Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

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The FREEDOM Issue E-Book


Our Freedom Issue is now available as an e-book for Apple iOS devices for just $9.99. It looks pretty lovely sitting on the iBooks bookshelf!

It’s an older issue, but a great read while you’re waiting for our Fall release this coming September!

my body is a wonderland

There are days you will wake up, crack
the knuckles of your hand, tear apart your fingers,
look for something inside the hollows.

Those are the days the Sun rains fire.
Your skin boils, bubbles, bursts, falls away
in strips of meat, your body in desperate contempt
for your loneliness. You will search
from pancreas to capillaries, looking for a feeling
you cannot name.

And when your body refuses to tell you secrets,
when language stalls and falls away
in a guttural stutter, you will look
beneath bar stools, the aisles of supermarkets,
the mouths of beer bottles. 

Those are the days that the emptiness of bone
will be vile to you, a rat crawling, flesh decaying.
All those crevices. So much to fill them with.

If only you knew
what it was.


Varicose love is an ugly thing.
Builds quietly beneath the surface,
a city of tunnels, rotten subways stations.
Beneath the skin,
the rumblings, the hint,
the veins tearing apart: tectonic & volcanic.
A disaster to erupt, blossom, flower buds.

Varicose love aches.
Becoming doctors’ waiting rooms, stretch mark
medication (does nothing but crush & crack
vanity). Mirrors, mini skirts, men
all surveying with clipboard-gazes
knowing that your varicose love
is a heartbeat away from an aneurysm. 

"To Bald Snakes and Men With Stubble" has been published at Bone Orchard Poetry, an online anthology of poetry exploring ‘the bleak, the surreal, the Dark and the experimental.’ (I can’t quite stop smiling.)

In Which I Mutilate A Spiritual Symbol to Ease My Own Heartache

I left a bucket beneath your bed
to catch stray tears as they fell, raindrops
in this tiny world.
And I would bathe in them
like someone desperate, ready
to be whole, be better, be anything
but this.

But the Ganges stopped healing pilgrims long ago:
too many who didn’t believe in brushing hands,
and gentle glances. I’m nothing
but a tourist sailing down the river,
and I don’t know which way is up:
I never knew what the floods did to your shores.

Tired fathers and sons salvage their crops after the monsoon,
and here I am, still sticking out my dry tongue,
and hoping you will fall.

I love him so very very much.
(See you in five months, love.)
A Farewell to the Little Poet Girl.

Dear Paris,
I’m sorry.

Woody Allen warned me I would love you,
with two and a half aching minutes of moments captured:
Parisians drinking coffee with no milk, no sugar.
Rain on the cobblestone streets, gushing through gutters.
Lovers touching lips over stone bridges, ancient, nouveau

I had dreamt, the good little Poet Girl,
captured by cliches and ensnared by the writings
of the Greats in an Age that no longer means a thing
to us with the smart phones and instant coffee.
I promise you, Paris, my once-love: I tried.
I ached for swirling skirts, billowing scarves,
melted chocolate over crepes, and I found them.

But I found new locks on old buildings, too:
polystyrene made in the image of marble,
dreaming of grandeur, achieving only imitation.
I carried a Moleskine with me everywhere
(Hemingway commanded me to, you see)
but there were only broken stories and the same pretty words:
meaningless, tired, overused.

Paris, I am sorry.
I know that to stand on the observation deck
of the Eiffel Tower by night, with the city lit by fireflies,
and a lover by your side is one of life’s great joys.

But to kiss him here,
in his pyjama shorts and with coffee breath,
in a kitchen messy and scattered,
is more beautiful than all the cathedrals
you can offer me.

I had a piece published over at VARIA LitMag: “Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood.” Please check it out over here. x

I have just been accepted as a general editor for Thistle Magazine!!

So much of who I am right now, in this moment, sitting here with a steaming cup of tea and waiting for the heat to slink back down to the Southern Hemisphere, is defined by latitude and longitude. I have been so many places: seen so many cultures, touched so many relics and tasted so many cuisines. Everything I see is shaped by the knowledge that wherever I am now, whatever I might be seeing, there is something equally as amazing on the other side of the world. I travelled from a young age. I adored the feeling of getting on a jetplane, of not knowing what I would smell or feel when I stumbled tired off the plane on the other end. But now: in this moment, I dread it. The three people I love most in this world are spread across the continents like bread crumbs, but it is a trail that I cannot follow, no matter how much I long to. Qatar is hot and dry; Connecticut distant and quiet, and Sydney beckons me like an old friend, her curling fingers summoning me to the crystal waters of Bondi and the easy breathing of the city. And everywhere I go, every city I make home for a little while, I’m just always reminded that somewhere, around the world, is someone I love—and I cannot reach them.