After the Flood Comes the Apologies is the debut pamphlet of emerging autistic poet Naoise Gale.
Including the poems Tomorrow, runner up in the Parkinson’s Art Poetry Competition 2020, and Fruit
of Her Womb, commended in the Poetry Space Competition 2020, it is pamphlet of confessional
poetry, full of gritty, unromanticised images of mental illness. It explores the bizarre, the ironic and
the ugly. Beginning with the glory and anxiety of a gifted childhood, it descends into the chaos of
mental illness and the obliteration of early promise. Some poems explore the hysteria and
hopelessness of anorexia, while others focus on the dazzling highs and numb lows of painkiller
addiction. Later poems address the horror of withdrawal, the ambivalence towards recovery, and
the temptation to backtrack. This is a pamphlet chronicling self-destruction, yet it offers a slither of
hope, as the voice emerges wounded but unbroken, and walks towards a tentative recovery. It also
touches upon manic episodes, self-harm and asexuality. This is a world of hospital corridors, clueless
doctors, grotty student flats, and surprisingly, drizzly Venetian canals, as Naoise studied in Venice for
three months. Written by a student with lived experience of mental illness, this pamphlet is
dedicated to those who have suffered or are still suffering, and to those who have refused to give up
on them.

Naoise Gale

Naoise Gale is a poet from West Yorkshire whose first pamphlet, ‘After the Flood Comes the Apologies’, will be published with Nine Pens in October 2021. She has been shortlisted in the Creative Futures Writers Award 2021 and longlisted in the Fish Poetry Prize 2021, as
well as various other poetry and flash fiction competitions. Her work focuses on mental
health, identity and addiction; it has been widely published in magazines such as Anti Heroin Chic, Versification and Opia Lit. She regularly attends Todmorden Writers’ Collective open mic nights. You can find her on twitter as @Naoisegale13.

Doctor, Doctor


In late autumn, when the leaves

skittered like ghoulish crisp packets

on the glassy ground, my mother

frogmarched me to the doctor,

muttering lines about

blown blood sugar and gut stained

toilet bowls and breath that smelled

of decay. My cannibal-body wilted

in the small plastic chair, and I

rested my chin on my palm,

like a crumpled sheet of paper. The

doctor was tinkling skirts and woodsmoke,

hippy-dippy middle-class thing; she read

my weight backwards and chimed, “She’s as thin

as an ice-pick. Her eyes are haunted.” I smirked

and blew pink bubbles into the paused air,

skinny bitch, all woozy pride. Anorexia

was a crass hand on my shoulder, something

to clutch in the night when leg muscles

knotted and stomach complained. We were

a pencil sketch of twisted shadow-hands, two

hands under the desk in the crude classroom,

two sides of the same dark pill. Doctor said,

“Maybe she needs a car,” as though the

problem was my location, or my transport,

as though I could drive into the forget-me-not

dusk and eat coffee cake on a bench coated

in tumbleweed, I just needed some wheels,

Goddamnit, some black rubber tyres to coast

me away from this wretched place. After anointed

appointment I cried in the corridor, all white milk

and roses, all freeze-fog, all bruised anger. Then

my mother clutched my bird-palm in hers and we

were two cream hands in the half-light, one dark

hand on the heart.



I remember you as lemon-thyme

and scorched grass, endless knives

of wet grass through my wriggling

toes, stinking summer grass dotted

with frail daisies, sunlight that

streamed onto me like melted butter.

I remember the feeling of angel

hair through my clasping fingers,

the webs of early autumn made

iridescent with silvery sunshine;

I remember the sound of police cars

that slapped down oil-wet roads

and unleashed steaming sirens.

I remember the occasional clench

of my fists around private stashes

in the semi-darkness of illegal nights,

I remember highs like sanguine

Sudanese sunrises, I remember

every drip of you on the molten

carpet, I remember the bitter

taste of you on my tongue, I

remember I remember I remember.

I cannot forget. Dreams like pink

bridal shrouds haunt me – these nights

I am always laid flat with a palmful

of pills, butter-soft on the carpet,

never hacking blood into

the toilet, or passing out as my

desperate mother slaps my blue-

tinged cheek in a taxi to the hospital.

I am never explaining myself to

judgemental staff, or sitting stiff in

a room marked ‘OD’, naloxone

still noisy and abhorrent in my

veins. No, in my memory it is

always summer, and we twist

together like a daisy chain, weak

as anything, but oh so beautiful.