I wish I knew before

That revealing my pride

Was more than wading

Past dresses and swimwear

I’ve got a slippery grip

On a blood-stained knife

It flirts with gravity

Still angled at the corpse on the floor

I didn’t know of these guards

Protecting the door

Nor of their hollow eyes or claws

Nor of the fight they would cause

My spiking adrenaline aborts

Leaving shivers in my veins

They form a hunting party

From doubt and regret

Pounding in my head

My desire to know

What it’s like to be out—

Side, under the sun subsides

The price: too high

My freedoms: undefined

There is no relief in murder

Inside is safe

Inside doesn’t leave

Bloody footprints

Trailing over the threshold

Inside leaves

No bodies to dispose of


Inside is also a coffin

Cotton shirts that once embraced

Me, now a source of strangulation,

Fabrications force-fed like

They’re evocations of my life

Those lies become

Ten-tonne plates pressed

Against my chest

Sinking to the floor

All I want

Is to float to the surface



I have already served my audience

Meals of diluted truths

To make the light brighter

The change from darkness

More moderated

Less shock shinning back

When I step out—


Their death is a price too expensive

But it’s what you demand

Hoping I can’t pay

Hoping I’ll stay

Exactly where I am


Not telling

Not asking

Swept under the rug

While you pray me away

Praying I’ll go extinct

A species scared to death

Explains all the skeletons in closets


Past mistakes awake

Only fools wield knives into battle

My armoury is stocked

A battle-axe drops and lands

Perfectly weighted in my hand

There is no relief in murder

But it turns slaughter into freedom

And creates comfort from carnage

And in the end

I’m out

Standing under the sun

Quickly crusting blood

Stains my nail beds, but

 A rain shower relieves

Other bloody remnants

And throws a rainbow

Across the sky

Emily Duff is a budding writer from Sydney who finds her inspiration in new experiences and travel. She is a writer of poetry and short stories with a focus on romance and social-political themes. Her poem Killing the Monsters was long-listed for the Macquarie University Future Leaders Prize in 2022.