I climb inside the page. Pure white.
Something thicker than mist but less ominous
heavier than snow but just as malleable.
There’s an abundance of the word dark.
I wade through the letters.
sometimes with ease. other times with peril.
Stumbling on the italicisation of depression
I lean my weight against it. It creaks like an ancient tree.
Tipped off the edge of a sentence
poverty cushions the blow,
bounces me into hunger.
in a cesspool
to be freed.
Is it a surprise that the page makes harsh words kind?
Crashing on the sofa of a room with peeling walls stench of cigarette smoke baggies and cut straws litter the floor nowhere else to go so easily erased.
I stay anyway headtorch bright among the white and dark
stalking some Delphian creature until I startle upon it blade in my hand
rabid with readiness to fashion a fur coat sink teeth into its meat.
To be a hunter must there always be something to hunt?
Does a mirror still work in the dark?
One to one to one to one
they can accrete inside you griefs
after months years
prompted by the latest loss
the first wakes up
another recognises the call
huddled together they
and raise the others from their slumbers
they swarm and scurry
each bearing their own
sac of pain their own accusation
then they bind together
and the accretion begins
Living Through It
From skull to gut to calves
it takes its course the way ditchwater
runs after the bend of its road.
An avant-garde composer
is conducting your dreams – night music
for ten-pin bowling quartet.
How long will it last?
Ditchwater sunk two inches deeper into silt,
that’s one sign.
When you wake at five
and walk out in the garden to discover a frog
lounging against the cool lip
of the garage floor,
and looking exactly like a spray-tanned scrotum
although you’ve never seen one,
that’s another sign.
But only that you’re still not altogether
through the worst.
Kris Hicks is from Cardiff, writing mostly about queer identity and mental health. James McGonigal is a poet, editor and biographer based in Glasgow. Caroline Maldonado’s three translations are published by Smokestack Books. One, Isabella, includes her own poems.
All these poems appear in Painted, spoken 34 (2021).