Category Archives: poetry

Here’s a concept:

a woman
who does not want kids
who is not vilified for loving men
and women and everyone in between
who has tattoos
just because she wanted them
not because they mean something
who swears and has sex
and isn’t condemned
for wearing short skirts and crop
topped up her Go card with her
equal wages, she catches the bus
to the abortion clinic where she is
not harassed, and takes home
a box of doms and a new prescription

Raelee Lancaster

Reflections

I’m good at sitting by a window and staring blankly at an iridescent sky
I’m not good at looking people in the eye

I used to be a dreamer, dancing through life without much care
Now I worry about which path to follow next, and I long for times gone by

I am talented and honest and good
I am not talented or honest or good

If you held my hand, I would look closely at our touching skin, confused and disorientated

Then I’d close my fingers tightly around your hand like it’s a knee-jerk reaction while still not feeling a single sensation

I like it when the sun goes down and the world is shrouded in darkness and mystery
I don’t like mysteries

I know a lot about very little
I know nothing about quite a lot

I admire the ways in which the earth can give way to such beautiful things
I don’t respect that as much as I should

I believe in fairytales and magic and the power of love
I don’t believe in myself

Raelee Lancaster

Triggered, Vol. 1

1.

A tap on my shoulder can take me back
to plates smashing against walls and her eyes
ringed black and blue, like an off-coloured dart board.
One touch and I am shaken, transformed
from a level-headed woman to a young girl,
small and hiding in the closet, waiting.

2.

The blame game was one she and I often played –
her first: face and arms a colour palette
of bruises, handprints, and mild burns;
her fault, he said.
Then me: making a fuss, making him hurt her;
my fault, she said.

3.

A voice raised in drunken exclamation or a laugh
pitched just a little too high turns sour in my ears,
transforming into ugly screams and cries – his, hers, mine.
The sounds get louder and my chest gets tighter,
my shoulders tense and my limbs get heavy
as I wait for the tears to fall and the fists to fly.

4.

The kitchen sink and I were intimate friends, it knew me;
my hands cleaned it, my tears rolled into it, her hand pushing my head against it.
For every scrap or bump I received, he gave back to her tenfold,
and so the wheel continued to turn – her, me, her, me…
so much yelling and crying, scream at me – to go, to stay.
So I sat in my closet and waited.

Raelee Lancaster

 

Do you?

Do you ever, when you meet someone new,
Fear that they are racist?

Do you studying them quietly,
Subtly tensing when they open their mouths to talk?

Do you know what to say
If your new acquaintance said something untoward?

Would you pull the person up straight away,
Or would you take a gentler approach?

Would you, scared of confrontation,
Laugh awkwardly and immediately change the subject?

Or, would you join in,
Laughing at the expense of another because of the colour of their skin?

Are you constantly on edge, aware of everyone around you,
worrying about being verbally or physically abused in the street?

Do you notice the way the everyone
Looks that black man up and down?

Do you notice how they side-eye the girl
Wearing the hijab?

Do you feel lost in a white-noise sea?
Do you?

Raelee Lancaster

Echo

a heaviness sat on her chest, pressing
leaving behind a darkness that marred
that pierced a black hole in her chest
a relentless hole that sucked all emotion up
into its void; the good, the bad
and the ugly.

no tears leaked from her eyes, though
a faint ache pulled on her heart and
a bubble of air lodged itself in her throat
she tried to swallow it down, only to be left
with a sharp pain in her lungs
and a heavy lull in her chest.

the man she saw before her
was no man at all
he laid too still, too peacefully
folded up in the carved-marble box
ready to be bolted shut and locked away
until it grew old and dusty.

the white rose she held tightly in her palm
was pressed against her nose
the small hum of his breath as he slept
echoed in her ears
an echo of what used to be
and would never be again

she inhaled a shaky breath
the floral aroma of rose petals
flooded her senses
she closed her eyes
and finally cried.

Raelee Lancaster

The Seven-Sided Crow

I call him brother—
The ancestors come to Earth.
But who is the crow?

Thief! Prometheus!
Stealing fire for himself;
Protecting his flame.

His wings are knives’ blades,
Each feather a tapered point
Cutting through the sky.

The softness he hides:
His beak nestled in his chest,
His eyes close—content.

From the tree he falls
Into the fire below,
Stained by the charcoal.

Lurking in the air,
Scavenging for his next meal,
He spies a stray chip…

Black as night—death
He’s darkness personified;
Evil, an omen.

Raelee Lancaster

Where The Wild Things Live

My feed is an endless stream of politics opinion pieces and poetry, I untangle myself
from the hot messes and Buzzfeed banter only to get tangled up again
in the comments section below – where the wild things live
alongside racism and xenophobia and the policing of women’s bodies
shamed and ridiculed until I feel dirty just by looking at words on a screen as if

They can see me sitting on the couch, slurping wine from a coffee cup
shoving m&ms into my mouth staining my lips a mix of red and blue
(because I’ve always been suspicious of the yellow and green ones)
while they tear me down, piece by piece, champions of humanity

Hiding behind their keyboards, hunched over the monitor one finger
hovering over the enter key for just a second before they send off their vitriol, excited
by the constant flow of verbal incontinence that projects from their mouths

They lick their lips saucily, removing their hand from inside their jeans to
wipe the sweat off their brow, eagerly awaiting their next target to dare step
into their cyber space – discussing topics that don’t concern them like the fact that

Abortions are hard to come by and tampons are too expensive – because if a woman
talks about sex openly she is a slut, but if her vagina is used for anything other
than a resting place for their lumpy cock, well they just don’t want to hear about that

My feed is an endless stream of gender roles and Nice Guys™, people who would prefer
if I sat there and look pretty, meeting their impossible standards; people who want
to govern my being, telling me how to think and feel –

They are the wild things, and this is where they live; sitting in a basement
with their WiFi connection, making me feel dirty and tearing me down, bit by bit
until I log off in a flourish of anger, only to log back in an hour later
and do it all again

Raelee Lancaster

Walking across campus late at night

street lights flicker
like a scene from a horror film
you keep your posture rigid
and your feet moving fast
each sound makes you wary
of a constant, invisible danger
though invisible it may be
it is no less prominent –
it might not be all
but it could be any

you’re always on red alert
never slowing down
keys clutched in one hand
your phone in the other
a pointer finger
hovering over speed-dial
a person walks past you and smiles
the voice in your head wonders
how long would it take to run
the last two hundred metres home

Raelee Lancaster

Cloth-Covered Self-Consciousness

cloth-covered self-consciousness is hiding myself from a conscious world
so used to caring about the way a woman looks, judging her on the
shortness of her skirt, the height of her heels, the thickness of her thighs…

cloth-covered self-consciousness is being wrapped up in cotton and wool
warm inside the self-made cocoon, hiding from the critical eyes
hiding from boys and driving myself mad trying to look perfect.

cloth-covered self-consciousness is being hurled into a never-ending procession
of make-up and matching prints and tidy, straightened hair, I swear
if that boy never looks at me, I’ll die – even though secretly dig his sister…

cloth-covered self-consciousness is buying more clothes to cover up because
the feeling of the fabric against my skin is more comfortable than the feeling
of another person’s flesh touching mine.

cloth-covered self-consciousness is being told from birth to look and act
like a lady, is feeling compelled to leave the house looking like the perfect doll
is in a small packaged dropped at your door every other week.

cloth-covered self-consciousness is me placing my self-worth in pieces of fabric
and then shamed because I spend my hard-earned money on material items; they say
money can’t buy happiness, but cloth-covered self-consciousness is the only happiness I have…

Raelee Lancaster