musings of a twenty year old

Some draft poems from 2018 that I found recently. It’s always fun to stumble across writing from the past and reflect on what still resonates vs. what sounds like it’s written by somebody else.

sometimes I feel like I should just settle already
for a place, person or version of myself. I could
have a son or daughter. I think I’d like that, living a
quiet life at the edge of the city like my mother did, does.
Other times, the four-legged dreams inside me yearn
to break free, run across the rocky terrain of the unknown,
fill my lungs with flammable potential with every quickening
breath, let life burn bright as my heart beat rises, until I am
panting art and sweating fire, leave expectations in the ashes,
the becoming, rather than taming, of the beast.


today I went to the physio and she told me that the pain in my back was real.
how relieved I was for her to touch the knot between my shoulder blades and say “oof”
to know it wasn’t all in my head as she taped me up and suggested sticking needles in my body
(even though that thought petrified me).
What would have been worse is if she told me there was nothing wrong
and at all and that all that pain I felt was normal.
Maybe if I can start going to the physio, I will also be able to go see a doctor about my brain.
Let them scan it for wildflowers and weeds, so the garden of mind is once again one I am
not afraid to visit, walk through barefoot and carefree.


I know this isn’t a popularity contest (but it also sort of is right)?

some people have more facebook friends than I have followers and I get more likes on Instagram on a quick photo slapped over by valencia than I ever do on a poem I fiddle with for days and I wonder if I amjust not good enough?

I’ve been reading bukowski and he says you shouldn’t write unless it is practically bursting from your soul and I have never felt like that. My words do not flow like streams into a crashing waterfall, my words do not fall like rain into the sea. They do not burn like forest fire or pierce like bullets. They splitter and spatter like water in a pan full of bubbling oil. They chug along like an old train on a rusty railroad. A stuttering of the mind, a dearth of brightness, as if my head is submerged in a vat of ink and when I try to lift myself up to breathe I cover the world in mess and not art.

Maybe I am not a vessel for grand works meant to split the earth and revolutionise minds of my generation but it has been my public diary, a respite for bad days and that at least is worth something to me.

a tragedy untold: by and for me

She visits me in warm sepia dreams.
Leaves a blanket of patchwork memories and
make believe, how I wish to curl up into her
wicked mirage and fall back asleep.
Instead I fold up her name gently and tuck
it between pillow and unkissed cheek.

If I was more wistful novella than young
woman I would want to be read on a beach.
Her approximation would appear around chapter
three. On the last page we would be holding hands
remembering when we painted each other on
sky-coloured fabric with rainbow threads, all these
possessive inky syllables in a state of fragile
permanence until the storyline snaps, pages slip
out of hand and the gossiping waves set this
stolen and romanticised piece of her free.

Nobody mourns the loss of us, not my
unsuspecting muse or the ocean breeze.
The blurred and crumpled title reads
a crush or otherwise tragedy untold
by and for me.

the rain comes

and then it goes.

the air is sharp and still.
the water, calm until doppleganger
clouds break character, giggling, as trees
lean over the river and shake their bits dry.
meandering ducks split the horizon and I
realise that heaven is just mud and fish
but do not mind as daylight cracks overhead
and a passing bird I do not recognise
pierces the sky with a war cry. soon,
poached-egg sun spills its warm,
gooey center into our open mouths
and stains upturned cheeks.

just like yesterday, we do not care about
zigzagging between dead trees and shallow
water reeds as we hold our paddles up
like hungry children with giant spoons
ready to devour the entire world and
all of its wild in our very next breath
before we do it all over, again and again.

gaia in all her grace, gathers us around
her table. she feeds us with tailwind and
birdsong, nostalgic singalongs and echoing
rock walls. we savour every last scrap before
leaving with more sophisticated palates
for gratitude. nourished, the zing of woodfire
conversations and charred-stars remain,
inexplicable, on the tips of our tongues.

people come
and then they go.

the air is sharp and still.
the water, calm.


everyone has a 2020 poem

and this is mine.

nostalgia. nothingness. noise and repeat

it seems like
the less I do, the more
tired I am and either way
I am not getting any younger
as I sit and wait for life to matter
as much as it did back when
I scribbled my name on the
front cover of my very
last calculus exam.

the cynical 17 year old was right.
the only maths I ever do now is
subtracting days by the hour,
reviewing memories to the
power of x. is it possible to solve
this lethargy by working backwards?
I am guesstimating the root of all my
problems sprouted some time in the
2010s but I don’t have any of this
worked out on paper as proof of concept.

I wish someone could tell me if I
am passing or not as I copy everyone else
by doing more, documenting more to replace
actually being more – rounding up all these
constructed moments (doesn’t matter of what
or what even for) can’t you see that I am so close
to tipping, tapping, turning point?

living life to the fullest exposure and washing
out all doubts of self, believe me, things are
really looking up from this low angle shot, as I
lie, knowing only the blinking caret is here to stay,
dancing to the tick of every minute, it hungers
like an ill-fed guillotine for a slice of life, authentic style.

Instead I offer up my whole head, dust, rust and all.
meditation is too much work, take it off cleanly
at the nape. let it roll like tumbleweed through this
empty field of nostalgia, nothingness, noise and repeat.

A coin and a clock

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Image courtesy of: JR Korpa

It’s opposite day,
and I hate those piercing eyes –
all sharpened storm clouds
soaking up soft lighting rods
as if rules did not matter here,
only you and I. Roofed under
rewinding time, spooling moments
tangle but do not tame our desire to
pull a little more breath out of each
other, we, are the disobedient children
of the night. Forgetting what was yours
and what will be mine, listen, as water
breaks outside. We are safe here,
I assure you, before I look to the skies,
send my silent prayer for this phantom
pain in chest to subside.

Continue reading “A coin and a clock”

Wanderland

AIW
Image credit: fnafmangl

HELP.

I have fallen down
the rabbit hole.
Lost who I am in
INFP alphabet soup, wish
upon Gemini that I’ll find
my way to Ravenclaw.
But as furry foot of luck
hops up and down of reach,
I am left wondering who
the cleaver was for.

In this food chain I have
four decades to climb, first I learn
the sizzle of rock bottom as
branded prey. Sit and riddle
for 8 hours of the day, pray
that when I led soul to slaughter
block,  I did not become both
butcher and brittle breaking
bitterness.

Bit by bit I remember being the most
myself in a town with no history
or future to my name. No bigger smile
than when the rest of me blended into
the Cheshire light. Feast my eyes
on dazzling new sights, at night
I cocoon myself in glittering lucid lines
or in a mad hatter moment, find a new
best friend for the night.

Continue reading “Wanderland”

“The world is a scary place.”

mother says, worry etched into
the crevices of every syllable.
She tucks a soft prayer
behind my ear before I leave
home with an 11kg backpack
stuffed to the brim with rigid
fears and unwieldy trepidations
that dig into (but do not break)
obstinate back bone.

Head held high, my tongue weaves
fake bravado into truth-coated lies,
squeezes big talk past smiling
teeth as they chatter but do not chit
chat, keep wandering eyes on well-lit
road and itchy feet on beaten track,
never walk beyond the safety of the light.
After all, aren’t all little girls taught
they must fear the night?

Continue reading ““The world is a scary place.””

Buried Terracotta Dreams

Image courtesy of: HEandRO

I lost my heart in Xi’an,
slipped it into the suitcase
of a boy I’d met three days ago
before kissing him goodbye.

Strange, how stray words tangle
and lives shaken off trajectory,
suddenly align.

My youth was spent by simple
seaside. Every day, watching the
gentle rise and fall of predictable
tides. Whilst he grew up on the
other side of a different shore line.

I wonder if the same waves would
remind him of when he saw crimson
flow, breathed in the stench of fragile
bodies broken by the warm earth
they were buried under, all the
nameless numbers surrounded by
plaques of rubble and dust while
the sun rose behind him as if
it was just any other day.

Continue reading “Buried Terracotta Dreams”

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 :—)


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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.

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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”

Studio Apartment of 2017

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Instagram: MXQQY

I keep the curtains shut
at my tiny box of a home,
as if that makes it oblivious
to the laws of time and space.

Responsibilities are crumpled
at the bottom of the laundry pile,
aspirations, stacked with dirty
dishes in the sink. It has been a
while since I’ve vacuumed the floor,
I may have spilt motivation on it
a couple of weeks ago.

I wonder how long I can stay here
before I unlearn the existence of a
world filled with abstractions, beyond
the lazy grope of tired fingertips?

Continue reading “Studio Apartment of 2017”