who were you, before they told you how to be?

who were you before they told you
how to slice onions
put lipstick on
tongue sugared sweets
how to be

there is a prison behind my eyes
and no map
save the grief language teared into my feet
a salted path along an edgeland no one names

but the baku are prowling below my bed

this poem is just a bar in the song/cell
keeping every dark day at bay
those dark days smile
they roar
in an echofield networked into every bone
calcium and dreamstuff

today there was an apple on every desk
reminding us to survey how much we hate
living healthily

this is the misery business
whatever makes us break we want it now
different brands different deaths
catered to our existential crisis
some may involve life

9 to 5 9 to 5
PIN numbers of zero possibility
we’ll get out alive

broken angels peering through the shadowed glass
into all brokered realities
how we ignore the dreams that
shaped the reality and the bars we sing
against

it is time to break out

relish

About the author
Haley Jenkins holds a Creative Writing Master's Degree (Distinction) from The University of Surrey and a Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree (First Class Honours) from The University of Roehampton. In 2016, Haley was awarded First Prize in the Elmbridge Literary Competition and in 2014 won Third Prize in the Hopkins Poetry Prize. She has been published in two anthologies by Fincham Press — The Trouble with Parallel Universes (2014) and Screams & Silences (2015) — as well as publications with Guttural Magazine, Tears in the Fence, and The Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. Haley's first poetry chapbook "Nekorb" was published by Veer Books (August 2017). She is the founder of Selcouth Station Press, which has been in operation since 2017.