We mustn’t say,


We skirt around the issue.


We can’t say,


No-one knows what it means round here,

Unless you do,

And if you do, you won’t say,


Are you, ‘Having your bath’?

‘Going to the back of your house’?

Say your weasel words,

Some witchlike female pact,

Of lies.

What’s heroic,

About being Pharaonic?

The Egyptians deny it.

Today, no-one will pick up the:




Sharpened rock.

No-one will line up small girls,

And cut,




Bucket of secret parts buried in the ground, we don’t know where.

Today we will not talk about it,

And tomorrow we won’t bleed.


Scene. A Fairground.

Too many of my lines start, ‘Have you ever …?’

And of course, she hasn’t.

No Disneyland, no fairground rides,

No distorting mirror, so we go.

And we stand there, bending as we’re still.

She looks. ‘I knew this once,

In a dream.’


We lose each other once or more,

Crazy circles and I’m so tired.

And ‘fraid, I can’t get out.

(We’re all alone in here.)

Comrades in a world that bends,

Distorts and twists, just what is right,

Which way out?


Distorted collection of the grotesque,

Echoes from another age.

When I find her, we don’t recognise each other,

For a moment.

That night I dream too.

Dissolve: It’s not the same


A week in,


Heady on opium,

I squat,

And wait.


I wait as, fresh knife each drop,

I urinate.

I didn’t know,

Some lost recall,

It was easier back then.


It’s normal,

Just the drugs,

You’ll be fine.

We give it time,

Not laxatives.


It got worse,

The curse,

They say.

Do you know the smell of,

Week old blood?


I bargain, internally.

Negotiate with phantom pain.

If I stop today,

Too soon, they say.

I wait.


I know now,

Things should emerge,

More easily,

Than drip by,

Caustic drip.



You want in,

Modern man,

Restraining yourself,

From cut,

Slash, rip.


And still I play a waiting game,

Until, I stop.

Pain welcome here.

I wait,

I wait.


I try again, you come with me,

Hold my hand, so I can’t run.

I lie there, legs spread.

You talk over my head,

Make arrangements.


Make it easy,

‘It’ll all be easier soon.’

Just open me up.

I pretend I’m not here.

We’ll all be happier when it’s done.


On the third day,


Right now, I rate,

A good shit over orgasm,

Relief trumps pain.


It isn’t how I imagined.

You’re happy, though,

And I’ve regained,

Hours each day,

Weeks each month.

I plot the rest of my life.

Day one.

Afterwords: 70 Ps

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Product Price Place Promotion Physical People Process

Proper  Prior  Planning  Prevents  Piss  Poor  Prophylaxis

Prophylactic Prior Planning Prevents Pain & Powerlessness

Prophylaxis,                                         Power Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Private Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Pain Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Political Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Pissed Performance

Prophylaxis,                                         Priceless Performance

Prophylaxis,                             Power Performance

Prophylaxis,                 Poor Performance

Prophylaxis,     Performance

Prophylaxis Performs

Proper Prevention

Prior Promotion

Proper, Public









Jump cut: The Seven Ps


Rule 1: Powerful

As surgeon, you have power over me. I have power over my body, up to a point, after which my body has power over me. Do I wait and see if it will rule me kindly, a benign dictator, or do I pre-empt the battle. Combat zone: my breast. No-one announces the date battle will start. Shall we make plans to invade?

Rule 2: Private

My health is private, yet everyone wants to talk about it. Even Angelina was allowed to do it in private, only talking to the world once she was neatly sewn up, pert and perfect again. Would they feel they had the right to discuss it if I was having an abortion? Yet when I consider having my breasts cut off everyone has a view.

Rule 3: Painful

My pain is my own. If I think about this for long enough, I feel you cut into me, then I wait for my skin to heal, so that you can cut into me again. My skin cringes in anticipation. Your nurse was kind as she explained my options for pain relief. Of course, rather than embrace this particular pain, I could wait, but hope is no longer a viable option.

Rule 4: Performative

I can tell that you love to perform, and I’m grateful. One of us needs to be enthusiastic about this transaction. You explain the risks and benefits, hedged promises rolling off your tongue and over my head, a performance you’ve given many times before. I have forgotten my lines. ‘I de … I dis … I die …’ I stand there, hoping that the curtain will fall.

Rule 5: Political

It’s not just about me, he says. I’m fortunate to live in an age when I have the choice. (That’s when I end up reading Frances Burney.) Many women in many countries would give their … their what, I ask, their left breast? And their right one? In order to be able to choose their fate. The time and date at which battle commences. Ovaries too? Hell, take the lot!

Rule 6: Pissed

I’m pissed. So fucking angry, and who do I shout at? My mother, her mother? Generations of dead women who would have, who have given their lives for what I know. Take it back, I want to scream. I don’t want to know, I don’t want to choose.

Rule 7: Priceless

It comes down to money, doesn’t it? The whole fucking health care system, and because I have a job and insurance I have a choice, a choice that I don’t want. How much do you charge for bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, four nights in a private room, and another stay for reconstruction? How much do you get paid? Do you every wonder if you should have chosen another branch of medicine, another career? Or is it much clearer to you than it is to me, what good you do?

Scene. Re: building/ Re: fibulation, a promise


And that’s where we meet,

Eyes cast down.

Don’t look, don’t talk,

Don’t say my name.

Not out loud, as then you’ll know,

I’m betraying my mother,

My father,

My sisters.

Dare I ask …

You won’t be here,

Too American.


How do I explain?

It’s easy to know,

Knowledge bursts from the internet,

The print out in my bag.

I can see my tension in the way you sit,

But we’re not the same.

Cut me open again, I scream.

Close up. Setting, the hearth

No-one looks here, anyway.

The match sparks, tempting me.

I run my wrist over the flame,

First pass is painless, warming me.

It was the oven, an easy lie.

The flame grows, then fades.

I strike again, gold sparks loud,

In my silent home.

No-one sees here anyway,

So I hold it still a little longer.

Black hairs frizzle on my thigh.

No-one will see.

My skin, my choice, my pain.

Some people cut themselves, I’ve heard.

I couldn’t use a knife for that.

I light another match.

match on blue low res 2

Second edit: been cut before

I can’t let you see me.

And they were all celebrating while I bled.

Don’t look at me, not there.

We were dressed like dolls, toyed with,

Dark-skinned Barbies, just babies when,

Gems glittering, can’t distract from tears,

She made the cut.

Not down there, I know it’s why I came,

But please, not now.

They’re singing in the courtyard,

Shrill ululations echo, my scream unheard.

You’re not listening either,

My presence in your office permission enough.

I’m screaming, ‘Don’t touch,’ but nothing comes out.

Take off your dress, she said, and you say it too.

I can still smell the perfume, even as you disinfect your hands.

Lie down, she said. I lie, your bed an invitation, curtains drawn.

Open your legs like a good girl, she said.

You stand and wait for me to open my legs,

But I’ve been cut before.

I push down the skirt.

Not now, I say, I can’t. I’ll book again.

And on the street I can hear sirens screaming for me.

The bride price is high.

Your invoice arrives, despite my refusal.


I watch the blade,

The blade I chose,

And I watch the line,

The line in my control,

And it grows.

As blood spills, I release,

Anger that I had to choose,

Anger that it chose me,

Or did it?

Uncertainty bites,

And I slice again.

 Razor Blade With Drop Of Blood Stock Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotosdotnet