the hurt inside by leanne chapman

the hurt inside by leanne chapman

i always wanted to be invisible, not be my body, just my mind, because my body brought me pain, and i couldn’t protect it. i wasn’t allowed to say no. imagine being in a room but not being seen by intruders, you could protect yourself.

i became afraid of my body. it wanted to do things and i didn’t want it to because there might be pain, especially if other people were present.

vulnerability and grief live in my pelvis, like a piece of meat with no skin across it. i visualise drawing the skin of a bass drum across it, taut and strong and resistant. nothing gets in, nothing gets out.

isolated and starved for touch, no love, no children, because touch equals pain and being in a body means fear.
i grieve being invisible almost as much as i grieve being seen.
strangers would see me, would tell me to cheer up when i thought i was smiling. i wondered how strangers could see the profound sadness within me when those who knew me could not. or would not.

i stayed invisible and silent because to speak, to tell, to say no, to be seen, brought fear, wrath and disdain.

those around me stayed silent because they didn’t want to believe, it might mean they had to do something.

it’s easier to side with the perpetrator. you just have to stay silent. siding with the one being victimised means breaking the silence.
i have never stayed silent about the world’s pain, only about my own.


i gave up my pocket money to save the seals. i pinned greenpeace posters to the staff noticeboard. i sponsored children, i wrote protest letters, i signed petitions, i donated money, i volunteered my time and i promoted causes. i became a therapist.

i will always speak up for injustice. i know what it feels to be downtrodden while others stay silent. but i didn’t speak up for me.


the ones who spoke up for me were the strangers – the ones who drove past one day while i was sitting at the bus stop lost in misery and beseeched me to smile, the customer who spoke to the manager on my behalf after i was sacked (for not smiling enough), the teacher on the receptionist course my mother forced me (the depressed introvert) to enrol in who asked what was wrong and invited me to a young people’s group who saved me again and again.

now that i’m finally finding my voice, i write and speak and pray for those who are not seen or heard, as well as for myself. i reach out to the broken hearts, the lost and exploited and oppressed. i speak up for them, for the hurt inside them. i break the silence. we are not invisible.

if my hair could speak by shanta lee

if my hair could speak by shanta lee

submitted by shanta lee from the unfurl session

in thinking about this question,  i chose my hair. for me, hair has been quite intimate, difficult, and a connection to the complicated relationship with myself on a lot of levels.    if my hair could speak, this is what i imagined that it would say:i am not sure what you would want
or have from me after you’ve
hot combed,
and dyed me

you’ve made additions to me during times you thought i was not enough
and cut me during times that you thought i needed to become something else

what would you have of me
and me of you after all of the ways you punished me for just being

however, i realize now that it is me you wanted to tame
because you were too afraid to allow yourself to just be the wild that you are
you were afraid of what they would way

don’t you know
don’t you understand
it through me, i can show you the way….
back to yourself



I Believe by Isabel Abbott

I Believe by Isabel Abbott

i am fishnets and a wild thing running through the woods.
i am hard bite and the need to be held by water.
i am loud, and she who wants heavy blankets, and the one who will never resolve where she came from.
i am clarity of consent and the bare branches strong enough to swing from.
i am fingers inside the mouth and the one who can’t remember to shower and the woman whose heart valve grew a garden.
i am shiver and shudder and an ancient cave, handfuls of orchids and inside me lives hot springs.
i am my own.

my name is the kiss on the soft underside of the knee.
my name is angry, and inevitable orphan, and pilgrim.
my name is please, please, please.
my name is heat.
my name is the light that loved the dark.
my name is i believe.

wild open fire letter by shanta lee

wild open fire letter by shanta lee

submitted by shanta lee from the fire session

as a child, i was always warned about playing with fire but that never kept me from playing with matches even at the risk of getting caught.  this piece is an ode or homage to my wild fire from its voice.  if your wild fire spoke to you, what would it sound like?  what would it say?

i started this love letter long before a lifetime was stitched together for you

yet we have always belonged to each other


i hid in the brokenness of your relationships

as i watched you break in the arms of every he

showed you the wholeness of such damage


indeed i left what you call delicious bruises upon your skin

in fact you tell the world that you wear them proudly, but do you really?

you have yet to discover the tattoos

the braille

the bimini road i’ve left imprinted within the depths and layers of your being


sometimes you catch glimpse of me

in between the wrinkles of the sheets

through the kiss of the lover that has arrived

to the last touch of the sister who is leaving you

i am already your catacomb

buried deep within the memory of your womb,

but do feel me?


you are here

so i don’t need to extend the invitation

you know my name

because you‘ve properly called yourself by it many times


you know that i hold you

and cradle you close

especially when you’ve felt like



and being with me has become the





heartbreak you can’t bear


i seek you out through every word

spoken or written

every image you see

hip gyration, saunter and rear round flesh jiggle

as my fingertips touch you,

do you awaken to me?

as i call you,

will you come to me even if tit is through the dark i lead you?

when i whisper to you,

will you, write, dance, create your truth?



i live in your walk

in between your silences and your noises be they whimpers



and silence

behind the eyelids and pupils of those brown eyes





and otherwise

i life upon the surface of your skin
and beneath the scabs of your wounds

you call yourself my chalice, my vessel, my container through which i fill
but i am asking for you to let the oxygen from your



and breathe kiss me so that i my be your proper wild

without explanation nor apology

i’ll keep you true

keep you honest

keep you glowing from all your want and passion

keep you indefatigable

keep you holy

keep you sacred

are you ready for me to

bathe you in my ash?

fill your lungs with my smoke?

are you ready for me to

birth you

baptise you

breathe you