Is the judgement they make about me,
Before a single word has floated through my lips.
Was the most wonderful complement
To the girl I was when I was seventeen
When I thought that looking like a doll
Was the most interesting thing about me.
Is a double-edged sword.
It is a game of roulette
Where the word is loaded like a gun
Either with admiration or hunger.
Feels like the debt I owe the world to exist as a woman.
A price plastered to my cheeks with my blusher
So that I can be sold into acceptance
So I can be noticed, not invisible.
Is the affliction I have fought with for years,
The same affliction that wore me down to the bone,
The damn affliction that left me running through endless tunnels
Towards the light at the end that I swore I could see
Even when I was blind,
Even when it did not exist.
You see,
Is often confused with perfection,
As if beauty can somehow equate
To a concept so toxic
That it is bound to kill when left untamed.
Is the excuse that pardons
When grubby fingers pull at my dress at the bar
And palms graze my breasts
When I never gave permission for them to be there.
Is a disease that I never wanted
A mutated quality I resented
When all my friends grew up wanting to be beautiful
And I just wanted to be
Is a gunshot through my chest
When you really do assume
That it is the most spectacular thing about me.
Is as ugly as a lie.
Is a widow
Trying on her wedding gown.
Is a disease I never asked for
So, forgive me when I cry in sorrow
When instead of asking my name
You remind me
That all I am to you is


By Emma Catherine

Vanity is a lie

Vanity is a lie

I look in the mirror far too much.
I fish for complements.
I paint my face, a mask,
I put blood on my lips
I wash my hair of everything bad that lives inside my head
I comb it and curl it
Until you can see every shade of beautiful honey blonde that shines there.

I look in the mirror far too much.
I admire my glow,
My radiance,
My perfect lips.
I see the beauty that everyone tells me I possess
And I ignore the faces of people who have ruined my dignity that I see beside me
The hungry spirits that possess me.
I watch those people staring at me
‘god look at that beauty
what a pretty little thing
Look at that vanity’

But really
When I stare into my own eyes in the reflection
I blink back the tears
to stop the black paint running from my eyelashes
And I ask myself
How can this body
Hide the thick repulsive poison that sits inside?
How can it conceal the pain
That burns up the organs inside of me?
Vanity builds the blooming garden of roses across my cheeks
and the sunflowers that reach up my legs
To hide the bundles of stinging nettles that fill out my bones.

I look in the mirror far too much.
So tell me
How can it be that I am so beautiful?
When so much ugliness has been bred inside me?
What a treasure
That people see vanity instead of vulnerability
Vanity instead of years of violation.
What an absolute



I remember the night I realised God is human
It was a night in August
When I died in a man’s bed
I died ugly, exhausted, boiling, hurt
My heart still beats with the wings of songbirds
Trapped in cages in people’s bedrooms
My skin was smoking with the heat
I ached and ached and wept and ached
But when I had the lid ripped off my Pandora’s box
And I saw Hope lying at the bottom
Like a dead blackbird
I prayed
I prayed for someone to save me
I prayed for someone from the living or the dead or the heavens
To reach down and wrap me in their cool arms
Told in all the cherry wine spilling out of my chest
So I could breathe
And it was then
When I was alone in a bed
That belonged to a stranger that I thought I knew
That I realised that God is the most human deity I could believe in
Because she couldn’t save my life that night
She isn’t a miracle worker
Just like our fathers aren’t superheroes
And our mothers aren’t queens
God is just a human that I had built into something called Hope
And when I realised why I was left to die
I thought that God hadn’t heard my prayers that night
Perhaps she was just

By Emma Catherine

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

There’s this feeling I get a lot of the time. The feeling of enlightenment that not everyone’s life is riddled with turmoil. That some people feel safe in their own home, or even with just themselves. That people can trust themselves to keep out of harm’s way, and not throw them into dangerous, reckless, stupid situations because of impulse issues and self-destructive tendencies. And the one that hits me so deeply; that people feel safe with their family. I feel this countless times, especially when I’m at friends houses.

I see the way they sit around their parents, their dad, comfortable, entitled to the seat they lounge in, unafraid. I see the way they talk to their parents, eye contact is something they can bear to hold with each other, and they can speak without screaming or saying nothing at all. To see their mums talking (not slurring), and draws are used for pots and pans, and wardrobes for clothes, instead of wine bottles.

This is the kind of freedom I realise I do not have. To live in a home instead of a house is not something I have had the privilege of doing.

I realise how much of an empty space this has made in me. One that means my friends are more family than my own blood. Feeling no care from my parents sometimes had left wanting more from them, all the way up to my 18th birthday. This wanting ‘more’ has been utilised in soft toys, changing my hair colour, impulsive spending, binge drinking and alcohol abuse myself, dangerous sexual relations, self-harm, and starvation. And a whole lot of thick, grey, emptiness. An emptiness that has almost killed me, many times. People showing me care is like me, a small moth, to a huge chandelier of light. I love you instantly if you show kindness. I can barely hold myself back from hugging you because I’ve never learnt that such kindness should be normal between people.

But it has put me in much more sinister, harmful places. I have been taken advantage of numerous times because of that emptiness it’s brought me. I can become so defensive and aggressive when hurt, trying to protect myself from that familiar pain. I can be out of control with alcohol and in mania, that I drink until I am seriously vulnerable. And a combination of this brought me to the worst night of my life when I was sexually assaulted. Violently, and degradingly. All because I never learnt how to protect myself from the real dangers because of my emotions, and because I did not know how to trust people who showed me some kindness.

Abuse is the toxic film over the eyes. You can’t see or even feel other people properly while it’s there. And like genetics, abuse like mine in childhood moulds you, usually permanently (although you can heal don’t worry), into the adult version of myself. My deep-rooted personality. My person.

The thing is with abuse, it often starts with one toxic person taking things out on you horribly, but the more you endure it, the less you truly feel the reality of abuse. Then them hurting you, can turn into you also hurting you, just to cope. For me, it was as if hurting myself, in whatever form, became soothing. I was used to being hurt, so I made it okay when I was doing it myself. It is sad, but it is also okay. I have never experienced abuse as we show it in the media, the hitting, serious physical neglect of small children, isolation from school due to injuries. No. But I have experienced extreme emotional and psychological abuse, along with a parent with her own demons. Each ‘blow-up’ was a trauma, and this repetitious traumatising grates on the mind and I feel like it just kept breaking me down. As much as I felt myself crumbling, it was hidden. And that’s almost what makes it so bad. It’s invisible.

Emotional abuse is just as serious as the other kinds of abuse. It fucks you up just as much. It catches you off guard. And it feels like being burned alive. (And oh god that horrible feeling of knowing you just can’t escape it, and even if you can physically leave that house, parts of you are always left there). It makes us extremely emotional, but colourful. Deeply loving and loyal. Kind, compassionate and empathetic. A wonderful human. And when the abuse has passed, bury it. But the bits that you are left with, I want us to turn into the most beautiful rainbow in the sky. Run with the parts of yourself that are troubled, build them up into flowers and watch them bloom. Beautiful, and stronger than ever before.

by Emma Catherine

instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks


Poem- Never Be Yours (TW- Sexual Assault)

Poem- Never Be Yours (TW- Sexual Assault)

-Trigger warning- sexual assault/rape-


You can try and convince me that I’m yours all you want.

You can try and show me what you think of me

with all that hunger in your stare

as you look at my body and my face

(that I would once mistake as interest)

a kind of mutated desire, a dangerous possessive glare.


To be afraid of someone’s eyes

brings a slammed door upon your own

No matter how much you

look at me

hurt me

tell me

‘you’re mine’

I won’t listen to your ownership

If you can’t listen to things you don’t want to hear

(I’m guessing you know what deaf ears feel like?)


I don’t care if it makes you angry

(Even if it’s the type that you sometimes fancy)

Because I’ll leave you burning until you’re smoke

Reminding you that it’s your own fire that’s burning your pride

When you’ve scalded mine over and over and

Seething and simmering as I warm my hands on what’s left of

your hunger

a repulsive appetite


I was the hungry body to match your hungry mind

Claw at my legs, burn it in to me if you want

But no matter how many times you want to claim me

I wasn’t, I am not, and I will never be


-Emma Catherine
Instagram @rain.on.rosy.cheeks


Poem- The Earth Beneath The Canopy

Poem- The Earth Beneath The Canopy

Trigger Warning- Sexual Assault

It only took one right to realise exactly who I was to him
Weeks of sharing and sharing and oversharing
And in that hour all I was to him was a fallen leaf to pick up and take away to wherever he wanted
I learned I was most wanted
When I was undressed instead of speaking
I was no longer a person when my voice was unheard
And I was all his when I gave up and gave in
No matter what I said or didn’t say
I was silent to him
I was a leaf picked from a growing tree
And once admired
Joined the ones growing brittle on the earth beneath the canopy
And from that place I could see
Exactly how far and how fast I had been pushed
And exactly how far and how long it would take me to climb all the way back up

~by Emma Cunningham