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

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

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

 

A soft closing of words – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

When you are younger, everything is a challenge

I will not let them break me / I will fight back / I will survive!

as you get older you see

or you hear

or maybe it’s just a sense

in the air

or a turning of

light

changing

clenching your heart

sorrow wells up

a pool from nowhere

upon which you see

no reflection

only the insubstantial flickering

of someone

trying to survive

skate even

on cracking surface

too thin for the weight of

all those doubts

shadows without names

time piled high

playing broken records

and though you skate fast

and nimbly

there is numbness in your effort

as if you wish to finally be

caught

submerged

ice leaching your hot discontent

with page turned days

and ironed nights

into a drowning

of all the pain captured and glazed

within your center

where no-one looks

because adults are not

children with sticky hands out

being picked up and comforted

they are supposed to be

warriors

haven’t you read the literature?

didn’t you attend therapy for

a number of years where

it was reiterated perpetually

between biscuit breaks and tepid coffee in plastic cups

like a long string of words

thisandthatthisandthat

not meaningful enough

for a necklace

about how we are the masters

of our fate

it is up to us to fight

the temptation to slit our

fucking throats

and watch as the deepest

red bled

on snowy white

surface

a contrast we ache for

in nights howl

just when the fangs of doubt

seethes loudest and

the pain of being truly

alone is not

comforted by

bouquets of self talk and

P.O.S.I.T.I.V.I.T.Y.

looking thin and translucent

in candle light

only reminder of

times broken hearts thought

they could be well and whole

just as plug is pulled

the doll wound down

we sag and droop

remembering the sore rub

of innocence and how

we believed then in futures

unstrung and awaiting

not yet familiar with

sore eyes from so many tears

even as we say

do not cry again you foolish person

oh how I hate the weakness of

someone who weeps even as they

should have known

(you fool! You fool!)

oh how they should have

known

we all

fall

down

only some of us

wish to

pick

ourselves

up

the rest may not and it isn’t

your place to judge us

if we’d rather

tear at our flesh

or hammer the senseless walls

of our former trust

until bruises bloom like

underwater flowers

and knives can cut

some of the pain from

proffered wrists though

water tinged with scarlet

is no welcome

as I stand not wishing to

continue this charade

of being invested in life

or its many fascinations

you see

or you would

if you had ever

meant half or quarter

of the lies tasting so good now

they are settled and dark on my

closed eyes

for when you shut yourself

in a box and the magician taps

one two three

it is then opened and you are

not revealed

for you have

crossed over

maybe where those who cannot

perform magic themselves

must go

to escape the erasure of

each day spent hoping

pain will give up her lament

no she does not

quit so easily then

it is ours to turn the volume

down as we sink

beneath weeds and lily pad

to distant place where before it all

churned a terrible hurt

there was the reprieve of

knowing nothing of life’s scythe

and our simple steps made in earnest

before it was clear

there is no strength in survival

beyond what we endure

it is surely about

the language of loss

and if for some

it takes them

with it

then so

it may

be

the end

with

a soft

closing of

words

don’t forget

to buy

flowers

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

Euphemism ~ Candice Daquin

My grandmother used to say

If you give it away too easily

People will not value it

If it’s too easy it won’t have worth

And I realize

All the time I thought truth

Could be a beautiful thing

I was just making it easier

To be taken for granted and hurt

But I don’t play games

So if you’d only like me when I put on an act

And play hard to get

Then I’ll probably be alone forever

Because I’m not going to do that

Just so you fall for someone who

Isn’t me

That impressive mirage you conjure

Part from your own want

Part from my tease and need

For acceptance

You don’t know yet

I’ve an entire suitcase of rejections

Dolls with turned faces who declared

You’re a disappointment

I keep them in my attic and try not to talk about how

Their approbation flayed me more skillfully than

A pack of wolves set to hunt

I think there is not much difference

Between murder and neglect

Still

When it’s a balmy moon and we’re listening to the radio

If I hear a song for the girl I was

Before her face was pushed and held down

In her own regret

Your need and my tokenism

Are like wet matches

Able to dry out and catch

Given enough longing

Though it’s nothing more than spectacle

And borrowed words

Reveling in the saturate

Of one unfocused moment

Lapsing in her chair

Red toes, black eyes

Spilt hair, tied back bosom

The angularity of pain

Sift of life straining for

One last memory

Dancing in your arms

As you whisper things we’ll never do and maybe

I believe

Before sunrise

Every damn one of them

They stain my skin

With their heavy pits

As you take me into you and gasp

Underwater music sounds

Like a bird released from its cage

Will linger

Before flying away

And you

Place the empty containers of your words

Perfume bottles for the dreamer

Touch the door with trembling fingers

Wanting to make it last

Knowing it has already fled

And the besting of wings

Join children’s laughter

Playing by busted sprinkler

Water catching sunlight

Reminding you of grief

And her intoxicating print

Heavy in your chest

Shook the habit – Candice Louisa Daquin

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I mailed my quota of trust to Hades

Gave away dancing shoes to the furies

Cut my wrists on your barbed indifference

Shook the habit of grief from my molting skull

Stepped out scathed and blistering.

*

When you have nothing to lose

When everything you believed

Is crushed in incestuous vow

Corrosion comes as a lover

To scour remaining plate of faith

Strangely, in spite of yourself

The impulse to feel, resurrects itself

A weed that has been torn out and poisoned so much

There’s nowhere to go but upward

*

You may tear my truth to shreds

Or worse, simply impassively not care

I know the song will still be playing

After I shed my seven lives

Pull on my rubber boots

Jump in a vat of boiling forsaken dreams

And make stew for the hungry

Out of my bitter survivors juice

It tastes good when you sip it just right

Beneath a full moon on a wild howling kind

Of night