we bleed words

until we are read all over

summer fruits

(a song for healing)

love in this season always gets me going.
my hometown, drenched in fat colours,
waiting for me in the suburban heat.

when the doctor asks,
i tell him i am a painter of sorts.
a sometimes-poet.

i want to write myself beautiful and open,
but instead it’s just flood. fat colours, fat tears.
fat old balding man in plastic chair who wants
me stuffed with pills to stop the noise.

some feelings don’t deserve words, i always say.
but maybe i just mean myself. no words for this girl,
no sir. you wanna talk about it?
what else do i have to say.

i’d like my heart to jump out of its home,
into the world. want to make the world my home,
but sometimes it just hurts.
saltwater bones, you know me.
it’s in the blood.

he says, “hey, you’re so young, like a baby”
and if i was more of myself, i’d be angry.

but i’m not angry, i’m tired;
the clinic’s walls are all blue, and i’m still crying,
nineteen and fully grown, patient a possible risk to self

so tired, i almost want to ask him to hold me,
because i want to be held, i want to know if this body
still beats, and loves, and lives, because i hope it does,
god, i hope it does.

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this is not a poem pt. 5

but it is indeed, about poems

For context: I’m currently reading Anne Sexton, and I’ve been thinking thinking thinking about Confessional Poetry, and my poetry, and my whole heart, and why I am so shy about things sometimes. Here are some good lines from what I’ve read so far – we are magic talking to itself, tonight I will learn to love you twice, woman’s dying must come in seasons, what is this intricate shape of air?? I CRIED BECAUSE I WAS SEVENTEEN. Which is in All Caps because I really feel it, I do.

Basically I was sort-of-unwell, and I still sort-of-am, but today tonight this moment right now I am feeling OK. I’m thinking about Anne Sexton. Why are we so drawn to the lives of tragic women? Why do I have a Sylvia Plath tattoo? Will I regret it when I’m no longer an angsty feminist English major? Etc. I am having terrible writer’s block, in the way that I am deeply unhappy with my writing and it is literally physically painful to think about attributing words to very delicate untouchable feelings. I am also stupidly sensitive.

When I was a little younger, I emailed one of my favourite poets Shinji Moon for a high school assignment. I was going to paraphrase her response to me but I found the email and I will DIRECTLY QUOTE HER here: “The poem is a creation, an extension of your soul yes but you’ve got to look at it like it’s not a part of you but something to hold out and be bewildered by, to love as precious and malleable”. Isn’t she just gorgeous? I really should get this tattooed onto my face so I can remember it and remind myself that I am not my poetry and I should stop being silly and I should write about my hearty heart and let the whole world eat it up. I’m rereading her email now, and it still makes me feel all fuzzy; it touched me so deeply when I was seventeen.

Anyway I need to write poems but I need to take a break and let my creative process do what it needs to do but I always feel like I’m running out of time because my parents are getting old and my grandparents are dying and they think I am this wonderful intelligent young artist so I have to make something out of myself before everyone’s dead or I will be so sad and I will write an entire novel about how the thought of death really ruins me.

This is getting really long now. If you’re reading this, I hope you’re having a good day. When I said this to Shinji she replied: hope you’re having a wonderful everything – which really sounds like something a poet would say, don’t you think? I want to be a poet like that; in my whole life, in everything I do, in the very natural way I speak. I really hate it when people try to write prettily just by using big fancy words that don’t go together, you know what I mean. I talk like that sometimes. But really I don’t talk like a poet at all, I talk like a teenage girl, very clumsy and ???vapid??? and I say like like like over and over again. But who cares, teenage girls are all poets and I can say whatever I want to say and I will publish all the bad poems in my hearty heart heart.

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

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.