like fish to water

tonight is feeling vulnerable and
i don’t want you to be two years away
wearing moonlight and lying in cotton sheets
the hues of your voice threading
a softness i wish i could be hugged by
i speak and speak but there are
not enough words
to build a hand to hold

so play a key to unlock the pianos and
write a fantasia so red
they’ll see spilt wine scrawled on bold walls
splashed over shower thoughts and 3am giggles
speech soaked to start the same and silenced
only when you kiss me light-bodied
a nocturne so blue
we’re drawn to a beach where it is dark
you’ve picked me up and i’ve let you pay
the shore stretching on for seconds
consecutive thirds and perfect fifths

i think i am ready to leave
the candle light flicker and melt
into the magma once more
we can cross borders instead of minds, fall
off the grid into vibrant monochrome and return
to the city we hold beneath our tongues
chase sixteen subway lines to an alley so foreign
so late, i almost mistake it for a dream

but then there is your voice, glowing scarlet
settling onto my cheekbones and it is so real
say one day you will let me win and
finally tell me everything
wrap stars around the syllables of my name, then
memorise a constellation into my eyes
that i am your horoscope, and vice versa
like fish to water

man

silence, man’s favourite food for you
feeds you every time you call
eating more but becoming less
ride up the hem to let them see skin
draping over your ribcage
so you never forget where you came from
only a part of something so much more whole

man likes to see the top of your head
your wings his favourite punching bag
fingers leashed around your neck
pray your knees bruised

swallow
the words you want to speak
swallow
everything about him

smile, but don’t show too much teeth
dentist hands hunting for a cavity
filling you with sweet lies

waiting for him is still time spent with him
11pm, the first time you hear from him all day
man likes it when you wait
for him, but not for your first time

give, give, give
he asks your camera lens dirty

man loves it best when he pushes you off a cliff
so he can talk about saving you

overwritten

like how i mistake a scar for a bookmark to remind me
where we left off, a raised white line on my skin
with lips my fingers trip over every time i try to move on
no matter how many times it heals over
pry it open when i forget the colour of november
the warmth rushing to embrace my hands, like if you
hold water to thirst it will always thank you
even if today it is only blood, i think it cannot bleed this much
without you reminiscing too, even just a graze
then tomorrow, a wound i sing to sleep
refusing to close, not while there are still apologies
to be pulled out from my mouth
my tongue writhing to form another name
and i realise i have never cried before
and i no longer have a right to
so let me bring a knife to this once more
this time, tell me how it ends
about rain that fell like there was a fire to be put out
too passionate for the leaf
who had only ever known the caress of dew
let it heal an exit wound
beneath where my pendant hangs
and when this body is finally handed off to another
when he sings songs into my collarbone hollow
and asks about it
call it just another chapter

there is another to overwrite this story now
at a horizon on the other side
with the sunrise we never got to see
give it to her to hold
and with it your good mornings
tell her not to be afraid
to jump into the ocean
because i think you are ready
and i think you will catch her this time

lights out

it’s been so long that every silhouette
has begun to look like you
the distance, waiting
to be reduced to nothing between us

let us walk in the darkness, pretend it hasn’t been so long
in this city that’s home to neither you nor me
and find a space
here for us, somewhere
tucked in the skyline
like that of a desktop wallpaper

we can be background lovers
like an orbit that pushes and pulls with time
but never breaks
let the other men look
you will always be the one i wait for

someday, when we are ready for each other
away from the cameras
in a light that presses as soft as your cheek
the phones, silent
and this time i really will lose an earring

but tonight it ends with a hush
a platform moments after the train has left the station
and me
wishing i could have jumped on

setting the prisoner free

when i finally forgive myself it is night time
and only the streetlights are awake
i run
and for the first time since the starting gun
i move forwards

at the intersection, traffic lights
searing red, but i only accelerate because
there are no cars, the road
swept clean of movement

and then it all falls into place
how the hush lets me believe there is still
something to salvage, i can leave
broken glass on the lip of the sidewalk, return
the next day to find a crystal ball
that fogs like your breath against my skin

and then i read a book i don’t already know
the ending to
believe there is still something left for me
in the unknown, so hold my hand as we lie
on the sand, fingertips millimetres from
where the waves creep to find us
then jump
into the harbour at night
australian summer, 33 degrees

because forgiveness is feeling safe even as
the bush fire turns the corner
onto our street, and finding peace in
the palms of a grenade, promising
to never let my grandmother’s pendant
hang so heavily between my breasts again

knowing that you
are just a dream i will wake up screaming from

dorian gray

because the scent of inebriation
served over synthesisers meant nothing
had changed
because you were right in front of me
and i liked the acute angle my head takes to reach your lips

because i wanted to

you reel in the tension
stretched, between us like a violin string
and we bump fragile hearts like fists
you kiss me like the brakes are broken
and we’ve just glimpsed the end of the road
maybe if we condense enough us into the next few seconds
your fingers tangled in my hair will become a road map
my hands splayed across your back, wings

darl, i am so tired of being the gravity
in a lullaby of helium
for once i want to be the climax
nothing else, a mistake
we don’t ever regret making
hold a switchblade to the throat of consequences
even if we never leave
the sunlight zone
even if i wake up the next morning drenched
in dampened silence, and somewhere
someone
renames me janus

quick, before the crows come home
paint a picture of this and display it deep
in an abyss sheathed with loose lips

i don’t want to remember it
but i don’t ever want to forget it

sleeping at last

instead of telling _ i miss him
i write yet another letter he will never read
say, i know this is getting old, i‘m sorry
but also kind of not
, because you are so oblivious
to the stack of envelopes beneath my pillow

how long? before you forget me like your high school french
perhaps there are a certain bulk of our memories
that must keep watch in this world
so the more you work to discard them
the more they are thrust into my opaque heart

but last night i dreamt of myself in ten years
she tells me about kisses in the rain, at the tops of ferris wheels
of single red roses at candlelit dinners
i will be written into these moments one day
and i will put down _’s pen, never to pick it up again

funny how, someday this will all seem so youthfully foolish
when falling in love won’t have hurt so much
there will no longer be a need for unsent mail
someday when we have found new bodies to fall asleep against
this can finally all be put to bed

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

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