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

Tag: pain


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


‘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 Night Shift’, by Libby R.

When he was dying, I swallowed a CoCodamol before bedtime as if it were hot chocolate. I craftily attributed my zen-like calm in the face of helping Dad as he pissed blood into a plastic pot at 3am – I don’t know what’s happening to me, he said, again and again – to my sensible study of The Tibetan Book of The Dead. It was a lie, but a lie that helped.

  • by Libby R.

Author website: The Diary I Didn’t Write


‘The Pits of Pain’, by Katarina Juvancic

For some of us the universe is a dark pit, where pain finds its home, nesting and laying eggs of destruction. The whole life reduced to this crumbled, shrank, shelled body of pain. It takes over your whole existence. Nothing can keep the pain at bay at this point, not even your best “mind-over-matter” efforts or hardest of drugs. It is torturing your soul and crippling your body. Overwhelming and ubiquitous. An epitome of Alone. A hungry demon. 

It claims you when you are too exhausted to fight. Now it has me in its claws, roaring like a wild beast, feasting on my bones, chewing my sanity and spitting out my dignity. I am too weak to resist. My presence is ethereal and fragile. I am not really here any more. I do not live anymore. I merely exist. And that is more humiliating and dehumanising than being dead.



‘Fibromyalgia’, by Zara Carpenter

My body drinks in the harsh cold of winter 
Setting my bones on fire

Hands ball up into blotched white fists 
Suddenly and viciously 
A message travels down
My over over sensitive nerves

Sending fingers shooting out

Dead straight

Rigor morticed with pain

Liquid churns hot in my spasming bowels 
Limp sprinting to the bathroom

I watch through open legs

As blood drips into the toilet bowl

A crimson red rose blooms

Then slowly dissolves

I am a clockwork toy

Wound too tight

The obsessions I tidied away

Are coming out of their boxes

Quicker than a child’s presents at Christmas


  • by Zara Carpenter


United Kingdom


I went to see occupational therapist today, as I am having troubles with my daily chores.

She asked some challenging stuff and burst into tears when I talked about my medical past. Then she told me her most intimate and painful story. I held her hand and we shared a beautiful moment of vulnerability together. Two women who have never met before and should conduct the conversation in a strictly professional, clinical manner, holding hands and crying. 
I told her how precious it feels to be able to share our stories, to treat each other’s broken pieces with understanding, respect and dignity.

Then she put some bandages on my hands and taught me how to stand, how to sit and how to bend. She welcomed me softly into my new reality where little mundane things carry huge meanings. Today I feel I’ve finally put my life vest on.

– by Katarina Juvancic



‘Collateral Damage’, by Ellie Conway

There is too much light
in the air today.
My eyelids won’t retreat; 
they’re the heavy squad,
repelling all invaders.
My protection
from a day too heavy

for me, 
for my chest, 
my arms.
my legs.

I can only lie 



its weight.

Breathing takes will.
Push, push the invisible hand
feel it press back 



and repeat.

Repeat again.

Muscles rebel.
Fibres tug against their tense kin,
stiffening, a shudder of spasms.
Nerve endings return fire, 
trajectory dipping from collarbone 
toward elbow 
past wrist 
till fingertips vibrate 







The throb, I ache.

My feet go AWOL – no – 
now they’re back with a burn.
Television assaults me, 
sound and vision launch


combined assaults, 
attacking my senses.

My brain scrambles to keep up.


In silence, the soft pillows embrace me.
I lean in.
Let them tend my wounds.



‘Occam’s Hammer’, by Garry Coulthard

No one talks about Occam’s other idea,
the hammer,
when his razor didn’t cut deep enough,
his hammer smashed down.

‘Of an event occurring, it is most likely that the simplest one is the correct one’
‘Of an inevitability occurring, the one that hurts the most is the correct one’

When Occam’s hammer falls,
it’s not a matter of when or where it lands,
it’s simply a matter of how hard it hits,
and if this time you choose to scream.


  • by Garry Coulthard