something to hold

because there was time to kill
somewhere in a room
with roller blinds soft enough to let in sunlight
a glow so hushed even cortisol does not speak
above a whisper all day
with a voice that folds itself
into an infinite loop and i am always listening
to the streets steeped in rain and it is your hand i reach for
on the sand and my head joins the moonlight
resting on your shoulder
wearing my sweater
over and over so it will never stop smelling like you
show them this laughter, spilt borderless
enough to break the dam
and there is enough here to drown
in your lips tonight
kiss me in every rural town
until the sunset changes its mind and it is summer forever

and here you are again

condensation groping the car windows
conversations where the others always left
pinned like a butterfly, broken wings and you don’t know what to do with your arms
him, writing with a pen you have seen too many times before
pressing so hard the next six months are bruised hungry
there is so much more of you that you want him to hold but he has run out of hands
run out of patience
run out

run

silly girl, here you are again
you don’t know how to be afraid in front of anyone but yourself
so you spit out all the teeth and fill your mouth with blood
redness all you can see and he hands you an apple to swallow whole
looks into the exit wounds pierced through your pupils and asks why he cannot enter
the bones consulted clean and there is nothing left to wait for
just you, a body strategised down to a joke all his friends are in on
and him, a punchline force enough to make you cry

one-way street

tonight the streets are clean
enough for the traffic lights to change for no one
and i cannot help but wonder how your voice sounds in love
heart racing the indicator of a red sedan
bright enough to burn the flames cold

now we are in the same city again and last time you swore
that meant a second chance for us to make it right
but that was before you held her hand on the drive home
her body proving close enough to hear without speaking
how easily the pillow learns to memorise another skull

i crack open my chest and instead of a heart there is a car
sinking in a river with water flooding the shape of your name
there is drowning in every vein
but the breathlessness feels so familiar
when my body is on your receiving end

say the end of the road was always meant to drive like this
two copies of the same polaroid, one in a four-year landfill
the other pressed between lungs like a beating heart
because if it was always going to be like this
maybe i was never to blame

tequila lips

twenty five platforms but he flips through bank notes
manages to find yours
sun-kissed cheeks burnt red like blush, an alarm
or maybe we were just that close to christmas
the bells didn’t sound out of place
like how blood belongs in an operating theatre
scalpel eyes kinder under the siphoned light of dusk
in dim lighting of a mexican bar
spiced corn popping beneath his tongue
uber backseat and the tequila begins to taste like a mistake

he turns off the lights and you can no longer see his eyes
just skin on skin and his teeth investing into your consent
no, no, no
dangling from your tongue but still yours
leans in to bite, over and over
push and pull like a newcomer surfer who cannot reach the shore
he finally concedes but it rubs like defeat
like margarita glass rims and a dried-up ocean, cracking

afterwards, his eyes do not look at you
your voice bubbles an olive branch into the air
fill silence that is your fault, your fault, your fault
the smoke clears and there is only one body left on the bed
he leaves and you can’t find an earring
maybe there is a butterfly in his pocket
if so, let its wings effect a nosedive, a recession so sharp
he almost wants to apologise

open up

hi, i’ll be your student dentist today

to be 18 and alone in a city that taps the back of your teeth
retracted in lime green and lemon verbena
to fall in love in turquoise blue on tipped toes
and let down a summer later, gently (?)
into plastic ridges and rubber sulci
clawing 12km up fractured metal cusps and diamond drills
open, she opens and you miss it
secrets tucked in fascial spaces spread hands shaking
to skirt an icy border without losing balance
hush, one day at a time
him and him et al.
red lip stains on red wine glasses

now we gather one last time
the mouth of a crossroad ready to swallow us whole
farewells i’ve prepared closing up my throat
roll them like marbles but keep them within reach of my tongue
afraid to let them fall because if they do then it’s real
if they do then this is goodbye and i won’t see you again
you tell me to smile because the end means we made it
and i laugh, because we’ll have a career for that

hi, i’ll be your student dentist today

it’s not your fault

the father left but someone needs to be blamed
let a small body thrive off wrongful accusations
and its only instinct will be to apologise
i keep the questions to myself
i keep the things i want to tell you to myself
until you tell me not to so i don’t
but it always ends with screaming, or crying, or both
you ask why and i say i’m sorry
i think about how you taught me to never talk to strangers
but how we probably should
in an open room on a sage couch, across from one with a notebook
maybe it’s time to talk about forgetting to turn off the hallway light again
or leaving it on purposefully
it’s hard to be sure when you’re that scared of the dark
and because you calling me selfish for wanting to be happy
hurts almost as much as it does to remember being 7 years old
when happy
was all i ever wanted for you
i promise

not everything belongs to you

to read the same book over and over
and expect a different ending
let me rewrite the story, my version
don’t worry, we still don’t end up together
but at least the season we pass through will be a little less winter
the silence not so static
and then maybe i can toast the memories
where the rain has funnelled to my cheeks
crying until the air is too bitter to breathe

to own the heart that will never stop trying
run hours to the beach just because
there is a higher chance of shooting stars here tonight
he sweeps me off my feet and i hate myself for having legs
fingers absentmindedly reaching and i am terrified of having hands
i tell my mother about the tall boy and she thinks of you
like your leaving was broken glass and i’m still swallowing
but some nights i fall asleep on the couch
dream of enough moonlight to wash me breathless

that’s how i know i made it out
that’s how i know there is still a chance to become
poetry

don’t tell me this story

unless it has a happy ending
i have heard how it goes
summer romances wilting under the heat
voice signals lost along the distance
a shiny new toy has-been discarded
there is no way to miss broken into whole
and i think you know this
it’s not hard to hear a heart that pedals your name
there is not enough time for us
even when it is all i have to give to you
here is where the time signature shifts
i lose count of the beats and fall out of step
outstretched fingers not enough to make contact
and i think you want space, i think you want space
i beg but you say it out loud anyway
and then it is real and i want to go back to sleep where
in dreams someone hands me a phone
and your voice is already waiting
in dreams someone hands me a sledgehammer
to break down the walls
and there is enough room for me to stay

sensitive souls

turn off the lights so darkness may smudge
your silhouette outlined against the sycamore and
i may not have to feel how vividly you leave
hoping the universe can forgive
the twelfth time i got it wrong

how i crashed into the echo of a changed mind
listening to ringback tones bleed out
silent phones and empty mailboxes
awaiting hardcover books sun-faded
music scores played yellow

go easy on this abandoned cactus heart
too grating for berceuse hands
empty it into the air your voice used to wrap around
wound it back into my chest and ask her to try again
how badly i didn’t want it to be like this

i smile and then cry about it afterwards
plead to forget the night you spoke about fragility
reprised with slow voices and hushed hands
spinning vulnerability so lyrical
i wanted to give you all my softness

letting me read to you all the
scriptures of a hopeful heart
praying it wouldn’t ricochet an epitaph
then finding myself on the synagogue floor, hating
that you proved me right

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