The taste of blood
fills my mouth
every moment of the day
as my wisdom teeth
are pushing through again.
My jaw is perpetually
tender and swollen
making me look like
an overly grumpy squirrel
My wisdom teeth are
growing through perfectly straight
and my dentist tells me
that I’m lucky
and this means I am especially wise.
Wise is not a word
that I would use
to describe myself,
and I definitely
would not call myself
searing through my veins.
The worst pain have ever known
and I have been through
I cannot stop crying.
What I would give
to never feel this again
and yet I have to endure this
if I want to live.
What do they all mean?”
A common question asked
when people find out
that I am tattooed.
But contrary to popular belief,
tattoos do not have to mean anything.
A few of mine have meanings;
the banana for my dad
(his favourite fruit),
the shaking hands for my brother
(shaking hands traditionally means trust),
the flowers for my miscarriages,
the flame and paper aeroplane.
The rest are just ones I found cute
or aesthetically pleasing.
That being said,
I tend to get tattoos
when I am struggling
or feeling out of control.
The pain grounds me,
keeps me tethered to reality,
a socially acceptable form
The finished tattoo
reminds me that
this is my body
and I will decorate it
as I see fit.
I can tell that my eyes are losing their sparkle –
a once glittering ocean turned into
the dull North Sea off the coast of Bridlington.
The things I used to enjoy no longer interest me,
and I seem to be spending more and more time sat in bed
staring out the window and watching the world tick by
I worry that people are getting tired of me,
and I am so scared of disappointing them
that I don’t even try anymore
because I would rather miss out than be wrong.
I try to contain my sadness
and keep the misery nice and tight and hidden
because who wants to live with the constant threat of rain?
Instead, I use myself as a lightning rod,
but even then I worry that people will see the cuts and scars
and pity me, or think I am attention-seeking.
But what is self-harm except a cry for help?
A way to let people who pay attention know that
I AM NOT OKAY
without actually having to say the words.
I wish I was a little bit braver
and I wish I cared a little less about what other people think,
so I could escape this self-imposed isolation
and join the people I watch outside in the real world.
All it would take is a few small steps around the glass
and I might start to feel alive again
before I am forced back into the cage by my own health.
I know it would be easy once I get out there,
and yet I stay in my comfortable loneliness
knowing it ultimately helps nothing.
I will try take an extra step each day until I make it out there.
I hope my courage keeps up.
– for those doing their best to get me out there
When I lay down at night,
sometimes I can still feel
hands on my body –
not the gentle touch of a lover
but the harsh pain of
In the days and weeks
and months after
first raped me
I boiled myself
and scrubbed myself raw
in baths and showers
until my skin was red and blistering
to try and wash away the feeling.
I wanted to peel every last inch
of flesh off my bones,
so everything could grow back fresh
and I could pretend
to have a body that
had never laid hands on.
I tried to replace
the memories of touch
with other peoples’ hands
but it never helped
because after so long,
they all just blur into one
and they all start to look like
I hate that
such power over me.
I will make myself anew,
and try my best
with this shell.
– for my abuser, you sack of shit
Maybe I build my hopes up
too high and too fast.
Maybe I tend to blow things up
completely out of proportion.
Maybe I create whole fantasy worlds
in my head
so everything can go the way I want.
Maybe the real world is not that kind
and nothing ever goes to plan.
Maybe I am stupid and naïve
to keep loving so freely
when I’ve been hurt so many times
but I will keep loving
and I will keep hoping
and I will keep dreaming
everything will be good
– for Ruth, who keeps me full of hope