Out – by Tanya Nightingale


“You should get a wheelchair!”
I look around to see
who else is there. Ah. He means me.
I say, “I want to remain
as ambulant as possible, for as long as I can.
You understand. You use a cane.”
He blanched. He ran. (Well, almost).
I think: that was fun.
The next was in a café queue
and (out of the blue sky) “Can I pray for you?”
“No. Why?”
And that’s just two.
I know we’re free to speak, but honestly,
why is it OK, every day, for strangers to be sick on me?
There’re the sidelong looks in shops,
like I’m some B list celebrity they think they know,
but daren’t approach.
Invisible and conspicuous. The one with the sticks.
A third sex. (Don’t get me started on the loos).
I’ve had parents pull their children away,
told not to stare. No. You’re teaching fear.
Have them ask whatever they want to know,
just don’t abuse. Get used
to me. I’m here. I’m going everywhere.




Tanya believes poetry should turn people inside out.  She won the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition in 2008 and the Ryedale Poetry Competition in 2013. Her work has appeared in Orbis, Acumen, Poetry Nottingham, The Stare’s Nest, London Grip, and Dream Catcher (where she is Reviews Editor) among others.  She has performed at the Leeds Lieder, the Edinburgh Fringe, on BBC Radio Four and at Keats-Shelley House in Rome. Her first full length poetry collection was published by Stairwell Books in September 2015.