Poetry

Headache

One of those rubber swimming hats is being pushed down over my head,

weights on either side stretching it until the pressure is so intense I’m sure it can’t take much more.

And all the while I’m on a music box, the doll in the middle spinning around

until the box is shut again.

The bursting boils of the sun are leaping into my eyes

no matter how far back I push myself in my wheelie chair.

Forcing my eyes shut does nothing

except send me into a daze.

I desperately search the medicine cabinet — the packet of paracetamol is empty.

Poetry

Time jump

The pink carpet glares up

as I sit at the u-shaped set of tables

with the rest of the class.

The teacher stands in front of the blackboard,

but there’s silence.

It drags out, thick and dark

becoming a void that eats up the whole room.

It’s coming from me,

as I try and fail to figure out the equation I’ve been asked to solve.

As the void reaches me, I blink,

jumping forward.

The assessor is waiting just like my teacher,

but her fear is clear

as the sea coming from my eyes

threatens to drown the room.

Poetry

Sinew

The tin plate is tacked over my mouth before I can even get the words out.

This body is mine, I breathed into it,

I gave it nutrition, trained it, nurtured it

until it grew enough to have my mind accept it.

Now I’m being told it’s only fit to be measured by eyes and instruments

that clinically access its worth.

To me it is lifeblood,

to them it is meat.

Poetry

Tired, was he

He went boldly up to the clocks and abacuses

marking out his life

and demanded to know why

they refused to see how burnt out he was.

 

They paused, studying him, and said,

‘We can see. But you didn’t state it before this.

Therefore, it was not our concern.’

 

And so they went back

to laying out his schedule

as if no interruption had occurred.

 

‘Hold up. Are you saying

you’ve seen me struggling for months

to cope with everything

you’ve arranged that I haven’t asked for

because I kept my mouth shut?’

 

‘Yes.’

 

In response to their answer, he pulled

them all down from the dais

and dissembled them

with his bare hands.

 

‘From now on, I mark out

my own life,’ he said,

and left them in a heap

of beads, cogs and springs.

Poetry

I don’t care

I don’t care.

I don’t care that most people struggle to understand your speech.

I don’t care that they don’t get the references to old films, games and music that you make.

I don’t care that they don’t see the many strengths you have.

I don’t care that they write you off as weird, strange or eccentric.

I don’t care that they don’t understand why I like hanging out with you.

I don’t care that they now label both of us.

I don’t care

because they’ve completely missed who you are, and the ease I feel when I’m near you.

I don’t care

because they will never know the solid, dependable make-up of our friendship.

I don’t care

because they are the ones who have lost out, and I have no pity for them.

Poetry

Response to the Dead Poets Society

If you squash them,

if you bend them,

if you project your face onto theirs,

their minds will break:

reflections shattered, a mass of cracks and holes

where a person should be.

Their bodies will rot, bulge, blacken, weep.

Kindling that longs to ignite

if only to prove that it has some self-worth left.

And at the end of it,

still it will not be your name you see,

but theirs, as it only ever could.

You failed them,

yet stand where they still should.

Poetry

Tree smiths

The elves slipped quietly into the girl’s dreams,

carefully tending to the seedling of her imagination

before adulthood sprayed it with weedkiller.

‘Grow strong,’ they whispered to it, ‘into a mighty

tree that will only expand as the years pass,

never withering even with extreme age.’

And then they bowed to it and each other,

before drifting out to find the next child

threatened by the corsets of society and peers.

Poetry

Mantle

It’s the weight of this top that’s pulling me down. The fabric

tugs at my arms, my back, my chest, waterlogged even on dry days.

A friend offered to wring it out once, they gave it back to me after an hour

with a haggard look in their eyes. ‘It’s too much. Too much for me

to bear,’ they said. I wasn’t angry. It’s hard, I know.

I’ve tried dying it, changing things up to look more cheerful.

Sewing buttons and toggles, weaving in different threads,

but it never works. It’s never satisfying. Never satisfied.

I know the only way to take it off permanently

is when it disintegrates, but it makes me feel guilty and disloyal

to think like that. It’s been there for me my whole life,

keeping me warm,  protecting me. I should be there for it.

I should. Yet the weight is so much that I can barely move now.

Poetry

The Thoughts of Those

The moon glanced up at the sun. It

Had never worked

With such a well-known star before

And was more nervous than the first

Time it glowed for the Earth.

Of course, it had always seen

The sun, but now they were cast

Together for the Eclipse

(A momentous production);

How small and pale it felt.

The sun didn’t notice

The moon’s nervousness.

The sun was busy looking at

The giant audience of peers

Gathered around to witness

Its Moment.