Hearing Voices

Hearing voices 

when you are sixteen and wet with fever

when a teacher slips her hand to the small of your back and you feel

the mooned curve of her nail.

Hearing voices

and not really understanding why you hear them

balling your hands into a tight fist

while it rains indoors, under the rafters.

Hearing voices and having to explain why you hear them

to a complete stranger in front of your parents

Before you have learnt about psychiatrists 

And what people mean when they use the words ‘artful distance.’

Hearing voices and wondering at what point on the third date

do you mention that you hear them

people ask if you’ve tried chamomile tea

and yoga, or that mindfulness app CALM 

but you can’t be CALM

when you want to talk about your experience with: 

  • Antipsychotics
  • the disability benefit
  •  employment discrimination.

and you are only ever met with looks of begging silence.

Hearing voices and feeling the most profound

sense of alienation, in a room full of friends

who are happy and laughing

because they don’t know the weight you feel

how when you were younger and admittedly a bit of a cunt

you almost died.

And that date passes each year like a stranger

waving from a crowded train

Somewhere in the northern hemisphere, romanticised 

Like Berlin 




Hearing voices and having people tell you 

that what you need

is the Lord

And if they knew what your voices actually told you,

most days

they’d throw you in a bucket of holy water

Hearing voices and wondering why people think 

it’s appropriate to tell you  

you need deliverance; or that you’re

spiritually enlightened,

don’t forget: Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen, Virgina Woolf.

Hearing voices and wondering why 

we’re still using the word stigma, when the definition

means to blemish: a mark of shame

where are you branded, you wonder 

and why do people keep assuming that because you hear voices

that means 

you’d like deal with that by 

killing their families

How inappropriate

I mean really, you’re quite sensitive

You’re a crying-during a-good-recipe-and-sad-backstory-on-Masterchef 


Hearing voices and wondering if they’ll ever go away

or if people like you  will have to keep fighting

the words of wilful ignorance                 forever

Which is a long time, when you think about it.

You are tired. They tell you: get some sleep

but it’s so hard to be sleeping 

when they’re whispering in your ears, all night

Not to mention 

it’s a bit rude.

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