Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

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ocean things

there is a space
inside my belly
that is you-shaped

and one day I told my doctor
that I ate everything in my pantry
and still there was a gnawing
for the taste of you

he said 
breathe more, sleep
more, laugh more
and I did and I did 

but the only things that taste
like home are coffee-cup smiles
and butterfly touches,

remembering that i thought
this is the sea
whenever I looked into your eyes
pressed my seashell ears to your
bellybutton and listened
for ocean things,

sometimes even thinking
of the colours in your voice when
you said I am small and 
warm and 

and I
laughed because you tasted
like bubblegum

like happiness

like flying,

and I think I have been drowning
since you disappeared into
the blue

Anonymous :  do you know of any literary journals which publish new writers/writing competitions?

Yes, yes, I do. Some like Thistle Magazine, Winter Tangerine Review, Words Dance, Ricochet Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Atwood Magazine, CACTi Magazine, etc etc.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

city lights like veins

I look down, and there
is a city I know like I know
you, and she’s drifting, fading,
slow. Her limbs, splayed
across the mattress of the earth,
are traced like the contours of a map
with the flickering lights of people’s homes.
The on-and-off shuddering of a child
afraid of the monsters in the closets.
I can almost feel the dips of her thighs
and I wonder if she knows we’re dying,
if I know I’m dying, if I know that I am just
afraid of the dark, afraid that perhaps
I’ll never see her again, and I fly.

E-published in the December issue of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. x

I missed him so much.
The Hoarder

I think you take the way he says your name and 
squeeze it tight.

You roll his voice around,
his voice with the rising lilt of something he calls love
the hopeful stutter at the beginning of your name
that trips away into silence, silence that becomes a word
you don’t know how to pronounce.
You reach into the air and take those sounds,
grip them fiercely, and bring that ball to your mouth.

You swallow his voice because that way
you can keep him inside of you, even when he walks away,
even when he’s in bed with someone else. At least
when he hurts you, you can vomit up everything he said
and remember that he treasured your name.

I think you collect his shivers along his spine
and put them in empty milk bottles that you line up
on the windowsill. You hoard away the involuntary quirks
of his lips and count them when the moon is cold,
and he is out drinking, and your bed is empty.
Because then at least when he doesn’t come home,
you can tell yourself that his body is yours.

And when he hurts you for the final time
and rides off into the sunset like you’d dreamed
on a white horse with a damsel that’s not you,
you’ll tell yourself it was him all along and that you
did nothing wrong. And you didn’t, trust me,
you didn’t.

But if you’d forgotten the sound of your name on his tongue
and if you’d gathered up his eyelashes and blew them to the wind
long, long ago, perhaps you would have realised that
the world isn’t black and white,
and you can’t blame anyone
and you can blame everyone

but it won’t make you feel any better.

I have just had two pieces published in the latest edition of Ricochet Magazine. It’s completely free to read and enjoy. I’d love to hear your thoughts. xx

Gustar: to like, to please.

A el sol le gusta madrugar,
y recibir las vidas—por los árboles,
por los azulejos, por tus ojos más brillantes.
Tú floreces en la mañana. Pero, yo prefiero
la noche oscura, por tú tocar mi piel y mis labios
con tu boca suave.

A mí me encanta la corriente de la fuente.
Me recuerda a tu pelo ondulado,
el amarillo del sol. Tú brillas más claramente.
Pero, no me gusta nada la luz.
Tu puedes ver mis cicatrices de la vida,
y puedo ver que no te gusta
mi historia.

Me gustan tus brazos cerca a mi.
Me gustan tus labios en los mios.
Yo escribo poemas más tristes y patéticas,
porque no es nada comparado a mi corazón,
muy vacío.


The sun likes to rise early,
and give life—to the trees,
to the bluebirds, to your bright eyes.
You bloom in the morning. But I prefer
the dark night, for you touch my skin and my lips
with your gentle mouth.

I love the flowing of the fountain.
I remember your flowing hair,
the yellow of the sun. You shine most clearly.
But I do not like the light at all. 
You can see my scars of life.
I can see you do not like
my history.

I like your arms around me.
I like your lips on mine.
I write poems most sad and pathetic,
for it is nothing compared to my heart,

Anonymous :  How was it when you met him in person for the first time? Can you describe it? Nervous? How did it feel finally being able to hug him and kiss him?

You have no idea. I haven’t ever been asked this, so I am going on a trip down memory lane.

My dad lives in the Middle East, so I flew with Emirates from Australia. Normally, Sydney to NYC is about 21 hours, but flying via Dubai made the trip 30 hours. I could barely sleep because I was so nervous, so excited. The winds on the way in were bad, so my plane was delayed by three hours. It was odd, flying over the coast and knowing Santi was waiting for me at the airport, knowing he was standing there and I was finally so close to seeing him.

I was at the back of the plane, so I was one of the last to disembark. My baggage, too, took forever to come out, and the person in front of me at customs had an issue so that took forever as well. By the time I got to the doors that led out into JFK Airport, I was shaking, I was so nervous. I had to take a minute to breathe properly, and I finally got the courage to walk outside and see him.

And I couldn’t find him.

I was looking everywhere and walking down the walkway to try and find him. I couldn’t see him at all, I was so nervous, and a part of me wondered if he had decided not to come. I walked into the crowd and was shaking and looking everywhere. I heard someone say my name from behind me, and I turned around, and he was there, smiling, having followed me to tease me.

And I just paused for a second, and I remember the way my heart stopped and then started again in a rush. I remember the exact feeling of that grin spreading across my face. I ran at him, dragging my suitcases, and he ran towards me, and caught me.

While he lifted me into the air, we kissed, but it was very uncoordinated and we missed, so I kissed his nose a little bit.

It was very messy and very us and it makes me happy every day.

I couldn’t stop touching him for the longest time.