Take Ten Issue 2

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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.

But whole.


By Emma Whitehall


Chemo Haiku

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


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