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

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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

dear daughter (+ video)!

dear daughter
when someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up
you tell them you are going to be the change that this world needs
some people will look at your pretty pink skirt and laugh
you see because apparently
some dreams have dress codes
some dreams have anatomical prerequisites

there will be days when you are afraid of your own body
when you tell them you are hungry, only to be fed brochures about losing weight
men will grab at your backside and try to pass it off as accidental
these same men who let loose whistles through licked lips like you are just another asset they own
their catcalls claw at any hint of exposed skin, your body a gift-wrapped present their hungry fingers can’t wait to dig into
and they call us gold-diggers?

you see, just because sometimes we like things that are pretty
it doesn’t make us delicate
you can be femme fatale in all your frills
poisonous in all your poise
vicious in every way that you are vivacious
when they answer your dreams with glass ceilings
you go ahead and stamp on them with your stilettos
you are not to be silenced by full stops, expiry dates, shelf lives
your voice isn’t laundry that can be folded and pushed to the back of a drawer
never apologise for speaking your mind because having too many opinions doesn’t make you a misandrist

and please, no matter how many chick flicks you watch
don’t ever be romantic enough to mistake blue eyes for the sky, or golden hair for the sun
guys will love the way your legs look in high heels
but only if they still stand one pay gap taller than you
remember, there are so many other things that will make your heart skip a beat
like prada handbags, chanel perfume
or what about… crushing an obstacle to pieces with your bare hands?

you know about fairy tales, right? of course you do
so let me put it this way
the next time a knight in shining armour holds out his hand
you tell him thanks, but no thanks
i am not a damsel in distress


Hey everyone! Towards the end of last year, I performed this poem at a poetry slam. It’s loosely based on something else I’ve written (Ode to Daughter). I truly enjoyed the experience, so I thought I’d share it with you all. Hope you like it!

Lots of love,

Mel xx

papyrus hearts

“Can you make anything poetic, even the most broken?”
Darling, of course.
Why do you think I still write about you, about us?

she, sees him after a year of writer’s block
a creative prompt

he, sees her after a library of greek tragedies
a happy ending

she, butterflies his heart
writes herself into the walls of every vessel
slices more pages until a novel heaves
inside his chest, blazoned with her name

he, dog-ears every single page
spills mayonnaise on her favourite passages
reads her journal and wonders
why he did not take up more space

she, folds paper planes and origami
but forgets him out in the rain
addresses love letters to wastepaper baskets
scrunched, forgets to recycle

he, proofreads the way she lives
erases the characters he doesn’t like
creates conflict just to play the resolution, the hero
denies her a denouement

she
thinks of him only in metaphors now
leaves him post-its on bulletin boards
writes about him in the past tense
carries an eraser, and uses solely pencils

he
cannot picture her without seeing
the ink smudges along her jaw, remembers her
every time a broadway play comes to town
never reads to the last page anymore

skeletons

tiffany, do you still dream of numbers?
fluorescent digits, totalling like a cash register
your mind a mathematician’s notebook, your body an oblique asymptote
waking to find the equation still has not been solved

lily, I know what it’s like
to want to slice away parts of yourself like butter
breathe easier with every notch you tighten on that belt
it is only pretty to eat when you look like you don’t

i tell zoe bathroom scales aren’t meant to be one-way streets
but in this narrowed path she’s forced herself down
there’s not enough space for reason
there’s not enough space for her ribcage to make a 180

and now nicole’s body is so on edge
flesh skirting bones nervously, afraid to settle
nails brittle with stress at breaking point
sleeps at night with one finger down her throat

yesterday alison ate insecurity for breakfast, measured with instagram comments
for lunch, anxiousness; dinner, obsession
and for dessert (something bittersweet), nostalgia
hunger always has had a silver lining for her

 

somewhere, there is a little girl
sticky chocolate lipstick, marshmallow cheek implants
who eats a slice of cake, and
cries when her mother says she cannot have another

this is when she knows she has a body
knows image is a fancy word for ‘picture’
but doesn’t understand these words can fit together
and my god, how happy she is, how beautiful

dionysus

when he first sees her, his lips are already stained
claret, from the scores of girls he’s drunk in tonight.
she serves her name to him in a crystal flute
all clinks and bubbles, and he tells her
he has never known one before.

i want to take her by the stem, say
woman, you have waited an eternity
oak and steel, to be kissed by a man
the right way, who swirls
twirls, legs dancing to all the right rhythms.

he has been waiting for a fruit like this
the way your light body sways.
amber eyes, floral bouquet-
his tongue has been dry for a while
but darling, riesling, you are all sugar.

it’ll be love at first sip, of course
something that balances this lush, this crisp
tannin, cinnamon, tucked away for later.
he will learn that soon and for it
keep you close, maybe even ask for more.

it is easy, to find home in someone
whose fingers wrap like vines around you but
oh, remember that he is a seasoned sommelier
and soon enough, like he’s done so many times already
he will spit you out, of course he will.

so woman, show him how you leave.
tip-toe off his palate but let your shadow linger
long after your body has left, leave a trace
but not enough for him to find his way back to you
and one day, i promise, he will come to taste his mistake.

Chrysalis

I wake up, but only out of habit,
In a body unfamiliar to yesterday’s goodnight kiss;
Brush a smile onto my face,
Swallow a cup of laugh tracks,
Slip punch lines into my pockets.

This is the calm before the storm,
The moment before the butterfly flutters its wings,
Before the doves are set free, before the dandelion seeds take flight;
When we have not yet grasped that existence is just another art to master-
We ask questions we know the answers to just to stall for time.

I call you my sister, but there is no blood linking us.
It must be, that we’ll do anything to make this world seem smaller-
Find mutual friends in every person we meet,
Leave out Jupiter when drawing the solar system;
There is too much time, there is not enough time.

Friend, we are flames trapped within water droplets.
Of course the first time you dreamt about the ocean, it was a nightmare.
There is still sand around your nails where polish should be,
Lipsticks spilling over Cupid’s bow,
Skirts that dismiss our hips and pool at our ankles.

I am afraid of the way my body fits into the air around me,
My palms weighing so heavy even when I am holding nothing.
This is a first for me, but not for him;
Afterwards, I sit for hours on the kitchen tile,
My tongue taking up too much space in my mouth,
Thinking about ex-boyfriends just to remind this body it was once loved.

At home, I tell my mother I am feeling lost.
“Child, of course you are.
It’s not like you’ve done it before,
This life thing-
Of course you’re still figuring it out.”