we bleed words

until we are read all over

Looking for a light switch

(Note: This poem was written and rewritten over the course of one month. I didn’t want to write it, and then I wanted to write it, and then I thought it was too much or not enough. But I think some things can only be said in the form of a poem.)

The truth was waiting there, in the angles
of shadows, in the razor blade I didn’t throw away,
but hid. In the cupboard. In all things blue.

That night, I said to myself: you can be honest today.
You feel this, and everyone knows –
you always put your heart on the shelf.
You want to hurt the hurting, but it just
doesn’t work.                         Look,

I don’t know

what this life is all about. But I want to drink it up.
Want to put it to my lips like a lover would.
I’ve been on my knees all night, and it’s a prayer
I remember.                           God wants me to beg

when we’re sitting together in the bathroom,
under all the bright lights. And I’m on the floor,
and it’s late, and the cupboard wants to be opened.

He calls me by a name I don’t recognise,
with his hands in my hair.

Me, an ocean

covered in ash. A lungful of lost air.
A hot sinner in a cupboard, like an oven for my head.
Waiting for the tiles to cool my body down
with an ear to the ground. Looking for a light switch?
Looking for a demon? Left wrist

still clean. Body left untouched.
An oven, an oven. Honey on my lips.
I remember this. I remember this, I lived here.

I think again, of highways. Mid-morning heat.
A world drenched in a syrup of longing.
I make myself lonely. I burned all these bridges.
I come back to it every time, the only home I know.

There’s a knocking on my ribcage,
and it’s my own hand, it’s my own knife,
it is the house I built for myself
and every room is empty.


girl is a gun, a gun, a gun

(Note: Birthday season is upon us.)

oh eighteen, how sweet you were to me.
your memory in a wrinkled photograph of the sky,

folded into quarters. your body still learning
how to be a body. how lovely you are.

you scream until the silence is a constant hum
in your head, then you dream about your father

in a wolf mask. when the tall man asks after you,
you realise you are old enough to say yes,

but every moment has a dirty innocence now.
a spoiled fruit spilling out of you. a sonnet written

into your skin, your scars. you swim to the moon,
you kiss it with what’s left of your little girl mouth.

it all tastes the same now, it doesn’t hurt
the way it used to. but oh, how it lingers.

yellow days

love isn’t afraid / love is using your first name / in the poems that i wrote

seb, i do a whole lot of loving these days.
catching sunlight on my crooked teeth
changing my heart with the seasons,
like the poets do, when winter passes
and we realise we have been waiting
for the sky to open itself up again.
aren’t we just beautiful in this light.
the way her hair brushes against
the nape of her neck always makes
me think: there is no time left at all.
i want to swallow my own worries,
my own voice. i want september
to always be this shade of yellow.
your name, in every poem i write.
my heart in bundles of wax-paper
and paint; hours and hours of angles
from a face i’d recognise in the dark.
sitting in a cafe on a tuesday morning,
i wonder what the weather is like
wherever you are. and what to do
with all this loving, all this light.

this is not a poem pt. 4

(Note: A song to dance to: alone, at night)

Small updates and things. I’ve been hiding poems because I’m trying to put together a manuscript of sorts. Which is unusual for me because I’m so used to stress-writing/word-vomit, publishing it here, releasing it to the world, ignoring it forever and never going back. But now I have to write it, keep it, edit it, reread it, etc. So you won’t be seeing many new poems here, unless they’re very personal and unprofessional. Y’know what I mean. All the good gutsy heartsy things (the rejects). I just feel like I write so often and I want to put these little scraps all together into one big thing, you know? Something will come out of it one day (in a few years maybe). I want to put all of my energy into one piece, so I need to /take/a/break/.

I work at a bookstore now, which means I’m busy-busy, but also that my life is very full of romance and art and beauty. Picture me wearing a green apron, lugging books around, listening to a jazz playlist. I even use a little baby step ladder to reach higher shelves. It’s very lovely and quiet, even though I’m out in the big city. (There are a lot of old business men who buy cookbooks and autobiographies and history-things.) I wear my hair up more often. I wear my glasses. I carry books with me everywhere, so I can read on the train, at university, in a cafe, while eating.

Lately all I’ve been thinking is, ‘so this is living, huh?’ And I guess it is. I guess this is the everyday that we all write about. It’s funny, sometimes. I am so surprised by the few poets that I know in real life – how magical they are, how outspoken, how political their poetry is. I have a voice, but I don’t think it belongs there. I always want to write the quiet poem. Something that feels like home. I find it hard to channel anger into poetry. The words just end up all soft and tender again. Just the thought of writing makes me feel a certain fondness for the world?? For everything, even the bad things. I am probably the most boring person ever, but there really are moments in my life where I think; no, I don’t want to be remembered, I don’t want to be heard, I just want a bed to sleep in, I want to walk home, I want to live simply, somewhere warm. I want to write something worth reading, I want to write so I can find that feeling and put it into words somehow, so you can feel it too. Anyway, it’s all the same. Love poems everywhere. Good things to come soon.

The Colour of July

Somewhere across the ocean, the thought sleeps:
a dying fish in the sand that screams until no one
can bear to listen to its ragged breathing any longer.
Shoot it once to give it peace. Don’t pray for the dead;
pray for the dying, for the living who have been left
behind in the unforgiving sea, these cold waters.
We refuse to let go. We refuse to go under.

I wring the poem out of myself.

I swim and then I don’t swim, until all that is left
is the silence I was born into, the silence that has
made a home inside of me. My soul, the colour of July.
A story I only half-remember. I told you once,
when we were younger, about the fear we keep
but cannot speak of. That ancient ache, the one
that my ancestors used to bury, along with the
bodies of their lost children, on the islands of Boracay.

O friend, the words have left me dry again.
A language that is shaped by fear.
Fear that is formed from a lost love, a quiet love;
the hands that wrap warm rice into banana leaves.
We learn to live like this. I don’t pray for my own bones.
I ask the ocean to keep you warm, to keep you safe. 
A longing so pure, I forget what sin feels like.


One day when it all makes sense, you’ll realise that you really do have spider hands and a poison-mouth; the one your mother always said would ruin you, spit venom onto your skin, the way a knife kisses open wounds. You know the story begins somewhere here, but it always ends in tangles, and look – you’re making a mess out of yourself again. Bad girl. Silly sad, lonely girl. Running around with no socks on, getting dirt everywhere, DIRT (and it really is dirt); you almost wanted to call it earth, or soil, or something almost-sweet, and not as ugly. Nothing is more honest than the ugly. Here, I’ll give you my ugly. My burnt bread crumbs, hidden in old shirt pockets, in between loose strands of hair. Layers upon layers. The night my mother screamed at the thunder, out on the balcony by herself, under a wolf-moon; howling. Screamed and screamed, and came back after an hour, only to say: I’ve been speaking to the clouds, after I asked her where have you been? And really just thinking, at that moment, WE ARE ALL INSANE, and beyond insane, and every time you talk about jumping off the god damn balcony I want to laugh and swallow the earth until I can feel the thunder in my stomach, that rumble, that fire, the words that burn. Bad girl, says the man, lingering in the shadows. Bite my hands off. We don’t want to talk about the midnight ache. The incessant dogs barking, the neighbours fucking, the quiet wake of suburban dreams in the darkness. Her voice nothing but an angled silhouette, cutting into the silence I created: I don’t think I’m alive sometimes. Well, I, I don’t think. I don’t think. This house breathes like a drum. Ba dum, ba dum. She falls back asleep, as I lie awake hoping to dream about myself, waiting for the hazy night to settle into my eyes, so I can see my face more clearly.

this is not a poem pt.3

(Note: A song I listen to when I’m standing alone on a crowded train)

Every few months, I feel like I need to sit down and ask myself, how are you? And then I make notes of my own response. As a child, I always thought that this was supposed to be private, that matters of the self concern no one but me, my heart, my being. But I think I mostly feel the need to become aware of myself when I’m surrounded by other people. I think I realise aspects of myself in relation to strangers.

Where to start? I’m studying again, and it’s a home for me, it always has been. Books, linguistics, philosophy, language – where my heart lives. The people here are so hopeful, too. Everyone I meet is rich, young and pretty. We want to be actors, writers, artists. The future is real and tangible and good. But the city fizzles into something distant when I take the long train ride home, back to the streets where everything is quiet again. How can I be in-between places like this? I just keep myself busy so I don’t have to do too much thinking. Maybe all these people are just distractions. There’s this lovely poem by Mary Oliver that goes, “I was so full of energy. I was always running around, looking at this and that. If I stopped the pain was unbearable. If I stopped and thought, maybe the world can’t be saved, the pain was unbearable.” I’m not sure what to make of this sometimes. I worry that something is sleeping inside of me, and I will never know. I worry for my worrying.

Anyway, it’s been cold in Sydney lately. I always lose my voice in this weather. I have coffee with other dreamy souls; soft boys and kind girls who are so confident in their own thoughts and their beliefs. We sit in our tutorial rooms and start every sentence with, I feel, I think, I believe. I don’t know what I know anymore, and there is some sort of a beauty in that. I have realised that I care about what other people think. I like it when they tell me about their lives, where they come from. When they ask me what it’s like in my little suburban town, I tell them it is peaceful. I’m not sure if it really is, or if I’ve just started to find peace in it. The gentle rumble, the white noise. It’s all a blur; my home, my friends, everything. I come home in the late afternoons, and tumble into sleep. What else can I do with myself? I feel like I’m in the middle of some-great-happening, like these moments are all building up towards something that I can’t see yet.

These days, I’ve been surrounded by a lot of illness and sadness and talk of death, and it hurts me in ways that I cannot even comprehend. Oddly, it makes me feel even more grateful for this quiet living. I am thankful that I feel things so deeply. Sad that my sadness will kill me one day. Blessed to know I can read poetry, and weep for beauty. Someone from here wrote me an email a long time ago, and it ended with “good luck to you and your lovely struggle”. I think of that message often. I think of strangers sharing my thoughts, like little window lights in an apartment we all live in. I can’t see you, but I know that you’re there. Washing the dishes. Putting your children to sleep. Carrying on, through this lovely struggle. A weighted gift.