Photoverse 2019 - the poems

See below for all of the fantastic original work we received as part of Photoverse 2019. This includes work from the following:

• Honor Roberts

• Suwen Liew

• Sofie Miller

• Olive Jamieson-Bown

• Shanice Alexandre-Oezbicer

• Liv Jenkins

• Jess Edkins Obrien

• Giselle Pe

• Eddie Eglington

• Bella Fryzer

• Alexia (Ruoyu Zhang)

• Mobo Ayeni

• Jojo Guo

• Josephine Brookman-Amissah

• Nat Jarrett

• Sean Power

• Kat Shields

• Jade Mkparu

• Saoura Koch-Mehrin

You have to take your shoes off

Walking on a hard carpet so there’s no sound of footstep

The tumultuous tourists

tumultuous on the street

tumultuous in the restaurant

are silent now

They still talk, but in murmur.

Photo taking is not allowed.

This is said to be disrespectful

But disrespect to


To the sculpture, the god lived in there, or something like this?

Perhaps is to the atmosphere

That thrill the believer.

So here I am, walking in silent, looking around the sculpture that gilded

By the billionaires, in order to leave their name on the


Ribbon of Bodhisattva’s clothes.

Does this mean that,

The spirit of Buddha is more likely to shown in a

Golden body, than a clay body?

The music is peaceful, but the noise is tumultuous

Every name on every ribbon

Every banknote in the merit box

Is shouting out their fear.

A peaceful delusion

And finally, there was silence. Not silence from the outside, but from within.

The constant noise was evaporating, fading away.

It felt like a real life was about to begin.

Sitting on a swing,

With the moon for a torch.

The feeling of freedom. Liberation from the over-beating of my heart.

A tear slowly rolling down one cheek.

Staring at the sky’s art.

Sitting on a swing,

With the moon for a torch.

The moving of muscles, Lips stretched into a smile.

A laugh that flows with the wind.

Another mouthful of a drink that’s vile.

Sitting on a swing,

With a moon for a torch.

Never mind, how much peace it has brought, this liquid in a glass.

This freedom was nothing more than delusion.

As the real world is there, a snake waiting in the grass.

Whilst I sit on a swing,

With the moon for a torch.


I listen closely to my old music.

Nostalgia creeps through my brain

and I live in days with no rain

where I can sit in the garden

with my bestest pals in the whole wide world

and we can drink warm beer from tins

and our expressions are grins

and we breathe beautiful blue

with beautiful you

and we eat pizza with stuffed crust

and we can trust one another

because no one would dare act selfishly

or cruel.

As my memories of nights of happiness

swell over my misery like tides lapping sand

two faithful and free dogs

shake brine over my family

and there will never be any sand

that my hand

will be incapable of rinsing.

Major chords on clean guitars,

anthemic lyrics, popping drums,

predictable beats in predictable heat,

familiar songs, no wrongs in throngs.

We are bubbles in a bottle

or a boiling pot

babbling and bursting

barrelling down the hot

metal walls from which we have hopped.

Even cops

can’t stop


We pop.

unrest in Peace



i was – am – one step away from silence.

my name lies somewhere in between

the drilling metronome of changing traffic lights

and the screeching, squawking complaint of a loose microphone

and one

long dissonant violin string

high pitched and stretched out

pulled at all the wrong angles

left right left

this is not right

one step forward gifts me all i ever need, all i have ever needed

why did i turn back?

that friday

and all the weeks of fridays afterwards

falling is easy, we do it so regularly:

off chairs and into beds, again and again, every single day

(and love too, occasionally)

just one building

just eighteen metres

an irregular fall, but oh so easy

falling upwards – not so easy

dragging my very own body (mine!)


away from the beautiful, beautiful silent starless sky

letting instead the blaring light fill my bones, making them chatter and scrape

allowing the oversaturation of it all consume my fabric of being

denial anger bargaining depression

every single day

but never acceptance

i live in a penumbra;

When shall we end this last dance?

When our skeins of vice and violence can shelter us no more

From this all-pervasive optimism


Forgive me

For this sudden change of appearance:

I’m trying to endear myself to you.

I’d endure the recklessness of weather

Pepper my face with frost

Or shroud myself in swathes of thick mist.

I’d dust pale pink across my features,

Dusky and soft as it rolled down the incline of my cheek.

And as the world turns

I’d soak

in a golden glow

If only you’d appreciate my efforts.

In time

When our lives have bled out

Into History

When earth again smothers earth

and our shingles cobble the pavement

When the sky is no longer where we left it

We will have but our relics

to answer for us

We fell out of the car

and into a dreamscape

Where our tears run sweet

And our eyes turn forever upwards.

My pupal metamorphosis agone

Liberty from the restraint of that chrysalis abode

I flutter gracefully across the shrubs I once ate

Feasting on rich flowery nectar

Spreading life from blossom to bloom

Then camouflaged and stealthily still

So as not to be preyed upon

Like the robin who sings on your fence

I am a soul of your antecedent

Visiting for a breath of time

Then gone

Walk upon the labels of the dead.

Stepping stones of remembrance

To evoke their succour through the floorings where they once stood

And now those who survive worship the god that took them

While bystanders trample on their memory and take photos

Of those they never knew.

You are at peace

You are at peace now,

Alongside the cold soil and the worms.

Where your deathly frames are laid to rest

Under the shadow of the parish church.

Until the fosser filled the graveyard to the boundary

Of the consecrated land.

Wishing the demise of the residents would to just a dribble be

You are are peace now, right ?

As the waning continues,

The compression only heightens, as limbs climb over limbs,

And fingers entwine with fingers. The soil reddening.

Is what peace has become, resting ontop friend or foe?

He indolently turned to the furnace.

Under the crescent sky the traces of life drift across the ground

Within which they should have laid.

Every beautiful night near the Frontline

When you fall asleep beside me,

I would stay awake

My shift to be the watch guard

Your time to take the break

from being the warrior

Cool headed you, now burns on my shoulder.

Your time to dream

My time to read you

The heat of a desert animal that runs

on red sand.

When you fall asleep in my arms,

I would not stop holding you

A warmer place for a good dream

A closer shore to your swash of bad ones.

Stay dreaming

Stay dreaming

Stay dreaming

And the moment where you turn away

will always be there.

And I will always be scared,

For all at once I lose my sword and shield,

and the thought of having a paralytic vision of your marble back is the dragon.

So I fight


With all the weight of this whole massive thing of a battlefield I lift up my arm,

rest it across your body

You turn to me and yawn

Light rises.

figments of me

Peace is profanity.

Brutality is mundanity.

And I’ve been trying to navigate the two.

He’s been searching for peace in drunk delusions and needles

I’ve been searching for peace in distorted mirrors and people.

And all these adults are trying to navigate the two.

and you see the news

and you see the news

and you see the news

and it’s hard to navigate what’s true.

Truth is disillusion but self is an illusion so I find peace in fractured figments of me;

meeting fabrications of flagrant fantasies you won’t know or understand today, tomorrow or yesterday.

Desperately try and navigate who’s true, what’s me, why you?

and they’ll see the news

and they’ll see the news

and they’ll finally understand why there’s peace in the indefinite.

peaceful noise

think about it.

it’s a strange concept.

when we think of peace,

our minds go silent.

mine does.

for a second.

until I realise.


that’s just quiet.

take music.

turn it up.

really loud.

even louder.

the gentle, rich, warm, breathy, deep, harmonious timbres and tones.

you’re lost in it.

it’s not quiet,


look outside.

is it raining?

hailing maybe.

listen to it.

hear it beating uncontrollably against the window or the ground.

like bullets.


it’s not harming anyone.

that rain.

in fact,

it’s doing a lot of good.

it’s hypnotic.

you’re obsessed.

now you can’t stop looking.

if it’s not there,

you can’t stop imagining.

don’t stop imagining.

that freedom,

right there in your mind.




How is it that what we call peace

Is just a state when conflict is unsatiated?

Because we will never feel full and satisfied.

Peace is what they feed to us as we consume and consume

And consume and consume because that is what we are.

We are consumers.

Whilst we dry our clothes with teenage anthems

In the background of our lives,

Others can never quote the lyrics back at me.

To us, peace is when our monthly data refreshes

And when the bonnets of our cars conceal our insecurities

And our engines.

To some, peace is a construct.

What if peace is a construct?

And what if this is what keeps our engines running.

If they weren’t corrupt, why should they be concealed?

But this is what we fill ourselves with,

The comforts that we played our part

By emptying our coppers into the donation pot

At the supermarket checkout,

As we load our reusable shopping bags (Like I said, we do our bit)

Into the boot because if we loaded them into the bonnet

The car would break.

As that’s where we leave our insecurity

That maybe we aren’t doing our part because we’ll never know

Real conflict. But at least we tried.


Typing slowly on a keyboard made of


Words that you will never hear

Words that I fear

It’s a letter written to you

Like hundreds before

Written from my heart

Words travelling through synapses

down my arms

until it reaches my fingers tips

Like passion falling out

And I just can’t stop it

Falling all over the keys of my computer

You have the key to me

I want to press send

To watch my sentences fly through the air and touch your arm

Make you swing around and hold me in your embrace

Because suddenly you understand

Suddenly you want me

and not her

I’m a girl with a voice like sawdust

Easily blown away

I scream your name in capital letters

But press delete

Because I’d rather be just your friend

than loose you altogether


It’s like there’s a blanket between us

Something smothering me

It’s so small and fragile

Like you

And yet I can’t tear it down

It wraps around my limbs until I can’t breathe

Like I’m drowning in a bed of thorns

I shout your name

But you can’t hear me anymore

You can’t feel me anymore

I want you to hold me in your arms

Protect you

Make it alright

But you’re not here to protect me anymore

No longer my knight

Instead you’re riding away from me

I’m left behind

Still choking on the something between us

Something invisible

But more real than you are

You’re gone

And you’ve left someone I don’t recognise in your place


They say you have to play

the waiting game

But it’s not for your entertainment

It’s a feeling that overrides your brain

and shuts off all your senses

Stopping any light get in

It twist the sinews of your heart until you just want everything to


so it won’t hurt anymore


strips your lungs of air so as madly as you try,

you just can’t seem to breathe


for the death of someone who’s heart is part of yours w

hose soul is intertwined in yours

It’s not a game

It’s a fucking tragedy

So don’t tell me to just wait and see,

to play the game, to wait for fate to play it’s hand,

everything is on fire and I don’t seem to be able to put it out


Please don’t speak the words I fear

I see it everywhere

Like you’ve already gone and have come to find me

The words

The pictures

The ending

I grip her hand a bit too hard

Wait, stop, breathe


A repeat

It’s not my fate I have to hear

I bite my lip

and watch their clinical smiles

Ready to take my pulse

check I’m breathing

I’m not

I can’t

This is the thing I can never say

I hate the way they see me



They can’t speak to me on the phone

It’s too much for them

But remember

What about me?


She lies between the roses’ thorns

Blood flows so cold like autumn’s dawn

She forces her eyes to open wide

To take one last look at the sky

The sky: a play of colors bright

But nothing brings her back to life

Her heavy breath stuck in between

one heartbeat and eternity

Clasping the red flower tight

the sweet scent,


like a summer night

Her memories pass like a flashing light

There is no turning back, she cries

She can feel the bitter end

taking her hand like an old friend

Leading her out of never ending despair

that she knows she can no longer bear

For one moment


For one heartbeat


No sound

No thoughts

No feelings

But no love

And right when she was letting go

She heard a low humming -

Sweet, like the scent of deadly roses so

A melody sung so sweetly

Like no flower could ever smell

And suddenly the thorns that drilled into her skin

Started burning making tears run down to her chin

The song was playing in her head,

so lovely,

she had to leave the flower bed

As she was looking at the sky

Tears shining in her eyes

Blood dripping from her hands

Scars on her young heart

Reminding her she was alive


So What is death? A sweet escape

A possibility

A way to flee from reality

While life is a song

An old melody

A beautiful humming in times of darkness

A music that never ends and never fails to make you fly

She smiles as she looks at the night sky


Hello darling

I’ve missed you

Now look at me

I’ve come back to kiss you

The kiss of life