we bleed words

until we are read all over

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.

Advertisements

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.

writer’s block pt. 2

2:11 a.m.
what is it about me that makes me want to open my heart to everyone all the time, as if i can’t be silent for too long; i can’t ever keep things to myself. so open, but still so impossibly far away from everything in a blurry mess of messes. i need to write and i need to write about myself, and sometimes i think it’s because i’m the only person i can ever know or want to know. who says stuff like that out loud. just wanna scream into the void and ask ‘is it supposed to be like this?’ do we all have these thoughts but never tell anyone? why do i keep trying to say ‘do you feel it too?’ when i know that they don’t feel it at all, not like this. anyway, i haven’t cried for weeks and weeks and i think it’s all going to pour out of me one day when i least expect it, like on a morning when i’m sitting in class or on the train ride home – all of a sudden this blubbering little girl is crying for no reason, no reason, no point to any of it. don’t comfort me, it’ll only make me cry more, i don’t really know why kindness makes me scared and sad and i always wonder if the world is clean and pure and humans ruin it, or if it’s the other way around. maybe everything is ugly and we have to make it pretty. i know i’m going to make a beautiful life out of anything i’m given. i know it. sometimes it’s very strange and lonely here. i feel like i have lost a lot of my language trying to describe myself and my world. you know, i’m so grown-up now that little children call me ‘lady’, and they run around me in circles while i hope to god that i stay sweet and never become bitter never ever. tomorrow i’ll start a new painting while i wait for the words to find me, and i’ll remember myself again, i will, i will.

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.

INTERLUDE

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.

An ode to the softhearted

(Note: It’s been raining a lot here.)

I think we deserve
a soft epilogue, my love.
We are good people
and we’ve suffered enough.

— Nikka Ursula, from “Seventy Years of Sleep #4.”

We who are afraid of our fathers
still wince at the thought
of gentle hands. These softhearted
boys, our brothers. Our kin.

My tongue left sitting in the kitchen sink
on that day when you held my face
in your hands, and I realised

I have never been scared of you.

Now we drive to the hospital
carrying cheap flowers, and a bag
of old books. I spend my Saturdays
watching you eat, touching the hair
that will be gone soon. The yellow
lights fade from your bedside window
as we watch in silence, but

my god, how
I have loved you
for all these bygone years.

Let me carry this tide.
Let me fight the weary fight.
The embers sleep inside me.
The heartstrings, I pull.

Let me tell you, once more,
how I spent all day crying,
just so I can hear you say
don’t worry, darl, in that voice of yours;
that lazy drawl, the one
that still brings me so much comfort:
I’m not going anywhere.