I throw away a mouldy bottle
in a kitchen, filled with crap
piled high with guilt and clutter
bean tins and baby hats.
I walk through my house, in tiny steps
over, and through, debris.
I kick aside a washing pile
that blows through the house like leaves.
From upstairs, I hear crying
and my numbed heart does not tug.
But dread echoes round my aching chest
sucked raw, and dripping blood.
A little face looks up at me,
a new one every time.
Bald and spotted and screaming
and I’m not sure that she’s mine.
Ellen Uttley is a working class writer and mother-of-two, from a mining town in northern England. She enjoys working across a number of different genres and themes, with poetry and prose covering everything from mental health and motherhood to the myths of Ancient Greece. Her prose has appeared in the Hive anthology Surfing the Twilight and her poetry is due to feature in this Augusts issue of Streetcake magazine.
Since yester twilight
Along the borderline of tonight
With fits of thirst & hunger
Among storms of pain
Between interludes of frenzies or insomnia
Near despair & desperation
Amidst the nightmare
At the depth of darkness
Through one tiny antlike moment
To the first ray of dawn
Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Pushcart nominations, Jodi Stutz Award in Poetry (2020) & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), & BestPoemsOnline, among 1,709 others worldwide.
See: not okay.
Sarah Frazin is a queer writer and graphic designer located in Southern California. A lover of video games and writing alike, she often spends her time obsessing over fictional characters. She can be found lurking on Twitter under the handle @femmeNPC.
The bashful day won’t dawn. It shirks and skirts
along fleshy walls – you thought all cages must
be metal? that dragons all breathe fire? – tickling
drowned blue orbs. I am inmate and guard, gaoler
and gaoled; sanity means order, direction, structure,
putting every detail in its place like how they sort
elements into that big table then use quadrilateral
voids to paper over the cracks, those pesky vacuums
of knowledge that sink a pursuit nobler than xenon,
argon or krypton… if they can use zips to attach pieces
of cloth, why must I hold myself together?
Daniel Clark is a working-class writer from the UK. His words have appeared in Blue Marble Review, Dreams Walking, Fifty-Word Stories and Cuento Mag.
2:30am, a glass of water straight from the tap,
somewhere between violets and lilies –
(I stopped buying flowers because they were too expensive.)
Kicking off the blanket because it’s too hot, pulling it back up because it’s too cold.
I loved your dimples and thought they were kind, and so did everyone else.
I inherit this disposition; my childhood home is falling apart,
and it’s almost funny because it seems like a metaphor but it’s quite literal.
The roof is caving in, the floor is sinking,
and I think the cobwebs have ruined my VHS tapes.
I smashed the clock I remember from my youth.
I wasn’t trying to stop time but I was trying to stop something else from moving.
Everyone says don’t take it personally but how is it ever not personal
Sometimes I read Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter to her husband –
it’s unbearably sad but it’s also a love letter.
Scars are figurative and very real –
I have the stretch marks from my old body
and the place where I stuck a razor when I was 26.
It’s embarrassing how old habits don’t die,
you’d think that eventually it should all wash away,
like runoff in the gutter.
These metal beds
On either side
Up, up they rise
And here I lie
Tucked in with arms
Crossed in an X
The floor is cold
It cools my back
I count, I track
The seconds tick
I hope I’ll soon
Be done with this
My second home
I’m home alone
I hum along
(I know this song)
I fall asleep
I’m hidden here
Between these beds
H. E. Casson is a writer, a Torontonian, and an all-around-somewhat-okay human. Their words have recently been published by Malarkey Books, Lunate, Taco Bell Quarterly, Terse, and Writers Resist. Their SSRI of choice is Cipralex, though their anxiety prefers Ativan.
some mornings you wake to a stamp of silence
in the air, swaying in tune with your heartbeat.
you are paralyzed in your dreams
& you are a breathless wanderer, in reality,
trying to convince yourself that you’re not just
occupying space in the world.
you stare into the mirror in your room
& your reflection tells you that you have a condition—
that you suffer from the invisible illness.
maybe that’s why your feet leave no prints
or maybe the wind erases them as you go.
you compose an affirmation for yourself
or maybe it’s a mantra, you do not know.
it goes: i am alive! i am not dead! see me, world!
you say the words over and over again
till your mouth registers the verses.
yet you feel like a ghost hung up in cobwebs
in a room full of shadows.
Praise Osawaru is a Nigerian writer, (performance) poet, & wannabe entrepreneur studying at the University of Benin, Nigeria. His works have appeared/forthcoming in African Writer, Kreative Diadem, Ibua Journal, Ngiga Review, Perhappened Magazine, Praxis Magazine & elsewhere. He was longlisted for African Writers Award 2019 and shortlisted in the 2019 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest. He’s openly a film fanatic & overall art enthusiast/lover. Say hello on Instagram/Twitter: @wordsmithpraise
You are lying on the floor, five inches away from the mattress. It’s no cooler down on this rug, but you are not exactly in search of lower temperatures. Curled on the 6 × 4 and breathing slowly is probably all the warmth you need, possibly the one thing that matters now…but maybe you are not out for comfort in these moonless hours.
You want space to mull over, to stare your soul’s emptiness in the eye, to brood over your disillusionment without the distraction of loving arms.
Surfing YouTube puts both your battery and your mobile data under pressure, and googling your favourite musician has long become an unexciting pastime. You don’t entertain the thought of praying either; for one, you can’t help but feel that it’s an easy pathway to sleep, and in any case, you took a shot at that option hours ago, but you felt no better. You can’t blame Him though, He’s a pretty busy Being, deserving of some real slack, even when your tears soak the communion railings, even when your knees sink into the tiles.
It gets to you, looking spoilt for choice one moment and left with nothing the next. It gets to you, being overlooked again and again, no significant additions on the last Google search of your name. It gets to you, populating your blood stream with blue and yellow pills just to boost stubbornly deficient serotonin levels.
You wonder if the tight shutting of eyes and quick gulping of water is even of any use: the disco hall segment of your life ended with your early 20s and the sound of bluesy guitars make up the soundtrack for your hours now.
You’re exhausted; of trying so hard to be funny in person to correct notions of you from people who couldn’t be bothered, of having to explain why communication is a real chore for you, of making her see that when you say nothing it’s not because you’re getting drawn to someone else, of dealing with “why so melancholic?” inquiries and “I just wanted to check on you” platitudes.
You are done with trying to make yourself understood or likeable, and you have come to terms with the fact that nobody’s going to love you right, that a hundred soothing text messages will never be enough, that God himself would have to come down if the pile of broken pieces that is yourself stands any chance of ever being put together.
You’ve run out of tickets to the pity party, and you just want to be away, this version of “away” being more of a feeling than a place, that fever pitch desire to swim across planets and watch your body float from the sidelines. Colourful photos from birthdays of acquaintances on your Instagram page are unable to cancel out the greyscale that is your default hue, and you know for sure that the ceasefire from the wars in your head has run its course.
Jerry Chiemeke is a columnist, culture critic and lawyer. His works have appeared in The Inlandia Journal, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Guardian, Honey & Lime, Bone and Ink Press and Agbowo, among others. A lover of long walks and alternative rock music, Jerry lives in Lagos, Nigeria where he is working on a novel. He is the winner of the 2017 Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Reviews, and he was shortlisted for the 2019 Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction.