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Emma Lee Hutton


Like mercury, he shone.
Bright light
deflecting, distracting
from fluidity.

Unstable, he scattered.
Heart darts
petrifying, splintering
quicksilver droplets.

Sweet nothings were that.
Nothings. Sweet,
oh but so sweet as they
dripped, dropped,
sugar coating,
to nothing.

Amplified, he said.
My feelings
were amplified.
But they were real. Don’t
hate me. Don’t
blame me
for smothering
with (false) love.

Fool’s gold, it was.
Worthless, weightless.
Prettifying, promising,
pretending potential.

Her eyelids unfold slowly,
night shutters open.
Her horizon begins to fill, takes in
The brown curves of his neck,
shoulder, bicep. His back
stretches long against her.

Warm pulses of heat
worm through her.
Blood fizzles.
He is not yet awake.
Soft in his sleepy state.
She knows one word, one move, one touch
will spring him alert.
Old habits. Army habits.

She lies, still and silent.
Breathing, quiet as a sleeping cat.
Breathing him. In and out.
Holding him. Onto and into.

So much to say.
So little need.
She lies, still and silent.

Rolling back off the rocking rib, I flop
into the swollen sea. My wetsuit floods
with chilly chains of cold. I hold tight to
my mask as the lead pulls me low. Into
the blue I go. Into the deep I sink.

I sink. Pressure-squeezed spaces compress
and compact. Pain stabs inside - my eardrum
squeals. Fierce with my snort, push into my nose.
Remembering to breathe is the hardest part.
Into the blue I go. Floating away.

Floating away; away from the surface
light fades, disappears. The sea sounds echo
and tinkle like glass, scattering softly.
My vacuum-packed body tightens and drops,
drops to the deep. Into the blue I go.

I go. Down to the blue. Controlled and calm,
watery weight pressing down heavy. Tank
knocks the back of my head. Turning my neck,
I look. He hangs in the glass beside me,
glances across, smiles. Together we fall.

We fall. Together. Checking each other.
Our oxygen blood buzzing and fizzing,
fuzzy narcosis on the horizon.
Hold it. Hover. Hold back. Don’t cross the line.  
Breaths lengthen, slow down. We stay in the depths.

In the depths, cold tides glide through me. I know
I can’t stay here for long. This place, special
and strange as it is, scares me. Soon, I’ll start
to long for the surface’s safe, warm light.
But now, for now, into the blue I go.


You walked in to the party,
Like you were walking into a film.
I looked at you and thought “what a dick”
Then I drank quite a lot more wine.

You came up to talk to me,
And gave me some cheesy line.
I squinted and thought, “oh, alright then”
Then I drank even more cheap wine.

We got together, then I took you home,
And the next day you hung around.
I wasn’t sure, but you seemed alright,
So I thought “ok, he’ll do fine”.

The weeks passed, they turned into months,
I got used to you being around.
So when you asked me to marry you,
I thought “well, it’s probably about time”.

Cold tiles calm
clammy skin
as blood redder
than the brightest tomato
— like red pen ink
but brighter -
leaks from her
serrated scalp.

(Stupid slut had it coming)

Puppy whimpers trail
from her mouth
as slimy grey
from her
bruised body.
Spits, kicks, sneers
rain down on her.

(Dumb bitch led me on)

Fear immobilises
muscles, She
trembles. There’s
fight in her arms,
fight in her legs. All
she can do
is survive,
stay alive.

(Whore thinks she’s better than me)

When the police
and the lawyers
and the judge and the jury
on their perches of righteousness,
they will ask:

Why didn’t she
Why didn’t she
Why didn’t she
keep her legs closed?

They will say:

She should have stayed
She should have gone
What did she

Cold tiles
on hot skin.

Cold blood

Salty wetness

Sharp lines,

There’s dayglow-soaked outrage
all over the news.
Petitions, bold claims and
die-in campaigns.
Point-scoring games
play out on the airwaves.  
Blue paint. A bus.
Another buckled bike.

Balham to Bloomsbury
two times each day.
Eight miles there, eight back
on the cycle superhighway.
I walked the length of it
one more time today.
Traffic zipping and
zooming by,
bisecting the city.  

Streaming round the corner
in a blaze
of strobes and twinkles,
bikes swarm
around Waterloo.
Backs to the Imax,
hugging the road
like impatient lovers.
I sit, growing cold
on a concrete bench
as they shimmer past.

A lilac satin bra, long dry,
hangs in the bathroom.
A toothbrush, bristles bent,
fossilizes at the sink.
Brushed suede brown boots
lean together in the hallway.
Chains and rings,
shiny dangly things,
lie, unworn, by the bed.

I ache, today, for the taste
of your minty-fresh teeth.
I long to watch you
decorate yourself.
To glimpse a curve
of lilac satin.
Or the arc of a calf,
clothed in soft suede.

Instead I see you
on black leggings,
a handful of hair
into a frayed red band.
Pink neon jacket, bright
in the mousy morning light.
Your alien-helmet head
blowing me a smiling kiss.


Here come his footsteps, erratic and heavy
There go his shoulders, bumping and thumping
A bowling ball sliding, one side to another
Not quite careering; quietly keeling.

I hold my breath tightly right inside my chest
Pull close my blanket, build up the bunker
To keep us safe as I can from his rage
Not quite unravelling; quietly reeling.

He throws the door open. The yellow-bright light
squares off his shadow. He sways in its glare
A squat boxer poised - fists at the ready
Not quite unleashing; quietly threatening.

In bed beside me, she quivers a little
Her four year old muscles not strong enough yet
Her warm pee spills out, pools through the cold sheets
Not quite revealing; quietly wettening.

Slurring, he grumbles and grunts a slow sneer
Falls forward, fumbles; his stink fills the air
His hands hit the floor, instead of our bed
Not quite collapsing; quietly kneeling.

Stooped, he turns and trundles out of the room
Yanks the door shut and the darkness returns
Safe once again, she nuzzles into my neck
Not quite relaxing; quietly reeling.

A sun-splattered walkway.
Spring in the air.
A head full of humdrum,
routine, everyday -
thoughts of last night, tomorrow,
Some silly squabble, some mishap at work,
some babble, some burble
milling and filling
the honeycomb in my mind.

A phone call-shattered mirror-ball moment.
after moment,
after endless fucking moment
falling and tilting and breaking and grasping.

Pain, pure -
leaking and spilling and bursting
through, crawling through, ripping
through every pore.
Tears leaching. Eyes bleeding.

Time, stops -
strange and numbed and
inured? The respite of shock.
I become a frozen icicle
pushing through
that minute, this hour, this

I don’t want to go on this 'journey’.
I hate you for making me.
I don’t want to find what it takes.
I hate you for making me.

Slipping away on pills and whisky.
Choosing your deadly sleep.
Punching your hole in my world.
Blasting my skin off, disjointing me.
Making me dig much too deep.


It catches her unawares
Cinching cold in her chest
Veins of icy crystals
Freezing inside herself

It hits her deep in the lungs
Contracting, squeezing in
Muscles pull and tighten
Heart beat starts to quicken

Gliding through like a cold tide
Thermocline in the sea
Passing through her bloodstream
Before it leaves her be.

White spots sparkle on the water,
Sun streaks catch the waves.
Eyes bubble - startled tears.
The train moves on its way.

This place. This nook. This small-time town.
Long since left behind.
But now it calls, wants me back.
It’s telling me it’s time.

The city’s breath is hot and heavy.
Its warm kiss feels the same.
I slip inside familiar arms,
But somewhere, something’s changed.


The grey sky hung low and heavy
That cold October day.
Downstairs, the house began to rouse
—I chose to stay away.

Well-intentioned warmth and care
Made me boil with rage.
Alone, in pain, I closed the door
And stalked around my cage.

Banished from my inner world,
No-one could come close.
I lay alone and shook with fear,
Panicked by his ghost.

I’d dreamt of him the night before,
He’d terrorized my sleep.
Those hating eyes, that vicious look
Had stabbed into me deep.

The morning hours lay bleak ahead,
Somehow to be endured.
Trapped with my unravelling heart,
My nerves not now inured.

But then I ran, and ran and ran
With legs and lungs ablaze.
I ran until all I could feel
Was rain spray on my face.

So, says the head, what have we here?
Oh, says the heart, it’s so beautifully clear,
The one that we want is finally here!

Right, nods the head, I can see how you feel,
But let’s take a moment to test this for real,
I know– after all– what it takes you to heal.

Sigh, yawns the heart, what a terrible bore,
I can feel the connection deep in my core,
Caution be damned, I’m ready for more!