It was almost beaten out of me
The yearning for a fairytale
For rescue by false fantasy
I wish that these were dead
It was almost raped out of me
The desire for a warm body
Around mine, over it, within
I still wish for tender skin
It was almost insulted out of me
The wish for tender words
For respect and to be heard
I still wish for conversation
It was almost cajoled out of me
The hope for honesty
For courageous true connection
I still wish for trust and truth
It was almost threatened out of me
The desire to feel safe
For faith in those I love
I wish for walls and refuge
It was almost stalked out of me
The right to privacy
For life without surveillance
I want to be alone
It was almost shocked out of me
The will to understand
To reach out and resolve
I wish for perseverance
What’s growing in me strongly
Is the need for rightful balance
For justice to be served
What’s growing in me daily
Is the need to serve my self
As others serve themselves
What’s growing in me now
Is the me of my potential
The me I choose to be

I have been guilty of believing every nasty person is ok deep down instead of being rotten. That they will be transformed if only they are loved and that it is my job to do so. That they will stop treating me and others badly if only I love them and help show them the way. That endless forgiveness is a virtue. That self sacrifice is necessary in order to love and be loved. That when someone tells you they love you it means they do even if their actions prove otherwise.

I have been guilty of believing that abuse is love. That abusers were once abused too and that is why they abuse now.

I no longer believe these things.

Abusers choose to abuse.
Abusers choose abuse.
Abusers abuse.


he likes to eat bright spectacle —
shiny lolly beads and glitter
flattery his meal-ticket
fat and blood-smeared feathered lips
smack and smirk and masticate
broken wings that elevated
stripped back now to ligature
flaccid organs feed on limp
powder puffs and pumping veins
pimp of shame he covets sweet
wine from wounds of sorrow’s rivers
pouring streams down rounded cheeks
carving outlines of lithe bodies
lying numb for him to seek
his gloves are off and fingers in
pokes them deep and pulls out plums
eats them ripely one by one



One day, when I was six, I became a mountain
It was the day I yelled and screamed with righteousness into thick air, the air my only witness, while I sat on my bed’s soft bedrock
And with my pillow I swiped at that air, at the bed, at the enemy sitting next to me — her name was Injustice
And the rage burst out like lava from a fissure that needed so much to crack open and Injustice was afraid of me and though the lesson did not teach her anything I learnt there was power in truth and in my anger
I was a mountain

To freeze is not to escape but is to survive by staying still
A fawn is a baby deer but it also means to play along so someone doesn’t kill you
To flee is to run away from danger and escape
And to be able to fight and win — what a dream and privilege that would be

The quake I felt once I’d escaped, its aftershocks I felt again
My heart was coming loud with aches
Thrashed heavy like the pillow you used to suffocate
The murmurs that catch upon my breath
Are the beating wings of the bird in my chest
While she’s learning to fly she remembers to sing
And the frozen fawn she flees the scene

My inner child woke this morning, her rage amplified so hard by life that the walls pulsed, the glass throbbed and the wood thumped in sympathy
I will give you a thumping my father said to my brother
It was a threat to behave better like your hands on my throat were a suggestion of death
The fawn froze
Half-dead half-here half-there
Brain bisected violently, hurtling towards life and death simultaneously

You refuse to give life, to grow branches and shoot out twigs and new leaves
Your roots stay stuck in your concrete pot, demand that others tend without taking
A puppet ruler, a tin-pot dictator — you fail to give even air
You take life
And though we are your dead, we write — our words don’t flee, they stand and fight

Poems infiltrate the water supply like truth serum
Liars are exposed
The ghosts of those you murdered stand outside your house banging loudly on pots and pans
Charivari, the rough music of justice, the just music of shame
Groundwater toxins vibrate in time, buckle epidermis of earth, which pops with stochastic rhythm driven nonsensical by algorithms forming sharp little mountains everywhere the music is heard
The anvil of avoidance presses down firmly, suppressing pain and signals that should be voiced
The pressure exerted here will form a mountain over there
The rough music of justice will be heard and it will make tall mountains

This poem has been revised several times to date, under various titles, including I Was a Mountain. This version, Charivari, is the final version of the poem.


scenic view of fire at night

It was the last time
she would tolerate abuse;
the very last time.
She was quite patient —
Mother Earth shed two seasons
before she acted.
Powered by fuel
banked during wise cocooning,
she launched herself high.

The Girl

woman wearing black long sleeved shirt sitting on green grass field near mountain under cloudy sky

All I ever lacked was self-esteem
and I tried to make up for it
with my one-girl talent show —
how perfect can I be?
beckons the girl
who says yes
to all


Of course, babe, please feed me more candy
From your fake love dispensary
Rainbow-coloured gobstoppers
Your balls in my hot mouth
Mental somersaults
Like goats butting
Each other