Refugee : Fred Ostrovskis

culture & society, head talks

Nobody else knew that the fountain was alive. He watched, spine pressed into the metal bench, as they walked past, blind. Tall men in woollen armour, brogues tapping over the cobbled street, phones pushed to ears, umbrellas tucked under arms like rifles; a steady stream went by. For a moment, he thought that one man was going to talk to him; he shuffled nervously as the strides closed in, recoiled as the arm outstretched, then heaved relief as it stubbed a cigarette on the bin beside him and joined the others as they marched.

He’d sat there for hours, staring, shivering. Burrowed hands in pockets of the jacket he’d been given, zipped so far up it threatened to close a clasp around his throat; I’d rather that than freeze. The fountain spat again. A different cycle, a change in bursts. He lost himself to the vision.

“Come here, quick, look at it!” A desperate whisper ripped towards him. He looked down from the tapestry of stars to see her hand grab his, and although he hated her for dragging him inside, the warmth of skin, velvet, silk, was apology enough. He followed.

“Stay quiet. Don’t you dare wake her.” She ordered, tiptoeing without elegance, crawling without sound. Soon, her hand left his and placed a palm upon the door. It crept open, aware of the necessity of stealth, and she turned to him and smiled.

“Look how fat she is.”

Their mother lay, propped against cushions, safe in slumber upon the floor. Faint moonlight shone onto her form, fell with the delicacy of whispers, and revealed that she had, indeed, become quite fat. They watched. Her belly was another being; a crescent, lifting, falling, stalling at the peak as if to try and reach the sky. She nudged him, pushed him forward so there was room to lie together, and propped her head upon his arm.

“That’s how we were made, you know. Dad told me.” She reported, proud of forbidden knowledge that she’d stowed away for weeks. He heard but did not listen. Look at it rise and fall!

It had stopped. The water collapsed, a drunkard, without a shadow of its grace. He looked around; even the men had left him now. He thought about standing, yet he knew as soon as he placed his weight onto weary feet, the fountain would roar again, mock him for his impatience or drench him in its wake. He paused. Seconds later, it was back, bored of elegance, of steadiness and calm. The rhythm took him, bellowed with laughter at his stillness and pulsed within his veins. He shone red with embarrassment. I can dance like that.

The sand was still hot under their feet. The sun had passed over like a tyrant, unforgiving, burning indiscriminately as they sheltered in the shade. He had got her a drink, shaking, nervous, trying not to drop it to the ground. They sat together, hiding, and he drank her words. Bathed in her presence. Soaked up her scent. She inched closer until her lips tickled the hairs upon his ear.

“Can we dance?”

Thoughts flew like arrows through his brain, it’s too hot, I can’t dance, I’ll look foolish, it’s too hot, I can’t dance, I’ll look foolish… She retracted, he composed himself and leapt up, held her waist, circled her feet, fingers entwined, moved with the energy of the moment without thought nor fear. They laughed, the sand burned, they went fast and hectic in the middle and slow and loving in the shade, a cycle, a pattern, I don’t want this to end.

It did. He grew jealous of the water. Angry at the past. He wanted to leave now, run toward the rabble from before, but he was jealous of them, too. He was stuck. Resentment grew within his chest and he didn’t care about the cold anymore; the fountain turned to fire.

It’s everywhere. He awoke to the smell of burning. Screams raped the divine silence of night, calls for help, for God, for mercy. A cacophony of suffering. A nightmare, surely. He ran, naked as the first man, muddled from the grip of sleep; movement, voices, the world sounded like a thousand horses raging into war, where are they? The rooms were empty aside from the thunderclouds of smoke. Where are they? He was outside now, facing the fury of the blaze, orange, red, warning of the danger it possessed. They were running. Neighbours, friends, lovers, handfuls of clothes, fleeing out towards the hills. His lungs drew plumes of sickly smog, eyes stung with heat and fear and tears. Where are they? A hand, not theirs, clawed at his skin. A mouth, not theirs, screamed echoes. He ran. He had no choice.

He closed his eyes, understanding now why the men ignored the fountain. His breathing had become shallow and sharp, and he fought to suck it deep. The bursts of flame had sunk and died; he embraced the cold once more. Just listen.

The waves slapped lazily against the boat, never-ending, a constant battery of sound that simultaneously reassured and nauseated. He was sick. Hanging over the metal frame he retched like an animal, spitting and frothing just like the ocean was below. He would have been ashamed if the others weren’t asleep, or pretended to be at least, huddled, drowning in their own way, a tsunami of despair.

It ended. It had all ended; the fountain swirled and groaned as if someone had pulled the plug, draining slowly away into a silence that was louder than the world. He could feel her hand, velvet, silk, even as he froze.

https://fredostrovskis.com

27/6/17 : Charlotte Knowles-Cutler

culture & society, head talks

When you beat a man for being gay you tell him
“this is how we treat our women”.

You show him what male privilege means, how respect exits
once you are entered.
Good girls are virgins. Good girls are men.
Hymens are not the delicate sheaths of skin within we once believed them to be.
They appear in your demeanour, your tone and pitch, your hands and your hips. You switch
privilege.

We weave new binaries. You choose between a clean life with your dirty laundry confined to your
sheets and your mind, or a rabbit-hole world,
a tiny door through which you compress into a caricature of yourself, an LGBT poster girl.
Checked shirts, clipped nails and ponytails. One day
I’ll take a clipper to my hair. One day
I’ll be gay enough to take my place here, among the glitter
and the adolescent dreams of what attraction means I need to be for you to read me.
One day I’ll find my label and my tribe will welcome me.
Like finding the colour that speaks the tongue in which you dream, or
the rhythm working in your step before you knew what music meant.

Where are the words for this. I knew them
when you came against my lips, but they dissipate amongst the politics.

Permafrost : James Huxtable

head talks

Footprints crunched into the thick snow behind us,
daylight breaking through the thick clouds that blind us.
You blind me, chick-pea. Whatever happened to honesty?
I’m searching for the side of you the other people never see.
The side of you I never see. The side of you meticulously
hidden from suspicion within a breezy personality.
I’d say that you were care-free, because it felt as if you cared,
yet you were free to wreak havoc on my psyche out of nowhere.
And you don’t care; stop. I feel that cold against my neck again.
I feel my heart slip away as you share another peck again.

The snow was settled on your head like a skullcap.
But I brushed it all aside, never stepped back;
I didn’t know.

*

You sink your hand inside my pocket
to relieve the coldness.
Begin to wear me like a puppet
to relieve my boldness.
Fidgeting, manipulating it to make it fit
like a glove.
I didn’t know the meaning of true love.
My first experi-ence made me steer against
that feeling, someone sailing high above
the rest. I never guessed
that my chest could be left so
cut up and torn.
I have been murdered and reborn
at the whim of another;
feeling like no other.
Try to count all your blessings
against all of your suffer-rings.
Bring me out of squalor,
drag me by the collar,
I feel like a sucker,
another poor fucker;
bury me here,
I’ll pass under.

And on a roadside memorial,
on the deed, let it read:
“To almighty ignorance,
a tender remedy indeed”.
And the permafrost stings
deep under the foundations.
It’s pulsating in my body;
can you vibe with my vibrations?

The Hand : Lucy Harbron

head talks

It was stamped all over me,
a hand, two hands;
gigantic and red and smothering.
Stamped, again and again,
with a force that made my skin convex,
pushed me into the shape.
My cells pulling, trying to avoid it,
but thinner skin will bruise easier.

You slipped your hand into the hand,
began to wear it as a puppet,
acting like it had a life of its own.
But you touched me still,
caressed me with the same look in your eyes,
the same taste of compliments dripping off your tongue in the shower.
I guess sometimes you’re left, sometimes you’re right,
sometimes it was the hand.

It must have been,
because here I am still bruised and moulded.
A push from my elastin, a push from your hand, in the hand,
a pressure too hard that maybe I became it after
it touched, you touched, it touched again.
Then you look at me in disgust when I am it,
when you can’t see me as anything other
than the hand.

Water Birth : Elizabeth Evans & Lucy Harbron

head talks, visuals

 

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His dad’s dad had built the boat, age 15. His dad swapped the wood for plastic as a project, after spreading the ashes of the man that raised him, and taught him how to sail. He decided to keep the tradition afloat, but couldn’t do that without dragging the boat into years its creator would never see. He worked until it was safe to sail again, and he had begun to feel easier. The hands of grief slipped with each blow of the hammer; respecting the past, building for the future. A legacy of material and water. But life caught up and he had to work. The garage door shut.

The boy went looking for the key, on the day the girl he loved said she didn’t feel the same. He dragged the boat over the small field, and lifted it over the stone wall, creating a slight dent on the bottom left of the yellowing outer shell. He walked it to the water’s edge, checked his bag, nodded and sailed. When he thought the water looked deep enough, using only the darkness of the blue as a guide, he let out a line.

The sky was beginning to burn when he resigned himself to failure. He threw the stick to the ground, causing a black scuff on the peeling paint of the blue inner wall; the day had melted and he had felt no bite. ‘I can’t do it and I never will’ he muttered, stomping his feet out of failure to find any other way to release his anger. He looked out, acknowledging that he may have sailed a little too far from shore for an amateur, but aware that the feeling in the pit of his stomach still pulsed with the breaking of the waves.  Suddenly, he took off his shoes. He took off his coat, his jeans, but left on his shirt, insecure about his skinny, teenage chest.

He stood up on the ledge and stepped off, falling into the water that enveloped him. He had decided that if he could not catch them, he would join them.

The grey blue of the morning sky had returned, on the 215th time he emerged on the surface. He had grown neither gills, nor a fin to allow him to swim better than a mediocre level, deemed acceptable in primary school swimming lessons.  He saw that the boat had floated back towards the stones of the shore.

‘Maybe when our loved ones die, they become our Gods. The wind of our lives become controlled by them, the sights of the sky spun by them. Each to our own religion, of family morals and memories. Grandad wants to keep his boat.’

He distracted himself from the water, which had become significantly colder in the morning air, with thought. He wondered whether his grandad would recognise him, for he’d only met him a couple of times as a baby. He thought maybe the cold was a punishment for the stranger that stole his boat. The wind an attempt to get his old livelihood away from the boy that could neither fish, nor be a fish.

He noticed his dad’s car parked on the beach, just out of reach of the tide. He pulled the boat out of the water, as his dad rolled down the window, only to say ‘I’ll meet you back at the house’.

To remind himself, he made a mental note; ‘teach the children how to fish and sail this boat.’

(Photography by Elizabeth Evans, Words by Lucy Harbron)

Not Mine : Anon

head talks

Today was my first good day in a month of bad ones – and of course it was because of you.
This day radiates happiness, finding its way into every detail.
The sunlight highlighting the green in your eyes, making my heart hurt.
Your laugh when I ran into a bookstore apologising, because we both know I own too many.
The way you get frustrated when I make no sense at all – and how I can see you trying to make sense for me.
You held my hand so tightly helping me up that tree and I swear you hesitated to let go.
I must be dreaming because I don’t get good days and today was the best yet.

I said “Boys don’t like me”, you laughed softly and said “Yeah, they do”.
But how would you know if you didn’t like me?

'She's lovely but she's so boring'

‘She’s lovely but she’s so boring’

One day I’ll be content being your friend, being only your friend.
Some days it feels like that day and then I see your face and everything comes flooding back. How even an innocent touch of my leg, or your elbows in my ribs – after you’ve made the dumbest joke I’ve ever heard, can make my stomach twist.
And then I see you with her, and you say you don’t know what she is. But I see you when you think no one does, your arm around her waist, her holding onto your hand a second too long. And maybe if I cry enough I won’t have anything left in me to cry over you, or the feelings I have will be washed out with the tears. But if I hear you say her name one more time I’ll fucking scream and I know even if I did you would remain clueless.
You have been the best friend I could have hoped for and maybe one day that will be enough for me. Today isn’t that day I hope it’s soon, I’m too tired to make it another 4 years.

My favourite memory of us is that time I found out my dad was cheating on my mum and the only thing I could think to do was text you. You didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to say, but you text me for 5 hours just telling me jokes, trying to cheer me up. Every time I come close to telling you how I really feel I remember this, and I’ve come to realise that I never will tell you. I could live my entire life never being with you but I couldn’t live without having you at all.

I wish that we were never friends and I didn’t have everything to lose. I wish that everything I say in my head would escape my mouth.
I wish that the big empty ache in my chest had a cure. I wish I could put my frustration into beautiful words, maybe then I’d know how to tell you – That I wish you were mine and how I wish you would feel the same way and I wish that you didn’t excite and terrify me and make me feel a million things i didn’t know I could.
You’re so beautiful and i wish you would fuck off but please don’t ever leave me.

I haven’t felt this happy in a long time.
It shouldn’t be this way though,
I have no time and sleep is only a memory, but I can’t stop smiling.
My only explanation is you, I hate how easily my thoughts wander to you.
They give me happiness and pain all at the same time.
I know we’ll never be, but the thought is comforting.
I haven’t felt this happy in a long time
But maybe this isn’t happy, maybe I just got tired of sad.

 

I Am My Mother : Lucy Harbron

head talks

Through the silken haze of red, pink, blue,
and all since
I have breathed what she gave me;
nourished and nurtured on the feast of warmth
which is both cave and atmosphere.

Past the liquefied emotions and
power in the emergence;
she worries I am no longer hers
as she can no longer hide me from the threat.
No longer can she used her skin as an armour,
building barriers of bone and flesh,
stretched and cracked.

But I am my mother in each inhale
and exhale when i cry.
I am her skin,
shades altering and pulled to the day
but still hers when i catch it in that mirror
in that place she was photographed, age 6.
I was a dream then, but still there.
Still here when a hand brushes her stomach,
changed like a landscape after a storm,
A field in rejuvenation.
I am my mother each time my bones ache with
the growth;
pulsing out a prayer to the god
that turns to me and smiles,
waiting to hear the door open.

Joking Doesn’t Always Work : Elizabeth Starr #WorldPoetryDay

head talks

Some days I feel the poetry looming tossing turning in its bed

A wriggling free of ecstasy I can’t quite cram into my head

 

Other days I just feel nothing and bite the pillow hard

And wish I had a thought to give, some feeling to discard

 

And there are days I want to scream and roaring shout out from a rock

And envision curling on the floor stuffing silence with a sock

 

The days when I feel hollow are the days loved least of all

A draining carved out cavern through which I swooning fall

 

I tender turn these feelings, each on their separate days

And marvel at the mysteries that makes me feel this way

 

I can’t quite dissect my long respect of good humour from my pain

Its all in jest and yet at best, my joking is in vain

Requiem : A Collection By Izaak Bosman #WorldPoetryDay

head talks

The First Vision

It is as if
They are now victims
Of some obscene assault

Strung up like highway men
Or black bodies in the South

Scorched by a seductive destruction
And set aflame by want
Of a real wasteland

It is already there in the twisted
Minds of the preachers
Of the rustbelt’s weary revival
Where rotten fruit is devoured still
By men that would snatch it
From beneath the naked feet
Of women and feral children

They are all in agony
Ancient-eyed as the metamorphoses of something
So abhorrently familiar
Dissolves below in the dreary, dreadful water
And they feel it burning but dare not hear it speak

 

Poison Moonlight

It’s like some kind of soul searching,
Spirit lurching,
Primal lust for purpose
Which flies from the body
With a faux-shoddy stress
Like blood from a gaping wound.

It will outrun your tired brain,
Your pain-pale flesh veil and veins,
And you will think that it is paradise
As you dance to the sound of the horses.

Shiver, grow weary of the ceaseless chase,
Sick and sick of preserving a shallow grace
That kills your body of flesh and bone,
As a stinging moonlight guides you home.

Yet to have known it for a fleeting moment
Is an ethereal bestowment that can never spoil
Like the language of manly sin that rips from the heart,
Or rises like the waves upon a silver-tongued sea.

Memoirs for Pallas Athene

Suffocated – suffering sour grace,
The solemn rain presses hard against
The face of a queer, quiet man
In the thoroughfare.

There, under a spider-like sun
He had proudly spun the likeness of a Goddess
On the pavement,
And bound the eternal enslavement of form forever.
But he did not see the clouds rise together,
And only when the rain began to lather
The gathered dust did he yowl
Like a wolf with a hole in its side.

This is where I saw him, struggling in the street.
Our eyes did not meet, but I believe
He will come again in the morning,
Once he has grieved for Pallas Athene.

AA – Alcoholics Ancestry : Rachelle Cox #WorldPoetryDay

head talks

The oldest memories I have lead back to the age of 4 years old
I’m sitting at the bar of a pub my parents used to own
in a booster seat
my father commanding my mother around like she’s some sort of
twisted cinderella
watching them like a game of cat and mouse
that not even Tom and Jerry would want to join in

By the time I was 15 my mother had already had 4 nervous breakdowns
3 suicide attempts, endless trips to the hospital
and an addiction to alcohol
my father, anger issues he used to drink away and shrug
what use is a child in a situation of desperation
when the ones who are supposed to look after you
are the ones causing you despair

Flashbacks to sounds of 3am stumbling
turned into storms that were thundering
through the eyes of a 6 year old
my mother’s ghostly pale eyes haunted me like a nightmare
that I still wake up from
I remember looking at her wondering
if I even know the person stood in front of me
to this day, I’m still unsure

13 years old, I remember wiping away spit off my face
from the mouth of my mother
her vicious words attacking my pores
like they are clogged with too many opinions
but she meant no harm
the next day she does not remember
but how could I ever forget

My sister’s 18th birthday
she decided to throw a party
cake, champagne, close friends
a night to remember
So Cinderella went to the ball
but then the clock hit 12 and the spell came undone
my mum lying on the floor passed out
from her blood alcohol content
the 16 year old hiding in her room
anxiously awaiting for it all to end
I am still anxiously waiting

Some side effects of bipolar disorder are high-risk behaviours such as
spending sprees, drug or alcohol dependency, suicide attempts,
memory loss, forgetting about your responsibilities,
forgetting that you have children to look after,
not recognizing the fear on their faces that you caused

You used to be drunk in love with the family you created,
now you’re hungover stumbling on the mess you made
Mum, I do not hate you
I cannot imagine what demons you are fighting inside
and how brave you are being
but please forgive me if I cannot forget
the nightmares of a child in the back of my mind
when she is still living inside of me

The rest of my family,
oblivious to what is going on under these four walls
name-calling of “over-dramatic” and “attention seeking”
when I would cry out for help
thrown my way as a child
I have learned to be silenced from a young age

I do not want to talk about my own mental health
when my mother’s has been so blatantly ignored
and you know there’s irony
when you feel more comfortable around the baristas at starbucks
than your own family

Family traits run blood thick
and this is how I became the heir
of poor mental health
and crippling anxiety that I never asked for
but inheritance is inevitable