asymmetries
Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.





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Anonymous :  any advice for aspiring poets who are trying to find their own voices?

Read. Read poetry, read novels, read magazines, read the newspaper. And write. Write snippets of thoughts in notebooks, napkins, on the backs of receipts. Write what comes into your head. It doesn’t matter if it sounds exactly like the voice of the poet you were last reading; that’s good, actually. By taking what you’ve learnt from their work and putting it into your own poetry, you can see what does and doesn’t work. Write about things you’re passionate about. Write about things you couldn’t give less of a shit about. Just write, read, and above all, put it out there: it’s scary, but so rewarding. x

I keep telling myself, I want to write a book, I want to put together a collection, but then I just get lost in the amount of words I would need and give up. I’d want it to be wholly new pieces, but at the rate I am writing these days, it’s not going to happen, and I really really want to.

I made a degree plan because I’m a nerd.
(To follow, honours in English & a Masters of Publication)
The Aftermath

1. I think about you most when I am in the supermarket.
    Cans stretch from wall to wall, stark lights
    beat an anthem behind my eyes.
    I think I am one of those cans, neatly packaged for the juice inside.
    Oh, to be you. How many choices you have.
    How many meals you can eat.

2. Do you rip into the meat; do you strip flesh from the bones?
Do you lick the sauce from your lips; do you wipe up the blood with bread?

3. A boy I know once told me that it’s not desecration if you’ve had the           dish before. When I tried to say that lambs aren’t silent, they scream           when you cut them, he laughed and told me, you’re biased, you see           wolves wherever you go.

4. Secrets hide in the catacombs of my knees, shaking.
    I couldn’t stand to sit next to him.
    I was too afraid to stand up.

5. Men don’t wait for the moon. They have claws, fangs, fur;
    even the ones who love me, the ones who kiss me gently, and sit by me
    while I burn beneath the moonlight.

6. How do you tell a man they frighten you,
    when all they’ve done is say hello?

7. I know your name and that is why I cannot speak
    to boys with kind eyes, boys whose only crime is being named.
    I can’t look at bald men without feeling sick. I can’t walk home
    beside tall men. I can’t talk to shopkeepers with crinkled eyes.
    I wrap terror around me like a blanket.

8. Avoidance is an instinct,
    always running,
    never fighting.

9. I avoid carparks. I avoid the backseats of cars.
    I avoid kissing men with stubble.
    I avoid making love with my eyes closed.

10. There aren’t any places that are safe for me anymore.
      Not the supermarket. Not my home. Not my dreams.

11. My dreams are horror movies that I can’t turn off. 

12. What do you do when they joke about the loss of your childhood?
      How do you run when their voices bolt your legs to the floor?

13. The definition sticks in my throat when I try to tell people
      why I’m angry, why I’m sad, why I am who I am.

14. I am Frankenstein’s monster, your creature, your plaything,
     yours. You have pulled me from the flames.
     I am forever running and coming back.

15. I am sitting down to write a poem about you. I think I have done this
   a hundred times, and every time I can feel you breathing down my neck.
    I wonder if there will come a time I can write without shivering.

❝ Then suddenly he beheld his sister Éowyn as she lay, and he knew her. He stood a moment as a man who is pierced in the midst of a cry by an arrow through the heart; and then his face went deathly white, and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while. A fey mood took him.
‘Éowyn, Éowyn!’ he cried at last. ‘Éowyn, how come you here? What madness or devilry is this? Death, death, death! Death take us all!’
Then without taking council or waiting for the approach of the men of the City, he spurred headlong back to the front of the great host, and blew a horn, and cried aloud for the onset. Over the field rang his clear voice calling: ‘Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world’s ending!’
And with that the host began to move. But the Rohirrim sang no more. Death they cried with one voice loud and terrible, and gathering speed like a great tide their battle swept about their fallen king and passed, roaring away southwards.

— 'The Battle of Pelennor Fields', The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien.

I stood in the rain and cried
and smoked a cigarette and let
the water slice me open. I am a letter
and you are the paperknife. I am bleeding inside.
Cut me open and find the source. Cut me open and find
the fountain, let the river flow, let the snow melt, let the dam burst,
let me feel something that isn’t just an icy road in winter.

eagle’s keep

There is a skylight in my bedroom,
and beneath it, a nest,

A chair where I perch,
watch the mess encroach upon my island.

And sometimes there are cries
at the bottom of the stairs, but still

I sit, and smoke cigarettes, and watch
the sky stream through.

I am an eagle watching the world
go by like daytime television, 

Bored, morbidly interested,
drinking coffee and waiting for the tide

To pull me back to sea.
I wonder who is the moon, here,

If it is me, with my knee highs and white shirt,
or if it is the one crying at the bottom 

Of the stairs. If it is they, they need
to pull harder. I cannot feel

Them in my nest. I can only watch
the waves. 

She was a wildfire, spitfire,
bloodfire, heartfire. 

the skeleton in your neighbourhood

I am the skeleton
who lives in your neighbourhood,
wrapping fingers ‘round flowers,
and dies.

I am the voice
at the edges of phone calls,
those lingering moments
and sighs. 

I am the woman
who drifts on the wind,
reaching out for the sunset
and skies. 

I am the girl
you killed in the bathtub, when you
told her you were nothing
but lies. 

I am the memory
who sits in your dreams,
and whispers sweet words,
and cries.

Another awkward slam face of mine for you all. (I don’t understand why I always look weird when I do slam pieces.)