'Flash' writing anthology about chronic pain - submissions welcome!

Author: Sara Wasson (Page 4 of 11)

‘The Break of Day’, by Jacqueline Woods

Pain paralyses. 
It hurts too much to move,
to unlock, unhinge my joints,
put pressure on my tender limbs.

I will wait for my Carer: 
my lover, my friend,
who will lift me from my bed,

My arms encircle his neck
as I breathe in the salty sunshine
of his skin, pressing my lips against
the cool ripple of his shoulder blade.

He carries me to a bathroom
of sunken marble and satin cushions, 
a garland of candles guides our way,
I am Ophelia light: baptised, reborn.

His devotion will wash 
the wounds of night away,
unclench the claws which trap
my dreams.

I will bathe in his tenderness:
my twisted hands and swollen knees
brave and beautiful
in his eyes.

All will be well
when he arrives.



‘Growth?’, by @RoseClue, @ Advanced Wizards, @Watercolors,

a watercolor image of a tree with five branches ,shaped like a hand, each finger one color of the rainbow, but after a certain point in the trunk each color becomes muddled together in a confusing mess. A caption in red block letters that “bleed” into the background like scratches reads, “from pain comes growth” with a question mark.

Where does it even start? 
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know
How can I tell each apart?
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know
Where does it even end?
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know
Why isn’t my body my friend? 
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know


  • by @RoseClue (twitter, instagram), @ Advanced Wizards, @Watercolors (facebook)


‘Nobody’, by Wayne Roberts

Four walls,
Four walls and me,
Four walls a fistful of pills and me,
Surrounded by silence,
The silence that reminds me me myself and I.

Except you,
You’re never silent,
The voice that never stops,
The endless alarm that disturbs my slumber,
You rattle round my brain in whispers and shouts until I scream.

Then I’m heard,
Outside of this box,
Outside of this cell walls have ears who swallow my words,
And even photographs in frames refuse to listen,
Because I have no voice.


  • by Wayne Roberts


‘Partners In My Care’, by anonymous

I sit in my place—the patient’s chair—prepared to be a partner in my care. I’ve brought an expanding bible of medical tests and consultant notes, a list of medications and interventions, including what has worked and what hasn’t, and a diary of symptoms I now describe with familiarity. Muscles spasm in my core when I eat, radiating into my chest, back, arms and neck to form hard cords that bind me. I’m in need, seeking help to turn what’s chronic into manageable. 

You look on me from your place—the physician’s desk. You steer me to start “my story” at the beginning, before pain. You lead me with questions that turn my persistence to find answers into anxiety. Then you say (in medical language): your emotions are the cause of your pain and you should accept that. Silence follows. You’ve removed me from the partnership.

  • by anonymous







body hangs off me like a scab,
torture-punished brain a scared little animal peering out of skull,
rats gnaw at the base of psyche, 
lick rusty razor blade, 
electric flame slice belly, 
fiery metal spears dangle from gut, 
The great beast paws idly at my entrails,
sparking shark teeth chew slowly up leg,
thrust scorching metal skewers slowly down meat of thighs,
pack burning steel wool into hollow shrieking calves,
porcupine worms writhe inside veins forever chewing out of meat and skin, 
skate barefoot across field of burning blades,
walk face first into blazing buzz saw, 

I can feel the flames 

but I can’t see the light.


The image shows my face looking upwards with beams of pain shooting from my eyes. I hide behind a purple beard. Alien antennas sprout from my broad-brimmed hat. My face is neutral–hiding my pain.

  • by Doug Sharp


Youtube:  Central Pain Syndrome “Message from Hell #1: How Are You?

Twitter: @DougDroogSharp


‘Footsteps’, by Jacqueline Woods

Pain permeates her dreams,
Seeps into this anaemic morning.
Sucking breath to unhinge each joint
stuck fast through the cramp of night.
The bathroom is an agony away,
Tender feet must scrape each step while
Wincing fingers trace the rails along
her jagged journey.
Tap turners levered by cankered wrists
bring the gush and plunge of warm water,
A pure moment of relief.

Her baby wakes in a scream of urgency
unanswered by her stumbling mother
who struggles to dress herself,
To start another day.
Soon her child will grow to patience,
Learn wisdom beyond her years,
Wait, while snaps and buttons
are fastened with fragile hands
And desperate cuddles given,
cringed with wrinkling pain.

  • by Jacqueline Woods

For further information see: arthritiscare.org.uk

United Kingdom

‘Wings’, by Paula Knight

The image is in three vertical panels and shows an ink drawing of a woman with wings falling down - she has crashed. The second panel shows her from behind with blood between her shoulder blades with the words ‘it feels as if my wings have been torn off’. The final panel is a real feather with blood at its tip.

I drew this while lying down in bed during a ME/CFS relapse and Fibromyalgia flare-up that has seen me housebound and sometimes bedridden. It describes the location of some of the pain in my body and how sore it feels. The image also embodies my sense of feeling trapped as a result of my disability, and of having my potential and freedom thwarted. I had the feather to hand because my husband brings me items from outside: The use of a found object is symbolic of my being housebound and detached from the natural world. It also represents a disconnect from the life I’d rather be leading if I were well enough. The image is visceral and disturbing, and it reflects the distressing and very physical symptoms I can experience.

  • by Paula Knight

Paula Knight’s website

Paul’s Knight’s poetry

Paula Knight’s site ‘Chronic Creations’

Twitter: @Paula_JKnight

Instagram: @paukajkstudio



‘The Pain Of Acceptance’, by Ian Conrad Cross

Please do not judge me,it wasn’t my choice
This illness descended, that’s what hurts the most
I have worked all my life, brought up three healthy boys
It has never been easy, what with clothing and toys
I can cope with fatigue, as most mothers can
But i took on too much, then the trouble began
My children have grown now and all flown the nest
But if mum is required, I forgo my rest
Three days in work is all I can manage
The pain is too much, my brain left in carnage
My “ME” is recognised, the authorities are aware
But the pain from Fibro Myalgia, they don’t seem to care
I am dependant on others which goes against the grain
But I’ll continue to struggle, there’s my dignity to maintain
I’m not after your pity, I don’t want a fuss
Please be patient, I’ll get there, but I can no longer rush.

A photograph of a fireplace with a mirror hanging over it, and a small clock and ornaments on display.


  • by Ian Conrad Cross


‘Metamorphosis’, by Marion Michell

When the pain goes I half suppose my flesh marked, transformed. A growth of lichen, say, with its warm turmeric tint; a layer of cool, silvery fish-scales; traces of the glacial burn of chain-mail melting into skin. Best of all a delicate, graceful articulation of relief on the site of its worst excesses: once the sharp, piercing jolts give over to prickling, tingling sensations (as if the top of my skull were open or at least porous), the tiniest, downiest feathers could unfurl in the round, a bit like a peacock’s crest – thin stalks topped with trembling blowballs.

But there is nothing, not a wound, not a bruise, not even the flushed tone of a limb pressed against the mirror, straining elsewhere.

A small crochet work, of a shiny ochre hue, is laid out on a piece of white paper.

(A small crochet work, of a shiny ochre hue, is laid out on a piece of white paper. Dense stitches amass around an empty centre, as if framing a face, becoming looser and looser and turning into ever wider swinging loops. A bit like Medusa’s serpent hair, only less dangerous. In the empty centre, where, were it a face, the mouth would be, lies a small pink square of paper with a black circle from which a thin line protrudes, describing a marker, or corner, or the beginnings of an arrow.)

  • by Marion Michell



United Kingdom

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