Tempered in thorns

They don’t want to believe we exist
Hostility is a dual-headed sword reflecting in sneer
Certain welcome, expectation ettiquette
Don’t share my space when you’re a different
Tempered in thorns
When did the blood get washed off the sidewalk?
Take your hands out of your pockets
Show me your tongue, your contents of none
Swallow a bullet for your refusal
Fallen fags
Fallen blacks
Fallen in cuffs
Fallen angels
A notion they can kill us
Accountability absent
Wounds of women
Birthing rape
Politicians say
We’ll punish you if you abort our violent play
Let sleeping dogs lie
Captivity in subscription morality
Trust bleeds through fingers
Honor sleeps at the wheel
Witness to slide-show
Where do children go?
To rid their minds of hate
Flickering on screens, pouring out of mouths, once fed by girls, singing soft hymns in fruit orchards before the slaughter

All written work sole copyright of Candice Daquin, 2016. info@thefeatheredsleep.com


No Matter How the Wind Howls

Carmen sat in a park off of Clarkson Street watching teenagers play baseball. She drank wine from a plastic carton and swayed in the wind. No one could play very well in wind like that. Sometimes it was calm for a little.

Carmen was wearing a yellow dress that touched the ground. Her light brown hair was everywhere.

Emma walked up behind Carmen and sat next to her, facing away from the game.

“Why don’t you watch?” asked Carmen.

“Aren’t you afraid to get caught drinking that?” asked Emma.

“What do you mean?” asked Carmen.

“Never mind,” said Emma. She breathed through her nose and closed her eyes. She was short and wore the same pair of jeans all the time.

“Have you seen Tara?” asked Carmen.

“No,” said Emma.

One of the kids hit the ball and the bat rang out clear in the wind.

Carmen cheered and laughed. She drank more wine and offered some to Emma.

Emma drank some wine and passed the carton back. She said, “I was going to work tonight.”

“Don’t work,” said Carmen. “Watch the game.”

“I hate sports,” said Emma.

“Then go away,” said Carmen. She drank more wine and then asked, “What happened yesterday with Candice?”

“What do you mean?” asked Emma.

“Oh,” said Carmen.

The pitcher caught a ground ball and threw it to the first basemen. The first basemen missed it and ran off to get the ball. The runner advanced to second.

Carmen clapped her hands and laughed.

Carmen’s laugh made Emma feel a little better because it was a pretty laugh. Not like Tara’s laugh, which was so loud and obnoxious. It was fine for Tara to laugh like that, though.

Emma said, “What about Candice?”

“I ran into her at the store and she was talking about something happened last night. I don’t know what. Who cares.” Carmen drank more wine. “Isn’t it so nice? Out here on the bench?”

“It’s cold, kind of,” said Emma.

Carmen looked at Emma and then looked back at the game.

Emma said, “I heard you were thinking of leaving town.”

“How could I leave?” asked Carmen. “When it’s so nice. Out here. On the bench.”

“I never cared for this park,” said Emma. “We should go to a different one some time.”

“Emma,” said Carmen, “turn around and watch the game. You’re making everyone uncomfortable, looking that way.”

Emma turned around and Carmen gave her more wine.

“Don’t worry,” said Carmen, putting her arm around Emma, “tonight you w0n’t work. We’ll go to Brooklyn and drink cheap beer. We’ll play pool with boys and maybe find Kelsey. She can take us upstate or something. You won’t be cold and whiny. I’ll bring you a thick cardigan that my mother used to wear.”

“Ok,” said Emma. “But can we not stay here? It’s cold and this game is boring.”

“Well,” said Carmen, looking down through the opening of the empty carton, “why not? I hate baseball anyway.”


If you like this, read this too. Fuck it, why not?


J2: Where I End and You Begin


Hey J,

I decided I would add a second letter to our collection of one. I have a lot to tell you. Like this … do you remember the new girl who started at our school? Moved from France. Paris. You would have been about fourteen, not long before the accident. She joined your class, sat in the row in front of you. Never fitted in.

You must remember.

Her face didn’t help her assimilation. Her eyes were wide apart, pushed to the side of her head like a Cubism portrait. I recall you once said that she could see around corners better than straight ahead. Those eyes man, a semi-vacant permanency to them. They looked right through you, even as she was telling you to fuck off after you called her “the Alien”.

You must remember. Nicole was her name.

Her nose was also something of a calamity. From her forehead it projected out then plummeted, ending in a ball of cartilage and a flare of nostrils. Her hair was long, lank and greasy. She had acne over her forehead and nose. Her cheeks were round and ruddy. Her chin was weak.

You must remember. You fancied the pants off her.

You thought of little else during your formative masturbatory years. Many a soiled tissue found its way into the sewage system thanks to immature fantasies of Nicole. You wanted her to be your girlfriend. That is why you would humiliate her on the school bus as we made our way home each day. Seeking her attention in the limited way you knew how.

You must remember. I do. I recall her lips were perfect, even then.

I hope you will be pleased to know that as she grew older, the way she occupied her face improved. She became quite the looker you had anticipated, you might even say she was beautiful. Others caught on to the potential that you had seen in her. In your honour I fought many a boy, defending her honour, and your memory.

This you wouldn’t know. She came to have many admirers – including me.

If you had been alive today, you would be calling her your sister-in-law. Jealous? Good. Can’t wait to tell you about our kids.

yours, A.


Where I End and You Begin – Radiohead


The Girl with the Wild Hair


The stray came back,
gliding in,
without so much as
a scratch
at the door –

she came back carrying
on her tongue
and eyes
capable of seeing only
her reflection;

she came back
with dirtied flesh
and matted hair;
slinking into bed with
playful nips
and cuddles
soaked in cold sweat;

she came back
with a brand new coat
and a ring
around her finger.

I removed those
before her clothes.

(art by Egon Schiele)


Bad Friday

I am a bible carved out of stone, sitting quietly in the corner of the empty prison cell of your mind.

When you find yourself trapped in the cage that you have built for yourself, I will be there, smug, waiting for you to pick me up.

A sick enjoyment will come from being your last resort and it will be astonishingly easy to make your hell become my paradise.

You will run your fingers over me like you have done so many times before, trying desperately to prise me open but you’ll find that I have no pages.

I am a singular block of stories and ideas and lessons and epigrams that will one day end up tattooed on kids’ wrists and ribs, but I will not let you look inside me.

In your hour of need I will be all that you have. You will want to devour me, you will want to ingest my contents but you will never open me up.

You may throw me against the wall in frustration but I won’t break. I won’t let you read me, for you do not deserve my poetry.

But I do not need to hurt you. No, you will beat yourself up for ever having doubted me. You will kick yourself for ever questioning my authenticity. You will regret not believing in me when I was the only real thing that you ever possessed.

And you will regret abandoning me in my own descent toward death, now that I’m witnessing yours and I am all you have left.



Her lips are frosted in that pearlescent lipstick that women coveted in the nineties. The kind they outlined with dark liner to give their lips extra pout. These were the days before collagen was just a reasonably priced syringe away. Hers move like fish lips when she prattles “Name at the top. Answer the questions. The doctor will come.”

It is the speech of a robot. I tick my way to question five.

Have you had a poor appetite or been overeating?

I look over at Fish Lips. “What would you constitute as overeating?”

Her sickly pink fluffy jumper hugs her chubby arms. She reminds me of Flumps (the marshmallow). She wasn’t into portion control.

“Who cares honey. Just tick in the middle.” She goes back to reading her Real People magazine. Pages of relatable souls that have gone through terrible times. ‘I was 20 stone by the time I was 13.’ ‘I sold my baby for £25.’ ‘I was stabbed by my husband’s father’s brother in law’…

Question seven.

Have you had trouble concentrating on things like reading the paper or watching the TV?

Fish Lips rustles in her desk drawers. She pulls out a toffee and starts twisting the shiny wrapper with her pink globulous sausage fingers.

I stare at her ’til she looks up. Pools of toffee moisture have collected in the corners of those lips. She smacks them together with each chew.

“What honey?” She says through her caramel mess.

“Does porn count? As watching TV?”

Her spidery eyelashes meet as she gives me the death stare. She crinkles her nose and hisses “Vile.”

Last question. Number nine.

Have you thought that you’d be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way?

Her lips smooch louder. She pours toffees onto her desk and shoves another in.

I stare at her again. “Does it count if I’ve thought that someone else might be better off dead?”

She stops chewing and holds her mouth open. I see a syrup goo of saccharine and pearlescent lipstick.

I continue, “If I’ve thought of hurting someone else?”

I notice the gleaming red handles on a pair of scissors that are casually laid next to her pile of toffees.

Revenge is sweet.


you don’t believe in fukú but fukú believes in you,

that’s what she said, as her fingers smoothed out the wrinkled edges of a paper coaster, damp from spilt beer.

It was quarter to six on a Tuesday, when the pub was usually empty, and Max, the bartender, and I indulged in monosyllabic conversations, which I found soothing for their brevity and clarity. But on this Tuesday, I arrived to find an extra soul at the bar.

She handed me a beer and refused the fifty I slid over. I don’t like it when people pay for my alcohol, but it was difficult to tell her to fuck off, this woman with a face that made me think of an empty stretch of highway.

She was telling Max that her family had mala suerte, and when I said I didn’t put much stock in the supernatural, she laughed like the taste of vinegar. 

‘The fukú took my grandfather when he was 52. He was struck by lightning while playing his guitar in a hut in the middle of a rice field during a thunderstorm.’

‘Why the fuck would he do a thing like that?’ I asked, expecting no response and received none. Max stepped out for a smoke.

‘My mother died of cancer when she was 33, the same age Jesus was when he got nailed to a cross. The doctors cut her open half a dozen times before they told us there was nothing they could do.’

I stared at the pale woman’s profile, noticing only then the red hair that hung down her back. It shone like a wound in the bar’s dim light.

‘The year my brother drowned in a river, I was diagnosed with cancer. It took surgery and a year of physiotherapy before I could walk again. That was three years ago.’

Max returned and began rinsing cutlery. I finished my beer and dug inside my trouser pocket for keys and a tip for Max. I thought I might pick up a bottle of red and watch that Iranian art film about a vampire dressed in a chador. But then the woman said–

‘My boyfriend died yesterday. He had to fly to London for work. He died on the plane. I have to fly to the U.K. and bring his body home.’

Mierda. I’m sorry,’ I said.

‘We met six months ago. Both of us, we’re in our fifties and never married. I think we were waiting for each other.’

She looked me in the eye for the first time and opened her mouth but the wind came and stole whatever there was left inside her. She walked out of the pub and I was glad I never saw her again.

Max asked what I thought of her fukú.

‘Fuck, I don’t believe in fukú,’ I said, ‘but she restored my faith in the catholic church. Only a twisted white god would do a thing like that.’


Art by Sofia Bonita