Dear Pre-Pandemic Me, Things are about to get hard again…

Everything around you is going to change. Significantly. You’ve felt loneliness before but not like this, this one is different. It’s going to be tough for a while but you’re going to emerge from it happy with your own company. Some days I have to work on it harder than others but you come to realise that you are enough as you are and that just showing up is okay…

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Dear Pre-Pandemic Me, Get ready for a wild few years…

The years coming will challenge you in lots of ways but they will make you stronger and appreciate just how many people you have around you. The pandemic makes you sit back and look at who and what are important to you, you’ll howl with laughter despite everything and realise that your parents are actually pretty awesome to spend time with…

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Dear Pre-Pandemic Me, Don’t ever shrink yourself again…

You started well, but you got lost.  You realised the importance of community; a community you connect with.  In the absence of love, you turned to appearances in a desperate attempt to change your circumstances.  It did not work.  You met the wrong people and did the wrong things, but it was not a waste.  But it did feel like it…

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Purple

Purple

Yellow is the warmest colour,
It crowns the buds of trees which create an ornate bower consecrating your grease and grime filled nest, 
Lying on your head,
Happiness and yellow usually reside in similar company,
But happiness with you is a deep crimson,
A thick skinned purple blotch – 
Staining my skin like a malignant bruise,
You seep into every pore, boiling my sweat so it scolds melanin,
Bleaching me to a powdery white,
Perfuming your air with the scent of burnt flesh,
Pulling my spirit into focus,
Because as I know – 
Purple is your favourite colour on me.

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(up)rooted

(up)rooted

My roots are complicated
I do not think they can be defined 
or bound to one certain place
The more I move and meet new people 
little parts of me are left around
Sown carefully and lovingly 
in places I adore
and people I care about 

I am no longer sure if I know where home is
but I am loving that life is taking me down 
an unknown road 
but an exciting one 
and I will enjoy and treasure every step of the way
Learn from the downhills 
grow stronger and kinder and caring
and cherish the uphill
knowing I am turning into the woman I was meant to be

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Bouncers and Biases

On that night I was outside with the bouncers doing bag checks while also keeping an eye on them, as bouncers  in general have a reputation for their bias against minority groups. So there I was, nestled in between two large and looming men in black wearing a pink beret and red lipstick. It was a terrifying sight indeed. 

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End (?)

I read a whole novel this morning, 

An hour before heading in. 

I did all the dishes from breakfast,

You hoovered and I did the bin.

The walk from the meeting was freezing, 

But I’d bought new gloves last time you came, 

Two people who knew me from James Joyce alone, 

Asked me about changing my name.

I’m finding it strange to be calm now,

My body’s not quite sure it’s true.

But books still surprise me and gloves are still warm,

There’s dry forks and filled forms, and you. 

By Levi J. Richards (he/they)

This poem is inspired by ‘The Orange’ by Wendy Cope. To see more of Levi’s creative work, check out @doorajarcomics on instagram.

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Middle

A young man walks across the snow,

Which creaks and breaks with every step. 

Far off, 

A grey-haired woman holds her face up 

To a sun that drips gold; 

A future, suddenly, 

Which stretches out before him —

Complexity unravels

Into sun, and face, and cold;

And benches ringed with mud, 

And time enough to grow old. 

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Beginning

Reshuffling cards on the sitting room floor,

A precious vignette – 6 seconds, no more.

Captured by luck,

On an ordinary day, 

I press play and press play and press play. 

I’m fascinated, by the way you can hear, 

Each one of our laughs – you can match us up clearly.

Like you can pick out 

Individual joys, 

A friend’s face in the crowd of the noise.

She said:

“It’s all gonna work out. D’you know how I know?’

‘Fate’s given me something too good to let go.’

So she’ll bring me back,

I know it for sure,

To the cards on the sitting room floor.

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A poem about roots (that constrain me)

CW: Sexual assault/violence

A poem about roots (that constrain me)

Why do you grip that rock there
That place in particular
It is not exceptional yet you sniff
to find the resource jackpot with little thought for my feelings.
One flaking and one green 
You are Brand new 
colonising my mind and making my forces act through different lines
Where do I lean today
On what soil do I make my stance;
hallowed ground?
I want to move yet you tell me I can’t
And they look at me funny and it is all due to you
Lost in assumption not to be talked
To but by, they see how I curl and retract 
Wishing I could fly but indelibly in contact 
with the ground of my past 
politics routine
Each little xylem strand has length running resources
to change and nourish my self.
And I regret you
Despise you
You are unsatisfactory 
For keeping me so still
Retaining my right to freedom.

I wish I could wiggle and dance.
Enact and be my dream
I steal the freedom to be who I want to be
A fairy woman at the end of a long voyage
My narratives an endless strand of silk
to wrap around your neck.
You see you would love the me
That’s exciting and proud and flamboyant
With endless presents and
pockets that bulge

I wiggle my wing rigs
and struggle to see how they care for me
grateful I should be for these life sustaining lines
for time and a past and events I can learn from
They connect me
Brushing up to me with knowledge
Drowning me in memories that
keep me so separate
I am an entity to sustain and condense
Yet not to be.

By Anonymous

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Transcendence – Nov 2021

A joyful queer club night at The Mash House, Edinburgh that raised over £1,500 for Mermaids Gender: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk . The event was in honour of Trans Day of Remembrance, sitting…

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Reflections on ‘Feminist Futures’ at the Lighthouse Radical Bookfair, Imagining an alternative world

The Radical Bookfair hosted by Lighthouse Books has become an annual meeting ground for creative discourses that often live on the margins of our mainstream media, to be thoughtfully considered. This year’s event saw a host of panels and discussions based on the theme ‘Futures Worth Fighting For’ which focused on how to materialize our radical imaginations for a better world.

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Cricket and Afghanistan: remarkable but expected?

For those of you who follow cricket, you might be aware that the T20 World Cup is currently taking place. To the surprise, or lack thereof, of many, Afghanistan is also playing despite the country currently experiencing the aftermath of a Taliban takeover. The question of whether or not their presence is a surprise comes from an intertwined history of the rise of cricket and political turmoil in the country. And whether you are shocked or not, either feeling is likely to inspire an uneasiness about the short and long term state of this country, and the consistency of cricket in the midst of this.

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Cinnamon and saffron

Cinnamon and saffron

A dash of cinnamon and one of saffron
What does blending the two leave you with?
I am not so sure
A hybrid not tasting like one or the other
I am a mixture

Rather pale but with olive undertones 
Echoes of honey and of sweet rose syrup and mild summer nights by the Caspian sea
Meet echoes of winter sleigh rides and gingerbread dipped in hot mulled wine

They make sure to tell me that I am not one of them
Not pale enough, not dark enough
Too pale, too dark 

Oh are you sure you’re from there?
Can you really speak the language?
Your accent is very good – how come?

I must grit my teeth and say what I always say 
I belong here

I am you 

Experiencing rejection from my own makes me restless
They are all I have
But I am made to choose
In the hope that I am chosen back 
Can’t you see I’m one of you?
I dye my hair to make it less me – maybe now I can fit in?

I am uprooted and I uproot myself
I can never have enough
There is always something else for me to try
Some other soil to plant my yearning fingers into
I worry for my children
If I have any

Will they feel at peace? Will this be their norm?
Or will their discomfort be greater than mine?

A pinch of cinnamon and one of saffron

I must sometimes pull myself out of the whirlwind of sounds and smells and sensations
Take a moment to feel
To think 
Of how I have the riches of the world within one heart
How cultures mix and mingle within my blood 
How I may not belong to either one of them 
But have claim to both 

Linda

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A Bug’s Life

 A Bug’s Life

The house I grew up in has other children growing in it now,
Making memories over mine like recording over old video tapes,
Playing bandits and dress up in colourful capes.
The tree house my father built for me
Exists only in my memory.

It must be hard to be a snail.
Carrying a life on your back is a heavy load.
Take me back to a little girl with golden hair,
To number four, Parbroath road. 
So I can set down my past and leave it there,
Trusting it will be safe. 

A view from the kitchen window into another life, 
Of happy kids, and man and wife.
Like us, the trees we planted are fully grown.
The apples fell closer than we thought,
But we should have known.
Because like us the trees have roots, 
That wind like veins between drains underfoot.

But trees can be replanted,
The stability I took for granted 
Can be something I find in myself, 
Maybe after three years of healing, 
I’ve learned that home is not a place, 
It’s a feeling.

Robyn Barclay, Poetry Editor

Robyn is one of our wonderful poetry editors. Please contact her via instagram @rxbynelena if you would like to submit your own poetry to Clitbait!

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An Ode to the Slimy Things in my Sink

An Ode to the Slimy Things in my Sink

I wet my porridge pot, the king  
Of slimy things, and relinquish the responsibility  
Into the heaving sink.
The glutinous onion jam from last night’s soup 
Stares me down with shiny eyes—
I cover it with disdain, 
Creating a small volcano of sink water. 

Insidious drips pervade, 
Unnoticed but for the smell, 
but then In a couple of hours, the floor 
floods, Littered like a polluted 
beach and  
The pots and pans are floating an 
inch, The ramen from two nights past, 
Grabbing my ankles, like irate 
seaweed. The salt spills into the mix 
And I might as well be in a fetid 
ocean, Now that the mackerel, 
In various stages of decomposition  
Begin to swim up the pipes. 

A mighty gurgling is heard— 
I scramble to the kitchen table for survival 
As a slew of wet food spurts forth from the sink. The 
water is a murky shade of brine, 
The teabags are swimming in shoals, 
And I am finding myself swiftly covered In the 
reeking remains of last week’s dinner.

Flora Leask

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