Unseen! 
New words and visuals

Unseen! 1 - Inside

001

Inside - Things made in isolation

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unseen! 001 - inside

This is the first issue of Unseen! - a web zine created to showcase new words and visuals from emerging artists and writers. 
 

Inside is a collection of writing and visuals by Unseen Collective and friends, created during the COVID-19 lockdown.

ABout unseen Collective

We're a group of poets who met in the southwest, who have since dispersed. The collective keeps us connected, and creates a platform to share other artists' and poets' work. 

MEG

Venus crouches at my side

protecting me through loss -

a warrior against grief,

strengthening me

after others have left...

I forge a band of leaves 

around my right arm,

plant a tree on my ribs

and they do not crack, 

for I tend to them 

with cocoa butter

until I am smooth as dawn.

Monique

My eyes build buildings 

melt ceilings

were winter once 

my mouth knows my mother’s tongue 

hormones left my flesh freckled 

my skin it is worn

but it is mine

by design

I look for silver linings

my life 

the product of perfect timing 

I write to be 

to be is enough

rob

I am the space unfilled between us: 
stretching, silent, sunlight,
deep blue spring skies, 
stealing glances from weary eyes without
asking: 
smoke, mirrors,
here, smiling,
summer, trying,
living, dying,
solid mountain,
                            empty sun. 

CONTENTS

1 - unseen! tanka series 

1 - Unseen! Tanka Series

2 - Nostalgia 

3 - Poems by Meg
4 - Guest! Visuals

5 - Poems by Monique
6 - Unseen! Visuals 

5 - Poems by Rob 
6 - Paris Diary

7 - Guest! Poems
8 - Nostalgia II 

9 - Acknowledgements  

10- Submissions and Contact

Meg

Your scent slips inside

my house as your letter falls,

confusing my dog.

Her bark, both happy and sad,

echoes our mixed messages. 

 

Monique

Have I not waited

mother aching moments past

dilated from my

eyes water breaking hello

Satan I’ve been so patient

Rob

The first buds of spring
emerge from within themselves
incumbent and reticent –
a welcome message
from somewhere we cannot see.

A tanka from each of us about an unexpected message. 

2 - nostalgia 

Images of a pre-lockdown UK shot by Monique using a leaky film camera. 

3 - POEMS BY MEG

cocoon

In the absence 

of a guiding hand

to lead this dance,

I lift my own arm 

high above my head and, 

with closed eyes,

I begin to spin

a blanket of silk

to hug my skin 

like a womb.

Silver threads flow into my veins

through my palms, 

lighting up

my arms, my chest,

coursing through 

my shoulder blades.

And give me time

(what could be 

more beautiful?)

as I stretch out 

my tigered back, 

unstiffen 

my weakened spine,

roll my chin 

from chest to sky,

then watch as

(gently)

my wings unfold

with my sigh.

IMAGINING DINNER WITH FRIENDS

The table is laid 

with dappled sun

and the scent 

of blossom and larksong 

catches our skin.

We feast our eyes, 

overcome by company,

drink in each other’s smiles,

drunk with delight.

I close my eyes

turn my face to the light.

Our hands briefly touch

as you pass the sorbet,

and it does not matter.

Afterwards 

we all hug goodbye

hold each other close

and feel our hearts’ duet,

our bellies pressed together

like a prayer

Atlas

Something is wrong

with the atlas on my bedroom wall.

The lines are too straight,

drawn out like a square,

with a triangle hat, 

and windows framing Turkey,

Spain and South Sudan.

Russia is not real -

it was rubbed out by a child, 

and only spoken into existence 

by strangers 

with beautiful tongues.

The canals of St Petersburg

pour into Venice,

while Moscow’s empty metro floors

gleam in the Ashmolean. 

France dissolved

as I crossed the sea -

a scattered trail of Paris

falling away behind the train,

into a photobook

in attempts to remain. 

Countries slide off the map 

as my world grows smaller

and smaller

until

I gaze up at the atlas

and see only 

this house.

Papaya

Do you remember the very first thing 

that touched your lips?

Did you smile?

Did you run away, 

knowing that it was enough?

Do you eat papaya with a slice of lime?

Do you know the satisfaction 

of a spoon scooping into its centre, 

while a puddle of juice 

dews your plate?

Do you remember when you tasted it first? 

When you were done, 

did you push it away?

Did you look up 

to meet someone’s eyes?

Was it your mother?

Did you stain your shirt?

Was it your favourite colour?

Did she shake her head?

Did she smile?

Do you remember the feeling 

of lifting your arms,

of the neckline pulling against 

your forehead?

Did you run your sticky hands

over your chest?

Did you run away? 

Did you smile?

 

Do you remember the very first thing 

that touched your lips?

Do you remember your first kiss?

Did you run away?

Was it harder to stay?

Have you ever cried 

with your lips shaped like a smile?

Have you watched your reflection 

crumple,

your forehead line, while tears 

run down your cheeks?

Have you sobbed without knowing why?

Did it help?

When you’re alone

do you dance?

Do you remember your first dance?

The very first hand that touched your hips?

Did you run away? 

Did they ask you to smile?

 

Have you ever curled up and

rested your chest on your thighs?

Turned your head to the side 

with closed eyes

and kissed the scar on your arm?

Did you feel less alone?

Did your arm understand 

the touch of your lips?

Did you taste of cocoa butter?

Did you smell like your mother’s perfume,

a small square bottle of jasmine 

rubbed in a circle between your wrists

and neck?

Have you bitten your skin

to remind yourself you’re there?

Have you whispered ‘I love you’

when there was no one else around?

Did your voice sound small,

too self-aware?

Were you afraid 

to not hear your love returned?

Have you cut your own hair?

Have you watched three years of growth

fall to the ground?

Have you seen it lie 

like swirling stars at your feet?

 

Do you like the shape of your toes?

Do your feet still grow calluses in Summer,

hardening yourself for the days ahead?

Crossing over sharp stones,

stepping into green pools, 

do you still watch rays graze your skin?

Do you run when you should walk?

Do you know how to skip?

How to skim a stone until it jumps?

Have you crouched down low

to squint at the horizon

and catch the last of the sun?

Did you smile?

Was it enough?

 

Do you give yourself enough time?

Do you still eat papaya

with a slice of lime?

clouds

I am walking on the clouds -

my feet stepping lightly on their undersides,

and I wonder when they might decide

to let go,

to fall away with a sigh

to the old world below,

crashing into something new.

Down side up, head under heels,

from here I can see everyone I know -

what a view.

If only I could reach out

to hold your hand or 

plant a kiss on your head.

For now, suspended upside down,

I’ll return your smile instead.

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4 - GUEST! VISUALS

Various work from talented guest artists - illustrations by Lucy, Adam, and Alice, a visual poem by Sophia, and a mixed media collage by Becky. Click the images for a link to our guests' Instagram accounts!

illustrations by lucy  

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visual poem by sophia

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illustration by becky

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illustration by aDam

illustrations by Alice

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5 - poems by monique

Eye

For you I wake to watch the sunrise

Everynight is a goodnight

As the sun sets to sleep 

I watch warm water colours paint your cheeks

And for a moment emotion washes over me

I wage a war 

On the thoughts that tell me to leave before you do

For you will soon 

When I look at you I know you were loved

Your skin so smooth 

Near damp

As if your mother kisses have not yet dried

And your father gave you permission to cry

And then wiped your eyes

My love 

You are still so easy to be loved 

So my worry is not you

It is who you are loved by

It is I

eden

You have built a wall around your garden

I can see a tree and it is evergreen

Do you fear a fool may eat forbidden fruit and know your truth

I have long been a fool for you 

My sweet

I know no sorrow

You hold no sin not worth knowing

It will not compel me to cover my body in fig leaves

I grow more nude in knowing you

Share with me you sowing seeds

I promise to tread lightly my love

Evermore

The Gods they punish me

I know they do for I love you

Despite

evergreen

I wished for you

And you for me

With cutlery we cut the tree

It took a decade to do

But we did so in excellence

Diligence

Decadence

Etching our names and numerals

The fallen marked our path

Connecting lands lost to man

Taken by waters

Coiled in the presence to kill

The sun fell on your shoulders

You led 

My light

It is for you I pause time

It is for you I walk this line

6 - unseen! visuals

paintings by meg

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illustrations by rob

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7 - poems by rob

haiku 

A cool spring morning
announced by the woodpecker –  
awake in the world.
 

A ride in the sun - 
crows descend on warm breezes, 
in search of their food.

A passing sadness
that attempted to linger
broken by movement.

 

The dew wets my eyes, 

as spring pollen, silently
remembers to fall.


My old truth is dead
from there to here I have passed –
new life emerging.

Wonderful crimson, 
an injury to old skin - 
he strains to hear us.

The heavy spring moon

is watching my eyes, leaking

as day turns to night.

The evening birdsong
on a breeze through the window, 
whilst brushing my teeth.

ants and daffodils

Sunlit daffodils,
nodding their heads towards me,
remind me of how
time can oscillate somehow
and suddenly I am born.

Our tranquil night walks,
a sudden recognition –
you are more than the
sum of your cells or the hum
that your tongue takes for knowledge.

You are a pleading,
an architect of silence.
The ants we mimic,
filling cities endlessly -
the pulsing pierces ear drums.

Morning silence 

I have lived at this wonderful cusp,
blessed by countless acts of love -
 
I only want for a way to 
thank every eye that
has held me in its gaze, 
to sanctify each smile
with palms pressed together, a silent prayer 
for posterity,
for the next gesture born of love
and not fear for 
they stand opposed and

basking in the breath of all bad deeds not 
committed I fold into kindnesses,
emergent through unknown worlds 
that brim with friends yet unmade and
suns yet unrisen - 


to celebrate our unlikelihood, 
our impossible chance to run in the rain. 

 

STUMBLED STARTS 

The land of desks and paperwork,
of mystery and gods,
in which I landed quite unknown:

to songs of bugs and frogs. 


The floor gave way under my feet,
and through the void I fell,
udon noodles, late night walks
and visions straight from hell.  

 

Gingko was a savior,

wept leaves before my heart,

as autumn sung its song of death

an ode to stumbled starts.

I think of every peaceful walk,
remember every friend,
and come home with an ounce of truth:
All good and bad must end.

8 - paris Diary  

Two pages from a visual diary kept by Meg during her time in Paris. 

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9 - guest poets  

empty plains - lumbeross

I awoke to the smell of
incense,
clutching my thoughts before
they escaped my tongue
to form a ceiling to be
clouded, intoxicating
I followed it
blindly -
soft waves, slow walks.

I arrived,
sat at the bowl as it scratched my throat,
weakening my grasp
I tried to walk away towards
the empty plains but I
returned to
you.
Cough, splutter, off colour,
talk, mutter,
silence.

Excruciating silence as I used my last
remaining strength to hold my tongue.
I slipped, let go, my thoughts rose above me.
A roof in the empty plains -
how could I leave? 

golden cage - francesco 

Those voices that craved
Silence and locked doors
Lie now scared of the plated walls
They dreamt of,
Mother gently kisses her child
Goodbye
as freedom yells her name from the wild
while the world watches still and wondering.
What a foul day to be leaving,
Won’t you stick around for another ride,
There’s a voice calling your name
Opening the gate of your new home,
You’re not homebound, kid,
Spinning in a golden cage
To the rhythm of a broken clock
To the echoes of the last ticks
Of your heart;
What a foul day to be running, my love,
What a foul day to go,
Won’t you sit down again
If you desire so,
I lost my way in the woods
To find you guarding a cave,
You sphinx, guide and devil
Holding my hand,
Holding my hand
To the grave.
What a foul day to be dying, darling,
Let me hold the light while you walk in,
Let me kiss you before the wind
blows you away.
One drink for the dead,
One drink for the road,
One drink for the journey you conquered
One drink for the one you begin,
While I roam and search
Holding a light
That no longer you can see.

reflections - mark

Did you look up when they first said beware,
did you take notice or even care?
As they died and the numbers continued to rise,
did you believe what you saw with your eyes?
It’s coming they said, wash your hands and prepare.
Too late my friend! It’s everywhere -
it keeps taking lives, now our world at a halt,
did our desire for too much make it our fault?
Nature looks on as we fight to survive,
will we remember, if left still alive -
our planet is shared, its wealth not our own,
the pain we now feel, the seeds once sown,
the ocean cooled down, the air grown cleaner,
is this one the lesson to make us live greener?

the embroidery - hannah

My grandma got as far as a butterfly,

two bluebells and a daisy,

then I guess she got bored
or ran out of thread.

 

Decades later my mother finished

the rest. A panorama

of botanical inaccuracies:

species belonging to separate seasons,

separate soils, planted

on one beige canvas.

 

I think we all need two funerals:

first the public unravelling,

then a quiet project we stitch

together in the evenings.

10 - nostalgia ii 

Film shot by Rob between 2017 and 2019 - when travel photography was a realistic hobby. 

acknowledgments

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to Inside, and to all our readers - we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it! 

submissions and contact

We are now accepting submissions for our Summer issue, with the theme "Outside". Please send any work to: unseenwordsandvisuals@gmail.com.

Alternatively, send us a direct message via Instagram:  _unseencollective_

The deadline for submissions is 15/08/20. 

We accept visual art, photography, poetry, short articles and fiction (under 500 words). Feel free to provide your name and social media, as well as any further information about your submission (title, inspiration, explanation etc).  

We receive a high volume of submissions, so please be patient - we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

  • unseenwordsandvisuals@gmail.com
  • Unseen Collective