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Poetry

In Another Life

neuer

In another life, I am a queen.

In another universe I wrap myself in gossamer gowns and certainty.

In another dimension, I do not even consider the possibility of others not taking me seriously,

And have such an air of majesty about me that no one can mistake me for anything but an empress.

In another life, my voice is thunder, and sends pale men quaking back into the shadows I cast when I stand up tall. I do not shrink myself for the sake of those who are not worthy (of my silence).

In this other universe, every mirror sings out in recognition of my unfailing beauty, but I do not need to listen to know that I am the best thing in every room.

In this other dimension, my very essence demands an insatiable respect that smoulders in your belly like hunger, desperate to prove I am revered by every atom that comprises your being. I rise above you with the grace and strength of a thousand fireflies determined to reach the horizon, never once fearing the sun will extinguish their light.

This other life is warm, and soft, and gentle, and kind, and silk sheets, and bath salts, and candles, and cocoa in the moonlight. It resonates from my skin, breathing life into every moment where I dazzle and I shine and am unstoppable.

This other universe, she calls to me, telling me I am worth more than I think and deserve more than I believe. She cries fresh-water tears over the vulnerability of the life that I lead, and breaks mirrors that whisper insecurities into my ears, pierced like her heart every time I choke down words I could have spoken but for fear.

In another life, I am anything but silent. I am anything but still. I am anything but apologies before I dare to ask a question. I am anything but the girl who feels naked without her doona. I am anything but the woman too afraid to walk alone at night. I am anything but the token female in a business meeting or a classroom.

In the other dimension, I am fire. I am gold. I am sunshine glistening on the snow. I am priceless. I am safety. I am impenetrable and unforgettable. I am my name forged forever into your memory. I am my smile raising hairs on the back of your neck. I am desire burning in your flesh, but untouchable.

In another universe, I am impossible, implausible and undeniable.

In another world, voices tremble as they greet me. Some cross oceans and scale mountains so that they can catch a glimpse of me. I am unheard of, but foretold, a prophecy in the earth itself.

In this other dimension, I am proud to be myself.

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A Sonnet for the Menzies Revolving Doors

Menzies Doors (Kim Tran)

 

You know of which I speak there are five doors
Stupid dumb and just a bit moronic
Through these doors do we pass each morn in scores
But for the pain it would be so comic

Stop start all day so that I have but flinched
Every time do they force your walk to halt
The man who chose these dumb doors must be pinched
We must find he who is so much at fault

How can it be for them to work so hard
Always at least one door out of order
In my morning walk does it leave me scarred
In my soul does this sow much disorder

These doors each morn do make me fall apart
The birth of your demise shall I kick start.

 

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‘Turn’ and ‘Whisky & Gin’

white ribbon poster-lucy zammit

 

Turn

Peering down into the glass table
In the depths of the reflection,
The umbrella above me stirred.
The sun was much too bright, just as I like it.
When we sat on the grass at the foot of the library, I beamed at you,
Utterly content,
And your eyes
Gleamed
As I did.
The sun was much too bright and later
You would find patches of red
Across your forehead and neck.
You told me about what you’d done in Afghanistan.
Not concerned
For yourself,
But for me.
And it was as though I had known already,
I trembled all the same,
It shook me—
But I clung to your lips.
I told you about my stint in hospital
Not concerned
For myself,
But for you.
I do not know if you shook as I did.
We nuzzled into one another, seeking
What we could,
Inhaling and exhaling
Together.  
But the sun didn’t mind the rampant surging of our minds
As we began to fall into one another.
The heavy grating tide of the trams
Bore through us,
Carried us through the streets.
The hum of the world sounded
Like a gong
When I closed my eyes, the ground was gone
And in its place,
The sea.
You and I were drifting,
As though just below the surface,
The language of the city was suddenly
Ours.
I am the froth of a wave,
You are the sand between toes,
The night blusters,
The spray clings
To us.

 

Whisky & Gin

We wandered
Past the tortoise and smiled
At his age,
At ours.
Later, with the butterflies
“You disarm me.”
In the Japanese garden,
We travelled
Giddy as we were.
We held each other close in 1964
And rotated in a party.
The following hours
Shrieked, collapsed and beat
In our lungs,
Our cage,
Our city,
Our fever,
For jazz.
In the evening
Our mouths are alcoholic
And you talk about our ‘Adult future’.
What’s in three months?
What’s in a lifetime?
We are both young and old
The spectrum of age
Waxes and wanes
And the moon is high.

 

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Come Back

Come Back

 

I saw you yesterday
In a vacant mood I passed with mind
Closed my eyes and travelled through time
Just to meet you again
In the same place, yet different
As the same person, yet different
I now know fear
For each time I close my eyes
And visit that place of solitude
I know it may be the last time
I see -you-
The last time I recognise your face
Then, to never be able to tell your hair
Apart from their’s in a crowded room
Able to tell your eyes
From countless strangers, all of which
Equally beautiful, all of which
Equally not you.
I am no longer able
Maybe I have never been so
For I do not know you
Not truly
Though as I drift through the pages of my past
Smelling that bergamot which clings to the paper
As it clung, like a perfume,
To your olive skin (or was it fair?)
Acquired from all the tea stained mugs
You knew as the friends
May still know
That would sit besides you in that coffee house
Where I saw you
Where I see you still when I sit in that same chair
I sat in, at some point since
Don’t let me forget the subtleties
Your Auburn hair and shy glances
They bring me back to you
If only for a moment
I can’t… grasp it
Your face is as familiar to mine
As that sight of green fields from some
Innocuous painting
By some innocuous painter
That everyone knows
But no one can name
(As I have known since I was but a boy
Sitting beneath a cherry tree
Picking shapes from the clouds)
Even that strains an effort
The arrow drives us relentlessly forward
I will not know you tomorrow
So, let me dream
We are both sitting in that coffee house
As we once both did
But now I sit alone
As I have done for a lifetime

 

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The Greenhouse

greenhouse

 

The white roses are her favourite.

Delicate snow petals, spilling out from the centres, like a ballerina’s tulle frozen forever mid pirouette.

A violent assault of deep reds, canary yellows, rich blues; each more colourful than the last surround her in the greenhouse. The roses are like her children, all scrambling for her attention, for her eyes to linger for just a second more upon their technicolour cries.

Amid the harlequin chaos the white roses sit patiently, quiet, solemn. Their subdued silence sings loudest of all.

She still loves every rose in the garden of her greenhouse though. She feels guilty for having favourites.

At first she would visit every so often; a few minutes at first, which turned into a few hours, then whole days.

Eventually leaving became too hard. So she just never left.

It’s peaceful here. She feels secure. It’s not like how things were on the outside. Dark and shadowy and turbulent. Everything was too overwhelming as though she was being suffocated by the invisible grasp of her monsters.

Sometimes he comes to visit her. He is the one thing from the outside that she allows in.

She knows that he wants her to leave, leave the safe haven she has made for herself in the greenhouse. But she can’t.

When he talks she gets drawn into what he has to say. It makes her feel wistful, a strange twinge of melancholy fluttering in her chest.

He lulls her with soft coaxing anecdotes; how there was a galah in the backyard that didn’t run away when he approached it, how the leaves of the elms on his street were starting to golden, or how he’d left the stove on to boil water and had come back to a pot burnt black. He tells her how much he misses her. So, so much.

He reminds her that there is life outside. She would have forgotten long ago otherwise.

Each time he’s with her, her greenhouse starts to get fuzzy, like the remnants of a dream before it slips through your fingers like sand.

It scares her.

Memories of the outside start to seem more vibrant, more alluring.

Memories of dipping her feet into the cool wet sand of the ocean, sitting next to a cosy fireplace with heavy rain outside, homemade spaghetti nights, fighting over who got to finish the last serving.

Memories with him, experiencing all those things.

Memories with him; shivering, trembling, shallow breaths, burning holes into her skin with his mouth.

Every day he comes, the roses decay. She keeps finding more of their shrivelled little corpses scattered along the branches of the bushes, faded and stained brown.

She desperately puts her nose to the buds, searching for a hint of fresh perfume but all she can smell is death.

There is a bitter taste in her mouth, metallic like she has gargled blood.

It’s all his fault. Poisoning her with his stories, taking her away from her garden with his allure.

When he’s there, the gold rays of sunshine that stream down through the glass seem to taunt her, knowing that she will never venture beyond the walls to feel its warmth on her skin.

One day he comes to visit, but she ignores him.

“Go away.” She is pruning the roses carefully with a small pair of clippers. She doesn’t look at him. Looking at him is too hard.

“Why?” He asks.

She continues to prune the roses as if he weren’t there. Snip. Snip. Snip.

“What’s wrong?

Snip.

It hurts to breathe. The silence chokes her.

Snip.

Snip.

“You can’t come visit me anymore,” she says finally.

“What? Why not?”

Snip.

Snip.

Pause.

“You’re killing the flowers.”

Sni-

Her hand falters, slipping, dragging against the rose bush’s thorns, slicing into her flesh like butter. Her fingers are on fire. She is on fire.

Her eyes flash up at him, burning. “You’re ruining everything.”

He sighs. “Why can’t we go back to how it use to be? When you weren’t like this?” He asks exasperated.

“What do you mean?”

“I hate you being here, in this place. I hate you not being at home with me.”

“I like it here. I feel safe here.”

“You’ll be safe with me.”

“I’m safe in my greenhouse.”

“Ha. Your greenhouse?”

“Yes!”

“Don’t you understand? This isn’t real – none of this is real!”

“Wha – “

She feels dizzy, the rose bushes, the earthy scent of dirt, the greenhouse walls all start to blur and distort. The vibrant colours start to fade, dissolve; sickly sweet sugar-coated lies.

“Wha- what do you mean?”

The glass walls start to crack. The sun streams into the darkest corners of her mind. It’s liberating, it’s horrifying, it’s terrifying. Fuck.

The world is grey. Grey linoleum floors and dull grey walls. A thin grey mattress covered in a single sheet on a cool metal bedframe. She blinks. Hard. Once. Twice. Why won’t the grey go away?

Where are her roses? Where is her garden? Where is her greenhouse?

“You’re crazy.” His voice cuts her like jagged glass. “You’re fucking crazy! Why can’t you just-“

“Stop!” Her vision is blurry. Everything hurts. Why won’t it stop? Stop. Stop. Stop.

She plunges the rose clippers straight into his chest.

Stop.

He chokes, staring at her in wide disbelief. She gazes back blankly at him.

With one sharp jerk she wrenches the blade out. Then she thrusts it back in again. Again. Again. Again.

The blood spurts out of him slowly at first, a rusty drink tap being turned on for the first time in years. And then it gushes out all at once.

Everything is red. Warm, warm, warm on her fingers and hands and arms and clothes.

The room is spinning.

The walls, the bed, the floor are all marred with splatters of crimson. She looks down at her hands, a pair of blunt craft scissors glistening red clutched tightly in her fist.

She scans the walls around her, garish childlike drawings of roses scrawled with coloured crayons, cut out clumsily and thumbtacked on every inch possible.

This isn’t real. It can’t be.

She blinks. Hard. Once. Twice.

And then it all rushes back.

Everything is still again. Everything is better. The greenhouse walls, the flowers, the colours have all solidified again. Everything is real again. Familiar. Safe.

The dirt of the garden bed is soaked with blood, still warm. Alive.

Small white rosebuds are starting to dot the branches around her.
She smiles. They are beginning to grow again.

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Bloom

no thumb

He keeps me flourishing, this boy
Whose gaze trails across my flesh
As the sun does, mocking time,
His hand thrust deep into the earth
That teems with wet and worms and cold,
Till pulsing flesh meets this widow’s heart,
These atria that twist upon themselves
So willingly, like nature’s whore.

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