To Kill A Mockingbird – The Woman

The Woman
She read the book by accident
she told us over the gluten free
“Steinbeck and Lee are very different
Such a mix up at the book society.”

She said she wasn’t angered when it ended.
A feather thrown to an angry pit of Dalmatian.
She thinks her neighbour might be gay.
“Talk about guilty by association”.

“I just know what the world is like”
“I knew Tom Robinson was a dead man walking.”
The cat lets the injured bird hop on
Just to keep on stalking.

elderly lady peerimg through curtains

So Called Safe.

Times like this I shouldn’t be here
Its not stopping my stress it’s stemming it
I’ve been helped
alongside the girls who eat tape measures
and the boys who breathe fire.

But as I lie in bed
I’m whispering to my pillow
“The door’s locked.
The door’s locked.
The door’s locked.”
And it’s not OCD talking.

I’m scared because they’ve been kicking the doors in for hours
and we are two members of staff down
and as patients storm the siren screaming doors
the agency blokes don’t know their names
to phone for the police.

We’ve lost three members of staff 
and gained an army of impermanence.
We are 16 beds of vulnerable young people
Yet for nurses balancing the staff ratio has become a craft
The budget cuts are getting deeper
And there’s no one to stop us when we are bleeding.

But what are parents supposed to do?
When Seb is sixteen and suicidal so sent to be safe.
The psychiatrist is supposedly stalling their son’s surge for suicide.
But in a moment Finn throws a fist and Seb’s got stitches.
Seb’s mind must be bad for six stitches to be the safest.
How scary is that?

The ceiling screams when we do,
Staff scatter.
Skin splits.
And sewn on the skin of my teeth
Are slideshows of scenarios
Seen in children’s psychiatric settings.

But we’re safe here. Right?


He looked into my eyes and saw the misconnections behind them.
I know in fifteen minutes he will make his chair do an audible creek;
My queue to leave.

I knew I wouldn’t pass this MOT
Just like at eleven I didn’t pass my cycling proficiency
Because I couldn’t see traffic on my left side and the instructor said “pretend”.
He asks me about what I see and I tell him,
I tell him with a knot in my throat about people
How my mind rotates in oxymoron around my spine and he
He tells me I’m crazy.
But that, it’s okay, it’s textbook.

It’s a bad sign when your psychiatrist says
“Don’t worry it’s not the one serial killers have”
It’s a bad sign when your head is hitting the wall again and again
And the fuckers put you in a CT scan to check there is still a brain there.
Of course there is.
That’s the problem.

The diagnosis is accept and live with it.
After all that’s the best prognosis anyone could hope for.
I’m living on the edge.


My God You’re Alive

Our bodies are relics
With sand between our toes
And dirt under our finger nails.

Our hearts are cherry stones sprouting into trees beneath the ground,
Spreading beautiful bloody roots that beat with the cacophony of existence.
But yet when we close our eyes we just see black.
Red is nature’s warning,
But here there is nothing to fear.

We are made from the water our mothers drank to ease the morning sickness.
The water in the sinks our grandfathers cleaned their razors in.
A whole whale has swum in our veins.
Cleopatra bathed in our wrists.

We are made of water and we exist to make waves
We make ripples and sometimes we sink
But that’s okay because water has a way of coming back around.

Our bodies are the sweetest of relics.
Made from a kiss.
Eighty percent water and when you run into the ocean you are alive.
You are a tsunami sealed by skin.
And you are alive.
My God you are alive.


But We’re All Rare Anyway – A Response to World Rare Disease Day

Today is a day for the very very rare.
…Oh wait a minute.
Blatantly we should just bin it.
Stop boasting your rarity as a Facebook share.
Don’t you dare.
Listing diseases like shopping lists.
When everyone has a pulsar in their wrists.

Now don’t get me wrong,
I don’t mind a day for the specific.
“Let’s make X disease prolific”
Raising funds for research,
To shift us from this perch.
Where we are well enough to have a life worth posting,
But health wise we are basically just coasting.

I have my own share of disease,
So please don’t see me as cold hearted.
Nothing would make me happier than every disease being outsmarted.
But I think we all need to be aware,
That diseases are not cured by just clicking ‘share’.
Please do support those who suffer,
But remember other people also have it rougher.

If it’s not a disease it’s a syndrome,
A condition or an abnormality,
Or no money in our purses and all the other pains of humanity.
No clean water to drink
Doesn’t it make you think?
We are all in our own way infected,
Not just those who are genetically selected.

A death in the family or a missing parent,
A lingering thought,
Or a trauma in which you were caught.
It’s not just a surgeon’s scalpel that leaves scars,
We can all only burn on the fuel we’re given- like stars.
We are all special and unique,
And we’ve all seen troughs and at least one peak.

So diseased body, mind, life or nothing at all.
Today is a day to be simply and utterly human. And so is tomorrow.
We are all brilliantly and secretly dealing with whatever bad cards we are given from the pack.
So respect everyone’s pain:
Don’t compare it.
Don’t belittle it.
You are all the most beautiful of creatures.


I Am Exhaled

I started letting things inhale me;
Books, films, documentaries and albums.
They restrained me from thinking for myself.
Entrenched me in the lives of others.
Whether they were humble,
Or powerful.
I was inhaled.

During this time it felt like my own respiration was at a stop.
I no longer took breath as myself.
I hid beneath duvets and learned the ins and outs of fictional character’s lives.
Until I knew them more than I knew myself.
Day turning to night, it kept me safe.

I was deprived.
I needed air.
My lungs like crumpled paper bags trying to inflate.
My feet pounding the fields and my heart ricochetting in its cage,
In an effort to self-resuscitate.
And then I could feel it,
Pounding in my ears and burning through my veins.

I’m running.
It’s behind.
I’m sprinting.
To the boundaries undefined.
I fall.
My lap is un-timed.

There it sits,
Over my senses like a mask.
Forcing the air into me.
Whether I want it or not.

The colours are bright and the smell embraces,
The petals kiss my hands and the herbs rub against my fingers like affectionate kittens.
I flop back on the grass and admire the nothing above me.
And how beautiful simple nothing can be.
And how lucky I am to have found it.

I can move.
I spin and walk and make my fingers dance on the surface of the pond.
I carefully stroke the baby apple tree and I can feel it respire between my index finger and thumb.

And then I had broken free.
And I was exhaled.