Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

Home Message Archive about & links
« / »
You are the edges.

You are the circumference of my lungs.
You tighten, and I am filled.
You restrict with your fingertips.

You are in the periphery of my gaze.
You are the mouth of the beer bottle from which I sip.
You are the portrait above the piano when I am kissing a stranger.

You are the skin which wraps around my veins.
You caress my blood, and I drink you like vodka.

You are the blanket falling off the bed.
You are the cold that kisses my ankles.
You conspire with the moon to make the atmosphere smaller. 

You are the lingerie cascading from my shoulders.
You are clothes smelling of smoke on the floor.
You remind me in the morning of the secrets in my joints.

You are the lipstick stains on coffee cups.
You are the blood streaked on the bathroom mirror. 
You are the corners and the silence.

You are, you are, you are the edges. 

❝ You fill everything, you fill everything.

— "So That You Will Hear Me", Pablo Neruda

"I am breathing."

She comes naked to the doorway. She looks into the room. He is stretched out naked on the bed. His feet dangle over the edge of the bedframe. They had bought a double bed because they had not the money for a queen sized. 

"Will you come bath with me?" she asks, her head cocked to the side while she waits for an answer from the man she loves. His gaze is fixed on the ceiling and does not waiver.

"No." She watches the way the moonbeams from the open window glance across his chest, his collarbones, his light dusting of hair that travels down from his bellybutton and into the secrets of his groin. 

"Why not?" 

"I am breathing." His fingers twitch, a tiny spasmodic movement, disrupting the still air of the room. 

"Do you not do that normally?" She asks this honestly, as though it has never occurred to her that one day, she could hold her mouth closed and put her hand over her nose and simply stop, letting her lungs wither.

"I do not. The moonlight helps." And it does. The moonlight is filling his chest. He is photosynthesising in the night. 

"Will you come bath with me once you have finished breathing?" She longs to make love in the bath, with the scent of ylang ylang rising around their entwined bodies, and their moans frosting on the heated mirror.

"No. The bath is too small for the both of us." His eyes close, slowly, as though by losing sight he may disappear, melt into the silence and become a moonbeam himself.

"Everything in this house is too small." She is frustrated. She only wants to touch.

"Yes." His shoulders sag a little. She can see his body release, meld to the covers and become less present. She turns from the doorway, and pads across the hall. She watches the steam rise from the bath, and she smells ylang ylang. Her breasts sway with each breath she takes, and she never notices.

I love

I love
(all the time).

It is exhausting
to be in love with the universe.

I fell
for the trees,
and the sky,
and the wind.

I ache
for bones,
for skin,
for blood.

I pine
for the boy
who kissed me first,
for the boy
who fucked me last.

I breathe
with the dying man
from Vietnam,
with the crying newborn
from Paris.

I love
(all the time).

I dream
(of apathy). 

'Forever' is incomprehensible.
I’m looking forward to spending forever uncomprehending with you. 

I am lying in the backyard, reading Anaïs Nin’s erotica and wearing nothing but white panties. My breasts are exposed to the breeze, and I think to myself, summer is coming. I am stretched out on the grass, feeling sunlight kiss my inner thighs and wondering if the clouds are enjoying the warmth as much as I am. The pages feel coarse against my fingertips, and I read story after story watching lovers awaken each other with tongues and love-making. I am taking in words that explore sexuality so explosively, colours that drip from my lips like nectar, sensations that shiver down my spine, names that are called in the silence of the afternoon. I feel nothing. I am not aroused. I am learning anatomy, and feel no desire.

Then the wind whispers a greeting, and the leaves tell the sky ‘I love you’, and the grass grows infinitely around me, and I can imagine the atmosphere falling in love with the darkness of space, and I find myself melting in pleasure. My breasts tighten and my insides throb, and I am set afire by the universe.

I walked home today,

I walked home beneath a blanket sky.
The clouds looked like homespun wool,
grandmother’s crochet at the grey corners,

I had hoped for the grey wool clouds to cry,
for the rain to fall from grace, for sorrow to
come alive like nightingale song in the cold beneath
grandmother’s blanket. I walked home today.

If the rain falls slowly, I can collect the salt
within my cupped palms. Perhaps I would see my skin
crinkle and shrivel, like paper with boiling water spilt
upon the surface. Perhaps my flesh would run.

The world seems to love old books.
Perhaps they can learn to love old souls. 


“T’was a dark and stormy night!” cried Adam, as he swept dramatically in blackest cape and all into the dining room. James sighed, dropping his forehead into his hand, leaning his elbows on his knees.

“It’s a dark and stormy morning, you mean,” muttered James, hissing slightly as Adam threw open the shutters to reveal the blackened sky outside. It was nine o’clock in the morning in the country, in the middle of Autumn. Adam wore a strange, maniacal grin, his eyes oddly bright. He was, James thought, perhaps the most eccentric and cheerful widower he had ever met.

“Indeed it is, friend James, sour James,” Adam teased, standing all imposing like, with his hands fastened to his hips and knees astride, as though he were conquering a mountain—a very small mountain, in the middle of his country cottage drawing room in pastoral England, but a mountain nonetheless. “And you know what I say to dark and stormy mornings? Bah! 

As he exclaimed, he whirled around, his black cape billowing behind him like the night wind through an abbey. James rolled his eyes at his friend’s dramatics. He had been visiting Adam in his country cottage every Autumn for years, never staying longer than a month before heading back to the fumes of the city. Adam remained here in the country, doing Lord knows what, and James wasn’t all too sure he wanted to know. He was sure it was something altogether inappropriate and shocking, not at all acceptable to decent society—what else, save depravity and hedonism, gave such a bright grin this early on a morning with such poor weather? 

“We are taking our daily walk should you like it or not.” Adam strode across the room, his big boots, reminiscent of pirating days and damsels in distress, clunking along with him, before he hauled a grumbling James to his feet. “You’ve been blessed with lovely weather thus far, and even though it seems to be Night-In-Day out there,” Adam paused to chuckle at his little joke, “It’s really just a little overcast, that’s all. Come on, out, your boots are by the door where you left them yesterday, and you may borrow my favourite hat if you’d like.”

“You’ve been reading too much Coleridge, I dare say, Adam,” but James was dragged with furrowed brow from the drawing room nonetheless. He really very much despised the daily walk, finding the countryside, too picturesque to be appreciated, much too dull to be beautiful. The sunlight dappled through the leaves, the brook meandering its way for miles, whispering silently to itself. It all seemed to be out of a poem, and James had never been one for poetry. If you asked him to work out the budget for one of the new factories springing up in London left right and centre, he’d be more than happy to. He left the poetry to Adam, who’d begun reading sonnets and odes after his beautiful young wife had passed away. Sighing slightly, he tuned out Adam’s nattering about meandering rivers and mazy motion while he struggled on his worn leather coat and stepped into his gentleman’s boots. He reached up to take one of the two tricorn hats, but was swatted away when he reached for the one on the left.

“Not the one with the feather!” cried Adam, snatching it away.

“But I thought you said I could wear your favourite hat?” James blew his fringe from his eyes exasperatedly. 

“Well yes, I did. But they’re both my favourite and equally handsome, and besides, the feather does not suit your complexion in the least.”

Read More

They say it is in the spaces
behind language that meaning
is born; that in the silence,
romance blooms & withers,
hatred embers & flames.
It is in the silence before
the earth shatters, 
the emptiness before
crinkled palms touch.

I have long been terrified of Silence.

I would throw words into the wind,
and hope they reached Vienna,
hope that a poor man stumbled upon them,
and became rich. The coalescence of hope
and phonetics became the rhythm of my thoughts,
the gentle thrum behind my heartbeat.

I used too many words
to describe the silence
(a silence that I destroyed,
in my eagerness to grow

I have long been terrified of Words.

To hold such power within my
youngling fingertips, to watch the sapling
of my poetry sway underneath the thunderstorm
of prose,

I shook & screamed verses aloud.

And you reminded me
that the Silence gave poetry life,

and that the Silence
gave our hands
the world. 

rumi said

She sits in the bath, water scalding, warmth rising past her earlobes. Her legs are drawn up to her chest, her chin resting quietly upon her kneecaps. The water covers her hips, leaving her breasts exposed to the cool air, gathering warm moisture on her nipples, sweat beading along her collarbone. She sits, steaming in too-hot water, watching the skin on her long legs turn pale pink, then fire red, burning herself alive. She is long limbed, a willow girl, breathing quietly and languishing softly. Her shoulders are folded in, closing in on her tree trunk body, holding herself together with determined muscles. She looks contemplatively at her puckered prune fingers, and speaks to them, her audience of ten.

"Rumi said that the entire universe is inside us," she begins, and the audience is immediately silent, though Chopin churns from the stereo on the bathroom counter. "Therefore we should not be alone."

A pause.

"But the universe is large and empty, and space is dark, cold, deathly," she continues. "There are unknown corners of the galaxy, places where even light cannot breathe, and where there is nothing but nothing." Her fingers stare silently back into her dark universe eyes.

"I think I would prefer a quiet coffee shop to be inside me, with their lattes and frothed warm milk." She smiles to the water, as the flesh of her legs begins to bubble and burn. "Or perhaps a park by the harbour, where I could watch the water reflect the stars and dream forevermore."

She pauses again. She breathes.

"I think I would be lonely even if the only thing inside of me was nothing. Perhaps I would be nothing, even if I had collected everything inside my heart."

Her fingers continue to shrivel, and she takes that as silent agreement. When her skin falls away, she is alone, she is nothing, and the universe watches, and she enjoys the eternal emptiness.