Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

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On Shrimp

strange little shrimp. 

who lives on the ocean floor,
who has no need of flight.

who tells anglerfish strange dreams
in other languages (that they can breathe,
grow hands, love separately).

who gets lost in elevators.

who asks for names.

the whale,
swallowing seas,
waiting for something to stick.

the shrimp,
passing straight through.


❝ I want to be crackers in your soup,
I want to be your brass compass. Oh, mister,
Just thinking about you curls the ends of my hair.

— "What Rings But Can’t Be Answered", Rebecca Lindenberg

❝ Poetry is the nude that stays nude.

— William Logan,”The Nude That Stays Nude”

I find it so strange when people take a line from one of my pieces, and hold it to their chests, saying, yes, this one, yes, yes. I’m left here wondering what it is about that sentence that means so much to them: is it the words, is it the feel, the smell, taste, hope, meaning? I’m not sure, I’m not sure what I have to offer anyone but myself, and so I put my pieces out and never think that they will touch other people. I write because it means something to me, and sometimes at the end, I think, this is not what it was at the beginning, this is not what it meant to me, but they’re still words, they’re still words, and words mean everything. And then you, dear reader, find those words and you give them milk, and you take them home, and make them feel loved, and that’s what confuses and delights me, because I don’t know what my words mean but maybe, maybe, maybe, you do.

❝ I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

— "Preludes", T.S. Eliot, Prufrock & Other Observations (1917)

(A sneaky little snippet from a poem I am working on for my (yet untitled) collection!) x
I might be running a little bit of a cute promotional competition for the title/subtitle of my book. Prizes would include letters and poems and potentially a free copy. Would you guys be interested in partaking in that?

I am working on a collection. I’m not sure yet what it will be called but I’m doing this. I’m going to publish a book of my works. I won’t be publishing many poems here in the interim as a result, but I will still be present and updating you all.

song lyrics for the dead

Once I saw a beard-scraggled old man
who tripped on others’ shoelaces, and
signed the cross at street lamps.
I heard him singing a wordless hymn:
the rage of love, the rage of love,
and you are awake and blinding.

Once I was the universe inside of her;
I set her hips aflame. Now you are mine,
demon-child, warborn child, you tear me
apart. And I hear her singing quietly,
the rage of love, the rage of love,
and you are awake and blinding.

Once I was the tomorrow of today,
and you held me close by nightfall.
You trimmed strings with your teeth,
you snapped bones with your eyes, and sung;
the rage of love, the rage of love,
and you are awake and blinding.

❝ He ido marcando con cruces de fuego
El atlas blanco de tu cuerpo.
Mi boca era una araña que cruzaba escondiéndose.
En ti, detrás de ti, temerosa, sedienta.

— From “XIII: He Ido Marcando” by Pablo Neruda

to soothe eliot and auden and pound; the worst is nearly over

And if, like Yeats,
I loom: a scepter
in the South of France
to warn you of the moon—

Then breathe,
unfriends, breathe.
We are excised:
but poetry is
mysticism unraveled.

I am simply Ghost,
haunting by the wings.

You have the stage.

Let the sunrise