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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dead bees.

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@mxqqy

Sunshine swallowed
by cloud.

Precious words, pilling
behind pursed lips.

Feel the warm autumn wind
on your cheek until he turns
and brushes your knee.

Then you blossom and
fall, simultaneously.

Learn to gift your auburn
to the sky, only for it to be
washed away by the very
last bouts of summer rain.

At least today is no longer
stained by the shades of
a repetitive same.

Seeds of hope, they grow
in the cracks left by past hurt,
and you find yourself surrounded
by the familiar buzz of may-bees,
could-bees and potentialities.

But then you blink and remember
how to breathe and suddenly
you can see the way his kindness
comes in spades but cuts deep
into the soft soils of vulnerability.

He uproots importance
like untamed (we)eds, and these
unplanted questions swallow
like a liquidated naivety and
sinking self-esteem.

Tonight,
forget-me-knots in stomach tangles
into throat and a thristled heart
quietly bleeds.

I have never broken a bone.

clouds_by_toinjoints
Image courtesy of: toinjoints

nor skinny-dipped in the dark.
I have never been stung by a bee,
nor gambled on bite or bark.

Sometimes though, I fall –
(asleep, in love, for you)
But I much prefer the ever-green,
and sinking into swirls of white
on bleu.

But I was always told
it is far too dangerous to climb
too high and it is not my place
to touch the skies, so for all my life,
I have been unfamiliar with the pain
of scraping my knees on the sidewalk,
never have I ever bloodied my fingers
picking up pride shattered by some
uncontrolled big talk.

Though I’d much prefer to be someone
who climbs the tallest tree to
kiss the sun, thank her for her warm
embrace, hang off of a gnarly branch,
to see the world down-side up,
give chase for no one’s sake,
untamed by wild mistakes, say,
can I be the next one you make?

Some nights I lie wide awake, wondering
if in darkness we are more difference
or same, like how the evening always
breaks into day, I wish upon the fading stars
that before now bleeds into then
we can be enveloped in each other’s crimson
even for the briefest moment.

Imagine if we never realised
that we are but two sides of the
same coin and all I needed was to
let courage course through my veins
and choose, for once, to fall with
reckless abandon into the embrace of fate.

Unequal Halves (Audio)

Say, do you remember when
we pressed our palms together
and our lifelines intertwined –

I wonder how many millimeters
of time can be measuring in
these tangled memories.

get lost in frayed thoughts,
set tears on fire so cooled hearts
remember what numb is not,
even if the burn is less passion and
more pain, feel it from femur to fingertips.

sometimes I wake up from dreams
that have more vibrancy than reality,
haven’t we all lied in bed for what could
have been a moment or stretched by shadow
into days, into a daze, eyes closed,
trying to slot scrambled scenes into a movie
where we get the happy ending we deserve
before the light turns back on?

when boredom creeps in,
I hold my breath and watch the clock
tick down just so emptiness gains form
and I can be reminded that this body,
gasping for air, wants to be alive.

Tonight, the sky is black.
Fire is calm, heart obsidian, cuts
life in unequal halves.


mentioned: to be unnamed

可惜不是你 – If only it was you

I was in a long distance relationship when I heard this song live in late 2016. I instantly felt a pang in my chest, and it was in that moment that I consciously came to terms with the end of the relationship. There’s really no coming back from mourning a break up that hasn’t happened yet, so that’s why this is a really special song for me.

I tried to remain faithful in my translation but I’ve prioritised capturing the essence of the song first and foremost. I hope it makes you feel something. 


Suddenly, this moment fills with familiarity,
yesterday’s memories playing over reality.
The way I speak is more like you than me,
evidence of the love that used to be.

Almost believed my own lies,
and maybe fooled you too.
loving and being loved don’t always
balance to the same degree.

Being in someone else’s thoughts
is a type of luck, I agree, but I don’t know
how to give myself over completely.

Tried my best to change but I can’t
shift these pre-set boundaries.
I thought being by your side
could be the start of eternity,
but it feels like yesterday,
and yesterday feels so very far away.
Yet when I close my eyes, I can still see –
If only it was you, by my side until the end.
Don’t you remember when we walked and
our shoulders would collide?

But we lost our way, parted at fork-roads,
thank you for being there and holding
my hand, even now your gentleness
lingers on my palms.

That time when our hearts beat as one,
I wish I’m still allowed to care for you.
except you are now part of someone else’s
scenery, I hope in her world you can see
the shadows of night stars stars.

Tried my best to change but I can’t
shift these pre-set boundaries.
I thought being by your side
could be the start of eternity,
but it feels like yesterday,
and yesterday feels so very far away.
Yet when I close my eyes, I can still see –
If only it was you, by my side until the end.
Don’t you remember when we walked and
our shoulders would collide?

But we lost our way, parted at fork-roads,
thank you for being there and holding
my hand, even now your gentleness
lingers on my palms.

Thank you for being there and holding
my hand in yours, I can still feel your
warmth burning in my chest.

Continue reading “可惜不是你 – If only it was you”

to be unnamed

This poem is inspired by Call Me By Your Name & was written with Visions of Gideon playing in the background.

If Heaven is built on white lies,
then let me believe for the last time
that your breath can run into mine,
giddy with love; you and me, likewise.

But why is it that every time our lips
collide, I can’t taste anything beyond
the quiet? Tell me, when will the thought
of you stop clouding these closed eyes?
Don’t forget the rain and wistful smiles.

Hey love, am I still allowed to call you
so? I suppose names were never our own,
gifted to us by others, so our entirety can
be condensed into palpable syllables,
rolled over the tongue, bitten into and
chewed on until the flavour fades
or tastes suddenly change.

I truly thought I was okay until time
reminded me of its unpredictable path
from now until tomorrow, here I am again.
Silence stretches out as long as a
sleepless night, and I am unlearning desire,
like feeling itself is a bad habit, brea
king words until they lose all meaning,
writing about you until I forget the way
I used to whisper – your name.

Continue reading “to be unnamed”

Existence (a poem for a tattoo)

Hi friends,

I got my first tattoo in January 2018 and it was designed by the amazing & talented Zeze who is based in Auckland, New Zealand.

It is based off a Chinese fable called 猴子捞月 (the monkeys saving the moon) – if anyone is interested in what the story is about, I’m happy to provide a translated version.

I’ve been trying to write a poem inspired by the fable, but it just wasn’t working, I think it was a tad too restrictive. Instead,  I wrote a little something very loosely inspired by Zeze’s artwork alone.

I think that’s one of the best things about art, how it can be re-discovered, re-imagined and re-mixed to produce unexpected results and then interpreted every which way too.

Either way, a life update & a poem, I hope you like it.

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 3.10.35 pm.png
Image courtesy of: Zeze

Continue reading “Existence (a poem for a tattoo)”

unfamiliar shapes

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Image courtesy of: Starryjohn

[I]

Look! The lovers are throwing themselves
over the moon, as the lost ones fall into
gravity’s embrace – stumbling, fumbling
children making their homes in the forest of thorns.

Tendrils of worry fill their mind as they wonder
what sins they were paying for, bodies bruised,
egos torn, instinctively clinging onto themselves
and each other in the shadows of the stars.

[II]

We set our fears on fire to remember who we are,
reminding ourselves that the dying galaxies
blinking so innocently up above are not ours to
wish upon and that we must keep moving with the
rise of the morning sun.

Even though there is an itch at the edge of our hurt,
fingers trembling, we shall resist the urge
to crush our capillaries into unfamiliar shapes of kindness
we were never afforded, we know we cannot gift it
without mixing in shards of bitter bone, swallow
words like they are contraceptives against rejection.

Let the blood pool inside these soft shells,
bathe our fragile hearts in our own warmth, realise
there is nothing in the world outside us worth
latching our teeth into.

People I noticed: 2017

A:

wild curls, soft eyes.
strong hands, gentle smile.
like light rain on a sunny day,
or childhood games and daisy chains.

– for M

B:

her eyeliner could slice
through my confidence
like I was a paper lion,
gawking at the sun,
casting shadows of doubt
onto fragile mind.

and I can’t fault her
for those pretty little
knives, throw my
shredded words up
into the sky –
you scare me,
but my heart,
mistakes these
palpitations as love.

for A

C:

clean neck and moon shaped eyes,
hollow bones and sharp black lines.
ticking, clicking midnight lights,
hazy moments frozen in white.

she strums silence into lullabies,
unravels kindness from fingertips
and sends them up to the skies.
a fluid beauty glowing in the
frozen winter nights.

– for D

20 January

water_grave_by_hideyoshi-d9s9f3r
Image courtesy of: Hideyoshi

I could hear in his voice
the conviction of youth
and I wonder if mine
was wasted on a fool
who has chewed down flesh
and bone to leave a terrined-heart
dished out, cold.

Do boys like to wear suits and
swirl wine, slice through
boundaries like butter
because they think that anything
in the world can be bought by paper,
and if not, they’ll burn
it down instead.

They wear metal on wrist
and hold metal in hand,
thinking they were born
as the protagonist, except
sometimes forests are not yours
to cut down or even explore,
who gave you permission
to scale these walls?
she was never yours to save.

Now, I’m not saying women
are any better at sorting through
this tangled ball of fate and quick
mistakes, but I have always envied
the rain for how it melts into waterfalls
and I could always trust the ocean
to cleanse any small cut or graze.

she feels safe,
maybe soon the hesitation
will fade.

Continue reading “20 January”