the empresses’ borrowed robes

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Photography: Friend

her footsteps echo through
another nameless tunnel
in this concrete maze,
all the lost ones, left searching.

the train rumbles above
towards its destination,
as inevitability echoes around
the thought of destiny, it ricochets
in her shaking fingertips
passing through flesh, bubbling the blood
sinking into brittle bone but doesn’t quite
pierce the soul, she is so afraid of others
but also the dark, of herself,
and of death, leaving no mark.

nobody is born a voyeur
but life told her she is not a voyager –
so what else can she do but wrap the strands
of strange, perfect lives around her like
golden silks embedded with ruby stories
pretend to be the empress in her
borrowed robes, she quieten the child
who wants to shatter these delusions,
and let the rainbow light dance off her skeletons  –
what to be when waking feels like being asleep,
nothing to see but these false and wonderful dreams.

Eclipsed 心

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Photography: mxqqy (self)

I learnt my first 儿歌 over a
long-distance phone call as 妈妈
sat under the southern cross,
halfway around the world.

she sang about 一闪一闪的
小星星and I wonder if she
ever wished upon these flickering
lights to 再次 share the same sky
with the mother and daughter
she was forced to leave behind.

almost two decades later,
three generations 团聚在,
the same roof 下, but my
memories of 金色的 stars
cast across 陌生的 sunset
have become hazy, even
in slumber, my anglicised tongue
has become better at tying
knots into cherry stems than
imitating my grandmother’s songs.

though our worlds have finally
spun into alignment, our eclipsed
hearts leave us fumbling, strangers,
lost, in the dark.

Translation:

Eclipsed Heart

I learnt my first nursery rhyme over a long-distance phone call as mother sat under the southern cross, halfway around the world. She sang to me twinkle twinkle little star and I wonder if she ever wished upon these flickering lights to share the same sky once again with the mother and daughter she was forced to leave behind.

Almost two decades later, three generations sit together under the same roof, but my
memories of golden stars cast across an unfamiliar sunset have become hazy, even in slumber, my anglicised tongue has become better at tying knots into cherry stems than imitating my grandmother’s songs.

Though our worlds have finally spun into alignment, our eclipsed hearts leave us fumbling like strangers, lost, in the dark.

 

Drown

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Photography: mxqqy (self)

one day, a lonely boy
builds a dingy raft
out of empty vodka bottles
and sets out to sea, so he
does not have to see
straight, ever again.

he prays for merciless waves to
crash and roar, overwhelm the silence
of strangers on the shore too afraid of
getting their toes wet, he wants to drown out
the whispers of wayward ghosts luring
him into the murky depths of despair.

maybe the wind can carry his listless
body to shore or at worst salt-water can
hug his lungs and sting the open wounds
of his heart like hickeys or lighting,
forecasting the long overdue iris rain.

Questions about life I do not have the answers to:

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Photography: mxqqy (self)

Why can we only slip into disillusioned delusions in darkness
but morning madness must to be mourned by the minute?

What do we leave behind once we tire of this place, all those
wasted hours and wasted days, wasting body in wasting space?

Was nirvana always a bitter breath away, or can nonexistence
only be sought for in the sacrilegious silence of forgetful lips?

Love(d)

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Photography: mxqqy (self)

I:

dandelion seeds,
crack in the sidewalk they meet,
serendipity.

II:

beach towels on car seats,
washing sand off salt-licked feet,
oh, his sun-kissed cheeks.

III:

the wind takes the leaf,
away from her favourite tree,
his roots run too deep.

IV:

earthworms are asleep,
warm hearts shiver separately,
sad eyes and cold screens.

self portrait on a plate

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my tassle-splayed fringe

falls carelessly like squiggles
of chocolate syrup across

a rounded face, revealing

slivers of buttered forehead.

 

my thin top lip traces like a

carefully calligraphed ‘M’ over
a squelchy ‘U’ shaped dollop of
sticky strawberry sauce.

 

my dark brown eyes match
closer to blackberry
than
nutella and sunspots
dust
my raspberry-tinted cheeks

like brown sugar sprinkled
on an unapologetically

scrumptious Sunday morning

pancake.

 

villanelle in the sky

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I have always wanted to fly,
but the sun burns sickly bright,
and I am much too scared to die.

Don’t we all dream of blessed light,
shadowed by wings unfolded up high?
Aren’t we all born wanting to fly?

But mother gifted feathers not fit for the sky,
and life-altering wax is too hard to find,
eyes on the ground, too scared to die.

Then the storm hit in the dark of the night,
the winds did scream and clouds did cry,
heaven is just as absurd as wanting to fly.

Alas, no time to dwell on man-made lies,
eyes straight ahead, forget the idealised,
it does not matter if we want to fly,
life is wasted on being too scared to live or die.

Balcony Shisha Bar, Lygon St.

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The last time I fell
out of love was the
first time I stepped
into a shisha bar.

After the smoke cleared
and mirrors disappeared,
your silhouette stood stark
against the charred stars
and you gifted that bright
crescent smile to your tiny
light brick, as my mouth
filled with soot-stained
darkness.

I learned how vast the universe
could be through the centimeters
of infinite space between our
barely brushing shoulders.

You held the milky way
in your lungs so effortlessly
as I choked on the aftertaste
of faint, artificial strawberries,
to think I held my breath hoping,
that you or us could be real.

Monsters

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Once I was a little girl,
scared of monsters under her bed,
but as I grew up and up
the worst ones moved into my head.

They tell me I am worthless,
They tell me I am wrong.
They tell me no one likes me,
They tell me all day long.

I see them in the mirror,
I see them in your eyes.
I see them in our silences,
I see them in my white lies.

Some days I can tune them out,
Some days I let them have it.
Some days I pray they will be locked away,
Some days I say ‘I love you’ out of habit.

Now, banishing them is no easy task,
especially since the last witch has been stoned.
The ghost busters’ line has been busy for years,
only pen and paper helps us feel less alone.

 

Briefly: Sonnets

Hey guys, how have you been?

I’m taking a poetry class this semester and it’s so much fun. I’m learning a lot about the history of various forms, reading so many great pieces I never would have found myself as well as experimenting with these new mediums. I thought I’d ‘briefly’ share what I’m learning and discovering with you guys in the hopes that you’ll learn something too 🙂

Disclaimer: I’ll always try provide the most accurate information possible but if I misinterpret something I’ve read or my lecturer has said or if my imitation of a style doesn’t actually quite work for some reason, absolutely let me know so I can try improve!


This week we learnt about the sonnet, which I’ve discovered can be absolute gems to read despite, or perhaps because of how short they are.

History:

A sonnet is a form of poetry composed of fourteen lines & usually iambic*, originating from Italy with two main subsets: the Petrarchan sonnet and the Shakespearean sonnet.

Francesco Petrach (1304-1374) brought widespread attention to the form in his book – Canzoniere, a collection of 366 poems, of which 317 were sonnets written to an idealised lover, Laura.

Believe it or not, this is where the Petrarchan Sonnet was born.

Form: 8 lines/6 lines, rhyme scheme*: ababcdcd (octave) / cdecde (sestet).

Content: one of the most distinctive markers of a sonnet is the change in tone between the two sections of the poem, whether it’s initially asking a broad question in the first stanza and then providing an answer in the second or something else, there must be some type of shift in perspective.

Interesting fact: By looking at the rhyme scheme, you can tell that Italian has much more rhyme built into its language compared to English.

Two hundred years later, Thomas Wyatt became one of the first champions of the sonnet in England both translating Petrach’s work and creating his own. His friend & contemporary, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surry also tried to do the same. Both men are known for making modifications to the structure to make it more suitable for English, creating what is now known as the Shakespearean sonnet.

Why is it called the Shakespearean sonnet? Quite simply, Shakespeare was good at it, wrote a lot of it and was the one that really popularised the form in English.

Form: 8 lines/4 lines/ 2 lines, rhyme scheme: ababcdcd / efef gg.

Content: the couplet (gg) at the end of the poem is crucial as it differs the SS (Shakespearean sonnet) from the PS (Petrarchan sonnet) in that it could introduce a crescendo to the poem or introduce a quick turn of events and go against everything else said in the poem.

One of my personal favourites, out of the very few I’ve read: (Sonnet 65, William Shakespeare)

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Continue reading “Briefly: Sonnets”