the first time i drank morphine

a weight slid over my heart


& the whole summer

collapsed under me


my head packed with ice

phone overflowing with garbled texts


& all because of this vertebra


a firecracker in a closed fist

& morphine the only thing to smoulder it


how all medicine

pulls you away from yourself


just enough to create distance


topless before the fan

in a pool of sweat


dreaming of dusty fields


where the brittle petals of poppies waive

in the breeze


i scratch myself awake


skin blistered red

my nails at my body like a hand


at my throat


the morphine pulling life from me slow as a splinter

a syringe squeezed

millilitre by millilitre




Daniel Sluman is a 34-year-old poet and disability rights activist. He co-edited the first major UK Disability poetry anthology Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back, and he has published three poetry collections with Nine Arches Press. His most recent collection, single window was released in September 2021, and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.