Autobiographical Alphabet: Part 1

Hi friends,

For those of you who have been following me on Instagram for the last little while, you may know that I’ve recently released a series of micro-poems there.

If not, the collection is called Autobiographical Alphabet: Life After Nineteen.

The poems were written in 2017, after I turned twenty. In New Zealand & Australia where I’m from, 18 and 21 are considered ceremonious years. Personally, I feel like the transition between 19 to 20 is, linguistically at least, just as important because it marks one’s departure from the ‘-teen’ years (13-19).

With the set structure of the alphabet and the challenge of keeping to only a sentence or two per poem, I wanted to use this series to explore more broadly who I am and what I observe & feel in this awkward phase when I am no longer a child but don’t quite feel like a proper adult.

I’ll be delving into some of the circumstances and intentions surrounding the pieces below. In all honesty, I think that to a large degree, an author’s intent is irrelevant to a reading and it’s important for you to take away what you will from the standalone poems. With that being said, I selfishly wanted to explain them a bit more so I can pour over these memories & experiences yet again. I’m sure there are some people who are curious about it too, so this is for me & you :—)


I wrote this poem for a friend who I’ve known since intermediate (middle school). She is an absolute angel – beautiful, kind, perfect. I don’t think I’ve met more than a handful of other people who are genuinely as soft and pure.

Though sometimes in private I’d wonder if she was a bit too perfect. Maybe it makes me a bad person (I’d never argue to the contrary) but I kept waiting for the day when the image would crack and something mean or unreasonable will spill out…but it never did. When a boy broke her heart, she mourned so gently and with so much poise that it left me unsettled.

I didn’t put my finger on it until recently. Perhaps it’s just me overthinking but it was almost like she couldn’t allow herself to hold onto an ounce of bitterness, even when she had every right to, in case it stained her with something that was too dark and too real. Ugly.

This poem is for her and women in general who were taught that they had to hide their pain. For women who are expected to shirk their own needs forever and always so they can be so good and generous to everyone else with their seemingly endless love and comfort.

What are your thoughts on nature vs nurture? Either way, I was a shy and introverted child. Mum always pushed me to speak to strangers and make new friends. A word she always wanted me to strive for was “bubbly”.

Bright, light, fun, harmless, palpable. Her friend’s child was like this, why couldn’t I be? Over a decade later, I would say that I feel like a carefully pruned bonsai tree who has gotten closer and closer to her ideal. I would say “bubbly” is one of the top 5 words most of my friends would use to describe me.

I still don’t like that word. I think it’s because it feels like an act, even now. It’s so tiring to be friendly and happy, it doesn’t really leave room for much of a personality. I don’t know if it’s who I am or who I’ve been taught I should be and being around strangers acting “bubbly” leaves me so flat and empty. Scariest of all though is that the formative years are over, the shape is set, I truly don’t know how else I can present to and exist in this world.

Continue reading “Autobiographical Alphabet: Part 1”

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World Suicide Prevention Day: Guest Poem by Jess Rayner

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Image courtesy of: Hahanoui

For anyone who has thought suicide is the best option:

If you were to die today,
the sun will still rise
even if you’re not here to see it.
The stars will still shine
and the moon will still glow
and how beautiful the flowers will be
even if you’re not here
to appreciate them.

If you were to die today,
your mother would still be a mother
and Joy would still be a sister
but your girlfriend,
she would not remain so –
she lost her title
as soon as you lost your battle.

If you were to die today,
our group of three
will now become two
until one of us could not carry on
as an even number.
We were meant to be odd
and oddity doesn’t come
from you dying
it comes from you living
even if you do not want to.

If you were to die today,
we would lose a boy
who has lyrics instead of blood
coursing through his body.
Your beautiful body,
that you do not want to live in.

If you were to die today,
no one will get the chance
to fall in love with you.
No one will get the chance
to wear white
beside you at the altar.
We will all be in black
beside your grave stone.

If you were to die today,
you think that we would be okay,
that it would not matter
because no one cares about you
.
If no one cares,
why am I writing a fucking poem
about you dying
and crying about it?

If you were to die today,
the best part of me will die too.
We are oceans apart
and my hand is still holding yours,
no matter how you feel.

If you were to die today,
the world will still continue,
but don’t you dare think
I would want to it to.
Don’t you dare think
that I would want to carry on
in this world
that slaughters young men
who are so desperate to hold on.


If you were to die today,
don’t you dare.
don’t you dare die today.


I really wanted to write something for World Suicide Prevention Day because I think it is such a great opportunity to raise awareness about this huge issue that always deserves to be talked about more.

After reading this poem Jess posted into a little poetry group on Facebook that we’re both part of, I realised I really couldn’t express my thoughts on the topic better than she has. With her permission, I am sharing this powerful piece with you all today.

This is the only post where I will actively ask you to please share if you can, because I think it is such an important message that really might be able to help someone that needs it.

Have a good day everyone.

Resources:

Lifeline (Australia): 13 11 14

Lifeline (New Zealand): 0800 543 354

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Tiny Letters I Will Never Send: Part Two

Part 2: Exes 

romantic and otherwise, to strangers that weren’t 

To my ex-best friend: I don’t remember what I did or didn’t do but I’m still sorry I hurt you and I wish I wasn’t the coward that run away from such trivial problems. More than that, I wish that I listened to my own mantra of ‘when the going gets tough the tough gets going.’ I wonder if you’ll remember my name when we’re both 80? p.s. I hope you knew that I love(d) you.

To my ex-boyfriend: They say that children are the most hurtful because they don’t think about what they’re saying or doing and looking back, we were definitely children. I think my favourite memory of us was the first time you took my hand and didn’t let go or maybe one of the numerous times where we’d at the back of KFC, shaking salt off of their (overly seasoned) fries as we talked about nothing in particular. The good thing about children is that eventually we grow up & I really don’t think present day us would have hurt each other so intentionally. p.s. I have yet to write a poem about you and I probably never will, no particular reason why.

To my ex-crush: You. You held my attention for the longest time and to this day, I don’t know how you did it. Did you know that I kept a diary around the time that we met? It’s so embarrassing how your name seems to litter every other page mixed in with excessive praise written in clumsy cursive. Thank you for conversations until 4am, for being the closest thing that I’ll ever have to the one that got away and for being my muse for too many angsty poems that I can’t find anymore. p.s. I am often up until 1am these days, watching rubbish television or writing university essays without noticing when the clock hits 11.11 but if I could have just one more wish, it would be for you to remember us sometimes, when nothing else is on your mind.

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To ex-maggy (2011): you weren’t as cool as you thought you were, sorry!

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on homesickness & the little mermaid

After moving to a new country for university, I fell sick.

I wonder if it’s because my body is stuck in limbo between newfound unpredictability and missing old routines and that’s why at night these maladjusted bones creak for home…

Loneliness.

It almost feels taboo to say out loud.

Even more so if I add another layer of association:

I am lonely.

Homesickness is insidious. It hides in the shadows before it suddenly swallows you whole, leaving just an empty shell of who you are behind. I noticed its presence as I was pretending to laugh the other day, suddenly continuing the facade of being happy all the time felt so tiring. Continue reading “on homesickness & the little mermaid”

Life: Graduation

Hey, it’s been a while.

I always feel terrible when I take too long of a hiatus without any good excuses but I just haven’t been motivated to write anything, sorry! I don’t really know how other people’s creative processes work, but in my case, I have to wait for ideas to find me, which as you can imagine, limits my output dramatically.

That being said, I am most certainly my own muse when it comes to writing about my life so what better subject to exploit than myself? I guess the biggest (albeit a bit late) update I have is:

 – I am no longer a high school student –

I don’t really remember the exact date of graduation, especially since our emotions were then dragged over the tedious but important final exams for the next month or so. On one hand, I’m completely over it. I’m so glad that I am moving past this part of my life and excited to take on bigger and better things, but on the other hand, I don’t feel ready at all for what’s to come.

Thinking too much about the future fills me with jolts of panic about whether I’ll get into my university of first choice, if I’ll survive moving out of home or be able to make any friends…

Most of the time, I just feel like I don’t deserve to graduate yet with the minuscule amount of knowledge and life experience I have. I mean for heaven’s sake, I don’t even know what price point I should purchase potatoes at to get a bargain, much less how tax return works!

Continue reading “Life: Graduation”

My Heart is not Berlin

Last night
I saw someone post an inside joke
on your Facebook wall
and I was reminded that
I now live on the other side
of the divide between
acquaintance and best friend
knock knock
no response
I guess you no longer care
that I’m here.

I remember our younger days
the bitter nights
where words thrown in anger
could shatter our souls
slowly building barricades from

– – – – – – – pieces of our broken hope – – – – – – – 

I thought I was bulletproof yet
“you’re a good person but not a good friend”
ricocheted in my brain
up until the moment
our eyes met again
and then all I could hear was
silence

then suddenly one day
apologies were made
reparations were paid
but the pain could never fade away
because your apathy to our history
means you don’t notice that
my heart is not Berlin
and perhaps that’s why
the scars of our divide
will always remain


Originally published in Michael King Writers Centre’s literary magazine, Signals 2015.