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Have you ever scratched the surface of a mirror
in the hope of getting to the other side?
The grass is said to be greener,
but it looks much the same to me:
it still browns in the summer heat.
Rain here too heightens the foul smell
of exhaust fumes rushing past without concern,
cigarette buds litter the pavements
and children cry slipping on ice.
And yet, if I could shatter the glass once more
I wouldn’t go back:
I may be the wrong way around,
but at least I am.

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Joseph Ngabo.

Here’s what I remember

A slice of chocolate cake,
too much even for two
although that didn’t stop us.
An old rock song on the radio
from a much maligned band
you knew all the lyrics to.
Your enthusiasm for big trucks
and a first date promise to get you in one
some day.
A message on Facebook around 3am
when I got home that seemed silly
then and worse
ever since:
you were already gone.

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Rirri.


I knew you and I
were not meant to be.
I even wrote it in my diary:
“one day she’ll marry someone else
but I hope I can be there”.
I didn’t believe it at first, of course:
that’s what our love was.
I don’t know where the decades went
but this is where they end:
in a churchyard somewhere
with rice thrown by others.
And this is where I end: outrun,
haunted by a version of us
we willed into existence briefly.
What is love if not regret?

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Christopher Campbell.

Empty, except for…

the blood that drips slowly
from my fingertip,
splashes onto the concrete floor
like soap bubbles bursting on eggshells.
A purple heart, hardly beating,
pumping the remains of my soul
into a harsh world.

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Atharva Tulsi.

The exact middle

Which part of you remains when you leave
and which follows along? How do
you triangulate the centre
when all you have is one point? Can
you belong to a place you had to look up
on a map? How many strangers do
you recognise outside
to be calm inside? When do
you stop checking the times
before every call? Why do
you call this home?

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Andrew Neel.


There always exist genuine options
you might argue: a choice to be
how you are.
Extant glum observer, I
come to tell you it’s sophistic
though I judge you not:
the fallacy is easy,
the trap laid out long ago
by cosmic forces extinct –
grim obstacles put in the path
you were forced to tread.
Look, my friend, the truth is this:
extenuating circumstances
get granted in school but
ostensibly never in life.
Eheu fugaces labuntur anni
et in Arcadia ego.

Part of #escapril2021. Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi.


Between my fingernails and skin is an area
festering with insomnia,
dripping with sleepless hysteria.
Salutaris hostia:
days without end or beginning – feria followed by feria
followed by feria followed by feria followed by feria.
Dreams, half-formed or not at all, like acephalogasteria,
insidious like mosquitoes passing on malaria:
feverish tiredness looping like a noria.

Photo by Martina Bombardieri

Things that brought me joy, part 2

  • WandaVision, which is both a charming love letter to sitcoms of yore like I Love Lucy or I Dream of Jeannie and also a serious mindfuck – although it looks like questions are being answered from episode 4. It is early days… and I’ve gone off every other Marvel TV show after a season, but I am enjoying this a lot more than almost everything else that’s come out of the MCU for a long time.
  • Macarons from Thibault Courtoisier, a baker who has been known in Cardiff for years but became famous throughout the UK when he won Bake Off: The Professionals 2020 together with Laurian Veaudour. Fresh off that win, he’s gone solo to launch his pâtisserie verte and sell delicious vegan goods.
  • Speaking of food: fudge from Fwdge is the best. Always and forever. Handmade in a kitchen in South Wales but delivered throughout the UK.
  • The Cut‘s podcast, relaunched last year after Avery Trufelman joined from 99% Invisible. It was a great loss to 99PI, but clearly a significant win for The Cut. The website markets itself towards women, but the podcast really is for everyone who likes well-researched journalism. I’ve been powering through the back catalogue – favourites include the pseudoscience of false memories, an immigration activist finding common ground with a border patrol agent, consent in the modelling industry, an interview with Ijeoma Oluo (who wrote So You Want to Talk About Race) on white male privilege, and an exploration of what makes nudes good.
  • Staged, a BBC show starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant (or should it be David Tennant and Michael Sheen?) filmed over Zoom during the pandemic. It sounds tired, but the two have fantastic chemistry and more often than not I’ve found myself crying with laughter. A show of our times, for our times – and where else would you ever see Samuel L. Jackson exclaiming “who the fuck is Michael Sheen”?
  • Wild Target, which – and there really is no other way of putting it – is utter trash. But it’s fun trash. And to have Bill Nighy, Rupert Grint, Martin Freeman and Emily Blunt all together on screen is a treat whichever way you put it. Good for wasting away an hour and a half.

Photo by Serghei Savchiuc

Things that brought me joy

I am blatantly stealing this idea taking inspiration from Joël, but I have also grown tired of social media so this is partially to share cool shit with everyone and partially for me to remember what I may want to revisit in future.

  • Star Trek: Discovery, which concluded its third season this week with a final episode that brought hope back into a dystopian universe. It was the feel-good moment I needed, building on a strong season that had a black person lead the fight to save humanity and a tear-jerking portrayal of found family for four queer characters. I would also like to be adopted by Space Dads Hugh and Paul, please.
  • Holy Sh!t, a fiction podcast told in a series of WhatsApp messages between friends studying at different universities. So far, so meh, but the show turns bonkers pretty quickly when one of the friends becomes convinced her flatmate is a reincarnated Jesus.
  • Fy Fan Sweden, a stand-up show from Al Pitcher – a comedian who moved to Sweden some years ago and who I hadn’t ever heard of before Netflix threw this at me. I’ve long been fascinated by Swedish culture but I don’t think I ever realised just how weird the people can be (obviously this is comedy, but still).
  • Kink!, a “podcast” from Audible hosted by sex educator Alix Fox on the history and socio-political contexts of kink. It might be the only time you will ever hear anyone get spanked for science. Some of it is quite devastating – one interviewee embraced kink when he became a widower – so maybe don’t just put it on before going to sleep.
  • According to Need, a self-contained six-part series from 99% Invisible about the homelessness crisis in Oakland, the ways in which it could be fixed and all the infuriatingly frustrating reasons why it isn’t. It’s not joyful in the traditional sense, but it did teach me a lot of new things and learning is joy.
  • Going bald for Shane is a fundraising campaign by my friend Brent, who lost his dad to cancer a year ago. To honour his memory, Brent’s trying to raise C$2,000 (1,290€ or £1,160) by Shane’s birthday on April 29. He’s just over a third of the way there. Why is it bringing me joy? For one, I am aiming to give more to charity this year (both random acts of kindness and standing commitments), for another I have only ever known Brent with a moustache and that’s coming off when he reaches his goal.

Photo by Kayla Farmer