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3.3k · May 2015
Not Good Enough
Martha O'Brien May 2015
I have my soul trapped in a cage
I churn out the same pages of paper that I know will be popular
and I detach myself
from what I really am
and inside I’m yelling to stop the lies-
all the time I’m typing
I’m trying, I am
I’m writing on cheap notebook pages with a broken pen
to try and end what I’m killing off but
it’s a different kind of ******
where the survivors are not as good.
I’m writing before I know what I’ve written
within minutes I’m done, expecting the best
but I find myself ignoring the rest
finishing touches are for perfectionists-
the rawness is what I love but
I’ve never loved
a project like I’ve loved one
that comes after months.
It’s all a lie and I hate to say it but
I can’t even look.
2.8k · Jun 2015
Martha O'Brien Jun 2015
I set fire to yesterdays
and watch my fire burn out.
I watched the last sparks dance in the darkness
and felt warmth from their flame,
I gained energy from their memory
they sang to me about what once was.

They are gone now; I am an ocean.
Cool and wild all at once, cold and uncontrollable,
calm and welcoming.
I do not fear the yesterdays.
I learn from their mistakes and embrace tomorrows.  

Claustrophobic no longer,
the embers made me stronger,
dark orange lit up the night.
These matches were not wasted
I can taste the future with anticipation,
with no regret for what I have burned away.
2.0k · Jun 2015
Martha O'Brien Jun 2015
I know I’m not the only one,
and I don’t mean like that song.
I know I’m not the first person to stand on this grass,
not the first person to ask
big questions like, “why are we here?”,
I know I’m nowhere near unique.
I come up with new ideas every week,
not one is my own,
and I know I’m no thief,
I’m just taking a leaf out of finished books
because it looks like I’m not alone.
Why have a photo in my possession
when someone’s taken it before?
There are so many more people like me
who see and have seen
the world like I do
so I shouldn’t feel brand new,
but these similarities only make things more intense.
See, it’s not pointless sharing a dream.
Looking at the same sky,
even Socrates is a relatable guy-
I’m not saying anything you haven’t thought
but maybe this is in words you haven’t heard before.
The company in history makes the moments fuller,
the laughs longer,
the impact stronger.
I know I’m not the first
but I’m certainly not the last,
when this moment has passed,
this moment of awe, of thought,
like a domino, someone else will feel it.
We breathe the same air so why not say the same prayer?
I’m not sad that I’m not alone.
That these thoughts aren’t always just my own.
I’m in pretty good company with the rest of history
and I’m happy to be living in a place
where people look out to space
and wonder what is there.
It’s just funny.
How that the most common feeling is being lonely
and we all feel it.
All of us at once.
It's a long one, but a spoken word! Listen to it at
1.1k · Jun 2016
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.
1.0k · Jul 2015
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.
957 · May 2015
You are not your body
Martha O'Brien May 2015
You are not your body.
You never have been, and you never will be.
And if you ever trick yourself into thinking
that you are anything but your mind
remember that your mind is modest
and wants you to believe something different.
A house is made a home by the people in it
and a car is only as good as its driver
so if the things that you strive for
are looking good on the outside
while your mind is plagued
maybe rethink; every day
that you spend stressing over a spot while
the acne in your mind is ignored;
whenever you’re bored of being you
and the way your hair falls
or the way you sound on phone calls,
you waste time because you can’t knock down a house
but you can redecorate the insides.
The way that you think and draw and write and read
is more important than your knobbly knees
or your back acne
and your creativity
is so much more
than the podge on your belly that you want to ignore
how much can I stress
that the size of your chest
doesn’t make the punchlines of your jokes
any less funny-
and you might think
that your frizzy hair and braces
will stop you from going places
remember that life doesn’t go in straight lines
so your hair and teeth don’t have to.
And if anyone you meet
only focuses on the way you look and speak
instead of the things you say and do
they’re not people worth talking to.
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.
798 · May 2015
No reply
Martha O'Brien May 2015
Hide behind
a thousand lies
and smiles and sighs
and blank replies

Rely on eyes
but sight is compromised
when the conversation runs dry
due to a stifled cry

Let things lie;
not scared to die
but as it’s shouted,
“Give it a try!"
it implodes and is left hanging

No reply.
783 · Apr 2016
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.
782 · May 2015
Space's Edge
Martha O'Brien May 2015
This sky makes me realise
how near the edges of the world are.
This obsession with soul fills me like a glass of water
this rain pours out of the sky and I overflow.
I cry against lightning, the thunder yells back
we sing together, harmonise against the trapped space,
empty place;
boxes that confine, space and time, they say,
spread out infinitely, I only feel the finite
I see the might of what I could be
imagine the thunder being me
I just know I already am this storm,
hidden behind skin and bone.
I run until the hurricane is no more
until the thunderstorm stops
I write until these words leave my body
I write until I’m not so overcrowded
I write until I-
I write until-
I write.
757 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
Suddenly it’s public
and suddenly it’s there-
a domain of information
that I never wished to share, carelessly
dropped in a sea of confession
that accidentally washed ashore
the things I had forgotten;
questions I can’t answer,
codes I can’t crack,
memories I didn’t know existed,
I don’t want back.
739 · Oct 2015
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.
Martha O'Brien May 2015
A percentage and a number
memorised by heart, only
I’m trying to learn it, trying to grasp it,
voices screaming, rhyming,
this couldn’t be worse timing
my pen defies my head
screams grow louder until later,
later, in bed, pen to paper, later-
they’re gone.
Silent voices, not complying,
slowly dying off, when I need them they’re not there
imagination is bare
only needs to be distracted
to start yelling again.
671 · Nov 2015
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.
666 · Jan 2016
Martha O'Brien Jan 2016
The trees are green, the
sky is blue, I saw the sun
and knew it was you.
647 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
I am sour.
I am the mould on the side of an orange
I am the face of a sickly sweet
I am the smell of dirt rising
I am the isolated fruit on the tree.
The smile on the end of a photo,
I am the one with the knot inside
bitter like broken taste-buds,
I am the sand in the tide.
It was an accident that the tip is so large
an accident to leave food out in the sun.
If I were braver, I could be sweeter
but I cannot shake what has been done.
634 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
“Mother, let’s go to the seaside”
she said and so they went
holding hands across the sands
trying not to get wet

“Mother, let’s go to the ocean”
she said and so they walked
at different strides into the tides
laughing aloud as they talked

“Mother, let’s run on the beach now”
she said and so she ran
her hair flying behind as she looked at the sky
straying away from the plan

“Mother, can we go home now?”
she asked but no one replied
she looked at her hand, empty, covered in sand,
and sat down on the beach and cried.
633 · Aug 2015
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.
633 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
Fold back the corners of the sky
enveloped in black,
released in blue.
Fingertips touch the shine
rip through
poke holes in the blanket-
the dust is cloud,
the rips, stars
the accidents beauty
the sky;
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.
632 · Feb 2016
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.
617 · Jul 2015
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.
593 · Jul 2015
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.
581 · Jun 2015
Martha O'Brien Jun 2015
There are leeches on the walls
and everything in this house is falling apart.
The souls, the old blankets,
the wallpaper and the book spines,
it’s all coming apart at the edges
like ripped fabric, seams undone.
Observing chaos, I feel ****** in,
I feel like falling, like subtle dust-
it cannot be seen until it is wiped away.
The covers in the corner stack up my thoughts
like a claustrophobic mind space,
30 centimetres from the ceiling.
Trying to sing but it sounds like shouting-
there’s an escape route through the bookshelves;
when I need saving I save myself.
At least it’s consistent, a mess I never notice;
a secret I don’t know exists.
Outside there’s always laughing, summer and rain.
Here, there are leeches on the walls.
And everything in this house is falling apart.
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.
571 · Oct 2015
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.
570 · Nov 2017
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.
566 · May 2016
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.
563 · Sep 2015
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.
541 · Jun 2016
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.
541 · May 2015
You are a Fake
Martha O'Brien May 2015
I told myself-
you are a fake.
Your words do not take
as long to write
as others might
so while
you smile
at the words they say
don’t get carried away
because while your words came from the soul,
you never counted the measure, never had control,
there was never a rhythm,  there was never a rhyme,
there was never a certain length to a line,
and when you say it can be done
by anyone
you mean it-
feel it
don’t believe it’s at all unique
don’t deserve the smiles, don’t deserve the words
don’t deserve to be preserved on paper, pens,
stories with no end
the truth is I only write what I bleed
it’s why I only say what I mean
so if my thoughts aren’t always that deep
how many secrets
will I accidentally keep?
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.
523 · Mar 2016
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.
521 · Jan 2016
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.
510 · Jul 2015
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.
500 · Jul 2015
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.
496 · Jul 2015
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.
496 · Jul 2016
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.
483 · Nov 2015
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
478 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
She walks
like she can’t feel the wind on her face
and like her shoes don’t ache
and like it’s not about to rain on her parade
but I can’t even
hold down my skirt
from blowing and I know that I
squint every time there’s a light breeze-
I topple over like skittles in a bowling alley
and she’s standing like a rock
fighting against the waves that thrash against it.
If I wasn’t this
I could be that too.
477 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
White walls cannot weep;
their silence screams something stronger.
How many footsteps on these floors,
bodies in these beds?
How many conversations in these corridors,
emotions in these empty spaces?
Not a trace is left-
the chemicals bleach away our whispers of concern.
A pin drops
and echoes; still. A face turns
and moves and leaves
and we cannot be sure if it was ever really there.
474 · Jun 2015
Liquid Expression
Martha O'Brien Jun 2015
I can’t stop thinking about concrete words
when all that falls out of my brain is water.
Future thoughts, thinking,
I could never take you home
There’s mess and memory
times I had love that meant nothing
times I did nothing and meant love.
I had, once upon a time,
looked at buildings and saw them like words,
I could write something that stayed.
Now it all gets washed away with the tide
because there’s nothing to say
and I’m clinging onto dreams of solidity
when all I’ve got is liquid.
467 · Oct 2015
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.
457 · May 2015
Sticks and Stones
Martha O'Brien May 2015
The problem is, with
a punch, the bruising fades. Words
stay clear forever.
452 · Sep 2015
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.
442 · Aug 2015
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.
430 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
The night sky isn’t mine
yet it reminds me that I am alive.
I cannot hold it in my hands
or stick it on my wall
like a prized possession
but I can look up and remember
that I have so much left to discover;
to explore.
That someone, somewhere,
looks up at that same sky,
thinking the same as I do-
together we are connected
by a cluster of constellations,
that even though sometimes the clouds may cover,
even though the rain might beat down on my face,
forcing my gaze in another direction
that will never alter my perception-
the night sky is still somehow that magic connection
I’ll keep until the day that I die.
407 · May 2015
Writing in Secret
Martha O'Brien May 2015
I whisper my verses
I hide them away;
not everything is a story
that words can contain.

I scribble conversations
through floorboards in the night;
though the words on the page
won’t go out of my sight.

I tell people I’m writing;
they read my words while I’m there
they don’t know it’s a secret
that was difficult to share.

I can feel that you’re reading
and part of me wants you to ask-
though I’ve been writing in secret
the secret can’t last.
396 · May 2015
Martha O'Brien May 2015
He laces his lies with truths
to make them more believable;
his normality is nocturnal
a screamer in the morning
a snorer in the night.
His separation is deliberate-
claims it is unfortunate;
his ideas are strong
a proud owner of his own mind
but unable to see that he
may lose it before long.
386 · Oct 2015
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.
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