asymmetries
Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.





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These Women

There are women out there
who walks with accents,
who limp with a rising crescendo,
their shoulders burdened by 
verbs and nouns and
can you please repeat that?

Around corners
lurk squinted eyes,
probing questions as pointed
as a six-inch needle:
injected right into the heart & soul
of their womanhood.

They’ll end up check-out chicks
in their late fifties, their dark black hair
streaked with lines of bitter years.
They’re the women who wear masks
to cover their gnarled smiles and cracked lips,
applying acetate and polymers to your
nails more perfect than life.
They’re the women you barely glance at:
the women who travelled miles and miles
to invade your suburban paradise,
for just a chance to breathe more freely.

I do not know these women
like their husbands do, the quiet men
with sad eyes and a knowledge that they are the only ones
who see their worth. Nor like their children do,
with perfect English and dark brown eyes,
their skin stained all colours of the rainbow.
I do not know these women.

But they walk, silently,
through our lives, and we use them
as stepping stones
to a brighter, easier future.

Things I Have Learnt in a Tiny Little Town called Ansonia

  1. The world is terrifyingly large and the people in it are even bigger.
  2. Fear is something that we ourselves create.
  3. The past doesn’t have to mean anything if we don’t want it to.
  4. The other side of the world is a long way away.
  5. The person who thinks the worst of us is always ourself. 
  6. The most terrifying and most wonderful feeling is never letting go.
  7. Love is one of the hardest things and one of the most natural phenomenons we will ever encounter.
  8. Abandoned buildings and cracked windows are endlessly sad.
  9. Sometimes you don’t miss the people you thought you would.
  10. Guilt weighs heavier than sadness. 
  11. Secrets are a thing of legend.
  12. Honesty is more thrilling than a rollercoaster. 
  13. Sitting by a river and breathing will always make you feel better. Always.
  14. Sometimes holding hands is more intimate than making love.
  15. It’s okay to laugh and cry during sex.
  16. If you want to make the world your own, go out and do it: no matter what the world says.
  17. Sometimes you need to cry onto someone’s shoulder in the middle of the street. That’s okay. It will only make them love you more.
  18. A broken heart doesn’t mean the pieces can’t be glued back together.
  19. Every town is always the same, even when they are completely and strangely alienatingly different.
  20. Love.
"the soul comes joyful to the eye"

Quiet can break
as easily as bones can.

The break is soft:
skin on skin, hands on breasts,
kisses on necks. Everything is white
like geishas. Red like roses.
Love like symphonies.

It’s your body that I’ve learnt
in the early hours of the morning,
the birds heralding the coming of dawn
while you seal the fleeing night with moist open kisses.
I know the feel of your fingers as well as
the roof of your mouth, the whispers of your lungs,
the chocolate warmth of your eyes. 

(I’ve never been a morning person,
but this is all before the sun rises.)

They say that after climax,
it is as if you are floating on a cloud:
but not for me—with you, I sink. 
Sinking down into cavernous depths
body laden with yours: skinlipseyesheart.

Ginsberg was right.

The weight of my world
is love.

Some Impossible Things

Impossible things and improbable events; explored in prose by Santi and I.

I’m giving up what I hide behind.

Today
I threw away the cigarettes I used
to cauterise the edges of my body,
to burn fingerprint-sized holes into the skin
that stops me from melting into the world.

My nicotine fingers are stained with
everything I cannot say to those who have
same-shape same-glisten same-crinkle eyes,
everything I cannot say to those who look at me
and think I am so pale, white, pure. If they looked closely,
they’d see the elegies I write for every bronchiole 
when I flick the lighter and burn the world down.

But you see, yellow-marred smiles 
scare me when they bare their teeth back at me 
in the mirror. I’m petrified by the longing and lust
lurking behind my gums. Today, I smoked one last cigarette,
and flicked that lighter one more time, before I peeled away my skin,
and melted slowly into the world:
with nothing to burn it down.

Night terrors

When words don’t come,
the world is like a darkened room
in a strange place: where home is just one syllable
and cobwebs whisper fabricated secrets from the corners.

When poetry is just a thought,
my fingers click and clatter across a keyboard
of cliche phrases and tired similes. I can feel
the eyes of spiders watching endlessly, cockroaches skittering
around a rattling, empty mind.

When each stanza is done and dusted,
it is not easy to breathe. My body is an empty wonderland
for the ghosts of memory to tear apart. A heart shuddering jolt
as I wait for words that sluggishly come up through mud. 

It is at three in the morning that everything hurts the most.
It is then that I am given respite;
given room to breathe without gasping for words like oxygen,
given space to close my eyes and forget about a time
when words were the ones I tangoed with for hours.

Every moment of every day: whether I am waking
or lost in nightmarish dreams, I can only ever remember a time
when words loved me, and I loved them too.

I miss this place and the people and the poetry and the way it feels when words make sense.

One day,
I will be woken up by
brown eyes—small grabbing fingers—wide smiles
while the sun is still rising.

One day,
I will pick flowers by the roadside
and lay them over a cardboard box
in the ground.

One day,
I’ll know how to mourn
and be joyful in the same
breath.

One day,
I’ll wake and find
that a whole world is laid out
in front of my feet.

It’s about being small. It’s about watching train-tracks
gleam golden in the midday sun, curving endlessly away
while you travel to who-knows-where, to home.

It’s about blurring out the edges of your body,
smudging away the dimples in your cheeks, softening
the corners of your smile. It’s about leaving a person-shaped hole behind,
an echo of laughter against the wallpaper, a chair empty in the corner of the room.

It’s about dreaming until the daylight doesn’t come,
about closing your eyes and forgetting what light really is,
forgetting that we need light like we need love and oxygen. It’s about
gasping for breath like an orgasm, like death.

It’s about forgetting how to write day by day, while the words slip away
and the onlookers shake their head and think, “do you remember when?”
It’s about even the history books forgetting what poetry means.
It’s about ink drying out and missing rhythm like shadows. 

It’s about being hollow and falling in love.

It’s about longing for kisses and someone.

It’s about existing.

❝ This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smoulder on like a fire does, and sometimes consume us completely.

— The Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden