Issue 10

Winter 2014



She’s stubbed out her last cigarette, we marvel
that she managed it;
a sixty-a-day inveterate, a Marlboro-mad
smoking stick who craved
not only nicotine and the repertoire of motions,
from hand to mouth and back
again essential to devotions, but had augmented
the habit to flatten flames
that burnt within by applying lighted nub-ends
to the stubbornness of skin;
to steady flight and cushion fall, and obviate oblivion;
to moderate the mercury
that’s untamed by Lithium. She caught me
glancing at her arms for pale
uneven patches, rolled her sleeves and turned
the palms, her burns exchanged
for slashes; the scars of broken beer glasses,
scores of jewelled and jagged
edges, brooches, blades and coloured plastics,
crampons spiking every crevice.
At the weekly self-harm classes they will sterilise
the weapons with a sigh
at further damage and an eye upon infections.
She plays the role of maverick
and declines the antisepsis for the thrill of fraying
fabric and maintaining
daring habits like the risk of sexual intercourse
without the prophylactics.


Ray Miller