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Three Poems by Gahlia Phillips

The Actor’s Chimera
by Gahlia Phillips

a child’s chimera grew
into her very own incubus of dreams
stargazed through prisms of a reality she
had dreamed so carefully of,

of being moon-struck stared at
from auditorium seats way back,
of running off into the wings and then
back on again for a hunger of encores.

this girl was tired of being
a girl
so she ripened instead, to the phase where truth
and lies cannot be washed down

like a gross tasting vegetable.
she began forming in masks
watching people in motion, where hands stroke hands
and feet walk their lips with readiness.

but some footed paths are saturated and loose,
some motion you into believing
your shadow should be taller, thinner.
broken bones mean success –

how could a fancy be so monstrous!
now the girl holds challenging scripts
and disintegrates over losing a role –
an absentee through most of her days

dreaming of grand things
of seeing her face below a title …
and then it came, it always comes
but the words , they grew into

a phallus ready to penetrate her nightly,
sweating out the grime of shame
she so carefully concealed. each night
she drained from herself to become more of

that character,
a desperate blood transfusion
oxygenated through her
from the moment she walked through the red-bulb S of

the Stage-Door sign
to the bleeping of the car alarm, and maybe some more.
maybe just maybe
she took all of the other girl,

because she liked her
had grown comfortably akin to her strange
and very wild behaviour. her own eyebrows
overgrown and tangled hanging like a dehydrated stem

pointing toward a very green-glimmer, her roots lengthened
to a colour she was not familiar with
and her body covered in welts
fist bruises and knobs, but when the lights went out

she could not remember who beat her, who
took their hands and pummelled at her skin
under that Indigo haze, when the audience sat
hushed, voyeurs to her

suffering. they watched as she was asphyxiated by her
own madness delivering lines purposefully as if a
hand had shoved her head underwater and pulled at the nape
only to allow


the two of her
perfectly merged,
unaware of the other nor the applause
and smells of fermented grapes swirling with every crack of a

glass, nothing could lure her back from the sinking
loneliness that curdled her stomach
making her rise to vomit –
daily. what a tragedy

to be an actor, the glory dream
the dying each night, the concoction of an end
enough to make your throat sting.
but the wanting it, is not enough,

she that lives inside
wants it more. she hungers for her to keep pursuing
keep pushing.. till each line spoken
is like another hex on the final.

the girl grows weary with each performance
through heated smoke and lights
leaving her depleted and lustful for sleep,
which arrives to strait-jacket her into the sheets
and she forgets to breathe.

Constructing Wings
by Gahlia Phillips

I collect feathers so i can build my wings,
to flit endlessly farther –
far away. far
from this spoiled world
and better
forward with a flap-flap
to a philharmonic smacking
of pinions.

i collect feathers so
i can build my wings, not
like the birds.
they already have shape, but
rather like
the ones who visit
without legs. an
ephemeral renewal into seraph.

i collect feathers so i
i can build my wings into
a plumage of filoplumes, out
and stretched with
feathered arm. it
takes faith to make
these, and
to tear the skin to the

i collect feathers so i can build
build my wings, and
fly the coop
into heaven’s vestibule.

Penicillin Swirl
by Gahlia Phillips

Medicinal smells swirl around me,
un-recycled air sticks like a nut
i sniffed up my nose when i was a kid.
the room looks pallid
and the air morose
as i sweat through sheets, damp and
static. i feel stuck. i feel contagious,
leeching algae-like
off my sheets-
what a horrible mess of human.
my roots have leaked copper
blotting ant feet down my spine,
marking me. i have penicillin paralysis.
i am so tightly wound round,
i could hug myself to a quick exit.

and then she strokes …
she strokes my head releasing
thirty degree sunbeams from every pore.
what a glimmer!
her hands feel like mom’s baked muffins
i used to stuff into my pyjama top,
her face blazing with a haloed light.

now, back to being a sculpture
in a room full of neat china and investment art.
i have drawn meds at dawn,to watch minutes
drain at a useless pace; while i
in and out sprays of antibiotic
into a very gloomy space,frustrating myself.
i am an ornament that might never get a good shine,
laying on a half chewed pillow.

GAHLIA PHILLIPS is an Actor and a Poet and has performed in and Television since a very young age. With a Masters Cum Laude in Creative Writing (University of the Western Cape), a Bachelor of Arts Theatre Performance majoring in English Literature (University of Cape Town) and an L.T.C.L Teachers (London Trinity College). As well as being a Professional Actor she teaches privately in Performance and Movement, and is a tutor at UWC in English Literature.

“Women have long mourned the silence of their afflictions and purpose, which gradually has changed and quite drastically over the last century. My concern in this collection is to take women’s stories out of ‘silence’ and into the public domain.”

Gahlia’s Eastern European blood brings a great source of inspiration to all her work, and she currently resides in Cape Town, South Africa.

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