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
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.
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
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?
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
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
in a golden glow
If only you’d appreciate my efforts.
When our lives have bled out
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
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.
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
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.
think about it.
it’s a strange concept.
when we think of peace,
our minds go silent.
for a second.
until I realise.
that’s just quiet.
turn it up.
the gentle, rich, warm, breathy, deep, harmonious timbres and tones.
you’re lost in it.
it’s not quiet,
is it raining?
listen to it.
hear it beating uncontrollably against the window or the ground.
it’s not harming anyone.
it’s doing a lot of good.
now you can’t stop looking.
if it’s not there,
you can’t stop imagining.
don’t stop imagining.
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
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
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
But more real than you are
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
I grip her hand a bit too hard
Wait, stop, breathe
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
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
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
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,
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 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
I’ve missed you
Now look at me
I’ve come back to kiss you
The kiss of life
Well maybe death
It’s been a while since you and I crossed paths
It was such a laugh
Did you miss me?
I missed you
I missed the hollows of your cheeks
The purple below your eyes
And all those people who just cried
I want you to stay alive
Give me all your memories
Don’t let all those remedies, do a thing
Give me your smile
I want your air
Oh darling please don’t despair
These fluorescent lights make you so pretty
It’s such a pity
I am already with you
I don’t like the doctors needles
The way they weasel there way in and break our happy
I’ll take you on a date to a hospital bed
You and I are already wed
I hear you want a divorce
You flush me out with chemicals
Everyones so hysterical
Hear me out
I’m here to bring you peace
Like some release
I’m in your head
You can never rest when I’m with you.
I’m not a killer
I’m a saint
Sending you back to heaven
I love all of you
I’ll take away your pain
You can’t complain
I want all of you
You and I will fall apart together
Let us dance together
Going on forever
Like a melody
I’m not your enemy
Your cells split
I will outwit
Those men in white cloaks
Trading magic spells for an expiry date
But in the ends you’ll always be mine
You can’t get rid of me with love or money
I’m always on your heels
I make you really feel -
Why don’t you love me?
I’m like a machete
Ripping through your lungs
Sweetie you look so tired
Like I’ve unwired all the cables in your brain
I’m a bomb waiting to go off
You’ve lost hair
Like you’ve lost friends
And you can’t depend on them like me
Because they can’t stand
Being here firsthand
As we fall apart together
Time to sleep
Listen to the sound of my voice
Whispering sweet nothings
I’’l give you the sun and moon
I’ll show you the stars baby
You are nothing without me
I am your whole identity
No get well soon or wilting roses
Could ever terminate our love.
I hear you no longer want me
I make you sick
I promise this will be quick
I’m here to look after you
You and me forever
One final breath
Breathe with me
Push out air for me
You pushed me out with you
But it’s ok cause you die too.
They say to write about peace
But how can I do that when I’m at war
My life at war with itself everything changing
The things that I was taught and the things that I believe
Caught up in one
And I think I wanna leave cause non of it makes sense
They are good we are bad
And sometimes mad
Crazy girlfriends or a tease
Someone to please
I need a rebellion
But they’re so goddamn Machiavellian
I stare at a blank piece of paper and see my life spreading across it
I remember being five and turning up to world book day dressed as Dennis the Menace
So did another boy
Let’s call him Paris
My teacher called me out of class
And said that I’d been crass
That he was upset
That I should apologise
Change my disguise
Be a ‘girl’ character
What even is that?
Should I wear a big hat
Or a skirt or a dress
It seemed like a mess
But I took it on the chin and learnt my lesson cause boys get the be boys and girls get to be broken
Because it is our job to be peaceful
Filled with patience and no regrets
And they forget
But we never do
And our rage fills up inside but stays quiet
Three years later there was a play
I wanted a part
A way to prove
That I was good
Without having to fall on my knees
I ended up being part of the bees
We said buzz and frolicked around onstage in dresses covered in fuzz
Paris was a hero and saved the pretty girl in our year from a dragon
And I was back at zero
Flash forward to eleven
Thinking we were were grownups
It was heaven
But yet again we were pulled back down to earth
Told we would have to give birth
To a boy if we were lucky
And as we were taught about the blood that literally erupts from us once a month
Like some very painful flood
Boys were in the playground learning how to cut someone up
How to hurt without remorse
Not taught that they could be the source of so much hatred
Never taught to make peace
Never told to hold their tongues
Or hold their lungs filled with hate
Whilst only breathing out love
At fourteen there was dance
And I waited in a trance for someone to ask me
Then I could agree
Finally be the princess that I had been trained up to be
The ball came and went
I persuaded myself to be content with the idea that others were happy
The pain of growing up
Maybe it just wasn’t supposed to be me
But now I sit in class and learn about war
Caused by men
We live in a world ruled by them
To the point where we don’t know how to say no or they don’t know how to hear it
And it’s not endearing
I don’t want your hands on my thigh
It makes me want to cry
Then you tell me you love me and that it’s supposed to be like this
But I feel like I missed
Something in book of life where it said they could rule our lives too
But I’ve had a breakthrough
Cause your asking me to write about peace
When all of me is at war
A war with the way that I was treated
I don’t need peace I need a voice
A way to make a choice
About who I want to be
Let me be free
Let me sing and dance
And own short skirts without the fear of the question ‘but what were you wearing?’
I don’t want rules
I want consequences
No double standards
Or cat calls
Or waterfalls of anxiety when I walk down the street
But maybe you were right if this is gonna be complete
If we can have the peace we so rightly deserve
Maybe we just can’t swerve
Maybe I’ve got to pluck up the nerve
To say all this to your face
And watch you sink to the floor
As I end this war
This war that you started
You don’t see what I see
And will never do, because
The things I do to find peace-
You will cease to know of,
And are beyond your reach.
the title of peace,
would never appeal to me, as
human nature dictates otherwise,
because our selfishness and desire
form a centre of gravity,
that attracts everything to us:
and what we want is everything.
and this need and this envy for material we
can only buy, becomes a status gain and a way to be
ignorant of the world.
so why be kind
when you can have leisure: pleasure,
as it means nothing anymore to be truthful, aware,
blank souls, is what they are,
they waste but wander the earth,
fire burning their tongues, sealed like paper to their lips,
eyes melting from mouths -
their blindness provokes peace, only praised for bliss - no feeling,
and inescapable if you're unaware, so might as well be asleep,
if you don’t have perspective to see,
you can never be punished, you’ll always be free.
A peace of mind,
something never grasped, something never had
An obsession to be free, peace as a liberty -
A gift so difficult to find.
And maybe, if we stopped looking,
it would fall into our laps,
Without us asking at all.
the great escape
not from this life, but from the days,
and exchange my body,
trade out the world that I live in,
To sell myself to a reality that doesn’t even exist,
in hopes that the way out is to get through it,
In the backhand alley of the world.
A flea market,
where goods get thrown away,
A stage for fools -
who think that curtains can conceal every scene
that you act and every word that you say.
Where actors recite their own versions of scripts
And stick to their own agendas,
as masks don’t fall off but stitch
themselves onto faces instead -
In attempts to survive a world where we are bartered and
expected to surrender,
And think without our heads.
the weight of the world-
they were thoughts on my shoulders,
a figment sketched out in my mind,
etched out, and
buried in a graveyard of uncalled for misfortunes.
elisions of thoughts that fluttered,
cocooned by a shelter, protecting a heart turned raw,
tombstones engraved by forevers -
in my mind they will never die,
in a realm that our emotions will choose to forget,
but our memories will stay put in this world to remember.
to my distant lover -
amongst the vengeance and disentangled lies
I will find you in paradise where love isn’t
scalding and peeling limestone in acid
a shell encased,
The safety pin of a grenade;
Flaming over the oven fire.
Charcoaled under the embers-
I’ll put you out,
and hold you in my arms again.
the poignancy of moving on,
and leaving them behind.
their faces looking for a future,
that they could ever cease to find.
because even afterwards,
time lapses back and forth
like a pendulum,
with never-ending waves of question,
so even if we listen to their stories,
and feel 20 minute sympathies,
with their memories
flooding within our worlds
like tsunamis -
we won't remember them.
and they will watch us move forward with our lives,
feeling tender from a reality that doesn’t seem to register.
but they still continue to stand behind us,
waiting for an end, a l