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A poem by Jáde Opanuga

The boy.

He itches and scrapes away,

Hoping to reach and tear at his thoughts

But she lurks in his brain,

Crawling along its slimy ridges as she haunts.

The boy becomes overwhelmed with paranoia,


Tiptoeing across the dark courtyard

Like a helpless deer on hunting grounds.

She stops him at the door, where he meets a strange guard

Whom, with no eyes, no nose, just a mouth, tells him to “turn around”

she lurks in his brain,

Crawling along its slimy ridges as she haunts.


The guard disintegrates like ash And the boy kicks down the door. He starts to scream, scratching away as his brain begins to mash Into different patterns of unimaginable gore But she lurks in his brain, Crawling along its slimy ridges as she haunts.


The screaming stops;

She ensures that no emotions interfere with the procedure.


The boy’s completely controlled now.

She forces him onto the dusty sofa.

Cobwebs cuff his arms and legs to the seat.

Ivy tightens around his neck.

A man’s rough hand with overgrown, thick yellow nails

Caresses his hair in a nurturing manner of care


Then a gasp.


He lets go.


His nails suddenly begin to dig into the boy’s scalp,

Then crack into his skull like crushing biscuits

Then poke into the slimy ridges of his brain

Where she lurks...

The hand strings her out of the irregular-shaped hole now in his head

Like pulling a yo-yo out of quagmire

It itches every crevasse, every road of his brain

That he wished he could’ve reached earlier

He moans at how soothing this feels

As his brain seemingly gets cleansed

Until a whisper.

“How dare you take my wife” he hisses.



He tries to move


But the cobwebs and ivy tighten further around his pale body,


The boy remains abandoned here.

A cold breeze continues to glide in and out

Of the hole in his head

Which now overflows with dull, grey dust

As he watches eternities of boys join him on the sofa,

Like chipped glass menageries on a dainty shelf of humiliation,

To endure the same fate:


She forever lurks in their brains,

Crawling along the slimy ridges as she haunts.

Back to BoundBy: November '23 (Edition #6)

A Statement by Jade
Opanuga on her


Over the past few years, I’ve been interested with how women have been presented and interpreted in the Gothic genre and how their presentation has changed in more modern Gothic literature, like in Angela Carter’s writing, hence the power and control that the female ‘maneater’ in my poem holds. It’s common in Gothic literature for women to be thrown into the trope of the damsel in distress or to merely just carry an undeserved irrelevance in the shadow of a male protagonist. I decided to manipulate this narrative and exhibit how detrimental and intoxicating the love for a woman can be in a man’s life.


My poem is essentially a metaphor for a promiscuous woman who makes a lot of men fall into her love trap. Every man wants her but once they fall in love with her, they can’t and won’t ever forget her, whilst she doesn’t hesitate to replace each and every one of them. Her husband, whose manly “rough hand” is the only physical feature of him that I describe, is just as naïve as the other men that his wife has manipulated. However, he thinks that this is attractive to her as his naivety appears in my poem as masculine possessiveness – a laughable kind of irony that fuels the maneater to continue maneating because she knows that she can always rely on him to be there for her. Originally, I named this poem ‘In his brain’ but I wanted to give the woman the spotlight that she deserves; I’ve also been listening to Nelly Furtado’s song called Maneater a lot recently so maybe this poem was just destined to be written. 

Back to BoundBy: November '23 (Edition #6)

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