I wrote this poem in 1986, aged 17. You can listen to a wav file of me reading the poem, as recorded in 1987.

It was a difficult time for me, having understood and accepted my lesbian identity, while feeling so isolated. At that time, I hadn’t knowingly met anyone else who identified as LGBT, and had only confided in a handful of friends. Homophobia was rife. I felt desperately alone and fearful of prejudice.


Head and shoulders photo of a young Nicki Hastie at the age of 17, in front of a grey brick wall background, with the letters SUNK written horizontally in red.

How I looked at 17

Here I sit
Emitting brick-like sighs,
Soon I should have something solid:
A wall to crack my head on.
You say that’s not funny,
But would you listen then
And question the pain of
The reddening pool?
Even drown, perhaps, in the
Too colourful facts.
A fear enacted, leaving
Numbing veins and sticky flesh
Smashed of their dreams.
Helplessly misunderstood.

© Nicki Hastie
Date of original poem: September 1986