fantasies of when we meet again

one, i see you on the streets
maybe when you were just on your way to the gym
and i was only in town to visit my sister
it is impossible to pass as strangers when
i can forget everything, but never your silhouette
you call out to me, in a voice that unravels all the knotted time between us
and i am 18 again

two, we talk about the weather
i describe every drop of rain that’s fallen
and you count the number of clouds in the sky
until we both run out, until there is nothing left to say
but for me to ask if there is a her
you say there haven’t been any since, and i ask why
because they weren’t you

three, i tell you about the poems
and you see yourself in every dotted i, every crossed t
you ask if i ever wrote about anyone else
yes, but not in this way, not on this scale
you are the face of all my heartbreak
and i’ve wrung every second we had together dry
the other girls – did they ever write for you?

four, we catch up over coffee
you drink it black now, but i still opt for mochas
and every time the cup empties we find another reason for a refill
time must have softened our pride, smoothed out our clumsiness
we’ve never welded so well together
take a walk in the dark, fighting temptations with pocketed fingers
you ask me to keep talking, so you don’t have to confront my still lips

five, you finally admit to realising your mistake
stopped drinking for risk of dialling my number
how your heart still flinches when you meet someone who shares my name
twitched at your cowardice for not reaching out
but hated it more for letting me go at all
you think it’s safe to confess, because there is a diamond on my finger
and we haven’t spoken in years

six, i tell you i wish you’d called
because up until the second i told him yes, i would have picked up
you apologise for being too late, and there is a swollen silence
a moment, where my ring has never felt tighter
there is no time for logic, consideration
but i have never been sane when it comes to you anyway, so i say
better late than never

please, don’t you see? we can’t not end up together

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red light

waking up, a head beside yours
(blame salome if you must)
and you know it was not a dream
him, hand spanning the length of your insecurities
and you, starving enough to accept even stale attention

afterwards, take two showers, one after another
vanilla and raspberry milk
scrub his handprints from your body
but your skin still wears like smudged glass
still smeared with cigarette streaks

woman, when did your love become so cheap?
waste tom ford on his goon-flavoured lips
a marathon body on his unwashed hands
phds on his patriarchal mind
he slurs that you’re pretty, and you tell him you love him

how many more needle pricks before the wound is stitched
how many more cheap thrills to hit your self-worth
look at you, so tired of the scratch of black lace
volunteering yourself as an answer
to questions he never had the right to ask

tell yourself you feel cherished this way
but i know you haven’t ever felt cheaper
he breaks in, and you thank him for visiting
letting them take you, have you, own you
never asking to stay, to be kept

call it selfless, if nothing else

the fifteenth hour

this was a gentle kind of love
a love that would lie down next to me
spend the entire night, and never once ask
for my lips, my mouth, to do anything
other than talk, about
myself, the world, tomorrows and ever afters

this was an ethereal kind of love
taught me that love can exist in places other than
dipped waists and clasped lips
found instead, in the melodies of rondos
the way you speak about literature
how you hope for a world so soft

but this was a fleeting kind of love
a mayfly, a daylily
one where you couldn’t stay and i had to leave
the prelude of a love where the rest belonged
to another life, an alternate universe
and we were given only a fifteen-hour preview

or maybe this was not quite love yet
but rather its precursor
whatever love is, this was its seed
its origin, what could eventually have grown into love
the way all flames were once just a spark
if only i had chosen to follow, or you had decided to wait

i wish this was a love i could have fallen into
you, a someone i would have loved
but i can only thank you now, for appearing in my life
a reminder there are still boys out there worth loving
thank you, for letting me know
i can still love someone more than him

because oh, thank god i can

splintered

i am having trouble staying asleep through the night
lying in bed, thinking about the shapes of smashed glass shards
this room is filled with fragmented shadows
perhaps this crumbling soul does not deserve rest

lungs, grown so tired of oxygen
but this body doesn’t know how to stop breathing
still climbing mountains to chase a taste of fresher air
still reaching for an inhaler during asthma attacks

boat, filling with water and
i only want to know the colour of ocean depths but
how can i sink when the currents keep throwing my body to the surface
even the fresh corpse still floats

running, to mask this knotted thumping heart
how far until i can escape myself
fleeing from the footfalls of monsters
when there is only my shadow behind me

look at you, returning home after all this time
pretending there was never any struggle, any fight
you were never bleeding, never screaming
everything is still pastel, still rosy

hush darling, tomorrow the rains will fall softer
tomorrow, lightening will finally strike elsewhere

something blue

If I could tell her one day she’d finally stop writing about him
Maybe she’d hate herself a little less for still missing him now

this winter i write you letters about us
and address them to the past
hoping you’ll read some
but knowing you’ll never see them

these secrets, that i tuck into my heart
which still beats so hard when i hear your name
i wonder if my next lover will unbutton my blouse one night
ask about the bruises gathered on my sternum

explain to me, how we fell at the feet of a breeze
when we had tornadoes backing us
ran out of words after a chapter
when we had planned to write tomes, because god

there have been so many since
but none whom i tell the moon about
none who keep me awake on summer midnights
counting stars up to your phone number

these outstretched hands are still so full, you know
with the love you wouldn’t take from me
tell me how to fold them in
tell me how to redirect it to myself

so if one day you see me on the streets, please
don’t call out, walk over to greet me
i will finally have learnt to breathe again, but
one smile from you will throw me right back into the ocean

i cannot entrust this heavy soul to buoyancy
there is not enough air left to find the shore
i cannot build a dam that will stand against you
i have to trust you to swim the other way

bulletproof

darling oh, how the world has hardened you so
he covers your voice with his mouth and calls it romantic
touches your waist like it is ripened fruit
and you realise a girl with white meringue speech
a girl with peach blossom skin
will never be safe
in a world of granite and marble
brick and concrete, steel and iron

how many nights did you spend, praying
at the mouth of an anvil
massaging titanium until your fingers turned to rust
measuring mercury with cupped palms
spend enough time drinking the waves of an ocean
and your words will coarsen, scratch like grains of salt
spend enough time under the corrosive sun
and your skin will tan, wear like an artisan’s leather armour

tell them, how the frozen lakes hissed
when they were doused with boiling water
beakers of dry ice poured down your throat
burning chiffon lungs into latex
and your heart, a bundle of tangled rubber wires
bouncing dully against your locked rib-cage
it is so hard to forget the sound of a flat-line heartbeat
the decibel of its thud when his hands came too close

shoot a smile now, and your lips will snap
there is no space on the edges of your teeth for soft curves
how can we giggle when it is prettier to be silent
when the punchlines hit hard enough to break our bones
everything is the same now
the colour of sunsets and sunrises
the calls of roosters and owls
the girl with shrapnel eyes, and the gun in her hand

millennial pink

we sip vodka sunrises at midnight
you are one-hundred-and-twenty-two days from 18
and i, forty-seven
men pass and whistle at our cling-wrap skirts
and i have never felt more like a woman

you grab my hand and we sprint through the city
through red lights and intersections
baby giraffes in 12cm stilettos
it is so pretty to have a laugh that tastes like candy-floss
looks as unicorn as our frappuccinos

this night is about us – this month, this lifetime
it is an art you know, to wrap things around our fingers
even when are hands are full – darling,
we are so good at making our business everyone else’s concerns
the world at our feet, still learning how to kneel

everything is pastel now, soft of hue
the world bruises our rose-petal skin
with shades too vivid, so we close our eyes
build exposed brick walls and keep this oblivion idyllic
too busy feeling sorry for ourselves to ever apologise

the first time i let him kiss me, his teeth bite my lips
tells me it’s so soft, and i convince myself i like it
later, his licked words soil my white dress
leaves mud streaks on my ivory canvas
insists there is no point staying clean in a world so dirty

mama tells me soon this limelight will start to taste sour
the blue light will finally feel too cold
but for now i just want to dance like them
this mind is too feathered for grating ideas
and everything is lighter without thoughts, be thoughtless

it is exhausting to be anything but conventional, you know