Oli Isaac

every summer i am reminded sunburns on the back are the loneliest sunburns

i am going to break my phone 
so people can’t hear me but i can still hear them 
and i will hear them speak with their eyes closed for the first time

looking      needing     willing        towards a banister in the darkness 
a therapy session number passed around south london bathrooms
a contemporary confession booth trapping each insecurity inside a trembling voicemail
your voice cracks           your silence dangles

one night i see you eating up breadcrumbs your parents left for you
i join you and we’re doing this together 
you’ll say it’s funny how creases in our fingertips tell us who we are 
but not how far you can run when your past has a head start 
nor the amount of breath you can reach in and steal from someone.

i wrap myself around your waist           rest my head to your stomach 
to hear what futures you have been swallowing           plans fermenting in the last five minutes 

the sieve we inherit         before i broke my arm balancing on the fence
tyre tracks left a divot in my hands that felt uncomfortable for anyone to hold

the light at the end of the tunnel reaches your face 
in the backseat next to mine on the car ride home at 3am        
i ask whether you can smell the burning and you kiss me on my temples
to remind me that you know the weakest spots of my skull


Oli Isaac is a multi-disciplinary artist, based in London, who works across poetry and theatre. Their poetry explores the tension of growing up with a speech impediment & trying to access language to navigate their queer and non-binary identity. Oli co-leads Clumsy Bodies, a trans and disabled-led art duo. They are currently part of Soho Theatre’s Writers lab, and are Roundhouse Poetry Collective alum. Author photo by Suzi Corker.