Exposed.

I slit my wrists open and the exposed vein bled out the horrors of my barely-there childhood. My chest echoes hollow from all the pain and crying. I am birthed to be nothing more than a dam of misery. I am birthed to be nothing more than a shrine of my mother’s lost youth.

I was born on a September night while storms brewed in the horizon. My mother bled like she never did before, her hips dipped in and out of pain. I was born from the ashes of her dreams. Her sorrows gave way to a life full of promise and yearning.

Her bed is where she will lay unfulfilled for decades to come. I am my mother’s savior — all her hopes made flesh. For a moment, as most women are wired to feel when spawning their young, all her failures seem so trivial as she looked into the eyes she carved from her flesh.

But I still catch her in daydreams. She traces the silhouette of her “maybes” and “if onlys” as if she could bring life to them just through wishing. She lives through me because it is the only way she knows how.

Her skin bleeds rose petals from the thorn crown she wears. Her floor scattered with relics from her adolescence. What hopes and dreams died with her that day she found out she is with child? What medicine does she take for her restless heart?

She said her life has been multiplied by four; that she is reborn one child at a time. Still, she gets lost her in daydreams. We are her surrenders. We are her hopes and dreams and “could-have-beens”. She comes to life sipping on our tantrums. She sinks her teeth into our tears.

But my mother is also the monster under my bed; the bottomless canyon I keep falling into. Her name conjures nightmares and I constantly slip into the void of her creation. My mother has carved me empty.

Written on my wrists are the words she repeats into my ears:

You have surpassed all I am, all I ever will be. You will be my saving grace — all my dreams realized. You will pull me out of the gaping wound of my own mother’s doing. You cannot leave me behind. You will save me. Please, save me.

Call of the void.

I do not remember the last time I felt safe. Even in moments of pure joy, a lunatic impulse to rouse the corpses out of their graves overwhelms. A fear seeps into the cracks, reminding me not to let my guard down. Yet, I welcome it.

Perhaps this is both my delight and my folly — wherever the void’s hands moved, my body is as yielding as water. Submerged in the rapture of the deep – hundreds of fathoms down and still sinking – the fumes of the bog still faintly cling to my nostrils. The air escapes my lungs, but the effervescence of my fears keeps the heart beating.

I am perpetually on top of a skyscraper that has seen better days — every inch of its vertical space occupied by chaos and dust. Malice overcomes the rose-colored haven in my mind. I let it. Thick and heavy, I feel every quiver of its breathing.

Atop this high place, the void beckons and I come alive. For every paramour or friend weighed and found wanting, my knees numb and a coldness creeps under my skin, eventually making its way into my spine. Yet again, I come alive. In the humid stillness of noons, when my reserves deplete, I bask in my viscous humanness and I come alive.

Heaven is the opium for the credulous and the afraid, uncertainty is mine. Neither herb nor alcohol comes close. So, when the void calls, I jump.

Playdates.

At times, I conjure demons out of hiding to come and play. They slither out of the cracks merrily, asking where I have been.

I tell them I have been travelling between the phantasms of nightmares and the realities of the objective world; that I have learned there is not much out there to see; that my follies have flown me too close to the sun and now my heart is filled with embers at risk of fizzing out like falling stars, one after another.

They seethe with resentment. They see through my ruse. They know I only seek them out when I need an excuse.

“In all your joys, you never once see them through. What is it about happiness that frightens you?” they ask.

I acquiesce to their astuteness and answered, “I know happiness is akin to an eye’s glimmer, glimpsed only fleetingly. I dare not relish in the warmth, lest it burns through my skin and scar.”

“No good thing ever lasts. You are wise to come. All the others would have turned you away, but not us! We know you; only we can fathom your depths, and we have missed you dearly. What game should we play today?”

I stood in the silence, letting the question linger in the air. My mind echoing, wondering, “Why am I here?”

Our heads are large, cavernous spaces. They contain the voices, both kind and cruel, of all the people we have ever known. Some are languid and soothing, halting rogue fears and rekindling the strength that lay dormant within us. Others are vicious and relentless, gnawing at our bones and wanting nothing else but to keep us small.

I have shared my bed with the demons for the better part of three decades. In that time, I have wavered in and out of numerous consciousness, always with one foot out the door, constantly fearing the softness will show. For softness has no place in this world — women demand abrasive strength from their sisters, while men expect flesh free of mortal wounds.

I am soft, and I am scarred. My being has become home to people who have not been given the space to express their surrender to tenderness. The journey I am on requires me to unburden myself of all external expectations that serve as fodder for my yielding to the demons in my head.

I have not yet learned how to stop seeking them out in days of joy. I have not yet learned how to not become wary of happiness. For now, I will try to bask in the fleeting, rose-colored glow of my glee, breathing in its perfumes and sleeping in its balminess for a little while longer.

Thriving on concrete.

On the 9th floor of a 10-storey building smack in the middle of the bustling IT park, I find refuge from the corporate barrage of tasks and small talk in the handicap stall of the women’s bathroom. This unassuming oasis comes with a window pane a little too high for my liking, but has nonetheless blessed me with a view of the life below — a surprisingly pleasant mix of trees, sea, and concrete. From above, the buildings look out of place as if they were fighting for attention against nature’s calm incandescence. I stare into its splendor for as long as standing on tiptoes permits. How wonderful would it be if I was just a few inches taller?

I make my way below for sustenance and some solitude. Life on the ground is lackluster at first glance. Depending on your worldview, you will find either concrete prisons or architectural havens for hopefuls who seek fuller lives beyond what they can find in the domestic. Looking up from the umbrage, the blue and white sky glistens, unbothered by the staggering giants that block out the beating sun. How wonderful is the shade?

Life in this city teems with chaos and wonder, feeds me bits and pieces of human chagrins and eccentricities in forkfuls. In this theater, I am the adoring spectator — once removed from partaking, but close enough to witness, smell, taste, love, infuriate. It is during these moments when I transcend my inner world and live in tangible tandem with earthly glory and constructs. How wonderful is this existence?

Life is as scintillating as it is mundane. People often retreat to the curated worlds of their own design. To my left is a girl in a loose sweater, hair unkempt. She walks about and projects nonchalance for her looks, but her well-drawn brows and cherry lips give her away. How often do we pretend not to try?

To my right are meandering children forming what looks to be their earliest clique — the girl who has the food wields the power. You would do well to please this fickle epicurean queen. How wonderful would it be to live this deliberately?

As soon as I lose myself in my voyeuristic daze, a sylphlike figure taps me on the elbow and wishes me an enjoyable time with my thoughts. Must be a colleague, I thought. We have never been this proximate, she has never sent a wink my way. The only indication of our shared association can be found by virtue of our identical lanyards. How wonderfully kind humans can be.

Just when I was convinced that I was merely an onlooker living on a foreign plane, I am suddenly made aware that this theater of life is an immersive spectacle made richer because I am also in it. How wonderful it is to be alive.

🍃✨

For D.

Most days, I look down at the wreckage of what once was a heart. My soul made heavy by the dreadful weight of melancholy. Most days, I live in a tyrannical regime of clocks and calendars. My thoughts fall from porous hands into silent waters. Most days, I hide my heart and give away my body. My skin screams violent protests against my fallen convictions. Most days, I am an imaginary friend standing outside while looking in. An entire universe separates me from a world where I do not exist.

I am a ghost, most days. Exhaustingly morose at worst, seductively haunting at best. Like clockwork, my hands betray me as they shake with the volume of all the words that fall out of my mouth. They can no longer catch them. They can no longer contain them. So I find myself constantly hurling strings of letters and syllables about hopes and dreams and fears and failures at people who say they want to make sense of the haunting, only to find out they will always fall short.

Most days, I am a voyeur. My feet take me along cobbled streets lined with bare-window brownstones and my eyes catch a glimpse of the animated life within. When I passed by your window, you let me in. I told you I was born, like my mother, in a storm. Because of that, I sail troubled waters to live up to form. I like to keep my heart tucked away from prying eyes, never to reveal too much. In it are wounds that are too profound to heal, while some have set so heavily into scars they feel like braille. I did not know you would have reading hands. Such hands hold a cup full of high life, that is they have lived a life without me. I did not know you would have kind eyes. Such eyes have seen the world for what it is, and now they only see me.

I cannot remember a time when I violently wished to stay in one place. I cannot remember a moment when I became weary of being cynical. It used to be that I remember tenderness only through the haze of my dreams. Now, I taste it on your lips. Now, it seeps into the textures of my skin. You have made all the difference.

I will wait for you all week. Every week. For as long as this love permits. This love is a voluptuous exile of our choosing, an oasis in the middle of an arid world. I have had the pleasure of meeting past lovers who had the power to lift reality for a while, who simply had roughly the right shape to fit for a time. But you weren’t made to fit. You were made to radiate radical softness in a hardened world. Here I am, soaked to the bone in your light. The empty parts now filled. My old and worn soul made new.

If my intention for this opus still escapes you, put simply: I love you.

Sunset boy.

My sunset boy in a sea of sorrows,

do you know I worship the gods that reside in the hollow of your neck?

We were both born on hallowed ground,

my bed is our witness.

Hold me as I moan songs of pagans.

Kiss me as I sway to the ballad of your lies.

Your skin radiates carnal bliss

and I inhale every bit greedily.

Let’s hum the unsung melodies of this permanent fate.

We are too big for our skin,

too morose for the dripping sunshine.

We wear our anguish like brand new shirts,

words come too close for my liking,

careless promises taste of honey and leaving.

Bedroom eyes and measured steps,

my knees made liquid.

Let repetitions be staged,

I implore you.

I adore you so horribly.

A fear & a wish.

The sirens came after my thundering heartbeats

screams of rescue pounding on the door

You with the syrup hair and bedroom eyes

Words, wine-sweet medley

I drink them all up

until the glass is half empty

I prayed to the fog

addressing a loan god

Summer insomnias amidst body heat

Scent like the heady aroma

that rises from the earth

after rain

Let’s make homes out of the echoing silence of this paved uncertainty

Ego, larger than life

yet cowering deep within

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightmare and the daydream

Loving intent hidden in confined spaces

of a black hole heart

I scurry away

Love is the specter that hides in the closet

the insidious shadow under the bed

How many times have I made a home

in the belly of this beast?

So I scurry away

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightingale’s song to the poison in these veins

So I sway

to the ballad of your singsong voice

I dance

to the twinkle in your eyes

There is no way out

there is only surrender

So why do I

refuse to answer the door

and hide?

Look this way, my wicked.

On evenings when the warm effervescent glow of the moon gilded the ground,
your skin glitters,
your eyes dance with slivers of moonbeams and,
dare I say, fairy dust.
I am a shell filled with maybes and what ifs.
My skin screams protests that seek your quiet.
Your presence satiates this black hole of a heart —
each touch is a blanket of carnal promises so sweet,
I want to believe in the magic.
You were my everything once,
if everything meant kisses that burned into the soul.
You were the air that filled my lungs,
if air meant the hope of tomorrows and forevers.
I still yearn for you, my wicked.
Despite this tempestuous love affair,
I still rise from the wreckage you left in your wake
arms wide open, nose bloody.
Dearest fickle muse, heal me.
Touch me.
Move to the skips of my heartbeats.
Sway to the rhythm of my honesty.
This is what you came for, isn’t it?
This is the ever-after to your once-upon-a-time.
This.
This is it.
Just look my way.
Look my way once more.

Tea and biscuits.

My veins bleed blue,

my brain filled with memories of you.

Storms brew in that beautiful mind,

and to me you’ve stopped being kind.

Wretched is this love, peace escapes me.

You run everywhere but here, I am left with nowhere to be.

Time’s been expensive, a luxury you couldn’t afford.

Shadows loom, telling me to cut the parachute chord.

We’ve been found wanting, every damned salvation tried.

No short of nefarious, no protests cried.

Holding on to things we never had,

love ripe for parody, no justice to be had.

Cinnamon tempests in teapots hot with tea,

biscuits dripping honey, yet no love for me.

Freckles and melancholy.

Excuse me, Mr. Gentleman on the right.
Yes, you with the slits for eyes.
How is it possible that you still see me?
It has been brought to my attention that you don’t love me,
not because you can’t,
but because you won’t.
Because everything moves too fast
and you’re slowly losing your hold.
Excuse me, Sir Debbie Downer.
Yes, you with the freckles on his nose.
How could we talk for hours
and not predict each other’s next move?
I’ve noticed that this is starting to get old,
not because we let it,
but because we’ve been walking in circles.
Because we know this is going nowhere,
but neither of us want to let go.
Excuse me, Mr. Melancholy.
Yes, you who wears his loneliness so well.
How can you not make room for me in that bottomless pit you call a heart?
I’ve been thinking about forgetting you,
not because I want to,
but because it’ll only be a matter of time.
Because you’re not going to think twice
if it was me on the other end.