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Nov 2017 · 570
Under a Pink Sky
Martha O'Brien Nov 2017
The water in the paddling pool turns cold.
Mugs of coca-cola on the grass,
a skipping rope and cards.
Mum grabs a jacket, Dad has a blanket around his
knees and says, get your own, then laughs,
hugs you close. The edge of a chill rears its head
while cold lemonade slides smoothly down,
slow, between waves of laughter.
Calls for more crisps, ice for the cider.
You lean back in your seat, sleepy from
the sweetest evening, a book rested in your lap.

The evening will end. You know that.
You know it, but don’t feel it at all.
May 2017 · 343
I'll get lost
Martha O'Brien May 2017
At seventeen I swore I’d never change,
this promise broken time and again-
the longer my hair falls out of my head
and the more I move and grow and
ebb and flow, can’t I be something a little more
Snap me back like a piece of elastic.
Pierced ears are something more than
a framed photo of defiance because
I won’t let these holes close up but
sometimes I wonder
if you’ve just moved to another part of the country.
Would you recognise me, if you saw me?
May 2017 · 246
Martha O'Brien May 2017
The next book is opened and the dots joined
and meanwhile I sip my tea.
Fingers trace patterns in a fogged window;
teeth marks in chocolate that tastes like yesterday.
Meanwhile a fire crackles
and a jumper warms and a light shines
while rain soaks and ice freezes
and meanwhile,
someone else is little.
Someone else is breaking open at the edges
I stand on the edge of everything in my head
and at the same time I’m wrapped up tight,
meanwhile your favourite song plays
just as you pull up into the drive.

Stay a little. Let the battery die.
Dec 2016 · 352
Martha O'Brien Dec 2016
The sounds that circle my head are cluttered.
Somehow still always frightening, the way
they flash and scream like thunder,
storm like winter, surge like warfare fighting
to be heard above each other, the voices
that circle relentlessly, cold and lingering.
Trumpet full-blast, bassline
vibrating, floorboards shaking, ears
popping amongst this scream of fears,
engines whirring, earthquakes and
volcanoes and eruptions ever-deafening-
except here.
Except now.
With you, the volume’s turned down.
Dec 2016 · 347
Wednesday Nights
Martha O'Brien Dec 2016
Softer than cotton, standing on the toilet seat
laughing as I touch your bald head.
Hot, prickled by the razor’s touch, you rub
your stubbled cheek on my tiny face,
I squeal - missing baby teeth on show.
Lifted down and warmed up, pyjamas on and teeth brushed,
a bedtime story and guesses at what will happen next.
Tucked in and lights off, I am blind to your eyes, their tiredness,
the nights after you’ve worked through the day,
ready to come home and drink lemonade
or hot chocolate, made in the pan,
sipping sweetness and sleeping without worry.
The night shift is always on, between fixing machines
and bedtime prayers at little feet.
Warmer than summer. Smooth as velvet.
Softer than cotton.
Dec 2016 · 303
Last Winter
Martha O'Brien Dec 2016
Last Winter.
Coldest when its bitter letters
stuttered on the lips of the sender.
Someone told us that love
was the only thing that’d ever be enough.
The first and the last thing to feel.
I remember it’s moans that never came from wind
the snow that never arrived
the frost that hurt my fingertips, resting feet in someone else’s shoes.
The winter that we only just made it through
by the skin of our teeth, slid in through the doors-
I’m recalling this all wrong.
Last winter was a storm that didn’t end
and unravelled around us, a perverse blanket
that was never asked for.
We never asked last winter to come.
Nov 2016 · 335
Martha O'Brien Nov 2016
I’ll sleep tomorrow, or the next day, maybe.
Give me a call when the time’s done ticking-
ring me up when our food is done.
I’m clawing away at whatever’s left,
the edges of the wallpaper stay stuck
to the paste I dared stick my hand in-
I’m stuck here too.
Somewhere in between the foundation and the decoration
is me, somewhere else,
glued, layers weighing me down.
I’m lying awake,
with a headache, laughing,
because there’s nothing else to do.
Oct 2016 · 377
Last Week
Martha O'Brien Oct 2016
Told me your fingers go cold at the tips,
something about blood, blood spilled perhaps.
It certainly sends a shiver down somewhere,
maybe the alley behind the flats,
maybe just my spine.
I linger at the back of queues with my passport hidden
without baby steps to make my decisions,
wisps of smoke falling out of my ears,
grabbing onto cold hands, frozen memory.

Told me there’s a gap, somewhere,
where the blood won’t pump.
Something about memory
something I said, perhaps.
Sep 2016 · 258
The Babies
Martha O'Brien Sep 2016
Look at us; the babies.
There’s a photo standing on your bedside table
and it’s us, smiling, the grins of girls who grabbed on tight
to ideas that floated above us like balloon strings.
We sit and sip coffee, still fresh faced and new
but not like in that photo, there was never a hint
of how we would laugh and moan and smile
and the silences that would fall in the gaps we left.
The smiles shine from the photo frame  and sing a different tune.
We laugh at the babies who look at us, awestruck,
the babies who we want to love.
Aug 2016 · 338
Velvet Streets
Martha O'Brien Aug 2016
These velvet streets will miss us
when we’re gone from their view.
The fog that fills up behind us comes from nowhere;
my vision is clearer than ever.
You count on one hand and can’t make seven
mathematics means nothing off the paper.
It’s quite probable we mean nothing, too.
I stare at the ceiling and forget about the dishes
I wonder if I ever thought about the dishes.
I’ve always been somewhere else but, God,
I love these velvet streets.
and these velvet streets will miss us
when we count further than they can.
Jul 2016 · 496
Earth and Sea and Sky TV
Martha O'Brien Jul 2016
I cannot get a grip on the ladder
that dangles in front of me.
Somewhere else there’s somewhere different
and I’m hardly here already-
my feet are slamming and my brain’s tip-toeing
Trying hard to feel it but I’m up here floating
and my words do no justice
to how my boat is sailing
and I’m a girl overboard.
Among sofas and laptops and sunglasses and tan.
On pavements and lamp-lights and coffee and dance
all I can see are stars
but they do nothing to light the way.
Jun 2016 · 1.1k
Pencil Drawn Borders
Martha O'Brien Jun 2016
Robert tells me over curry
I’m sick of immigration,
stuffs Masala in his mouth and
sips his cup of tea.

There’s a poster on the wall
above the table in the kitchen,
There’s a diner, people laughing,
and a jukebox by the side.

Robert loves the ‘50s,
the dancing and the smiles-
when Britain won a war and
only 60 million died.

The carnival and music
passes by his window
he dances and he laughs,
marvels at the lights.

And when his car gets a scratch
He blames them on the corner
the shifty looking bloke,
He should go back home.

Robert tells me over curry
We’re going down the drain
and romanticises a past
that hurt more than it helped.
Jun 2016 · 538
Saturday at the Cemetery
Martha O'Brien Jun 2016
The tadpoles disturb the water’s edge and we smile.
The flowers upon flowers laugh in the sun,
rabbits chase each other up on the hill
and flies buzz about the bin
bickering over the last slice of fruit.
The wind whistles over empty bottles
and the smell of damp mould rises-
I turn my nose up, the tap off.
We paint you yellow, and
Don’t you look neat,
clean and shining in the heat.
The birds sing and it’s somehow still silent.
The months have passed since the cold
and life began again in the spring
(for the other things).
Looking at you
it feels like only the beginning
with stupid words and unkind men
circling my head.
I look at you now and in pain I grimace-
at least the flowers that die off can be replaced.
May 2016 · 260
False Light
Martha O'Brien May 2016
The stars linger a little longer tonight,
dancing in circles, the luminous light
pooling in puddles- I pinch myself.
I dance this shine away, the orange glow
of worn-out streetlights hitting the kerb
with nothing in return except the slightly blurred
memory I’ve got to give you before you go.
I write it all down, learn it off-by heart,
the way the light hits my hands when I skip in the dark
and yours too- I pinch myself.
The rain hits the windows and the door
doesn’t open; the stars stopped caring when
the night ended and the sun came out and then
no one cared any more.
I pinch myself at midnight when I hear your voice downstairs.
I pinch myself at midnight, because I know that you’re not there.
May 2016 · 274
The Finite Stories
Martha O'Brien May 2016
Of course that time was ours
and yours, before the end,
when the beach was busy and the
***** went flying and the
sand stuck to the top of our toes.
That’s what I think of when the sun is shining,
and the rain brings sweet-shop smiles,
cobbles and chips, salt and vinegar soaked.

Nothing smells like you, and the words lie too
and the shirts and the shoes are the only proof
left-over that the sand and the
cobbles and the chips,
and the laughs and the smiles were there.
May 2016 · 566
How We Are
Martha O'Brien May 2016
OK, mostly.
Ticking over fine,
closer, yes, and no,
we can cut the grass, it’s alright.*
The flowers are permanent now
drooping petals replaced the next day,
the kettle’s always on-
we’ll have to find time to have a cuppa-
and there’s a certain silence at night.
There’s a voice missing, high pitched and incredulous,
filling gaps, tidying shoes
letters strewn on the floor for
things that never mattered before,
I suppose it’s just a waiting game.
We’re different and torn and changing
and sad and confused and lost and
*OK, mostly.
Ticking over fine,
closer, yes, and no,
we can get the shopping in. It’s alright.
Apr 2016 · 783
Martha O'Brien Apr 2016
Don’t forget, we’ve got your eyes,
in albums, dated and neat.
Clicking, capturing what you’ll miss,
what’s unmissable,
framing the memories for us so
we’ve got them when you’re gone.
I can hear your laugh when I see your smile
but better still I can wonder why
you pointed a lens at a clear sky
and wonder why I do, too.
Apr 2016 · 268
Without Hesitation
Martha O'Brien Apr 2016
To love it all-
the world and more-
is an adventure. To live and to love
with a grin and a laugh
with the songs that echoed your words
and your frowns that meant nothing at all
and to hold onto memories like bedtime stories
and repeat them and laugh
and to simply not care
and to sing the same words over and over
and to play that tape, Side A, Side, B, Side A,
to smile
and to photograph it all,
to frame your love,
and to laugh
and to laugh
and to laugh.
I’d be a part of that adventure again.
I’ll make it mine, I swear.
Mar 2016 · 523
Red Man
Martha O'Brien Mar 2016
The wind whispers its secrets to the trees
while we are still. Still, on the hill,
resting on the blanket while our toes feel the grass,
just a dot on a map. A pinprick,
not enough to unsettle the water.
See that man in the red shirt with the blurred face
surrounded by green in the heat of the day?
It takes a while to find him, after you’ve traced my finger.
There’s no camera and no visions
no landmark over there, you say.
My eyes follow the blue in the sky over to the green
and that red. Where no one will see
what doesn’t matter;
that red dot that climbs is too small for memory
and he’s fading around a corner.
Quietly, I wonder
if the eyes in my head are enough proof.
And what mountain holds medals
for people who have no care for them.
Martha O'Brien Mar 2016
Everything stopped growing when I stopped trying;
now my watering can is empty and my garden’s always dying
but whatever, now it’s over,
it’s over and I’m stuck-
I wish I didn’t care about this friend’s fake love
that silences could easily be filled up
with this middle filler ******* to get me out of a rut
but nothing is working and my eyes won’t stay shut,
and the flowers in the compost tell me my time’s up.
I put myself on pause for a break of sorts
but now I can’t press play as I once thought
and I’m watching, out of the window, car exhausts.
Smoky trails, like the way I talk.
Mar 2016 · 378
Martha O'Brien Mar 2016
If I lose my face again
if my smile dampens at the ends
my eyes don’t close at half past ten
know I’m still in here watching.

If my sentences trail away
if my words don’t match what I mean to say
if I don’t speak because I can’t explain
I’m still in here, waiting.

And most of all, if I’m the same
if you look at me and don’t see pain
if you’re proud I haven’t faded away,
know I still flinch at surprises
my soul still cries at night
know I’m trapped inside glass
everyone stares and I laugh
I’m stuck, and I wish I was hiding.
Mar 2016 · 313
Whispers in the Evening
Martha O'Brien Mar 2016
Smiles speak more than words can say
but are lost in words with empty meaning.
The glances and faces are answers enough
to the questions people ask
with a soft tone that stings like a knife.
As the stars begin to show
thoughts float up, and in the darkness, love is lost.

Quiet, soft, sound, (lonely),
reflections, (unwanted), swirl in a pool of mist.
Too scared to shout in the early hours
I am resigned to evening whispers (not enough)
where words are laced with a sing-song voice
laughter floats around every sentence
and music plays in silences (not enough).
Softness is sometimes toxic.
The anger bubbles beneath the surface
as I try to smile through it (not enough)
and my words are smiles and sunshine
because it’s all I want to be.
Feb 2016 · 632
Martha O'Brien Feb 2016
It’s impossible not to hear that bubblegum pop
and hate every word that comes after.
God, she chews like it’s nobody’s business
but does it through a microphone.
My eyes are screaming
in silent blasts-
What’s new? Shelley’s cut her knee
John’s taken up smoking
Emma’s stopped seeing that boy
and they tell me it’s all poetry and peace
there’s all meaning in the tragedy
silver linings lace the pain.
I’m waiting on the text that should’ve arrived last week
on the words that’ll stay unsaid;
I’m waiting for the train I can jump on quick
to a place I’ll feel just feeling
where everything simply is what it is.
I’m waiting
I’m waiting.
Feb 2016 · 255
Love in Silence
Martha O'Brien Feb 2016
I just love the softness
the silence and the smiles
the whispers and the fingertips-
soft notes linger in the winter.
It’s noisy, I know.
It always has been but lately it’s loud-
eyes peep through keyholes
and the embraces are laced with indifference.
I just love the silence
the whispers and the fingertips
the words that do not say love
but nonetheless mean it.
Feb 2016 · 310
Martha O'Brien Feb 2016
There’s a smell seeping in through the walls;
lazy words aren’t enough for men of rock,
they crumble under pressure.
Flood warnings batter the windows,
the things we love stay inside, untouched-
we don’t care anymore.
Sometimes you just have too many pairs of shoes
and not enough room
sometimes you’ve got blisters on your ankles
and you need to go barefoot.
Nights before circle my mind
like bicycle wheels on a scrap heap
moving once;
useless now.
Jan 2016 · 666
Martha O'Brien Jan 2016
The trees are green, the
sky is blue, I saw the sun
and knew it was you.
Jan 2016 · 521
Martha O'Brien Jan 2016
We’ve held onto secrets like sweets
the last ones at the bottom of the bag,
I’ve held hands with mirror images
turned away from lies,
stripped bare of the stories in my eyes
I’m holding back butterflies
and turning over in bed
thinking of hands and smells.
I’m clutching at floating words
thinking of things to say
filling a silence with more.
I thought I saw the future in a teacup
I’m just tasting the past on repeat
it’s never quite the same but
it never really was.
Dec 2015 · 382
The Changes
Martha O'Brien Dec 2015
I look for joy in the corners of smiles
where you still hide
and I stare out of windows
at a world that turns without a centre.
I sing old songs with a newer meaning
and I dance like I always did.
I thought I saw you in the moon and remembered
that’s not where people go-
I thought I saw you in the street, and remembered.
I stare at my hands and listen to stories
of how rain makes people miserable
and how night makes people miserable
and how songs make people miserable.
The curtains crack open in my sleeplessness
and I stare at a blurry blackness,
where the joy in your smile is at the front of my mind
with your shoes and your shirts and your songs.
I look for joy in the corners of smiles,
where joy is hardest to find.
Nov 2015 · 483
Coasters and Posters
Martha O'Brien Nov 2015
Richard's always lived at number 52
With his buttoned-down shirt
and his laced-up shoes,
and the damp on the wall
where a photo never moves
and his mother and father and sister,
they live there too.

Richard's always lived at number 52
Even when the council
tried to get him to move
he straightened his tie
and he showed them the door
Old men don't bother Richard anymore.

Richard's always lived at number 52,
He told me once
he was born in the back room
On that same sofa where he lies and watches TV
his mother tells him she was 7 hours in agony.

Richard's always lived at number 52
Only last month's mortgage payment fell through,
so a van came with boxes
and took Richard's bed
and they took his TV and his fridge and his head.

Richard used to live at number 52
where music would play
and he'd hum his own tune
but now there's damp on the wall
and the picture's been moved
and Richard doesn't know who
lives at number 52
Nov 2015 · 671
The Sun Set Before You Left
Martha O'Brien Nov 2015
Your hands are open, palms up and honest.
My pockets are heavy,
wish I could break apart these fists
throw these weights over the edge.

We’re standing by the ocean watching the tide-
you feel the water on your toes
I watch it leave.
You show me open palms
and I apologise for heavy pockets
we stay by the water, cold and confused.
Oct 2015 · 739
Self Destruct
Martha O'Brien Oct 2015
There’s a grenade next door
that shouts and snores-
pulls its own pin,
leaves a blaze that it forgets by morning.
Sometimes there’s wounds that it leaves behind,
sometimes they’re mine,
but if I’m not the firing squad
I’m not taking the blame.
The fire stays low burning
it can add its own fuel
so I’ll stay low burning
and ignore the forest in flames.
I’ve tried buckets of water.
Sometimes, I’ve struck the match.
Nothing works so I only keep watching
silent, screaming, sound.
Oct 2015 · 386
Martha O'Brien Oct 2015
I’ve finally felt that crawling cold
that creeps with every whisper
the shiver when they say
money doesn’t buy you love
the guilt that comes with half finished plates
the uncertainty that lies under pillows
that hides in pockets
the dazed wanders through days
nails bitten to the thumb
I’ve felt those shaking floorboards under my feet
ready to drop down
and I’ve looked into the ocean and seen its depths unknown
I’ve hummed tunes over worry
melodies through madness
to cover myself from biting wind that whips my cheeks
and stains my brain,
I’ve sat with a blindfold that I cannot take off
but I’ve still felt the ice, harsh, on my skin.
Oct 2015 · 467
Martha O'Brien Oct 2015
I said I’d only ever struggle.
That fire would only ever mean trouble,
that I’d never strike a match
or leave a blaze burning,
I had accepted a simple fate of water and waves
of calm before storms,
watching fires from a distance,
safe from their burns,
their orange light a warning sign, burning bright and clear.
Now I see how my sea was all wrong,
I had never watched fireworks dance in the night
I had never read love letters by candlelight
I had not let light lead a way
or run through chaos
and now I don’t let my skin singe in spite
I am impossible to burn
I never saw a future of fire eating
yet here it is and I’m burning
I’m setting alight everything I never needed
and from the ashes, rising,
is everything I never knew I missed.
Oct 2015 · 571
Martha O'Brien Oct 2015
I cannot tell if I am living on the edges
or sticking in the frame
without words to seep out
I don’t know what I need to say.
I wish you’d be a little clearer.
That I’d love a little more.
That eyes could open and close
without being ordered to,
that when truth comes out
it’s not like a trigger,
I don’t dodge the bullet
because it could be something bigger
and it could be something better
and I’ll need it instead of being bitter
about being trapped inside a frame.
Martha O'Brien Oct 2015
When Yesterday comes calling,
I’ll close tight the door.
I’ll tell him I don’t need the feelings
that I had before.

When Yesterday comes calling
I won’t invite him in for tea.
I’ll stand there on the doorstep
and ask why he’s come for me.

When Yesterday comes calling
I’ll ask him if he’s new.
He’ll tell me that it will be different
I’ll say a change is overdue.

When Yesterday comes calling
I think I’ll change my mind.
My heart and head will soften
I’ll accept him one more time.

When Yesterday comes calling-
and he will, I know that now
I’ll give him all my second chances
and know that then, I can be found.
Sep 2015 · 306
Martha O'Brien Sep 2015
I could tell you a secret
but I don’t know if it’s mine
or if it belongs to someone who kept it locked in a box
with bobbles and hair clips
and scribbles and pen lids,
if it’s kept in her bottle
******* tight, filled by the fountain.
Who knows if anything is the same
when what I read is like stories,
and what I remember isn’t what I wrote,
and if the secrets belong to someone
who isn’t here anymore
are they really secrets at all?
Sep 2015 · 452
Martha O'Brien Sep 2015
The cobbled stones aren’t what they used to be
got chewing gum trodden down
coke cans crushed in the gaps
tree roots popping through tarmac,
bus shelters and sky scrapers,
like no one knows where they came from except,
your grandmother, she says,
remember when this was fields,
she says,
we used to go out dancing,
and you think, those cobbled squares are dance mats
like feet tapping before chewing gum got stuck
and those pavements are playing fields
because ***** still bounce on the ground.
And she says
you probably don’t remember
but you think,
one day I probably will.
Sep 2015 · 563
Martha O'Brien Sep 2015
I really ought to know better, by now
that the river won’t flow if I tell it to
that the puppet strings can’t be pulled by these hands-
that they shouldn’t be pulled by these hands-
that the sky isn’t blue because I want it to be
that the clouds won’t cry when I want them to
that my wonderings aren’t like law.

Girls and boys won’t play with toys
and breathing figurines are no replacement
they ought to know better by now, about this
but so often do the puppet strings pull
and so often do I want to touch the handles
but I know better by now, I do.
Aug 2015 · 442
The Ending
Martha O'Brien Aug 2015
She sits on a step with a book in her lap
and water from the tap in a re-used bottle.
She reads and she writes and she thinks as she types
she’s got air and space, there’s a trace of some pain
but it’s not out for show, most people don’t know
it’s under the collar, real undercover stuff,
and she had enough long ago, but doesn’t mind.
It’s not all the time, hiding’s second nature,
so butterflies and landscapes litter the words
and she lives far away, with so much to say
and here she is safe, because everyone can see.

He sits on the sofa with a letter in his hand
and drink in a can left-over from last night.
He snores and he sighs and he screams as he cries,
he feels angry and bored, but she’s not here anymore
so he can’t let it out, when no one’s about
it’s only allowed when it’s just one on one.
He said he was done, done after the first time
but she would just wind him up, and she runs out
so he’s done for the final time, no more chances,
she’s probably gone far away, she always had too much to say,
and he’s living in regret, because everyone might see.
Aug 2015 · 279
Running into the inevitable
Martha O'Brien Aug 2015
Sometimes I’ll be in the rain on a Sunday
with the wind in my face and my hair in my face
and the future in my face
screaming for me to run towards it,
but the fog is too much, the wind is too much
and I’ll want to stop for a moment, to stop forever-
The howl of the future turns into a song
the wind changes direction and pushes me on,
suddenly there’s laughing and lightning and love
there’s late nights and coffee and burning and sun
there’s music and dancing
there’s memories and forgetting
there’s all of it together
none of it bad
none of it good
all of it there
telling me to run, like there’s no other answer
like if I don’t it’ll only come faster
like if I smile it’ll only be better
so I put on my coat and I change up my face
and I run.
Aug 2015 · 633
Martha O'Brien Aug 2015
We’ve got blood.
It runs through my veins, when I hold your hand,
it’s got you too.
I probably left my skin a little loose.
I never meant to bleed on you
I guess that’s just what we do,
sharing this space it’s impossible not to.
I don’t say a word and you have a reply
because the blood inside never runs dry
you know without seeing
and can see without saying
I’ll give you your answers you never needed
until I uttered them, and you’ll give me guidance
without really meaning it but it sticks.
Don’t clot now, we’re a river and a cycle
donate the love with a needle
see how we’re forever, not a choice but a given
enriching lives we’re living, because of course -
we’ve got blood
and its stains don’t wash off.
Martha O'Brien Aug 2015
I can feel a pull to something and I don’t know what it is.
Too often I’ve hidden behind my words
time after time
I’ve made rhymes I don’t mean
my mind has spilled without my permission;
something about it feels right
but my heart might be wrong.
I always wanted to lay out my feelings one by one
but they’re tangled like headphones in my pocket.
I’ve always been desperate for questions
but I’ve never given answers,
always felt a bit narcissistic
that one day I could do something fantastic,
and no one would be there to see.
I’ve never understood the meaning of the word “me”,
and believe me I’ve tried
always laughed at people hiding,
“finding” themselves,
I don’t know why I’m giving directions
when I’m more lost than ever.
All I need is to see, and to hear, and to touch and smell and taste,
to base life off what I do
instead of who I am
contradict my own plan, I’ll change my mind next week
but I’m running out of time, life is long
but it feels like winter,
like the days are getting shorter
and I’ll be this confused until I’m gone.
Jul 2015 · 1.0k
The Way There
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
There’s a cottage on the road, on the way,
I can’t see its name, but I hope that it’s nice.
There are views of seas
and views of trees
there are castles and things older than I’ll ever be
I can’t clearly see, for the rain on the window,
but there’s enough to keep me wondering
about places I’ll never wander.
There’s a sign and it says
and I wonder if that’s true,
then I hope that that’s true,
and we’re gone before I believe it to be.
There might have been something before I was here
that caught an eye like mine
perhaps it is still trapped there
in a mind long gone,
so I close my eyes, so as not to steal the sights
then remember they’re already mine.
Jul 2015 · 617
Ring of Fire
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
In the middle of the ring of fire,
I yell and receive thick laughter.
As the flames around me grow higher,
I wonder how I am here, here again
dancing with the things I fear most, though,
afraid of my own skin,
I wonder if dancing alone would help.
Those who watch cheer at the bravery,
carry their own candles in the hope of feeling empathy
but these flames are only stories
the burns are fiction, you see
the fear and anguish can’t harm them
if they refuse to feel the heat.
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
The voice in my head speaks of love and loss.
It comes out in predictable metaphors,
wants to speak in frustrating monotone,
wants to reflect those crude comparisons
of cigarettes and ticket stubs,
rain on windows and kisses on the bus
wants to feel what I haven’t
and live what others have.

Me, I’m trying to tell you about the damp in the window pane.
Honesty is hard but I want to avoid cliche,
I’m listening to broken records
and scratching at the ceiling,
I’m scribbling out rhymes in attempt to get feeling
I’m throwing pens at the wall
because all I’m writing is writing
and I’d rather nothing at all
but I’ve got to keep the light on.
Jul 2015 · 593
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
Out of my hands, this is hot off the press.
The burning paper singes my hands
I drop the news on the floor;
I leave it for somebody else to find.
My brain cries out,
it is forever forced into corners
impossible equations with unbreakable solutions.
My mind asks a million questions,
my heart gives a million answers,
none of which I can follow,
it’s desperate.
And I see it.
And I feel it, and I know.
Whatever I do is wrong.
Jul 2015 · 496
Brain Freeze
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
In the middle of the night
I do not scribble
I let my thoughts settle
like steam on a mirror.  
They are gone by morning;
my mind is cooled.
I can trace my finger in the fog
when all is cool
suddenly the night arrives
and the words appear
clearer now, fading fast.
I change states too fast
from clear to freezing
and my mind gets trapped
in a block of ice-
it is only sometimes that the temperature is perfect
that the thoughts flow
like a river,
in a boat, sailing on them perfectly.
Jul 2015 · 500
Hide and Seek
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
You, sickly sweet;
practical joke, chocolate onion.
You, you’re separate,
special treatment; VIP, though
undeserved, no different mud on your feet
than on mine.
A hundred times I’ve seen the lie
through pools in your eyes,
fools learn, but I’ve been fooled many times.
You, forget reading signposts
find your way on your own.
You, undisputed, impossible,
will not, will not, will not be told.
Child, scalded but so you say
never wrong, every time, full score set.
Jul 2015 · 510
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
Get under my skin,
pull at the nerves.
It has been a long time
since I let you in;
you haven’t got a key but you break down the door.
You can pack me up with a stamp
send me off, be rid,
but I’ll only end up on richer shores.
If you want to win the lottery
simply to watch me pick up pennies-
But don’t think I am less noise
less light
less space
because that is what you want.
Martha O'Brien Jul 2015
There’s sometimes a space
between closing the door and turning on the light.
In the darkness I see tentacles,
I see bursts of evil, I flick a switch
and swear everything scary is under the bed.
Alone, I’ll run out of bathroom cubicles,
I’ll hurriedly wash my hands in the sink,
I’ll feel a face creeping up behind the mirror,
walk double speed down a school corridor
desperate for company, followed by a feeling
someone is watching.

On weekends I’ll wait at a bus stop-
a man with a cigarette stares at my skirt
I shift my glance sideways,
I stand next to the lady with the pushchair,
I grip my ticket fiercely.
I stare at empty bedsheets and covered walls
and wonder if the body will be gone soon, too,
I celebrate and **** the knock on the door,
I wait for the day it won’t come.
I spill out my words and wait for ridicule
I paint out patterns that shouldn't exist
I feel the silent murmurs of disagreement
I swallow down my pride and hide.

I hide away in my bedsheets so the monsters cannot get me.
I hide away at bus stops so the monsters will not get me.
I hide away from confessions so the monsters cannot get me.
As long as I cannot be courageous; the monsters will not get me.
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