Artwork by Jane Burn
Edited by Catherine Ayres
It isn’t a clean and simple thing
To shed one’s skin.
Painstakingly peeling ragged
Patches of memory from your limbs –
Old grudges and dead habits.
Tearing at your past self
With your teeth.
Take heart; you will emerge.
Cold, yes, and raw and afraid.
By Emma Whitehall
On the chemo ward
I make a kaleidoscope
point it at my dreams.
By Zelda Chappel
There’s an octopus in my lap
It’s squelchy as a severed head,
Tentacles twisting like tendrils.
These rubber-buttoned dreads, they suck.
I’m almost bloodless, down to the bone.
If I keep my knees together no one will notice.
My blinks are small steps treading on tears.
I must hold this salt water inside;
one drop and the monster might drown me.
By Catherine Ayres
Stump and Phantom
hunger for each other,
like twins separated at birth
we dream furious dreams,
imagine our oddness
makes the other unloveable.
No happy endings
or ever after.
No discovering that just across the border
everyone speaks as we do.
Just a painstaking journey to a room
where inch by inch Recovery unsheets the mirror.
By Pippa Little
He loves me
he can’t help himself – and I
will be the beat in his heart, the bump between his sheets.
He will live without the echoes between us;
oui, rendormi, rendormi.
The clock is a mouth
that smiles the moments out in regulation ticks.
How long till we can scent our sighs
with our deviant interweaving?
By Jane Burn
I Want To Believe
His words pray into my neck,
that this is something
real and “so right”.
It will be my own decision,
the jumping-off point of faith
that keeps me
but not bitter.
I choose; open and fall.
By Holly Magill
All I know is the sun rising. My window faces east.
I am alive and alone to enjoy it.
Last night, I sensed a presence in the room
the air thickened and I felt a weight on me.
I was too scared and too comfortable to move.
I do not believe in destiny
but I would like to be more accepting of things.
All I know is the sun rises
whatever it is I expect to find.
There is nothing ordinary about it.
By Tom Sastry
I like paintings. They make me an innocent,
blunt-eyed,; seeing light, not paint
nor colour. It’s good not to know the craft of things
just feel it on your skin: like this one
is morning and this one is dappled and this face,
I trust, is from life; like some words smell
authentic and some breath sings that way
even if stolen or false. I want
to be an innocent. It is good
not to know the right and wrong of things.
By Tom Sastry
‘Puss-puss-puss-puss, puss-puss’ – he calls the cat.
Sardines on toast for breakfast, find my hat
and go, the bus, the train, my kingdom, then
go, it’s the train, the bus and back again.
Beside the cat the window smells of dust
and ancient putty, bitter when I taste.
My bedroom’s pink and blue. The bathroom pipes
belch and awaken me three times a night.
Roses and lilac, Chanel, mummy’s powder,
black Bostik, tabby cat, burnt scraped toast, fear.
By Louise Larchbourne
Pushing Against The Tide
My Mum keeps both feet on the ground, sticks to forest trails,
Glasgow’s city streets and Gleniffer Braes. Grounded.
She’s aye been feart o water, the tap trickle, burst pipes,
the steamer’s swell, that gulp of tea down the windpipe. Flood. Drowning.
At school though, my swimming teacher carries a passport to this foreign land
of fins, gills, scuba divers and slithers. She has Olympian dorsals.
In she chucks me, past wally tiles towards drain holes
and gurgling inlets as chlorine waves wash my lungs.
Then, as an afterthought, she hooks me back through my costume straps
to flounder between air and oblivion, dripping before my classmates.
My love of language smothered, any thought of the library submerges.
Float? I don’t believe it. Sink, sink, sunk.
By Maggie Mackay