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.
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.
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.
do you ever lose yourself
when the night breaks to day?
and sullen silence is stained by white noise
but the darkness remains, caught in the ridges
of your molars as you grind down life
into ingestible inches of time.
there’s these sticky, murky thoughts
stuck behind the tongue and you’re not sure
if they’re even yours, head pounding
from all the muddled drinks
and puddled tears, you feel your heart
ache for someone you have yet to meet
and might never know, maybe that’s
for the best because the ones that get close
tire of how you dwell over the same mistakes
day and day again, the wayward words
carried by the wind litter barren streets with bro-
ken signs, nobody bothers to listen.
too many already dance in our heads,
hallow skull but a crowded stage,
no space for new thought or moving on,
only screaming matches against ourselves,
stubborn anthems against unmovable fate,
I don’t know if I’m starting to lose voice
or mind, I think by the time both go,
it will time to close my eyes.
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
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 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.
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.