3 poems, by Kate Meyer-Currey


Holding together 

dear skin it’s an undeniable fact 
you’ve got thicker over the years 
taken some punches and rolled
with them especially when blows 
rained down just when it seemed 
some of the bruises we sustained
were fading into ochre memories
blurring with the stretchmarks of 
good times recalled and maybe 
the hope that we had endured the 
worst with a gallery of tattoos to 
indelibly etch them in the past a
sour neural pathways created a
series of diversions to reroute 
pain as the odd eyelid twitch or 
flashback but we should have 
realised that’s not our journey 
because we hide an iceberg 
under our slipstream exterior
a kraken lies beneath our ridged
cellulite reefs we deploy as shock
absorbers against both direct hits 
and glancing shrapnel but this time 
we were unaware alien spawn had
lodged in our lumpy breasts those 
disregarded hillocks atop our life
scarred middle-aged body with its 
seams bulges potholes and pitfalls 
camouflaged by landscaped garments 
so it came as a shock to both of us 
that we were hosting a parasitic 
stowaway a fire in the hold that will 
burn us alive unless we agree we are 
in this ride or die on a seek and destroy
mission to rout it out and nuke its clutch 
of slyly deposited eggs with the last 
weapons in our stash of life-experience
we will go together anyway besides
we have covered for one another all 
this time so we have bitten the bullet
and clench the grenade with teeth 
gritted but today a week after surgery 
we are at some kind of momentary 
peace with one another although a 
Cheshire Cat scar grins under our 
left areola and our armpit sports a 
rictus smile its lips sewn together 
stifled under sterile dressings as it 
curses in the sweaty cave of sleep 
but we try not to scratch the itch of 
fear that lies under its puckered scabs 
they are too close to our tremored
hands that tremble with the disbelief 
of it clutching at straws of this our 
new normal but we will raise them 
highly in salutation as we enter the 
ring for we are gladiators shields 
borne aloft to deflect the bloodletting 
scalpel sun we still hold ourselves 
together backbone straight in the 
arena leaving our pain’s imprint 
lesioned on its smooth-raked hide 
because dear skin it cannot ever 
understand the cost of our victory 
unless it too feels the healing pulse 
of new blood under the crust of 
loss the sap rising in our veins as 
cells unfurl into spring leaves that 
flutter and wince in reprieve’s chancy 
breeze like flags of truce against 
a fortress of battle-scarred bark 
it is too hard-won to let the thirsty 
sand drain our heart’s blood dry 

Hall of mirrors 

welcome to the fun palace of my ADHD mind
nothing is what it seems at this carnie show
with me as the main attraction in a hall of mirrors
reflecting the ugly truth that I’m the biggest freak
in town that’s why all the prurient rubber-neckers
roll up to point and stare at my splintered refracted
selves backscattered by the prism of prejudice to
hide in the shadows distorted on billboards only
half-human cryptid anomaly mutation misshape
chimera a genetic glitch a broken code askew out of
sequence a helter-skelter of twisted DNA roll up
punters pay your dues gloating as I’m supersized by 
social stigma shrunken by belittling shame every tent
 is affirmation of my multivalent monstrosity see me
how you like a mermaid with fin-rot from her battle
upstream against a tide of toxicity a tattooed lady
indelibly inked by her hidden disability a wolf-woman
hackles raised fangs bared biting back a living skeleton
her bones fractured by heedless comments a mechanical
fortune teller silenced by lies a sitting duck in the rifle
range peppered by shots to her open heart your mirror
shattered me your shards stabbed me in the back but
I am the dark glass that bares your souls the dagger
glance that pricks your thin-skinned consciences the
death stare that exposes your nakedness

Stand and deliver

Chance rolls its weighted dice
with a heavy hand to say your 
number’s up

Fortune’s wheel throws you right
under the bus and spits you on 
its daggered wheels

You’re at at a haphazard bend 
in the road of mid-life stopped
in your tracks 

Held up by an attention-grabbing 
highwayman all guns blazing as 
you’re ordered to 

Stand and deliver so you hold up 
your hands and submit yourself 
to medical daylight

Robbery by masked footpads in 
rubber gloves who pat you down 
for hidden gems 

In your underwired corsage and 
surrender your heaving bosom to
unnatural devices 

Spreadeagled for radiographers
in mammogram stocks seeking 
treasure hoarded 

In your ductal tissue only rearing 
its ugly head in the wanted posters
of x rays 

Either way you pay a price: yield 
now and you might miss the Tyburn
tree’s black cap 

But you’ll still face the Newgate 
rabble of sawbones surgeons as
you’re stripped 

Like Moll Flanders to your shift 
and whorehouse stockings all
modesty askew 

In a gin lane stupor with all your 
body’s contours laid bare mapped 
with inky lines 

For the stagecoach scalpel to 
follow up to the turnpike of your
lymph nodes 

Ransacking your vaults as they 
excise the coruscated cancerous 

A nugget you fattened like the 
liver of a Strasbourg goose a 
golden egg 

Engorged by bread ground from 
your bones by a parasitic ogre 
a philosopher’s stone

That cost you a king’s ransom 
in time spent waiting for the knife 
to cut you 

Down from the gallows of fear 
as you sweated in the condemned 
cell growling 

Savage as a baited bear tied to 
the stake devoured by its impotent

Took your stand like a bareknuckle 
fighter and woke punch drunk 
to stagger 

From the ring home in your thin 
skin to lick your wounds and let
scars form

Over your bruised hide but your
rough diamond heart has not 
lost its facets 

Which catch the light and pulse
with the fire of raging blood’s

Kate Meyer-Currey moved to Devon in 1973. A varied career in frontline settings has fuelled her interest in gritty urbanism, contrasted with a rural upbringing, often with a slipstream twist. Since September 2020 she has had over a hundred poems published in print and online journals, both in the UK and internationally.

Her first chapbook ‘County Lines’ (Dancing Girl Press) came out in Autumn, along with her second Cuckoo’s Nest’ (Contraband Books).

Fun fact:
Kate has a tattoo of Robert De Niro on her left leg.