there is no such thing as a woman

By Zara Shams

if i say i am a woman             will you take an ice-pick to my tongue & climb inside             my mouth & sculpt the word in your image? if i cry out equality in my sleep             the word too bright to see in daytime anymore             will you ask me to sprinkle it onto […]

caryatid

By Ella Standage

my hands were soft until you tried to hold them. blue skies. no marble horizons. stone was not stone but skin. i knew how to bruise  knew imperfection knew no grams/kilograms/tonnes or how to stand without making the ceiling sway. traced my own lifelines. my hands were soft under the sculptor’s tools. not clay, but […]

Instructions to the Three-Year Old Grandchild

By Fiyinfoluwa Timothy Oladipo

Ayomide, yes, I speak to you. Never in your nimble mind ever stare into the hollow thing in the middle of another man’s eye when he calls you by anything other than your first name. Yes, I speak to you, In the cynical instance where the efforts, where the lights in the sky of our […]

ishah

By Natalie Perman

“and he said, let her be burned” when her fingers wore the jewels of the kedeshah her face wore a veil; the man touched her but could not see beyond her eyes in which desert sands glittered for miles. there was enough in her veiled face to tell of that knowledge: how ripe fruit tastes […]

Fighting into the Night, for Light

By Dipo Baruwa-Etti

Three children, a gas bill of £300, even with a heater permanently turned off – praying away the cold in the winter months – but I will always fight for the right to be myself, light to shine on me. Alone as I lounge in the tub, moss growing on the ceiling as I stare […]

Goodbye in America

By Ellora Sutton

I could not be a mother in America. I could not send my hypothetical little lad off with a face soft as butter, a camo backpack strapped to his sweet shoulders, and eyes that are mine without the shadows to school. I could not send my made-up boy to school in America. I could not […]

Choreography

By Kayo Chingonyi

We’d chase a beat-up sphere of synthetic leather across the parched dancefloor that claimed our days. Rising from the clutter of a sliding tackle, like we’d never fallen in our lives, we’d sprint into space so we could dance again. We knew when to bend our knees, pivot, hold our puffed chests poised, but best […]

Give Invisible

By Sugar J

Kolo Touré is asked what he’d do if he were invisible for a day, he says “I’d rob a bank and give the money to poorer people.” There is so much we don’t understand about a man, we see everything and nothing at the same time like a page of writing written in a language […]

Balotelli

By Roger Robinson

In between the lilt of your name and your skin like onyx.  In between the matt curl of an afro and your flaming mohawk, between jollof rice and pani pizza. Between the dam of your tears and the wet chest of your shirt. In between why always me and leave me alone between the complicated […]

Lone Star

By Nick Makoha

 for George Weah Lone Star, you were a man on the run when you picked the ball up on the edge of your penalty box. A planet at your feet, San Siro stadium sealed tight so nothing escapes. The crowd a pair of eyes as you moved toward the light. One man in costume dancing […]

The Stain on London’s Dress

By Sophie Thynne

She walks among us, silently shouting as chipped nails crawl across empty wrappers as Friday night’s quick treat turns into a sick craving for more and more until the breaking point leads to a moan of agony as we blatantly ignore the dark stain on London’s dress, scrubbing at the starving and skinny mark that […]

Yellow Stickers

By Meredith LeMaître

Tonight I’m dreaming of your lips again, it’s saffron spring and I’m longing for love, specifically yours.   In the kitchen Mama’s weeping chemical tears whilst    chopping bitter onion ends. She’ll sauté them with mushrooms (so small you could swallow them like pills)     we bought for 10p three days ago reduced to clear. Last […]

#EndHungerUK

By Carol Chen

She sits before an empty table, her eyes empty and sad. Will the food ever arrive? She’s waiting for her Dad. In the room next door a young girl cries. ‘I don’t want my greens! I just want to eat fries!’ She doesn’t have the energy to give her Dad a hug, He returned empty-handed, […]

My Grandmother Tells Me About A Famine

By Annie Fan

it was july. no / june. there were no birds / no children, my hands / you wouldn’t know how to / boil bark & live. the deadness of mud, how the earth could spit you out / alone; & so / britain. we drive to the shops, my body that has never hungered, / […]

Concerning A Letter Written To My Local Council, Signed Your Conscience

By Rohan Chakraborty

i feel sickened as the plot thickens in the kitchen the broth of nothingness starts brimming and it feels like i’m sinning FIRST WORLD COUNTRY, YOU’RE LIVING so i daren’t complain, though i daresay i feel pain, though i feel half a man i look it and i feel it, my ribs don’t protrude like […]

Universal Basic Income

By Dipo Baruwa-Etti

Workin who knows when, what uh way ta make uh livin. I drop Alfred at school, hear they too may stop givin. I take uh long walk down thuh High Road, handin out CVs like a hundred metre race. All distributed, I take uh lil trip ta Camden, ma fav’rite place. I’m there in two […]

A Closed Fist

By Natasha Moore

I am hungry, But you feel no need to feed me. I ask you, ‘why?’ You quite simply give no reason. You would much faster feed a dying dog in the street Than acknowledge a fellow human in need. Or am I not human? Am I not human enough for you? Or are you not […]

The Miracle of Mould

By Jade Cuttle

You might think I’m more mould than mind, tampering with the gravitational pull between spinach and scale in the grocery store; a flat-packed scam folded into waste-paper skin. But swallowing so many honey-glazed lies I’ve simply learnt to nurse the glint of sun into gold; spin miracles from mangled bits of bread, minced excuses and […]

i pass the Nearly on my way to school

By Felix Stokes

i pass the Nearly on my way to school, back pressed against the smooth of a huffing train carriage, slick. it looks at me from the tops of buildings, and snakes words on pages until my fingers suffocate and bleed. like a row of citrus-thorns, vinegar in sludge, it traces the waves of voice in […]

Missed

By Abby Meyer

To the driver that nearly hit me the day the clouds pasted themselves over the super blue blood moon: I was always afraid of being you. Jumped into a snowbank just to save you from it. That day, someone had stolen the moon away. Robber-like, I had welded into shadows, made myself into silver; a […]

this is not a letter but my arms around you for a brief moment

By Marina McCready

nearly made you a bird, but the feathers wouldn’t fit together so i became frustrated, feeling futility in my hands instead of wings. nearly held on anyway. nearly cried that first day but someone had to be the strong one. swallowed the sadness with a cup of tea and a pinch of salt. nearly coughed […]

I nearly kept a secret

By Tilly Goodwin

I nearly kept a secret kept it in my mouth kept it boiling and bubbling but safe within my mouth I nearly didn’t slip Nearly held myself up Above the lining of reality safe above the closeup of the ground I nearly learnt to dance with colors and grace To feel a talent stitched into […]

Resurgam

By Annie Fan

but, shibboleth; what’s salvageable in halves? again my broken english is wrenched past monday west-ends, free declamations riffed at speaker’s corner, pigeons under trees, the same shadows turning tricks; this morning as i walked out of the house, i stopped parsing my way; & i saw that every window was open to the storm-drawn air, […]

Had I Lived

By Maya Miro Johnson

Had I lived                               I would not have remembered to be grateful, would have never learned the meaning of gracefulness, during the long, limping, somnambular TripToTheMoon through a meteorite-lanced horizon, or alternately during the descent down the stairs in the bleary way […]

The Name Behind the Jersey (Mikel John Obi)

By Lydia Wei

When your father gave you your name, Nchekwube for hope and Obi for his heart, he tucked away the dreams he had for you in words that would call you to dinner, in words said over staticky long-distance telephone calls, in words breathed into the night air like the draw from a cigarette. He spoke […]

Big Man Like You

By Hazel Vimbainashe Kamuriwo

Big man like you – I see you offside Tackling hot winds On unpaved roads Beneath the scorching sun, Dark skin sizzling like a snail No shoes, no shirt, no stress Just shorts and skinny dry legs. Shoot! In between those two sticks Quick, shoot! Mind not the defensive Sahara dust Though it stings your […]

eni

By Natalie Perman

“people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird   pencil ready      pencil suit at your   first training camp       where you learned to carry the    ball on the tip of your foot       just as the […]

I Dream

A collaborative poem by Young Poets Network users I dream that when I’m older I would be able to play really good on the piano. I dream loud for ultra-reality. I dream of capturing time in a handful of words. I dream of a universal written language. I dream of a library of forbidden books. […]

Swapping Places With Grandad

By Matilda Houston-Brown

he wants to run again, like the golden man on the top shelf who gathers the dust, stick left behind, feet in the mud, camping and carbolic soap and kissing a young and joyous wife, and walking up stairs without that nagging tug of frustration, because it is beautiful to be young and ready to […]