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Content Warning: blood, dark themes

Arden Hunter - Beat.jpg

Nikki Dudley – B/_{}[]!>

The word was onomatopoeic – gushing fluids

over easy – veins crawling

an infestation that seeps through

My small [body] needed the plasma

to stick around long enough

in a box learning to breathe


But to clot to ooze to pump to explode

from a body seemed a paradox

to keeping us alive. The word haunted me

in my ear my skin the drum of my brain

Then I watched a horror film

and realised: it was all a joke if you remembered

fear is assigned to the things that can kill you

thanks assigned to the things

that make the heart              be                    be                    beat

Nikki Dudley is managing editor of streetcake magazine and also runs the streetcake writing prize. Her pamphlet 'I'd better let you go' and collection 'Fanny B. Mine' are out with Beir Bua Press. She has forthcoming work with Hem Press. She is the winner of the Virginia Prize 2020 and her second novel, Volta was published in May 2021. Her website is:

Artwork: Beat by Arden Hunter

Arden Hunter is an ND aroace agender writer, artist and performer and EIC of Cutbow Quarterly. They are a craft columnist at JMWW Journal and have four books of poetry and experimental hybrid work out this year - check their website for details. Chat to them on Twitter @hunterarden.

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