roses

You said that you were scared of roses
And I think I said I was too.
You said they were prettier than you,
but I said I don’t think that’s true.

I think you have been misguided
I think you have been misled
If you’d see you the way that I did,
If only you could see into my head.

You said the night sky it scared you,
but not because of the dark.
But because your eyes would never
sparkle like those shining stars

I think you have been misguided
I think you have been misled
If you’d see you the way that I did,
If only you could see into my head.

You said the open water scares you,
because what if you never felt that deep?
I said sometimes you’ve gotta swim out
into the vast expanse of sea.

And what if you were always right?
What if roses they were prettier,
and the stars they shined so bright?
Well, in that case I have been misguided,
and I have been misled,
because there’s nothing of more beauty to me
than what’s inside your head.

the love you choose

My eyes burn from the tears I’m not crying
because I swore
I wouldn’t let what you did
hurt me anymore.

My hands are balled into fists
that won’t punch any walls.
The cracks in my heart not longer reflected
in brickwork
or frames of doors.

My mouth is pursed,
from words I’ll no longer let myself say.
I won’t pay any more lip service
to all the hell you raised.

But my heart remains open,
though still slightly bruised,
to accept the love from another,
and this time, it’s a love I choose.

road map.

I have been broken before.
Broken into so many pieces
I may as well have been
dust
on the floor.

Not the pretty “fill it with gold”
kind of broken either.
The ugly crying on the bathroom floor
in the cold,
kind of broken.

And not just once either. Numerous times.
Sometimes just a hairline fracture.
Sometimes nothing more than a bruised ego.
But sometimes, my heart completely ruptured.

And how do you recover?
Still put one foot in front of the other?
I have no answers,
But I know that I did it.

Some people might say,
my heart is still broken,
if I still write these words.

But I say,
the cracks left in my heart
were nothing short of a road map
that led me
to her.

i’m trying

Your water is still by my bed,
your pajamas still under my pillow.
And that’s how I like it,
even though you’re gone for the moment, and it hurts,
I like the reminders you leave behind.

Which is why I am so sorry
to have ever put you through
the idea
of me not being here.

For the nights where I couldn’t see a way forward,
and I thought there was only one solution –
pills, a blade and a bath.
That was selfish of me.

Because although I still have your glass of water
and your pajamas,
and it pains me that you’re gone for now,
that’s just it – it’s just for now.

What would I have left you with?
A handful of badly written poems
some polaroids,
maybe that piece of paper with
“i love you”
scrawled on in lipstick from a drunken night out.

And that would’ve been it.
And I am so sorry that I was selfish to believe
that that would’ve been
enough for you.

But I promise you, I’m trying.
I’ll write you more poems.
I’ll be there with you under the covers,
and I won’t leave you
with a cold side of the bed.

I’m trying.

Lost at sea

I’m lost at sea and don’t know where to find me.
Thought I’d moved on and left it all behind me.
But it creeps up on me in the night,
Not out of mind or out of sight.
It still hits me like a train and still blindsides me.

When do you know that part of you is dead and gone for good?
I’m stumbling, can’t find my feet, nor see the trees for wood.
Will it be hours or months or days?
I have no idea who gets to say.
But right now it feels like it’s still crawling, swimming through my blood.

And when will it stop?
How will I know?
When I thought I’d reached the top of everything that I had ever known.
When can I breathe?
Or let go and scream?
When will this feeling go?
And how will I know?

Sometimes I feel I’ve taken two steps forward and three back.
It’s hard to feel like I am safe when I’m running off the tracks.
What’s next for me – promethazine?
To quell the nausea slowly killing me.
So I’ll keep avoiding manhole covers and all the pavement cracks.

I’ve reached the point I no longer have the patience.
To be polite and maybe not just say this –
You fucked me up, yes you with the beard,
You led me on for all those years.
But is it me that’s left to blame for my complacence?

And when will it stop?
How will I know?
When I thought I’d reached the top of everything that I had ever known.
When can I breathe?
Or let go and scream?
When will this feeling go?
And how will I know?

What if

What if one of us died,
And I never got the chance to tell you
I love you
Just one last time?

What if one of us died,
And the last thing we spoke about was
What we were having for dinner?

What if one of us died
And we never had the time
For one more hand hold?
Or one more hug?

What if one of us died
And I hadn’t told you how sorry I was
For every time I made you cry
And wasn’t there to hold you to make it all better?

What if one of us died,
And you didn’t know,
That sometimes you were my only reason for living?

What if one of us died,
Just peacefully in our sleep,
And the last thing the other would have to remember us by
Was the last good night text?

Well here’s my chance:
You’re it for me.
The end to all my endings,
My queen in shining vans.
I’m sorry for all the upset I’ve ever caused,
And I hope you can forgive me.
Because if we have forever together, I’m yours if you’ll have me?

What if one of us died tomorrow and our love story ended at 550 days?
Well it would never end there for me,
You are a piece of me now and I’d carry you, the way I’d hope you’d carry me,
Into our next little infinity.

this is how we learn.

You’ll teach me how to skip stones on the ocean,
And I’ll teach you how to dance on the sand.

You’ll teach my heart to thaw what was once frozen,
And I’ll show you how to say words with your hands.

I’ll teach you ukulele, sat cross-legged on my bed,
And you’ll teach me how to cook, the way your Ba does it.

You’ll teach me not to listen to the horrible thoughts in my head,
and I’ll teach you about the Himalayas and the height of each summit.

We’ll both teach each other, what it means to feel free,
From judgment, from doubt, from the stares of onlookers.

We’ll learn from each other’s bodies as we tangle the bedsheets,
and soon we won’t care about the words spoken by others.

You’ve taught me more in these 549 days
than I could’ve ever learnt from a textbook or teacher.

That’s what I mean, when I hold your hands and your gaze,
And tell you, your beauty to me is your least important feature.

the little things

It’s the little things
like
the lipgloss you bought me
because you know I love sparkles
and how you say you still love me
when I’m at my darkest.

Like
it’s 3am and we find each others’ hands under the duvet
how you’ll kiss me in public
and we won’t care what who says.

Like
it’s the texts that say
“I want you forever”
not that I know what that means any more.
Trust me, I’m not that clever.

But if forever means
that you’re my last kiss
my last hand hold
my last wish

Then all these little things will have meant something deep
when for the last time
you’re the one who tucks me in
for one last sleep.

X

greece

We walked along the pebble beach,
and I forgot
that I’m a teacher, who has responsibilities
who has a job to do.

We kissed in the cold but crystal clear sea,
and I forgot
temporarily that just a few weeks before
I’d been put on one-to-one observation, and sent home from work.

We watched the sunrise over the Aegean
from our balcony,
and I forgot
that I’m terrified to step a foot outside my house now.

We drank beers and read books by the pool
and I forgot
that my anxiety has gotten so bad
that I can’t see a way forward anymore.

We fell asleep in each other’s arms every night,
and I forgot
what it’s like to exist inside my own head,
just briefly.

We parted at the station again,
and now it’s back to reality
and I’ve already forgotten
the feeling of your hand in mine.

come out, come out, wherever you are

(This is a difficult one for me to post, but here goes…)

“Well, when did you know?” 

It’s a question that a lot of people have asked me when coming out to them. 

I guess I knew around the age of 13. I found female celebrities attractive, beguiling, mesmerising, in a way that I knew wasn’t just admiration. Cheryl Cole, Megan Fox, 13 from House, Taylor Swift. But I instinctively knew there was something “wrong” about that. I knew it was unacceptable. I thought it was unacceptable. I wasn’t sure I was aware that bisexuality was an option, I thought it was either full gay, or full straight and nothing in-between. And I didn’t want to be gay. For one, I’d heard all the nasty comments made by my peers at school. “Gay” was a slur. And for a second, I felt I didn’t conform to what I’d been fed it meant to be a gay woman. Butch, tomboy, all the usual tropes. The openly gay kids in school all hung around together and had a similar style, listened to the same type of music. I felt I didn’t fit in. I played the fiddle, was into country music and was a fairly “normal”, if a nerdy straight-A, pupil. I didn’t know where I fit. 

When I got to college a few of my friends were openly, and confidently, out by then and had girlfriends. Part of me was jealous, part of me was curious. But all of me was still in denial and deliberately suppressing my identity. 

Then I got my first boyfriend, and started going out to parties drinking. And out of nowhere came the notion that drunkenly kissing your best girl friends was a cool thing to do. My boyfriend thought it was hot. He thought it was performative, like one of his teenage boy fantasies of watching two girls “lez-off”. Little did he know how much it turned me on. How I wanted more. More than just a drunken kiss on a night out. I distinctly remember how soft J’s lips were, and how I found that infinitely more arousing than my boyfriend’s beard stubble. 

My sexuality lay dormant for a while after college. Convinced myself it was just a phase and I was straight after all, phew. Yet still fawning over images of Cheryl Cole (why her?!) on my boyfriend’s pin-up calendar. 

The relationship ended. And that’s a whole nother story. And when I downloaded a dating app for the first time, I hovered over the toggle to say I was interested in women too. But I bottled it. I’d convinced myself for so long that I was straight, that I believed the lie. 

Then the next serious relationship happened, also with a man. There was nothing really niggling at me that I was lying about my sexuality (by this point I also knew what the B stood for in LGBTQ+). Except that sometimes I’d check women out on the street. Except sometimes I’d close my eyes during sex and picture a woman instead. Except sometimes (most times) when I’d masturbate I’d envisage a woman going down on me. But that was normal for a straight person, right? 

And then Chiang Mai happened. There were a lot of awful things that happened in Thailand. But one of it’s few saving graces, and one thing I am eternally grateful for, was it’s thriving queer community. With the drag nights, both queens and kings, with the spoken word poetry, the marches, and just the complete openness of everyone I met about the full spectrum and fluidity of both sexuality and gender. I’d make jokes to E about needing a “wet floor” sign, or a mop and bucket, when a particularly attractive female performer came on stage. And she never batted an eyelid, she just laughed along with me. And I’ve never felt more like I belonged. (It’s another one of the reasons I was so heartbroken to leave Thailand the way I had to – but again, that’s another story for another time.) 

I remember finally getting up the courage to say to E that I was bi. E had recently had her first fling with a girl and again, I was jealous and curious. It felt like the right time to finally tell someone, and I knew I wanted E to be the first to know. She laughed and said “Mate, I already knew, you kind of give off that vibe”. And that was that. 

I finally felt like I was with my people. I didn’t need to look a certain way, listen to certain bands, dress a certain way. I just needed to show up, authentically as myself. And I was accepted. 

I later told another friend, D, who was non-binary and queer. They had the same response as E – they already knew. They laughed at me (or with me) again. It was reassuring. However, they warned me against telling my then boyfriend. Because they said it’d plant a seed of doubt in his head about whether I wanted to see what a relationship with a woman would be like. 

Despite what D said, I made the choice to tell him. Through ashamed tears I told him the truth about my sexuality, and how I finally felt comfortable enough to talk about it. I reassured him I didn’t want to go off and experiment (which was definitely a lie – I had always longed for the touch of another woman, to feel her warm body pressed against mine, whoever she may be). So maybe it was a factor in him deciding to break up with me a few months later. Who knows, who cares. 

And also, separate note, but after everything I had to endure with my first boyfriend, and a subsequent rape and various sexual assaults, sexually I didn’t feel comfortable around men anymore. I didn’t feel safe. I associated sex with pain, I associated it with it being a performative act solely for the benefit of male pleasure. I started to lean more towards the safety of a woman, rather than the fear, embarrassment and degradation I associated with heterosexual sex. I constantly felt the pressure, no matter who I was with sexually, to always give them what they wanted. 

After that relationship ended, and I moved back to the UK, I ended up in a tumultuous “relationship” with an old school “friend”. He told me my sexuality was a phase, or I was just using the label to seem edgy. I’d told him I was unsure whether I was bisexual or pansexual (because I’d been attracted to a non-binary person in Chiang Mai), and instead of being supportive, his response was “Vegan? Pansexual? What other quirky labels do you want to add?”.

Thankfully, I cut all ties with him (stupidly after having sex with him twice though – truly appalling sex at that), and moved down south. When some new work colleagues persuaded me to download Hinge, this time I had no qualms about clicking the toggle “men and women”. 

The men I matched with were a disappointment. I was more fascinated by the fact that for the first time I had the opportunity to explore dating women. Still most of my home friends didn’t know, except maybe F. She knows everything. And I still experienced some prejudice even from within the queer community. I had one girl tell me I didn’t look gay enough, or looked like I was “new to this” or some other bullshit. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, in 2021, people were still trying to typecast a gay woman (or a bisexual), and from WITHIN the LGBTQ+ community as well. I brushed that remark off though and stopped speaking to that one particular girl. 

There were plenty of other girls I matched with. And then along came H. And something clicked into place almost immediately. It was easy, it was effortless. (See previous poems about how much I love her). Our first video chat date lasted almost four hours. 

After we’d made it official, on 6th February, before we’d even met up with each other (cheers lockdown, you massive cockblock (the irony that I just used that phrase)), I knew I needed to be honest with my family too.
My sister was initially quite quiet about it. But sure enough, the next morning all the questions came. The main one being “Well, when did you know?” and I guess that’s where I was at at the start of this piece of writing. 

My Mum and Dad didn’t have too many questions, they were just happy I was happy. But over the coming months I felt I had to repeatedly come out over and over again to different people or groups of people – friends from work, old colleagues, friends from school. It got a bit draining, and then it got a bit boring and eventually I’d whittled it down to “Oh, I have a girlfriend now, by the way” and that’s the end of it. 

I can’t express how much more comfortable I am being with H. Maybe it’s because we’re both in the exact same situation (we’d both never been with a girl before) or maybe it’s just her. I feel safe in bed with her. I trust her completely. I know I’m never going to be put in a situation where I feel uncomfortable sexually. Maybe it’s because we’re both female, or maybe it’s because I trust her enough to be completely open and honest with her. 

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. 

Also, boobs are great.