Caitlin McKenna

If you’ve never seen skin bubble and blood

begin to boil

you’ve never been told to hush.

The way the black slowly creeps in, replacing

the scarlet as it crescendos into burgundy


and the ooze that accompanies it.

The crackle and the pop

not from anger

but release.

I’ve been told since I was young I am


much, too loud, too sensitive.

My mother told me being around me was like walking on eggshells.

I spent the next seven years scared to be enough,

silencing the tremors that threatened to erupt

from the soles of my feet.

I shrunk down and had to coax the lullaby from my voice box

just to sleep soundly at night.

Allowing my scars to fade and heels to plant,

every day I allow my volume to climb

is a new summit.

Every time I split my ribs open and unfurl my lungs

like stage curtains opening the performance,

I brace for the critics.

It was never my mother’s fault

for being afraid the world would not be big enough

to handle the velocity of my trajectory.

Or that I might one day reduce those I love

to ash

in my volcanic, panic zone.

She could hear the hiss,

see the rising smoke

I slowly emit

when she got too close.

I know some days I must shh.

I can sometimes be too much.

Caitlin Mckenna is a queer, socialist, vegan poet from Leeds, UK. After completing her Master's in Creative Writing Caitlin has been working as a writer across the North while performing at events in Leeds, getting published in various journals from Fragmented Voices to Grim and Gilded, and completing her debut chapbook, coming August 2022. With a deeply confessional style and an unapologetically confrontational voice, Caitlin’s poetry covers a wide variety of topics including mental health, sexual violence, and sexuality. 

Caitlin McKenna
Sea Foam -- Sea Tomb

Oz Hardwick
Butterflies Everywhere