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Body Whispers / Acts of Submission

Olivia Douglass

We nearly made it out alive,


Says my body, as it feels me drifting back into the Constant State.


Bruised, desperate, wanting and wanting.


Parts of me have morphed into something to be sold, again.




In the Constant State, individuals bend to the shape of the places they inhabit. Skin stretches across tarmac,

concrete blood, pillars of flesh, here the walls sweat.

Life in the Constant State is a series of Anothers. Another passing Another temperature Another moment Another

exchange Another telling Another look Another trauma. Another one.


A spine snaps, Another crack in the pavement.


Recently, the Constant State has recognized a new form of malfunction. Individuals reacting strongly to cracks.

Each time a spine snaps individuals become prone to body whispers and acts of submission. A crack appears and

the individual suffers devastating levels of soft.

Falls into total collapse and is no longer responsive.


And in this moment,

The individual is temporarily gone, out, not confirmed.



We nearly made it out alive,


Says my body, as if to say, you were back for a while, before you slipped away.


And I ask for it to not disturb me, I am here

Breath ing

Cry ing

Sell ing

Bleed ing

Sex ing

Stay ing



We nearly made it out alive,



When a crack appears the individual falls into total collapse.

In this moment, it is unconfirmed where they have gone. Once returned, they have never completely arrived,

instead functioning in continual suspension between the Constant State and The Gone. When asked where, or

what, or how they might be elsewhere individuals have been known to drip from the mouth.

Each drop, if looked at closely enough, contains small images within it.

Of Other passings Other temperatures Other exchange Other tellings Other looks Other life.


Individuals begin to drip from the mouth, such dripping can be identified as foreign language, a form of poetry, a

side effect of error.



We nearly made it out alive,


It is becoming harder to ignore these whispers.


We nearly made,


Each invitation to leave, stronger than the one before.


Nearly made it out,


I am becoming devastating levels of soft.


We nearly made it out alive,


Says my body, as if to say, come. This time, stay.


And so this time I listen

and I go

swallow the Constant State

gather up my skin, to leave.


Commissioned for National Poetry Library's Open Day 2019 on the theme of 'Disruption'. Part of London Literature Festival.