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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

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

Yellow cheeks

The purple below your eyes

And all those people who just cried

I want you to stay alive

Feed me

Give me all your memories

Your movements

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

Hello darling

Hear me out

I’m here to bring you peace

Like some release

I’m in your head

Your heart

And chest

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

Like tremors

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

Our expiration

One months

Two years

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

In eternity

And peacefully

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

Just misunderstood

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

To prevent

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 slanders

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.


a truth

the title of peace,

would never appeal to me, as

human nature dictates otherwise,

demands differently.

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,

or clever.

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

In possession.

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

an 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,

waste disheartened.

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.


another world

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

hot water,

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.


inner turmoil

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,

and emotion.

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 last goodbye,

or to be united - and together.


growing up

people need to grow up and realise,

that people don’t last forever.

not the best friend who promised you to stay by your side,

and certainly not the lovers who passed you by.

sometimes, if you’re unlucky, it’s even your parents,

who leave you thinking for a while, or for a lifetime, that you aren’t - or were never -

enough for them, or for anybody -

a nuclear family - severed.

And the words ‘together’ begin to lose their meaning.

i also wish that people would realise that moments like these are there to be treasured, remembered,

but are destined to fade,

and that the amount of days don’t change who walks in and out of your life:

because really, feelings change -

no matter how much you wish for them to stay, and to linger, even just for a little while longer.

they will slip from your grasp, like a thin calibre of sand, emotions like paper.

it’s okay, you know?

that some people waltz in and out,

fickle like ocean waves,

and that some were never born to seed.

just as long as you know that you are the one person,

who will stay,

and won’t ever, choose to leave.



because this is a world of colour.

where our skins matter

and our biology makes us,

and mocks us

for the freedom that we have.

where we’re reminded that we are immigrants

though we are part of the same society,

and we are sidelined

for being slightly different in surface,

so we add layers to cover our identities

as our pigments are the source to your bigotry.

so tell me.

how can it be easy to survive

when my colour restricts me from respect

and my body is a public entity-

how my reflection has become my own enemy.

and I have seeded new beginnings to be

what humanity wants to see,

and in that transition I’ve cuts the roots

that lead me

back to my culture and heritage,

because now acceptance is considered to be one

type of category

and one type of class

in world without primary colour.


The Beauty of Silence

The world is busy. Calling. Tugging,

My mind steps back

To the stone arches, from where I followed into the place of silence. My feet suggested I was uneasy, awkward.

This place is a boat. A boat for us.

I don’t trust in the world. Neither do I trust myself. Where I am standing, this place is home for now.

St Therese, you are a knurl here. Your form is stone and your voice are so soft, it is almost silent.

I am not a pearl, or anything close to it. In fact, I feel lost, like a grain of sand trampled underfoot by the passer-by is from the mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds.

What two, stark voices are these? I must be clear of what I mean: The voices that are players, who swap their faces, gayly; habitually. And the voices of flowers. Unheard. Unknown.

Why cannot we hear them?

…They listen.

Others prattle. And do not listen in the beauty of silence.

Perhaps Shakespeare had it right, ‘Life’s but a walking shadow...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’

But soft, all of this from which I speak, in the private confines of warm conversation, is not truth or fulfilment. Aloft me, the saints point to the holy crown. Spilling out celestial life, drinking what’s left.

There is no sound.

Now I want to listen, in the beauty of silence.


An empty apartment, at sunset

I watch the sunlight shine through covers of dust

in my apartment, whose joints creek under the pressure of

extending a single arm to de-rope of moth bitten curtains that hang,

unhung across wooden crates in a musty corner of the bed room ,

left clustered beside a table covered in my bittersweet regret , with a missing limp , we tried,

but we left the hard cheap glue stuck dripping onto cracked floorboards , that

leak soil and grass onto this clean canvas , our mouths staining the simple,

trying to grow that single white rose in a trees cracked heart.

I watch the sunlight shine through covers of dust and animate our sole

white rose.



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