The Truth, by Deanna Acton

As a woman, I have grown tired of the old debate:
whether I belong in the kitchen, upon the arm of my husband or burning my bra.
The truth? Neither; not smiling, glassy-eyed through the fumes of my oven, nor naked from the waste-up, wielding cardboard cutout signs like protest propaganda. I belong nowhere. I am a Woman. I need not be chained to the stove or chained to the railings outside Parliament to matter, to be measured.

My worth is not measured by my breast size, my ability to scrub down a hob or by the willingness of my womb because living without is allowed. Measure me by my intellect, rather than my beauty. Say ‘she’s a brilliant mum’, value my contributions and my career and the very essence of my nature; that is is good and that I only ever wanted to give and to be loved. Value that I value marriage, monogamy and motherhood but understand that it does not make me weaker, any less progressive because I chose it to be this way.

And, if nothing else, understand that I can do both. I have a place in the household and the workforce, to breastfeed my baby today but to be promoted tomorrow. I am constrained only by the limitations I put on myself, not by the preconceptions of others. I am not taking the place of a man but taking that which should have been mine to begin with. This is not hate, this is not bias, misandry or even feminism. I am a Woman and this is the Truth.

The Homeless by Deanna Acton

It is the early morning commuters who see me first

they rush past in their ties and blazers

wrinkle their noses, avert their gaze, stare at the ground.


The mothers follow next on their way to school

they recoil in disgust, horror, pity

they pull their children away from me, crossing the road.


It is the children who are the kindest

they peer at me curiously, inquiringly, quizzically

no judgement on their face; they see me clearest.


they smell me before they see me

they see lank hair underneath a thick woollen hat

they see the cardboard I use as mattress in the doorway.


They see my crooked yellow teeth and squinted eyes

they see my sleeping bag with holes in

they see my dog, my unconditional companion.


Believe me, I am ashamed;

the homeless man, the man without residence,

the man without a roof, the hobo.


The posters in bus stations say kindness kills

I’ll use your money to buy cocaine and vodka

and I will.


Off my face on smack so I don’t see yours

Repulsion etched on every wrinkle

Hallucinate to comfort from my painful reality