Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

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❝ I liked you better the way you were,
But you were always ambitious.

— "They eat out", Margaret Atwood

I’ve never been able to understand heat;
that’s why I’m putting out cigarettes on your wrist.

I hope you forgive me.

There’s just something about sparks on the wall
that makes me want to start a fire.


The female doesn’t want a rich man or a handsome man or even a poet, she wants someone who takes her by the hand and leads her out into the countryside, points to the sky and says, “Here is your sky.” Someone who points to the ground with its brave little tufts of grass, and says, “Here is where you will grow your roots deep.” The female wants someone who points to her own chest and says, “Here is your home country,” and walks away.

from a singularity

and then the cosmos happened,
but you know that part; you’ve
breathed that act, with stardust
in your lungs and an empty moon
inside your heart. you’ve heard it
all before in a manner that makes
your gentle mind spin, a humble
break before the story ends and
it’s interval before act two. you’re
already waiting for the toilet break,
but we haven’t finished yet, darling.
feel your mind flicker in response
to the actor’s words and the stage-
master’s craft. can you feel your 
heart snap and crackle? you are 
but played upon by the big bang
which happened yesterday / a 
thousand billion years ago / now.
you are the subjective knower and
you are the objective known. entrap.
expand & circle ‘round the garden
thrice, collapse & wander ‘round the
exploding dwarf star-now, now, now.

A man takes his sadness down to the river and throws it in the river
                        but then he’s still left
with the river. A man takes his sadness and throws it away
                                                      but then he’s still left with his hands.

The Boot Theory, Richard Siken

Sneaky snippet of a poem from my book:

I don’t mean to say you’re unhappy, baby,
I don’t mean to say I’m looking at the pebbles by the road and thinking,
where did you come from, little one;
I mean that there could have been
a little apple tree somewhere in your bowels.

I can’t wait to share the finished collection with you all. x

To Bald Snakes & Men With Stubble

I remember welts upon my back,
the seatbelt drawing blood. 

I can still taste cigarettes
lingering on my thirteen year old tongue. 

I cannot stop tracing the bruises
your elephant fingers left upon my skin. 

I know where you have fled to:
the darkness has taken you in.
When the sun falls, I choke.
You are hidden in every shadow
and lurk in every corner.
Did you mean to frighten, Boogey Man?
Did your fingers probe for fear?

Oh, I have so many names for you, serpent man,
that these verses cannot contain them:
you are the faked orgasms,
the desperate scratches,
the shots of vodka.
Broken noses, teenage angst. Scars and pumped stomachs.
Blood tests and diagnoses and acronyms and silence.

They call me Lolita, I think.
I have other names, but they all just end
in cracked mirrors and nightmares. 

My therapist called this self-destruction.
It’s not.

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”