stuck to you with claret glue but you are bad bad bad news.
I’m bad news too but you think I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
That’s just one of the reasons why it was a fucking stupid thing to do.

3. Your dark red dabs remain underneath the fresh magnolia paint and I had to throw your jumper and my t-shirt away. It was a good idea at the time: the unification of two bedlamites, the formation of an everlasting alliance between the perpetually misunderstood, but the knife in the drawer and the scar across my palm reminds me that you do me far more harm than good. Blood smeared on our faces like war-paint and Eminem elected as our patron saint, how we laughed and thought we’d finally found our place in the world: together, against it.

4. “Dream Team, baby.” “Nightmare Pair, baby.”

5. Now that we are family, bound by loyalty, I can’t get rid of you. Well, I can. We always said we’d go out on the blades of glory and this is definitely gonna end badly. You think you’re Sid but, trust me, it’s more likely that you’ll end up like Nancy. Ah, God: it would be way too easy.

6. The problem with a blood pact
is that you can’t take it back:
you’ve got me as a friend
’til the bitter, twisted end.

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

It’s all I know to do – Candice Louisa Daquin

Silent men are often admired

for their ability to endure quietly without complaint

whilst women who speak out are many times, vilified

behind their backs described as;

“that obnoxious woman who talked too much”

I lived with a silent man most of my life

he stared out of windows and when people died, his lips did not part

later on I realized it was a form of cowardice, not strength

later on, I saw how when good people say and do nothing

everything is fractured

if tomorrow I died, the people I have most admired

spoke out against tyranny and oppression

they even shared a confession or two

if they were female they were oft lampooned

if they were male they became more popular

because everyone loves a male sharer

this world is not kind to its daughters

its daughters are not kind to their sisters

it isn’t a gender battle but if it were

we have lost as we take on more, for less and less

sometimes I wonder if we had greater freedom

when our shackles were tighter

this is true of gays too, I can’t find within their collective

anything to be part of anymore

the world has grown strange and with it, myself

I heard on PBS yesterday half the world has been born

after the year of my birth, I am becoming less relevant

I could have told them I knew this already

by the way boys glances grow dimmer and there are no girls to love

for girls hesitate when you show them your heart

theirs is an unsure game of glancing round corners for prince charming

even as you stand proffering a depth they’d delight in

if they’d but give you a chance …

how ironic a man would make better match

yet you couldn’t stand, all that maleness

if I could become a creature instead of a human

I’d be a wolf

run with night pack, my loneliness obscured by trees and fur

if I could turn into a sea creature, plummet into water

or rise like a bird until clouds swallowed my shadow

for what succor is reason and what comfort, words?

when the world is a caustic, sharpened perpetual blade

and friends want friends who don’t resemble you

things you used to like, are lost in the figuring out, of how to get through

I used to fake it better and could wear a push-up bra for 12 hours without scratching

now all the edges are blurred, you left me in the fog to see my own way home

a place I no longer know, it has photos, but no key to open

I do not belong in my own picture frame

it’s been so long since I recognized an absence of pain

we used to laugh until our sides ached

sitting by the river watching the tanned folk preen and shake

their expensive personas

I liked the muddy waters best and all the out-of-the-way bars without names

I liked being nobody special and yet, I knew myself in a way I haven’t since

they took anonymity and gave it a new toll highway

when it’s my birthday save a slice for me, I’m not yet back to eating

I haven’t been made love to by someone who wanted to, in years

there’s emptiness behind the storage of sin and loose bolts, where you tried to squeeze in

I see your outline like a defeated smoke signal

we walk out to the table of earth, above the world

where you say you own nothing and have it all

my heart is heavy for all the suffering, that’s why I speak, even as you

stay silent on your boat, watching for ripples in the surface

I am beneath water, pushing air and words upward

it’s all I know to do

the curse of the confessional poet, hot whispered glares of disapproval

as they tut and turn away, their pigeon necks, bent and cooing

“she’s putting it all out there, for shame”

and you know what I think?

I think the shame is you

When never is not forever – Candice Louisa Daquin

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The year is

somewhere back when

kissing in public would have

resulted in a shaming

it was not our shame

but we carried it high on our cheeks as if it were

the taunt of “lesbian bitches” like sharpened nails

prodding us to flee

and where could we run?

not your closed-minded house, nor mine

we had only the rugged country and its tilled earth

burning with our polished want

you told me, it was too hard

when you love, that’s what you eventually learn

to let go, if the pain is tormenting her

and I watched you

stumbling down the hill-side in your badly fitting rubber boots

tears obscuring your view

the purse I gave you, a mash of wool against your side

still I thought of chasing after your vanishing

but what would I say? What could I

a girl of mended pockets and thin chest of pennies

offer?

I thought of your heart-shaped face

the way the curls of your hair were blown straight

by fierce winds and the seeming condemnation

of nature

as if the spirits holding back the ice

threatened their eventual punishing

was it so? did something that felt so right really

reside in sin? and if this why was I given a

mismatched heart

latched to yours and never

the acrid stink of boys?

You, with your gentle malt brown eyes

and bitten nails rubbed raw, the way your knees

poked out of your tights like sharp stones

how your narrow shoulders threw back

the weight of sorrow as

you tried to make sense of things

broken and too heavy for either of us, even together

to move.

I lay in my singleton bed, tucked in by

the enduring chill of night and your jagged absence

pounding like a boulder on my chest

and if there had been a way to

take you away and build tree houses against

all who said

they’re going through a phase

if we separate them long enough

they are bound to find a good local boy

in time in time

oh love, my love, there is not enough time in this

short stacked life, or turn around empty stage

all its broken shells and lost moments curled

in the death of one season to the next

there is not enough power in the

minds of men and frowning adults

to leach this swollen sea from my lips

have your face vanquished along with it

no time can separate those who fate

decrees are bound

no condemnation is loud enough.

I let you go, an unfurled pain through aubergine fields

watching blurred from tears until you are beyond my gaze

even then rooted to the spot as it grew colder

you stood with me, wet cheeked, red with

high wind, the words caught from our mouths

blown like autumn around our woolen ankles

savage and whipping

the crack of old trees as they bend

unwilling and stiff

in the deluge of our hopelessness

I feel still the circle our fingers

made shared in one pocket for warmth and

how your lips tasted like cough drops and mine

or the warmth of your skin on my mouth

a scold from the whole world

who used ugliness to describe

what was always only ever beautiful

the catch of green in your iris, as if a spring shoot had said

I will grow despite the cold

and I could do nothing but let you absail away

our tether a kite, torn by tree branches

still in subsequent years, standing on the hill I saw

the string of us persisting long past its clossure

they said;  it will only take a season

perhaps a year at most

young hearts mend fastest

where did they learn that nonsense?

I grew beyond their chipped confines

you married a local boy, who gave you babies and hearth

without the fire

without the shared, reach of us

and my beckoning on our mountain

as we liked to think it was

when we were wild girls chasing each others burning flame

you smiled when you saw me again

many years hence; still the same full lips and high cheeks

like someone had thought carefully when

they carved you out of hill sides and left their grace in your shape

a woman now, of grown years in straight lines

you look up as I walk in, the chime of the door

wet shoes, dripping umbrella, badly fitting skirt

I can hardly hear the first words just your sound

my throat is closing, my cheeks flaming

our fingers touch beneath table-cloth

as if it were not the future

but that thursday atop the world

your buckled shoes scuffed by our climb

my breathless devour of the last moments

ticking down before

you turn

turn away and descend

into the world that says no to girls

I see fine lines against your eyes, the gentle curves of motherhood

you are wearing rings on all your fingers

and someone has released you from your bond

in the future you are free to ask me

meet at the coffee shop on the corner at ten

and the part of me who waited

watching the summit and our fall

and the part of me who stayed behind

seeing you go into the fog, become no more

and the part of me who knew

we’d return to each other like

coal is made in darkness and so are diamonds

where the taste of sudden storms and electricity

play on your neck and a rising blush

is a sunset in lost time

I saw us then, grown and still smiling

despite the savage world and its rules

you can try to take what is not yours to claim

I tell my enemies and the crows

as starlight falls on the empty shapes of our descent

we will in some hour, somewhere

hear again the beat of one another’s heart

steady and determined, despite the years apart

pull us close against like a final stitch

for I am hers and she is mine

washing over the heather and bracken

like light rain compels rainbows from

grey reluctant skies marbling

her hands in mine, the feeling of dissolving

for some are destined, no matter

will is won over, when never is not forever

and a promise stays growing

beneath fecund earth

 

Good girls wish to matter – Candice Louisa Daquin

Good girls

Don’t masturbate

They don’t politely rub themselves for hours

In the steam of locked bathrooms

Where no one can hear their need

Good girls

Sit cross-legged, thighs touching, wondering why

They feel bereft

Reminded that sex and its pleasures

Still considered a sin of sorts

When in doubt show comportment

Good girls don’t

Cut themselves and hide the blood

They don’t scream behind crimson closed doors

Chop off their hair

They don’t lose their shit in public and get asked

Are you okay? / Or worse … / Walked past

Good girls hold themselves together with stick pins

and butterfly wings, egg shells and lost names

tar and soot, the remainder of hope chest

stuffing leaking out like snow in 80 degrees

Even as their feathered heart and roiling ocean is fit to burst

Good girls starve the fat bits and cook them slow

God knows know how to please others

Even as they climb further down the hole

And I would say

If you are in need of feasting

Feast on me

There’s white meat and brown

Though dried up and dessicated, none the less

They invite the stranger to sup at table

Though my teeth are small and I whistle in my sleep

Good girls wish to matter to someone

And if they do not

They climb inside a foreign language

Speaking upside down in glue

Let me lap up

This spoilt milk and curdled cream

Good girls may not have been

Tenderized as well as beaten veal

Their warrior hearts may defy the need

To bow and scrape and lose identity

In rush of elbows, knees and worldly zeal

They may

Save their patchwork daughters

They may turn and talk to you on a bus

As it rushes through the traffic like a book of poetry

They may touch your arm and ask

Do you feel as I?

Would you wish to cry?

And hold it in a blue dropper

Waiting for a quiet moment to pour out

Disguise the truth of thinly held together madness?

Good girls may be caught

In-flagranti and rolled over iron bed frame

In contorted pose of acrobats anquish

Many will say afterward

What happened to her? She seemed so well behaved

Before she became a whore.slut.fool.puta.cunt

Good girls may shout

From their confines in grimy mental ward

Behind glass only appear to mouth

Words of female repression and horror

For as a man will take his wont

A women doing the same, is twice judged

By her sisters and herself

Learned behavior owned by masters

Who seek to extricate her voice

The touch of a wave as it crests

Furiously over those barriers we believe

Protect us from harm

She is despite this, a creature of the sea

When they eventually tire of her

She finds salty pathway and is reabsorbed

Good girls are black pearls

They are made by rolling in worldly grit

Until they glow dark beneath the storm

Disciple of love – Candice Daquin

When I met you, I had no tears

When you left me, I had too many

They didn’t stop

Though all the experts

On saline tear production

Proclaimed they would

Miss Daquin do not fear, they said

You will simply dry up, just wait

For a hot flash

Or a cold night

I told them

I have both

As for the cold night

That is now etched in ivy crept stone

Who thought before middle age

I’d be an old maid searching shelves for other parts of thrown-away women?

With no touch, no kiss, no arms wrapped around this

Hurt and lonely soul of water and menses

Snap out of it, my dance teacher said

You can

Have sex with cigarette smoking strangers

Learn self emulation

Or eat hot chili sauce with three layers of lipstick

And if you dance as gracefully as you talk

Well … Whose to stop the admirers?

She

Was a bird-like creature

Who would be tap dancing at ninety

But I

Was a disciple of love

And so the idea of swapping bodily fluids

With a thin-lipped voodoo stranger

Found on matchmaker site

Or a familiar face

Sitting by me in coffee shop sharing saucer as ashtray

Or lonely friend

Turning acquaintance to waxy want

Did not appeal

I had no more desire than if

I were asked to receive a house guest

Who didn’t wash

I was already

In my mouth of youth

An island of one woman

Yes I said

How did you know I am smarting? Convulsing?

Even I wasn’t aware

Except afterward thinking

When the school playground tasted of coal

And red fences were unchallenged

The way other children were already sulphur and minerals

How I seemed to be

Strange and boneless in comparison

Considering that great gendered emptiness

Swallowed in partial payment for not fitting jelly mould

I’ll take the rest of you, when you succumb

Did I mention I was a disciple of love?

And you, my ruination, supplied exact temperature

In everything you didn’t know you did

Filling the yelling bones of my chest

How could I have let you?

When I knew you were bred on cruel

Because cruelty I was used to

It seemed a still, varnished, normal

I trusted it more

Than kindness which would be snatched

Away like a lacquer fan

Broken into its false pieces

Only to take another form and try again

I think of those times

They are thicker than my fidgeting blood

All the answers were there

Blatant and dripping

And still I walked into you

Still I walked into you

Still I walked into you