White bruise

Surface fed by the apple moon.
Glossy angle skin reflects the winter’s night.
A smile spread so thinly that truth threatens to break free.
Underneath and inside the storm settles.
Displaced pools of blood and memory wash into new courses.
Beneath never forgets.
Pale brown eyes reflect nothing but an illusion.
The fingerprints remained on my heart, long after you left.
It never shows as bitter.
But it burns in a cold fire that time will never quell.
Embedded words that stain this soul.
Never unseen by me.
Life tries to climb so high upon us now.
Never knowing how incomplete. How far I fell.
I stopped answering.
When you stopped believing.
And now this history spreads inside like a never fading white bruise.
Invisible to the future eyes that are now forbidden to go underneath.
I can see that in your lies.
That you would now only pretend to want to know.
Kissing this iceberg skin.
Numbed by the memories locked within.

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Hemorrhage

Only fire can cure this itching.
Rushing down this soul.
Sinking ships now ablaze.
Smoke hiding the land that’s conquered.
The corn and calm destroyed.
That beauty is now broken.
Manifested in this defected dream.
Threads tugged, spun undone.
The flag now flutters, white like your lies.
Not a kiss or a smile full of emotion.
Could make everything okay.
Yet I admire you for the words you said.
You hate me now for the love I bled.
Pooling on your astral floor.

Before we drown

Smell the blood on the fingertips.
Flaring nostril over sips of coffee.
Institutional hatred awakens; so easy now.
Swim, and sing for that dying summer.
Hanging up days like the hopes of refugees.
To dry in the sun. To crisp and crack.
Then fall apart.
Move on, with your shark eyes and deadened heart.
Circling and spiralling.
These lies you tell, on repeat as if tapped.
The louder you are, does not make them true.
Collapse is blue.
And freedom coverts all colours.
Drifting out of these infested waters.
To the Promised Land.

Prepare a path

This heart in distant forms.
Washed with the dawn break and sudden mark of existence.
You were my candle in the night.
Silencing the lies they told me about god.
Names for you count like the stars in the heavens.
‘Eternity’ is one; ‘salvation’ another.
Sweet, like pouring honey into my ear.
Covered in gold and heavy in my soul like sand.
The wardens of this sky still call to me.
Shadows and light flitting across the clouds.
But I am not ready to fold.
This blood is still warm and runs through us both.
A matter a million times true.
For the end comes when there is nothing left.
And for now, I’m still covered in pieces.
Finding ways to fix what was broke.
Making ways to your heart.

Bleed in backwards

It was packed so tightly that it all got stuck.
A love weeping in the sediments of us.
You can feel it rushing down that valley inside.
Crimson boats on a disappearing tide.
And though your mind seeks now to triumph.
This heart still whirls its stark defiance.
Against a gulf that keeps exceeding.
A pain that hurts and keeps repeating.
It calls upon sweet ancient magic.
The spell of love, to vanquish tragic.

Into white, my heart remains

We can’t remember the beginning.
And were ill prepared for the end.
You wipe these tears away with shaking hands.
Kissing where you know life begins.
Yet all we are now are bodies full of leaves.
Turned by the autumn of memories.
Dying inside, as your winter descends.
Freezing the love and covering all,
in white tragic space.

Tsunami

We stand on the shore, called down by the ocean.
The sweet swell motions the blood.
Reminds me I am human.
I feel safe in this storm.
As the wind rushes these bones.
Threatening the inevitable damage, I wait for the change.
Holding out for such wild destruction.
This land knows me not, we are but visitors here.
Collecting coconuts of contempt that we store for every season.
Each man an island. Each one built on sand.
Atlantis parading in peril.
Off on the horizon the ship struggles.
Souls shuffle, towards that great divide.
For that I cry.
But the tempest suffocates.
Throws away my tears, out into the eye that hovers.
And weeps only painful laments.
God watching on, lifting no finger.
Remembering the flood.
Soon we are drowning, smashed by the waves.
Broken on the shore of our lives that already began to recede.
I crawled once from the sea.
And too it now, we have returned.
Scattered and in pieces.
Littering the ocean floor.

Filter

With a tapping on these hollow bones.
Echo excuses.
Yet the tender skin, pulls you in.
These eyes blink as they reconstruct.
Speaking words that silently fill the air, with one harvesting look.
It’s these systems that are used, drummed out of fallen trees that stood watching over the dinosaurs.
Pouring that sticky sap into golden ears.
It’s seems delicious that movement.
Skin that sways like a moon tide, drifting into aching harbours.
Wooden bones, felled in a Pisces rising.
The sweetest time to hew and marvel.
Yet a switching off of this world leaves you vacant.
Wandering in that pasture where the insects buzz and sting.
That filter you use offers no clemency.
As poison needs no audience to flood the blood.
And you are now too far from home to be saved.
So we’ll bury you where you lay.
Covering you in shells and sweet kisses.
Eternally disconnected.

Precious tempo in hesitation

A prick to the fingers, bleeds a sigh.
Such evacuation of robust memories.
The red smeared over lips so fragile, that a moth would imprint its life.
With such delicate fearful steps.
You came from lands so distant that it makes society ache.
Thinking of that time and space.
Yet resided all along, you have remained dormant in our eyes.
Young was the world when you began to smile.
Now changed to veiled cathedrals where you refuse to pray.
Fragrant embers of long forgotten hymns.
Wrappings of words fall like orange peels.
You drop those curious glances like pearls on sandalwood floors.
Scattering and chasing the other.
Rolling into the void.
Yet with the midday sun you retreat from our view.
Into the shell of shelf, where we dare to touch you like a forbidden treasure.
Encased in framed beauty.
Those smashed church walls surrounding you.
Warning others of your divine right.
And inaccessibility.

40 Portraits of Pain

By June Okochi
http://www.juneokochi.co.uk/

I love telling stories. I write about my experiences of life, art, travel, culture, poetry. I even journal about living with my genetic condition.But one day I decided it would be great to express in a different kind way. I wanted to tell mine and other’s stories of living with our genetic condition through visual imagery.I wanted to use photography as an art form to express the different motions that come with this condition.How we deal with pain and suffering every day of our lives. To express how we battle fatigue levels, how we live with anxiety about when next we will be sick and back on a hospital bed, how we have become accustomed to discomfort and pain that we are no longer afraid of it. We have normalised it like the air we breathe. How we deal with broken bones, broken cells, strokes, suffocating pain, damaged organs and fight early mortality. Sometimes the pain is so excruciatingly unbearable, we chose death over life.We are born with it and we die with it. There are no easy ways around it.We deal with the impact on our social lives, our physical, mental and emotional lives. It takes its toll on our childhood, education, careers, professions, everything, until we end up borderline depressed and broken but we keep going, we keep living, we smile, we hide behind our pain, we cry at night, we keep smiling, we keep thriving, we keep popping those pills, we pop them until we die, we take your blood and exchange them into our veins to have life, to live. We need your blood donations, it fixes us for a short time until the next time when we need another fix. We take opiates to keep us alive, pain free. We use oxygen to keep us alive, we use surgery and chemo treatments to keep us alive. We do everything we can because we have no choice, because we didn’t choose this, because we were made to deal with it.Some of us do not know what a decent quality of life looks like.We fight, we fight, we win, we lose. Some fall and don’t make it, we hold their memories, recognising that they are in a better place, pain free, others keep fighting until we make our mark, find our legacy and our legacy may be as simple as just surviving.Sickle Cell…I am a warrior. We are warriors.World Sickle Cell Day, 19th June 2019Watch out for the full online photography series exhibition coming soon.#40potraitsofpain
#worldsicklecellday
#sicklecellinlondonCreator: June Okochi
Photographer: Jim Higham
Creative Director: Ijeoma Okochi-Agwu
Production: Mica Marshall and Tommy Okochi

Damaged the same

Leave those words where they land.
Bury them in time and walk across the snow.
The stretched out ghost that hangs in the air.
In our lungs.
All fog and white, fading into a nothing.
How precious was that moment?
When the blood began to shed.
And the tears you bled, from another wound.
We come in pieces, all broken and jumbled.
Your religion tells us we are perfect, but still must change.
We are damaged the same.
Scuffed knees and dormant psychoses.
Jesus in a black bag.
Satan in a veil.
We are tripping over the rug of this world.
Spilling tea on the soul of saints.
Watching the cracks creak a little wider.
Filling the voids with gold.
But not lost souls, just painfully aware we are human.
Trying to return to paradise.
Following maps that are written in tears.

RED #4: A methemoglobin state of prayer

A half-light silently wanders into sight.
It’s the beating throb of the world.
Now masked in shadows which crept out of us while we slept.
When the ghosts departed.
A dying embrace of an old lover.
The bottled words of a mother who told us to keep out of the road.
While we played, with such abandon, in the town.
On the steps of a church whose windows we’d smashed.
This lumbering giant of trouble, draws our blood.
While we stretch out our hands now in prayer.
To a god no longer there.
All in the shadows of broken mosques and beloved vampires.
Which we willingly idolize.
These empty hands reach for a comfort.
Waking up in pain.
Bruised and bloodied like knees of school kids.
Us in our youth, climbing the tree that hung over the stream.
Dripping the merlot drops into that crystal clear water.
Blurring our own reflections.

Red #3: Red like my heart

If I cut myself, will I find you?
Red, like my blood.
Swimming in ecstasy.
When the darkness prevails, you abandon us.
Leaving me alone with such lonely beats.
Of a heart struggling.
Like a clock unwinding.
You think this heart naïve?
It knows, but is unready to act like you wish.
To thump and rise, as you bang then blame.
Or tell it to stop completely.
Naivety makes way for inability.
Of acting against this sabotage.
Yet you are beyond such human fragility.
If I cut you, do you even bleed?
Would you leak a love all over me?
Flooding this space with such sweet honey.
Or should I let you fly.
And find you only in those heartbeats.
That synthesise a disappearing.
A pattern of a death so complete.
That it stains the world forever.
And heard across your universe.

Some kind of stranger

There were stories of course.
Bad childhoods and frequent trauma.
Violence was like the rain, blown in like a storm.
But she did not live in the past too much.
Her story was colliding forever into tomorrow.
Wiping off the fever that electrified each night.
She had been beaten and adorned.
Wrapped both pearls and handcuffs around her arms.
Flesh was to be devoured.
Ghastly and exciting, making a mess in her soul.
She wiped away the blood drool.
What lay between her lips, her soul, her hips.
Was given by her own decision.
A consensual barging, for being alive.
For being a creature so prone to movement.
The survival of the imagination.
Her look that cuts the room.
The heart pierced by gloom.
Made her a provocateur for a classless age.
You would smell her on your sheets.
Crave the wet drip that smouldered still on your tongue.
But she would be gone.
Side stepping a fall from a grace she named herself.
Wearing her own crown, made of tinfoil and treasure.
But it will not always be that way.
The legs that part make way for opportunity.
Which always finds its mark, if ready or awash with indecision.
She was the girl that left too soon.
She was the guy who bought the moon.
And sold stars instead.
He is not one to remember fondly, his past indiscretions.
But shame had no place in his beautiful heart.
And his story starts, not with a departure.
But a glorious homecoming.

Violent Psalms

Hallelujah.
The stars inhaled.
A waking darkness crashes into these eyes.
I hear the havoc in this hymn.
And see the shapeless violence crawl forth.
Please, swear now to god and offer forgiveness.
Excuse the trauma that rages out of heaven.
It rained down like this before.
I saw London swallow whole the eternal demise.
It never exhaled this life, this evening, this being.
God left beauty for the angels.
The ugliness of change clings to his fingertips.
Such violence.
But sit, crouch, cry out into the nothingness that now stretches endlessly.
And pull apart that blackened struggling heart.
Which heaves with knowledge and remembering.
Then wash it out with diamonds and blood from those who cared.
Smile towards heaven and forgive those there.
Redemption bears down on all.
Then cry out black tears which curdle in the air.
While the world wipes clean and shudders into tomorrow.

Lacerate

The sound of war orchestrally sings.
A symphony that echoes.
You clench your fist, and raise you wings.
The madman in you bellows.
And to that door, my eyes now move.
All exits, in thought retreating.
To leave you be, consuming me.
Your sacrifice now fleeting.
For every time you raise your voice.
And swear and shake anew.
I cannot see, or understand that choice.
In biting the hand that feeds you.

Blood is thicker

The red lights blur inside my skin.
Casting reflection on the mood I’m in.
A soured feeling of discontent.
The angry ebb of self-descent.
Yet neon blood flows inside my veins.
A pumping pressure which starts to gain.
That travels north from my deep south.
And splatters the truth from out my mouth.
Though shock is not my best intention.
Or to hurt, out this invention.
But to state boldly and from love.
That the only thing we share is blood.

Lifting

Vanishing points appeared on the ceiling.
Little holes in my veins.
These little deer that course through the bloodstream.
Looking for the forest from the trees.
You force me to close my eyes to a world so hung in regret.
Precarious, like a spun sugared spider web.
Catching daydreams and ideas of escape.
That lifting.
Yet submerged in a dream where the walls crumble like chalk.
A hallucinatory step into monumental design.
Copying my name into the book of the dead.
That book that I read, where fate can be altered.
And we can change the path of time.
Which now forever ticks in my head, as I swallow each new morning.
Choking on the aftertaste of yesterday.
Lifting into a dream.

Pieces

Pieces float in the blood.
A crimson river, drawing up to space.
Flowers smashed into oblivion.
Only to remain. As particles of dust.
Floating inside you.
Dusting your eyelids and tainting your tongue.
Lilies and lilacs lifting into a dream.
Lifting in the pulse and throb of the heart.
Blooming in particles while they orbit your organ.
That heaves and struggles to understand.
The demise of such beauty.

Desert eyes

To walk the sands of time, to find the doorway to heaven.
Leaves me breathless.
You put your hands on this skin, and I succumb.
Unabated astral movements behind my eyes.
To know you from somewhere, is to feel you under my skin.
As my blood crashes down the sand dunes on the walls of my heart.
I left you, and found you there.
Waiting for me where the moon sinks and threatens never to return.
With honey wine still on your kiss, I will not function.
I slip into another consciousness.
Walking in a dream that quivers on god’s fingers.
Kiss me from dying, and wake me once more.
Let me disappear into your arms that comfort me like a blanket against desert cold.
And I will wash these tears away in the pools of your eyes.
That offer such sweet safety swims, to the desert floor.

Drive

You wanted to make me believe in love.
Taking my hand and leading me down the highway.
Past the car crashes of former entanglements.
The scars ever present on my mind.
The road stretches ahead, but I’m caught in the pull.
Of trying to glimpse at the dead.
You’re trying to make me believe again.
Showing me peace on the horizon.
But my palm is sweaty, and the fuel is empty.
I wonder if we’ll make it.
But I push my foot onto yours.
And I climb inside your soul.
The pedal pushes and we fly, deep into the night.
Down the road of good intentions.

Vermilion

In the struggles of my bones.
Sweet blood running free. Down to the edge of the world.
You didn’t ask me what I thought.
Which is why you left me there.
Predisposed to hope. As the world tipped over.
The oceans emptied into my soul, and I began to float.
Pulled by the moon in a turmoil tide.
The blood lapping at my mind.
Under such tearaway skin, your rivers run the same.
A scarlet surge of pain.
Inside, both still wet.
I want to carve you out of stone.
But your bones won’t allow it.
It keeps me touching your sweet face.
Feeling your heartbeat vibrate the sails that take you further away.
Off into that isolated horizon.
But upon these salty sands, carried by the red river.
I find your message, bottled up and ready to explode.
This doesn’t feel like an apology.
Only a declaration of freedom.
Signed in vermilion.

Engulfed

Coming up for air, and stealing the sun.
How long can I live underwater?
Pushed to drowning by the weight of your departure.
Collapsing like time.
Peeling the skin off my life like the rind off an orange.
Covered in mess. Bloody and sticky.
Yet nothing washes away.
Nothing drifts, except the pain into tomorrow.
And once again I’m fighting for air.
Alone, battling the waves.

You won’t, but you might

Please don’t hurt me, you don’t understand.
It’s my heart that is beating, bleeding there in your hand.
And forgive this emotion and whispering plea.
But it longs to be loved, not stamped and set free.

As it’s nearing the end, the potential is high.
For it to crumbled right there, and for this dream to die.
So I ask you again, as I would an old friend.
To think for a moment, to heal and then mend.

Then keep it safe in your heart, swimming in blood red and dark.
A scar on your soul, as we fade and grow old.
Then kiss me and say, you’ve decided to stay.
And all the shadows you will chase away.