The Separation

How could I leave her there

I saw the bruises on her neck

and the underside of her chin

As soon as I landed

& when I departed

I held her hair back

As she vomited shaking

& clung to me bawling

As her monster jeered

“You act like your whole family is dying

She’s just going back to America

Now stop it.”

What could I do?

She begged me not to hurt him

& I offered up a thousand solutions

Even a citizenship marriage

But she was too sick to see clearly

Now she writes to me:

I’m so happy and so proud

You got out of your abusive relationship

I’m just so sorry I couldn’t do it

Then she doesn’t write anything

 

by Georgia Park

That woman is me

The 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

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

Everything that matters ~ Candice Daquin

My chest squeezes

With the deep timber of you

We are laughing, the day is bright and cold

My cheeks are flush and though I don’t, I imagine I know so much about you

Like how you look when

Downcast

Your eyes lift up

Catch mine

Longer than is polite

Though you tell me

Disregard that weakness of mine

To regard you for too long

Steal your breath with my seeking

Translucency

It is fleeting and full of vanity

Not true

Yet

What is true often

Defies our promise

Or the words we use

To cover up the unavoidable

I ignore your command

My chest bests faster

An instrument gaining momento

As in dappled sun I run

To catch you ahead of me

Your slender outline

Pricking my skin senseless

We may not have said it yet

Perhaps it will hang

Unsaid but plucked

An invisible story of us

Caught in gosamer

Knowing, the moment we met

Wasn’t without significance

You try to convince me

This happens to you often

With many people, all the time

It is, practically without consequence

I don’t believe that

I hear the heaviness in your voice

Lift

As we speak

I laugh so much and feel so filled

With you

You are

That bottle of Proseco

I wasn’t able to drink

On Jan 31st

But we are now in a new year

All the rules have shifted

And you are tired of living

Without passion

And I

Feel enough for both of us

Searching in the park

Where we haunt the others proximity

I admit only to myself

How I long to draw you to me

Feel the firmament of us

Would you protest?

Say no?

Get angry?

I think I could embrace anything

But your repulsion

What I could not do

For another twelve months

And cycle of life

Haloing

Is sit politely

Next to you

Not acting

On everything

That matters

The imperfection & the wonder ~ Candice Daquin

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What would it look like to be someone else?

who did not wake up red-eyed and fearful?

what would it feel like to be held and words said & meant

to be turned gently in the measure of another’s gaze

would it feel good or unnatural?

by now, like an ill-planted tree, I have bent at an angle to accommodate

the lack

It may be, I don’t want the dream anymore

but something that keeps cold from the hole in my side

so when you tell me

don’t fall in love with me, I am imperfect

so much is wrong with me, if only you knew

if you saw the real me, you would be scared off

when you tell me

the first time I saw you, I was in awe

I couldn’t reveal how much I liked you with nothing to offer in return

I ask you to consider this

I am a tree growing at an angle

because nobody bothered to set me straight and tall

in more ways than one I am bent

and crooked, slightly deformed and full of holes

that let in the cold

sometimes I am a woman who looks in the mirror and sees

every cruel word inscribed on her face

like inch worms or tattooists needle cutting off circulation

every betrayal, a brand burning my attempts

every lie, a drowning, of my ability to breathe

other days I am a girl who runs

for buses in heals and mini skirts

and the boys they shout after that person

because she is a parody and an apparition

as much as she is flesh and blood and nobody they’d want

but I’m the same no matter what mask I choose

I’m the girl who cries and then answers the door smiling

I’m the girl who has become so good at hiding

she hasn’t been found in a very long time

I give far more than I take

because I don’t know how to feel worthy either

so believe me when I say

I know your fear and part of why

you shy away from me, even as your eyes say

oh how I would like to spend a day a night

laughing and smiling in your company

but I am not a cult leader

I can’t convince you, you have to see it for yourself

I am a simple person flayed by life, other people and winter wind

cutting through our best intentions

I try to be grateful, mindful, all the things

we’re told to be

but just as often as I succeed, I fail

I wasn’t built for battles, I don’t know how

to compete the way others do

and if you think I won’t like you because

of any number of funny things

remember

they’re just things and any moment

they could be gone as we could

because life comes and snatches back

just when you think you have time

but what is left

what remains when the table is cleared

are two people

with suitcases of fear pouring out

we are sitting as the light fades in surround

talking despite ourselves

for some part of each of us, wants the other

recognizes a connection

and knows

the only way in this life is to risk all or none

there are no in-betweens

you cannot find love by wishing or digging

both of us have been burned and stung and hammered

by the lies of people and trust is a faraway concept

but until they switch us off and we lay fallow

impregnating earth with our dissolve

I say we try for our chance, however long we’ve got

not let the fear put us off

even as you swore you’d never again

even as I promised I wouldn’t go there

somehow here we sit

staring at the other

seeing everything we want

in the imperfection and

the wonder

For the whole we are – Candice Louisa Daquin

Out there

somewhere

all my lovers

each with a piece of me

I would ask

give them back

those crusts and half eaten slices

for the whole we are

prior to devour

feels good in the late day sun

and he comes to me

with his blackened hand

blocking out light

and muffling my mouth

beneath the stuffing of his hunger

to pluck before ripe

these crab apples small

wriggling like the worms

who rise when it rains

hearing the beat of water

hypnotic drum

I escape from his suffocate

like an eel loosed in oil

will slip and slide and

eventually vanish before your eyes

he cannot clasp me tightly

I am oil and water and brine

there is nothing of substance yet

just honey in chicory hive

we outlast the day in escape

climbing trees not yet high

raising roofs with our hide

to be at peace without

you needing to burnish your

wick on things free of

sickness

maybe there was never

a time of innocence

instinct knows the

predator even as the babe

is born in grass with

blood and gore of birth

scenting trackers

it is a lottery of minutes

rise to your feet

shaking and unsteady

follow your mother into

gathering woods

deeper where ribboned savage

shall not sharpen his sight

eclipse yielding moon shine

stay to shadows dwelt

the smell of you is enough

to drive lust into fecund earth

an anvil of evil

we spring and leap away

hoping its tarnish not stay

permenant like ink on fingers

rubbed away

there is then

no time of protection

from the moment we walk

there are eyes on us

stealing inside our vault

still, I wish for a remembered

moment

we were whole and unbroken

saved in rosy glow

of familiarity

before we grew away

from ourselves

and fragments spoke

of estrangement and

empty houses where

stranger is invited to

sup at our scarred table

such skillful stories he weaves

to splendid child

who is not yet versed

in deceptive wiles

and when she lays with him

it is the trust of

sun yet set on asylum hill

rounding out long day

for nothing is as bewitching

as the wish to believe

and in the morning

feel the marks of

deception

like rings of iron around

your trust

a splintered crown

such a silly girl

they say to your tears

this violation marks

the beginning of becoming

a woman

such as she stands

no longer pure of heart

holding her own progeny close, for soon

it will be their turn

to scatter seeds into sun

watch them grow

fitful and tall

against raining judgment

of the world

This girl is all I am – Candice Louisa Daquin

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There is a secret at the back of my throat

a black tulip

that won’t swallow

the ash of memories

I was you see, a girl of damage and plums

you could see the embers beneath my eyes

like eighties makeup and Adam Ant

I was no prince charming

but the girl who played the piano with her eyes shut

because she could not read music

nor find her way to release

I see photos of girls who could have been me

with fresh skin and dimples

they can join groups and do things in harmony

smile for the camera, bow for the priest

whilst I shunned the age of innocence

or it devoured me

spitting out my infernal seeds

to scatter beyond my picking

how to climb mountains with minions

take a picture?

or smile in the collective conscience

when the stamp is already affixed

blood drawn

waiting for its testing

I can already tell you

it will be infected

with the grief that stayed and did not go

so when you ask me

why don’t you have photos of when you were younger?

why don’t you feature in group shots?

how come you don’t possess family and friends in abundance?

or even handfuls

I point wordlessly

to a girl in the past

licking darkness from her fingers

I say without a tongue

this is who she becomes

this girl is all I am

if it is not enough for you I understand

if you need someone who will radiate and take you

mountaineering and socializing

do not choose her

she has only the will of this moment

she is not a joiner not one of the crowd

but if you let her

precisely because of this

she will be everything