POEM: Falling apart in the bathroom stall

BY HANNA ALI

“If you are unwanted, then you are still alive”
Is written on the inside door of the ladies’ bathroom stall
The last time I was reminded of rejection, I was fully clothed in the kitchen
Stuffing leftover lasagne into my cheeks for the journey home (to my room upstairs)
It’s different with your knickers around your ankles, innit?
It reminds you that everything that comes from you is warm, at first
Eyes darting from ‘unwanted’ to ‘alive’
Cheer up bitch, you could be wanted and dead
I’d like to add, but it’s not my poem to interfere with
Next to this is a tampon advert, for a quid you can bleed quietly
There’s a massive queue outside of women waiting to come across this sentence
I stare at the message for longer than is necessary, because of him
It wasn’t love, just a chemical reaction to a fake smile on a real mouth
You see, my loose heart yearned for something secretive to hold
The steady ground or his shoulders
Either one connected it to the soil of the earth
Five days later in a Debenhams toilet, my face still smells of his mouth
His breath reeks from my bottom lip
I cut my fingernails as a way of letting go
Yah know, the only thing that kept him inside me was gravity
A brief journey of him coming without taking me anywhere
In the end, love is just thrusting towards trust
His sharp irregular breath on my collarbone, wheezing like
A dirty old man running away from something old
or not catching up to something new
Now I’m unwanted and he’s still alive

POEM: I stopped

BYRON MABUKWA

Firstly I stopped dreaming about you
Then I stopped saying your name in public
I stopped looking at all our pictures
Although it hurt I stopped texting you
I stopped writing you letters
I stopped listening to any music
I even stopped wearing blue clothes
I stopped following anyone that knew you on social media

At a point I almost stopped living
Because I had stopped caring

Because I had started crying for no reason
I started wishing that you would come back
Then I started realising that you would never come back

I then started to stop loving you
And now I have stopped loving you

POEM: in case you were keeping score

BY DINIKA GOVENDER

one
suitcase lies on the bedroom floor, still packed from a trip a year ago.
it now operates as a wardrobe
where contingencies are stored

two
the degrees of separation from the me that I could be
to the me that I must be
– with the me we think I must be getting in the way

three
the number of potential mistakes I met whilst waiting for a double on the rocks
– which is also where you’d find the relationship between my thoughts and actions of late.
on the rocks

four
pieces to make a whole secret-recipe chicken, as well as the size of a perfect family
– except when it splits
and four walls become eight and one pillow becomes two

five
the repayment, in days, on a loan called Weekend that everyone must pay,
save for those who don’t – who are untitled and entitled
or quite simply won’t

six
– of one, half a dozen of the other is what he says
when two things are the same
but actually when two things are inconsequential to him

seven
the number of months it’s taken me to undress myself
of bleached dreams
and spandex goals

eight
the kilometres I can run before my lungs start to burn and my eyes begin to sting
– not from the cold air
– but from trying to run forward in time

nine
the age of our umbilical cords before they got cut
and no one really told us what happened to them
– so we grew up in search of a lifeline

ten
the list i am trained to top
along with nine other kids who also work hard and obey rules
– and isn’t it a fine way of pigeon-holing the rest as fools

eleven
the perfect hour of every day when we can do anything, or nothing at all,
and no one should notice
because we stop measuring at ten – in case you were keeping score