The definition of safe.

You have been taught the wrong definition of the word ‘safe’.


Remember when there was always a hand to reach up for every time you fell?

Remember when you thought metal was strong


Until you saw it crumple under the weight of itself?



You could be liquid

You could bend to take the shape of the vessel they place you in,

Bend to take the weight of the pressure they face you with.


You could forget your own shape and just blend into the grey

And they would tell you that it is ‘safe’.


The pebbles of your life are wearing you down –

The daily attrition of the soul.

Why do you send yourself to a place where people look at you, but they do not see?

When really you are searching for a view where the colours line up just right.


It is always a choice between safety and running away

And sometimes we mistake one for the other.

You have been taught the wrong definition of the word safe

But you have always been a runner.


This is a silhouette of a life

And you are done with the fight for a world you never wished for.


Take off your glasses, now is the time to run.




One train ride turned my life around.

Do you remember? How you broke me with words and took me to it, and didn’t look at me as it dragged me away from the one thing that made me feel safe?

This is neither blame, nor thanks – we both know how it went down.

But you were a catalyst, and I never thought I’d say it, but I am grateful for that.


That night was the pivot point of me.


Shaking the roots I had carelessly allowed to thread through the ground in all the wrong directions. Drawing them back to me and telling me to reset.


As the decision swept me away, I thought I saw birds circling overhead;

For inside they knew me to be dead.

But it was really someone else who died.

I was the one who survived.


I used to play my heart first, without learning the rules of the game.

I used to fold and go cold when I was done, and reach out to start it all again.

I had thrown myself through the world, and emerged love-ravaged and broken.

I had bounced from edge to edge

Clipping and chipping myself on each one presented to me.

Thinking edges were all I deserved,

Leaving my fragments in the dust. At the feet of those who never saw them lying there

And trampled them into the dirt.

Wrapped myself around people who played with my strings, as if my heart wasn’t on the end of them.

Always looking for what I thought I could only find in someone else,

Never thinking to check myself.


Something changed after that night.

Something turned me around.

A sound played in my head that said

If you hadn’t been the one to build me up, you could never have let me down.


A long lost secret was uncovered that night,

And it read

That if I could be the one to build myself up

No one could ever really let me down again.


When light was invented.

Back when light was invented, in a shower of recycled hearts and borrowed time,

I was an expert at hide and seek

And you were a spotlight.


You, a force – eyes as sharp as stars,

You were never bothered when I stayed inside my own head for days.

You simply sat on my walls

And refused to go unloved,

Your mind taking bites out of the world, with no concept of what it is to be full.


I knew that you needed my quiet.

And every so often, you let me knit you a nest from my fingertips,

To cradle your mind like a quaking bird.


You knew that I needed your pace –

Moving ideas into action, helping me catch alight.

You are all the colours of earth and fire

While I am just water and air.


But you will never know all the words I have written for you,

About how you pick the world apart and sew it back together a million times a day.

About how I feel safe in the way you’re always burning, in the way you strike like a flint.


Say you’ll find me when we’re gone.

Even if there is nothing more

Than just your particles, lying alongside my particles in the dust.

Say, even then, that we will still stir each other

From the sleep of life.




Like children we bathed in the warmth of our foreverness,

Willing the world to wait.


I would sink into your songs and vanish

Into body temperature words.


Learning where all the pieces would go

We were building our bodies together for ‘one day’;

Zipping together our crystallising spines,

A pillar from which our love could decay.


Somewhere along the way, I forgot to remember you.


Silence is a voice

Often unheard

Sharper than words,

And it will push your promises until they break.


Watching where all the pieces fell

We were tearing our bodies apart for ‘one day’;

Crumbling between our fingers the crystallising spines,

A pillar from which our love died away.


Like the elderly we bathe in the cold of our foreverness,

Willing the world to move on.

Too Many Times

Many a night spent by your side

After you wrung your love out in another’s hands.


Many a night, the heat was there

But the ground would still shift like sand.


Too many times

You rolled me between your fingers

And watched me melt like rain.


Too many times

You swallowed my centre;

Left a hollow more wretched than pain.


Didn’t you hear me

Knocking on your rib cage, desperate to find you within?


Didn’t you see me

Growing up the walls, trailing vines to catch you in?


Too many times

You held me at arm’s length

But still you kept me near.


Too many times

We try to choose love

But instead turn back to fear.


You’re a worm in my mind, eating up what’s inside,

Planting threads that lead back to the knot in my life.


In those days, my heart was a lantern. Charged by a new kind of thrill.

Your touch, it was well-rehearsed

And I, well I was young

And I’m still sorry that I didn’t say no.


I let you

I let you lay your dreams over my dreams,

Until no air could get to mine;

And with your hand around my hope

I only learnt to choke.


But your arm around me in the night was an anchor.

Where time got thin, we poked our fingers straight through –

Swapping stories like secrets whispered by children.

Only none of yours were true.


And I, I gave it all, I let all the doors close.

For you offered safety in regret

With only one path left.


And more, more was lost than you could ever give,

Leaving me a life that nobody could live.



You had me sold that you were a breath of fresh air,

But with your hand around my hope

All I could do was choke.




Until after us

I thought I would always spread so easily and so thin that everyone could look straight through.

You showed me the sound of two eyes opening,

Helped me find a way to hold my hands without feeling ashamed.


But you were just baby teeth, and I couldn’t hold on to you;

Though I tried, for a time.


I walked away first,

And I learnt the sound a man makes when he shatters,

And I left the pieces for someone else to clean up.


I left with room for bigger and sharper lessons

And no way to protect myself from them,


And I burnt every piece I had left of you

In the ritual pyre of the first break,

Of the first ache.

Did not think to keep even one.

And I will always wonder why I did that,

And I will sometimes wish that I hadn’t.


And the one who came after you was too proud, with eyes that roamed

Too far,

And too greedily he tried to fill the spaces you had left

No care for fragile edges.


And too soon he ripped the pieces away again, from the spaces they would never fit,

The spaces shaped like you –

Too soft and unready for new.