Second-hand Home


Crumbs in the cupboards; a single burn-encrusted

hob, ochre and sienna and hot-white

like the midday sun that hid its face

behind rainclouds

on the day that we entered this place;

beaded chains sticky with a substance that

may or may not be bodily,

a goo that is to the

touch twins with the appearance of the brown

marks blended into the surface of the

linoleum floor; a stringy cocoon

dangling from blinds the shade of cartoon snot,

as if housing a caterpillar who –

like us –

is anticipating the “Transformation

of a lifetime.”(Or perhaps

behind the threads a bloodless fly is trapped.)



A grey smudge on the mattress, the faded

mark of a woman from decades before;

a diagonal claw-mark on the headboard –

a broken life-line – which makes me wonder

what sort of accident might have happened

here, in my

flimsy single bed.

I am witness only to the fossils.

Haphazard brushes of off-white succeed

a paler wall paint, its secrets too

dark to be obscured by a congruent

colour; magenta stains the carpet with

countries that resemble India and Australia


This room was once somebody’s world.


Or at least a fraction of it.



A toilet seat that shifts and twists within

its loose-screwed grooves; a shower base crowned with

deep slits:

the remnants of an earthquake

perhaps orchestrated by the victim

of a personal or familial


dark holes brimming with the promise of

spiders and mice


into the cavernous hollow within;

drunken lines like constellations,

someone’s attempt at

divining the future,

cling to the wall in flickering

fluorescent light that warns of

imminent collapse;

shreds of tissue adhere to the ceiling,

dead skin peeling

from a back or stomach.


A.N. For my first creative writing portfolio, on the given theme of legacies, I decided to explore the signs of wear and tear that I found in my flat when I first started at university.  I wrote a poem for each room: the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom, drawing inspiration from James Merrill’s ‘The Broken Home’ and his divergence from the traditional sonnet forms to create his sequence. 


Go with the Flow


swim out of the suffocating space, dazed from the multitudinous flashing orbs pinpointing the darkness.

As they leave, limbs continue to fall on them:

felled trees. Diseased

with the malady of drunkenness.


Emerging into relative clarity and silence, the juveniles


with abandon now that the


of the heavy base doesn’t shudder their delicate chests.

This new place contains only a fraction of the bodies in the old and their dance seems to be orchestrated by a less human kind of magic.

Tiny circular illuminations flash red or blue or green from their skulls, moonlight hitting scales.


Each switching onto a stream into which they can comfortably dive, they submerge themselves in the lyrics, letting their inhibitions float away so that they may glide through the throng.

At times, others venture into the same stream and synchronise with the motion, smiles darting between them;

despite an absence of tangible touch, this feels like true



A.N. Thoughts from my first night out as a fresher.

Friendship Gate

Why’d you shut the gate that you’ve left open

For us; for weeks, so that we might, with luck,

Obtain a plot where we’ll tend the broken,

Crushed, once thriving in your Garden of Trust?


Iridescent, precious, it might have been,

Plied with ebullient sapphire tulips;

The trees we planted would be evergreen,

Would not drop their disguises with vile quips.


Though the front gate is locked, the back may yield

With time and tact and rich internal tears;

Perhaps you’ll nurture, yourself, the razed field

Then welcome us inside with absent fears.


A.N. I was thinking about how, after around a month at university, people have begun to shut the gates to friendship. Suddenly strangers don’t meet you with smiles and greetings but blankness and silence. I wondered if, for some, there might be a deeper reason for this.


Plane Mirror

I ask myself why I

Search and besmirch with my finger

The unreal glass of a

Plane, inane, inhumane

Mirror. Was this my idea?

For you’re the critic of

The intangible surface of a

Virtual (Impermeable)

Image with its emotions that scrimmage

Across the toss of

Features of an imperfect creature that

Form the Impressionist storm of my

Face. A disgrace to symmetry; the

Reflection that needs your protection

From other imaginary wrongs

Which you and they and I bitch about

When we see them

Through the rough-hewed retinas that

Conceive a perceived facet of a

Being that has, in truly seeing,

Yet to be set

‘Right’ by an equally trite

Visual cortex. A self-induced hex to

Enable philautia to stay stable

Beyond infancy.


A.N. This piece, written in response to the theme of reflections, is meant to meditate on the scrutiny that so many of us put ourselves under when we look in the mirror. We want what we see to be pleasing to others or to ourselves but we are already tainted by societal expectations of what ‘pleasing’ is. 



There is a

light bulb inside

my head that stubbornly flickers

off and on; off and on; off and


creating an unsatisfying half-sleep

– a no-man’s land –

some way between consciousness and


All my worries and wants for the future reside there,


electrical currents that conjure both

a beacon of hope

and a garish




A.N. At around 2 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, I couldn’t sleep; I thought writing might be a solution to that, seeing as it would help to empty the contents of my hyperactive brain. It didn’t solve my sleep issue – instead, it introduced more things to think about. Although, I did get a decent piece out of the situation. 

Body Hair: An Endangered Species

Sharp blades of silky obsidian grass

Poking up from pinches of ochre soil;

Luxuriant undergrowth – twisting coils

That of undesirables block. The. Path.


Wispy, transparent dandelion seeds

Strewn across a rough and earthy terrain;

Dark mossy barks that grow slick in the rain

And glint like stars in the sun’s lucent beam.


Tell me. Why would you ever desire to

Burn or scythe or mow or pluck out any

Of the shrubs that bore this charming garden?


Perhaps it had never occurred to you

That it was not there to please the many;

Only those who can fathom its allure.


A.N. This Petrarchan sonnet was inspired by Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey as well as my own experiences of the way in which body hair, especially female body hair, is perceived by society. I can’t help but notice that, despite increasing acceptance of deviations from the norm, hirsutism and even common patterns of body hair remain neglected by the liberal-minded. As part of my own journey to self-love, I believe that it is important to accept my body in its natural state, and realising the beauty of that which society deems ugly is one change of mind-set that will help me on my way.

Feminine Markings

Rose, chestnut, peach, plum,

Smearing the spongy whiteness

Like paint a fresh page.


A.N. I wasn’t sure if this would be too controversial to post, but I decided that part of its excitement is that the aspect of womanhood that it depicts is one not (certainly by myself) come across too often in literature. I really enjoyed writing it because of this uniqueness and the dynamic perspective that it gave me on quite a mundane event. Haiku are amongst my favourite poetic forms because they have such simple rules, yet these same rules embellish what may be, like ‘Feminine Markings’ , a single sentence.