by Steph Carter, finalist of the Peel Street Poetry Slam Contest 2016
When I was fourteen I tried to kill myself.
It’s kind of a secret in my family
my aunty – she’s been on pills since the dawn of time but when I asked my mum she said
not “she’s fine”, but
“don’t bother her.”
It stayed with me. I thought that fear
is something we box up and don’t bother, ever
here and now. In Hong Kong
anxiety said bye-bye but I couldn’t answer a ringing phone
I couldn’t step outside my home. I couldn’t be here.
Here was fear.
Anxiety is feeling that you’re going to be sick
you’re in a house of brick and water and inside are floods
it’s Hillsborough memories of being crushed inside now
Now is a box.
Here is a box.
Now is a moment.
Now is the carving pinprick of fingernails
of red flesh on the side of your neck
because here is to be feared.
Here – under the lights is
swallowing hard. My friends put me up to this
they said you’re good for this, you got this, you’re hot for this
show them what you’re made of
but the truth is I am made of flesh and bone, homeless
a wreck of here and there.
I thought about stepping in front of the MTR –
not now, about three weeks ago
but I’ve already paid for my PGDE
and here is somehow stopping me
now is somehow stopping me
here is a good thing
now is a present thing
I write, I sing and it keeps me alive
and what keeps me going is if I died
how would I ever see a woman –
my now, my present
Steph Carter is originally from Newcastle upon Tyne but has lived in Hong Kong for four years. A relative newcomer at the Peel Street Poetry group
, they have since welcomed her like a family and encouraged her love of spoken word poetry. Her confessional style of poetry asks questions about identity, sexuality and mental health; her poems are often controversial, sometimes humorous and always heartfelt. When she isn’t writing, Carter is a primary school teacher and enjoys spending time with children because 'they aren’t adults yet'.