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.

2019.

Before we met, I lived countless lifetimes with crumbs in my hand, secretly waiting for someone like you to find me. I came with a caveat: “Broken. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” I have been falling in and out of love with half-way lovers and waging wars with internal demons for nothing more than a promise of a moment’s peace. Despite knowing this, you came to my door and made a home on the front porch while looking for a way in. For the life of me, I still do not know if you relish in the agony, or simply possess a heart too big for this place.

For all it brightens, love casts the longest shadows — I know this in theory, but have never had the forbearance to see beyond the pain and earthly flaws… until you. In all the days I simmer in the ire caused by your shortcomings, I think back to all the times when you and all your virtues sat with me, unwavering and unruffled. For every wall I put up, you found a way to break through. I finally surrendered not because you proved yourself worthy, but because you showed me I am worth loving. For that, I am grateful and beholden to mirror you devotion and patience.

If I could give you the world, I would. But since I can’t yet, let me offer you a piece of my heart for now — a promise made in good faith. Herein lies a tiny part of a massive, complicated tapestry that has been torn countless times only to be stitched back together by kind, loving hands before your time. It has been beaten bloody and raw, but has found a way to become shiny and new. It is a gift I have given to too many, all worthwhile — each hand has basted every crevice, every valve; some parts made heavy and stiff, others sewn resilient and forgiving. There is no version of you too ugly or too dark that will turn it away. I pray that I can show you, just as you have shown me, that your worst parts are also worth loving.

There is a stillness in my breaths whenever you come by. For every minute I spend with you, I awake to the truth that I have never really known peace outside of myself until now. For every late night stirring, you bring a calm that puts an end to the restlessness clawing at my throat. With you, it only takes a moment for all the frost in the pit of my belly to thaw. Your hands are the warmth that puts me back to sleep.

This past year threw us too many curve balls for our liking. We may not have always acted in each other’s best interest, but I need you to know that you are still my home. For every time I say your name, I still live for the aftertaste. They say love is different every time, each with its own truth, but I like to believe the one I have with you makes any other love I have known a lie.

Here’s to love, here’s to faith, here’s to doing better for ourselves and each other from this day forward. As we sail through life, until my last day’s dying breath, I will always choose love. For as long as you are here, I will always choose you.

I’ll love you always.

‪Unrest.‬

My mind is a forsaken battlefield riddled with the aftermath of the war I wage against demons that linger in the fog. There is a minute’s reprieve in moments I stop and lick the blisters on the hands that allow me to hold on for life.

Funny how you would like to believe you have healed from everything that wounded you only to find in the middle of the night, in between the pauses and idle time, that the scars are still there — red, indented, throbbing.

There is no rest in dreams. The light dims as I succumb to the call of slumber. What nightmares await me under the heavy blanket of REM sleep?

The onus is on me. Damsels need not be in distress. It does not serve protagonists to linger in the excruciating realm of the known, but the road that ventures into the promise of uncertainty is lost in a haze of salty tears and unfounded hope. I no longer wish to live in the bog, but that is where the familiar thrives.

Where is the lie? Where is the truth? Who am I if I am not this?

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.

Shot glasses.

The tides swell with excitement

as the moon rises to its throne,

as the stars take a dip in the ebony sky.

Behind the brashness of the wind,

behind the poise of the waves,

is a dribble of melancholy life

that savored the same,

that whimpered the same.

“Where does the sun go when it sets?

We all know sunsets can only last for so long.”

These questions beat on,

like martyrs in search of the wounded.

Never stopping until they taste

the bittersweetness of the truth.

It is here,

at the bottom of this glass.

It is here

that you’ll find the raw,

the wounded,

the sublime.

Here is the place

where broken hearts go.

Here is where the sun

goes to die.

Gravity.

I know now where the moon goes when it sets

in your eyes.

So majestic its gravity

that the tides in my blood fail to resist.

So I crash into the rocks at your feet

and yield to the dark pressure of your kiss.

This love will be the death of me,

but I will let it.

For I am nothing

if not the aftermath you leave

in your wake.

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.