Credit: ‘Liminality’ by Zalehah Turner
By Zalehah Turner


collateral damage suggests prudence
would’ve been the best course
‘justified’ can’t be
further from the truth
timing is of the essence

I’m rewriting history
for your eyes only
finding blanks where there were none
spinning the bottle
and the barrel
playing Russian roulette
in moments
which pass without a second thought

I sense concern
it’s neither here
nor there
but placed side by side
I think you’ll find
a random, scattered madness
the fallout as yet unmeasured


‘Contrast’ © Zalehah

Making up

I try shutting my mind out
to the constant pressure
the hissing panic
of nightmares
in the light of day
where we wake
shaken, until a moment
follows fast on the heels
of shadows
deliver me the distance
between the lies and indifference

I’m scared
where is the next
in what happens
in the narrative we started
unsure, almost startled
staring into unknowns



I find myself broken
spitting blood and lies
dry retching at thoughts
of inhumane error
my chest bone, cracked
under a bullet proof vest

the pavement shattered, smeared
with pieces of me
the breath of decay
steeped in panic
and a putrid stench

I still my mind
the taste of blood
and the faint sense
of distance
appearing without warning
quiet and self-assured


‘Meta Static’ © Zalehah

Cold case

I undertake a mission
to close a case that has been reopened
unstitching tissue and cartilage
until, gaping wounds appear
to tell a different tale

she remains
as yet, unclaimed
a Jan Doe hidden
in a metal draw
cold and lifeless
her jaw locked
teeth still clenched
traces of semen and aftershave

defensive wounds
cover her palms
leaving false nails
broken, torn beyond repair

prizing a cold case open
I find room for movement
at first, it’s little more than a shattered
piece of glass
tainted green and imbedded in our victim
who shares a familiar pattern of bruises
and battle stains
as another, similar
but not the same
who wakes in terror
night after night
moments before
daylight creeps beneath her door
stained glass casting a green light
across the floor

‘Jane Doe’s a biter!’
I pronounce proudly
pulling flakes of epidermal
tissue between her teeth
with my tweezers

closing her up
I find a partial
a finger print where we’d thought
there was none
painstaking, human error
in the space of nightmares

I breathe out
sensing closure
carelessly leaving
traces of nicotine
across her chest
thoughts shadowed in breath patterns
later, taken into evidence


Sticks and stones

I crossed the road
without thinking
looking neither left nor right
moving to the beat of the lights
the calm rhythm of repetition
easily recognisable
but quickly forgotten
as you came out of nowhere
turning the corner
too quickly
before skidding to a halt
realising far too late
I was directly
in your line of sight

after breaking my bones
you reversed
slowly, deliberately
I’ll never know why
perhaps, to ensure that the damage done
was irreversible

life and death
and the moments between
I caught your words
as I tried to scream

‘She came out of nowhere!’
you screeched, feigning horror
pleading to the people caught
on either side of the road
hesitating, thinking only
of their own lives
and what could have been
starring back at you
eyes wide with shock

‘She came out of nowhere!’
you repeated
only, I couldn’t return
and it was you, not me
who drove over the limit
turning the corner
without looking
either left or right

sticks and stones
shattered my bones
but your words left me

as I lost
I caught a vision of me
in the rear view mirror
of your car, almost
beyond recognition

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, writer and critic currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is an Associate Editor at Rochford Street Review and co-judge of the New Shoots Poetry Prizes, a joint initiative of Rochford Street Review (RSR) and The Red Room Company. Zalehah has curated the poetry in the current and previous issues of RSR and reviewed a wide range of cultural events for both it and Vertigo.