volume control

sometimes, opening my mouth
is like my fingers itching
on the volume control in my
car. the finger slips, and
suddenly, i’m shouting.
a resounding hush from
family, and the flush of
heat scalds my guts.
i apologise, but after the
enduring silence for years,
i only wish to be heard.
it is a bitter compliance of
volume control – but yet again –
like a child, i am to be seen
and not to be heard.

the empty burrows

the hills were too loud
and too vile to be
called home. like a hidden
graveyard disguised as
a garden, the mole hills
were disturbing the hidden
memories i’d tried so hard
to put to sleep with whiskey
on the gums. even the mildest
whispers felt like a home
invasion, as we realised
to be born from dirt
is to later die in it.

open heart surgery

keeping pinecones in a box
under the bed, knowing
there isn’t much of me left.
the organs shift, looking
at the bones with love.

like a little bird hiding
from the hurricane, there is
a shameful feeling in my
name. instead, i look to
the dying stars at night.

ignorance becomes an amputation,
a duality between there and
acceptance. the suffering is
better when we do it ourselves;
each sob is an unwritten letter.

i drank too much

and now, i want to
get in my car and drive.
wondering in that haze;
how deep a pinch draws blood.
is it too cowardly to
consume branded paracetamol?

never got to be a teen,
too afraid to sleep with him,
but not too afraid to ruin
myself for a chance at a
vipers whisper that says,
i love you.

too afraid and too busy
seeing how deep a bite goes
into my knee, or if that
parking lot is too low.
we saw each other’s pain
and enabled the knife further.
by then it was too late for us.

remember the school disco?

with a twenty pence pushed
into my small, sweaty palm
i bought a marshmallow cable
for mum. feeling exposed in
that tight dress, my eyes aching
from the striking, strobe lights.

the hall floor glimmers like
marble in the flashing lights,
while another pop song flies
under our skirts. we’re only
twelve and we wanted male
attention – and so, we danced.

the boys scoffed at my dark
knees and missing teeth, each
sideways glance like a new
beating. at night we prayed
for bigger tits and pretty faces,
ready for the macarena.

lovingly haunted

we see the beauty in ghost stories, how the dead linger in the mist.
they climb the stairs and moan between plaster like it’s an
obsessive routine.

they watch girls cry into pillows at night, and the silence
of a boy’s heart. mere observers of the living, moving sheets
over us after dark with that ghostly kiss that feels like the
cool summer breeze slithering between a cracked window.

eight lives

laid to rest in ice valley,
the campfire licks at
her remains. laying with
arms clenched closely,
gold between teeth and a
discarded st. hallvard bottle.

your lungs were filled with
soot, and your stomach lined
with sleeping pills. they
said you were beautiful before
the flames ate your skin,
and garlic followed your shadow.

in that unmarked grave she
sleeps, surrounded by zinc.
lowered gently into the darkness,
no blood oversaw her, only
their blue uniforms. she died
alone in isdalen, death valley.

bella

bird nesting in hagley wood,
the wych elm that haunts
a clearing. the boys
discovered a secret the
whispering trees hid betwixt
hollow branches in april.

still warm in october, she
slept in the hollow bark
until then. a shoe, her
wedding ring clung to the
bones loyally. who put
you there in 1941, bella?