Category Archives: poetry

Nero

He’ll stand before you and he’ll cry, just to prove that he’s really quite a nice guy. After that, he’ll serenade you – because that’s what you do to avoid a coup. Sure, he murdered hundreds, probably more! But he only did that because he was poor. Often, he’d burn Christians alive at night, because every Emperor needs a little candle-light. He killed his wives, but so what? Those bitches deserved whatever they got. So did Britannicus, his unworthy step-brother. And don’t get me started on his mother! Some say he was crazy, foolish, and mad. But to me, Nero really wasn’t that bad.

Raelee Lancaster

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 a crop

tops up her Go card with her
equal wages and catches the bus

to the abortion clinic where she is
not harassed and takes home

a box of doms and a new prescription Pill

Raelee Lancaster

I come with a trigger warning

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

 

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

Platform

She stood on the station platform,
Bouncing on the balls of her feet.
He switched channels flippantly.

Her hair flew across her face.
He had the sudden urge to buy a blender;
Only three small payments of $19.99.

Behind the yellow line, just as she was told.
Bright colours flashed on the screen,
Filling the darkness of the room.

She could hear the train, but couldn’t see it.
A chill ran up his spine.
He left the room to get a jumper.

The train was fast approaching;
She stretched out her neck.
He hummed a jingle as he reentered the room.

A man stepped in front of her, blocking her view
And stepping a foot over the line…then his second.
He finally stopped on the 7 o’clock news

“Jenny, get back here.”
He fluffed the pillow behind his back.
“Why do I watch this shit?”

“Hey, Mister! You’re not supposed to cross the line.”
Another mass shooting in America,
A new cub at the zoo had been born.

She reached out to him before the train…
He stared blankly at the television.
“Young girl dead trying to stop man from committing suicide.”

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

A love poem to a friend; or, when you adore someone so much it blurs the lines between romantic and platonic love

I could stare at them for hours
Whether they’re flouncing about the room
Or lounging lazily across their couch
Dark eyes fixed on the television screen
Absorbed

My eyes linger there too long
They turn to face me
Perhaps feeling my gaze
They make me nervous
But a special kind
That sets butterflies loose in my stomach

I look away
Not wanting them to feel uncomfortable
With my impenetrable gaze
Yet

My body angles towards theirs
I steal glances every now and again
Their lean stature with strong shoulders
Sharp, elven features
A jawline that could cut glass juxtaposed
With high, delicate cheekbones begging
To be bitten into

Long hair running down their narrow back
Black as ebony
Their gown just as dark
A corset binding
Their slender waist
Long fingertips glide across their lips
Painted a deep red

I imprint their image in my mind’s eye
I make them laugh so I can save and store the tune
Their arm touches mine
For a fraction of a moment
And time stops

I never want it to resume

Raelee Lancaster

Cloth-Covered Self-Consciousness

cloth-covered self-consciousness is me / hiding my self from a conscious world / a world so used to caring about the way a woman looks / a world that judges her on the shortness of her skirt / the height of her heels / the thickness of her thighs.

cloth-covered self-consciousness is me / wrapped up in cotton and wool / warm inside the self-made cocoon, shielded from the critical eyes / from boys / from myself

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

cloth-covered self-consciousness is me / placing my self-worth in pieces of fabric / 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

 

 

 

 

An open letter to a friend

you don’t know
what i’m saying

you never know
because you
never ask

instead

you focus
on the way
my head
tilts
forward

and
my foot
stomps
the ground

you focus
on how i
struggle

to form a
single
word

my mind
pushing
forward
a syllable 

my mouth
rejecting
each
sound

instead

you
stare
at me
like
i’m
crazy

silence
is all
i hear

long
drawn-
out
pause

not only
makes me
never
want 
to
speak
to you
again 

it
makes me
never
want to
speak
again

do you
not
know
what to
say

do you
not
know
asking me
to repeat
the question
is okay

that
i won’t
bite off
your head

for being
a little bit
decent

instead

we stop
talking

at
least
in
person

we revert
to
passing
each other
in the street

to
extending
a
sideways
glance

else
you
avoid me
like
the plague 

except on
social media

where
the world
would
think
we’re
the best
of friends.

a like

the
occasional
heart react

a comment

they all
make me
remember
you 

leaving
me
standing
at the
station

wondering
why
you
left 

without
saying
goodbye

Raelee Lancaster

The Waiting Game

She lay at the bottom of the giant container, stiff and horizontal, unsure of whether she was rocking back and forth from fear or shaking violently from the cold.

She had felt guilty at first, having hid beneath her siblings as their captor picked them off one-by-one in hope that she would find some way to escape. But now they were no longer here to protect her. She was alone. All she could do was wait. And it was that anticipation that terrified her most. Never knowing when she was going to be chosen, or where she would go once she left this place.

The darkness shrouded her, wrapping her in its cool embrace. Darkness was good. Darkness meant the container was not open and her captor would leave her be, if only for a little while longer. Each noise outside the container caused her anxiety to increase. Several times a day, her captor would open the container and extract the other prisoners in the rows above her. Their cries would grow softer as the container closed and they were carried away. She was, at least in part, thankful that it was them and not her.

The cold air rushed out of the container as the door was forced open. This was the eighth time today, only this time there was no warning.

Not me, she prayed. Please not me.

A blinding light opened up as a grotesque being came into view. It was monstrously large and completely hairless, apart for the grey mop atop its prunish head: it was her captor. The being stretched out one arm and reached to the top shelf of the container. It shifted a few things around before retracting its limbs, bringing with it a slab of rotting remains. The captor’s hand lowered, bringing the contents of the slab into view as they reached into the container once again.

She held back a gasp. They’re dead. Chunks of dead meat lay haphazardly on the slab, like dead soldiers on a battlefield.

She recovered from the shock quickly as the other hand pulled out another slab. This one had a curved edge, making it impossible to see into, but their cries of help told her that they weren’t dead. At least, not yet. She could only imagine the torture this second lot would face at the hands of their captor.

The container closed, and all went dark.

She rolled, so she was laying on her back looking up at row above her. Through the gaps in the floor, all she could see was the bottom of her neighbour’s bed. It had a small, round base that curved up and around. She often heard incoherent mumbling come from up there. The number of voices indicated that quite a few of them were sharing the one bed. They had arrived the day before, replacing a foul smelling fiend who shouted curse words whenever the container opened. Maybe that was why he had only lasted a few hours.

Outside of the container, a voice came. “Howard, can you get me a carrot from the fridge?”

The container opened and a hand reached in. The pink flesh curled around her body and she was wrenched from her confines. The container closed with a soft bang. She heard the screams of the potatoes in the pot as they slowly boiled to death. That was her fate. It was her turn to die.

Raelee Lancaster