they say tomorrow might be the waves i cannot see
the sheer anticipation of what might have been
we’ve grown so old from heartbreaks so young a dream
we’re so vast a universe but no words to swarm in
this existence hurts my skin it hurts more everytime it doesn’t bleed
here in this dark place everything is shameful and unforgiven but
there’s a rabbit hole down here and there’s you and i and the world disappears we need to be somewhere else
but here we are, bloated up
and shrunk down into an instagram post
she was nine, he was on tv,
she’s fifteen, he was already on his own, then twenty
twenty one, he was old before
his time, “where did you guys meet?”
I don’t know I don’t know
walmart, maybe, at midnight, he ran out
of pop tarts, but he said
at a party in London, too much gaps in
what we’re saying. yes but I have
no sense of time
and space. I meant we. we’re just good that way. of forgetting.
of forgiving again. it’s toxic, I know, this infatuation
don’t look. don’t look where we are. we are too old now. we are stale
from same old stories. “fame tore them apart,” …not true, not true!
he wakes up then decades
sprawling across and in and out of
his bedroom walls
she grows fonder of distance, she took a step
one day and has been running
eversince. “what an unstoppable force
she is!” was. was.
he wants her to wait but never quite saying
it right. she keeps running and she lets him
watch how far how fast her steps could go
how her jaw her fist clenched. she’s got no time
to spare, “but she has no sense of time,”
he was so young, “but he was old before his time.”
When I look into your eyes, I realise I came from a long journey across time, before yours nor mine. I knew this from recurring dreams. They’re so vivid that when I wake up, my arms my feet my body’s broken, sore and tired. These dreams are more than just a realm in my subconscious, they’re real.
In my dreams, I have your eyes, your smile, and everything’s new under the sun. In my dreams I am lost looking for something, anything feels like a mother. In my dreams, I too am abandoned, unwanted. In my dreams, I am you.
When I Look Into Your Eyes, When I My Own Daughter
these stories, they come to me in dreams the first time I fell asleep since they told me you’ve fallen into flatline
I dream you
sometimes in colours, green and oranges, purples and blues, and not bleak nor dark, we are not in the shadows
in these dreams, our children they’re born. they’re not sucked to death, they’re not stillborn nor bled away
they live and we give
names to their innocent loving faces
the eldest has my eyes, her brother has your smile
in these dreams we’re not bitter
we’re not numb from pain
in these dreams you are standing tall
little daughter dances on your devoted steadfast feet
her brother clung to your arms, his head rests on your secure and sturdy shoulder.
he’s falling into another dream.
in these dreams, I dance with you under the chuppah
and you recite a long vow, a song we used to hum
before we went to sleep
On birthdays that are wiser,
I imagined Mum running wild with her ponytail, perhaps clawing her way at a concert to get closer to Dad on stage. I never picture her as a free-spirited human being (or a groupie who jumps around at a concert). In my mind she was timid and sad right after she was born. I noticed she forgot to breathe at times, she was the epitome of absence. It’s hard to imagine her being beautifully present. Even to this day I couldn’t for the love of god see the very thing that made Father fell madly in love with her that he literally gave up for her his fame, and eventually, his life.
And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.
Life After God, Douglas Coupland
drips on honeydew holy water new
icy breeze colourful rainbow rain, rain on me
don’t bite the bliss on an empty stomach
but ignore ignore, red flags or compliance
so wobbly a place you barely stand
filled with cracks you’re bound for heartbreaks
here we are and here i am
you go be you, i’ll stay and pretend
a friend that is not till the end
a ship that is slowly sinking
quietly drift drift like the wind softly
gone and forgotten, i’ll be
a ring on your plate when i cooked you
eggs, our years apart summarised into one morning
of jars and jars, bottled up feelings
of you looking into me, looking into something
of me saying things without a sound
our lives in suspended compartments
bubbles of cliches against time voices people
it is kind, it is patient and it is all you need but
it doesn’t conquer all, it’s never the answer
my love for you, insincere and vague.
Far beneath mother’s womb rests a story of a knight who one day, in a faraway future, will speak of the truth.
The dragons in knowing this had prepared him prior to my birth for a future quest to find mother. Ali would settle me in a little basket near the river, for I was unwanted as Moses. And when the bell church rang three times, the knight would kiss me and present me to mother.
The day came and after a long challenging journey, the knight found mother. Mother and the knight finally met and shared a long kiss. Secrets were dripping out of their mouths, pearls born into the longing sea.
The knight, then, upon seeing an abundance of affection in mother’s eyes, bargained for her love. Mother stepped back, wailing.
The dragons, having the ability to hear her from far-off distance, alert and awake, realised the knight had betrayed them. They ran amok, flying in a speed of light and took me away from mother.
So much wind I feel in my heart and I cannot in the slightest remember flying back the time father was long asleep. But I vividly remember that he was. He was there but he wasn’t, it’s the only thing I am familiar with. But I remember flying across the sky with no end in sight.
In Ali’s stories, the dragons brought me back to father’s side. He was fast asleep so they put me on Ali’s lap instead.
They told Ali to never speak of mother, ever again.
everybody wants a piece of that fame
you bring to the table
so they put you on a silver plate at first
but then they feel it’s too fancy for
a hollywood roadkill like you so
they move you to
a worn out wooden cutting board
slice you up real nice into tiny bits of pieces
each to their own but
you’re there for everyone, suit yourself!
chew you up real slow
saving every flavor splattered on
the walls of their mouths their gums they lick
their teeth and lips everytime they got
that fancy exposure
they swallow you and finger the rest
of your blood
on their knives
and I sit there watching
thinking if I should get
of that fame
but I am not
made for the public eye
I spill your tea on
this fame of yours
my brain, should you
know what I want, it’s
your crimson blood
I want that lush
I want that rush
when i you and you,
“Mirrors”, Letters to Sylvia, 2019
These were the nights when gaps spotted in our time loop and father came back to us.
He’d travelled to stay for few days, playing house. Mother’s smiles reappeared and she’d dance under the moonlight.
At night I would see from a slit on the door slightly ajar, his eyes turning tender and kind, her complexion radiant.
I’d see them holding each other, her breasts upon his chest. He’d tell her places he’s afraid of, she’d tell him her dreams.
She’d say, “Wherever you are in life you’ll always have tonight.”
They’d look each other in the eyes and after a while she’d lead him but she’d be the only one who was dancing. She’d twirl to the ticking clock, she’d circle through time while he was drinking –one gulp after another, gazing intently at her –a much younger her, at their younger selves.
He’d hum her old letters he knew by heart with a voice barely heard.
Time would stop and in that second I’d know, wherever I am in life I’ll have them forever in my heart.
there was a time when
everything was everything and
we didn’t try to be anything
what do you carry around all day
besides a bucket of flowers
and heart full of promises of a new day?
here’s a tiny sting of guilt to share
there there, i’ve been there
nobody likes anybody in this town
forgive me i didn’t know better
Lately I’ve been thinking of the reason behind all of these words that I am writing (and carelessly spreading into this fucked up wounded world).
But then I remember this young girl who changed her mind about jumping out of her window, because of my words, and I thought that is enough of a reason.
Camus died of a car accident, and not of his lungs. Life is absurd. Everybody thinks they knew the answers.
These words have been kept, hidden, for almost eighteen years. She was born just to be, but never meant to be shared. But almost two years ago, her presence became urgent. She was cut in pieces and put together in a hurry but did made it in time to be read by people who needed them.
If there’s one thing I love about love, is that it expands as you grow. My love for her imperfection has never been this courageous, and I’d like to extend it to you.
Now celebrating her two years arriving into the world, she will be available to you lovely people in Asia. If you speak Bahasa and is interested in providing her a home, message me.
i can never understand how
the universe works; or how you
expand like the milky way spreading
in space i can only stare from
a good distance.
“…there are clouds in these dreams and i am flying hard between ashes,
did you not get burned at stakes?
there are words in these dreams but I am not one saying them,
to swallow alone is pain. to breathe, a sin.
not one word out but here are letters for when you wake up,
she said, you will tell them how to say it out loud,
even with tears in their eyes. tell them.
and so I write.”
Get this book here.
it’s always messy down here in your basement
where memories go to a happy place
they say i’m in love with love
but i never knew how to flaunt it
in between unsaid words and
staggering poetry so let me write it simple:
i want you, life, serene and tender
i want you, love, without going so much on a bender
Right before our parting, mother sat me down in a meadow. She apologetically held my hands then placed a flower crown on my hair.
She said, “Remember this, love, for time is a loop. You will come back for me.”
Little did she know, time was in denial.
So suddenly as I realised this, she turned into a montage of old photographs between flashing lights.
I saw her,
the staggering girl between
I saw her vague fingers inside
his feathered glory,
such indifferent beak cloud,
white rush oh there there
brute brute blood!
here’s burning roof and tower
the centre cannot hold,
things fall apart…
Phrases in W. B. Yeats’ poems “Leda and the Swan” and “The Second Coming”, in this part of my book, are rearranged in an attempt of deconstruction. WB Yeats poems are an integral and essential part of my book, When I, My Own Daughter, available here.
Photo Credit: Alessio Albi
I have so much loneliness in me, so much more than I could bear. Mother gave it to me one night the first time she was standing on the ledge near the window in our 30 stories high two bedrooms flat. She was in love with heights, so every night she took the dragons out and played with them outside by the window. She’d learn to fly. And fall.
I got so lonely everytime she did, for this grave feeling seeping through my skin, that she would fly (or fall) and would never find her way back to me (and father). She had certain ways of seeing life and death. Most of the time, to her there was no difference in both. But at times she saw death as a release and life was a cage in which one could only see what was not and could never feel what was real. What was real she saw in dreams.
She shared these dreams with me. She wrote them in a diary. Tell no one, she said to me. In her dreams, I was born into her world. I was her.
When I, My Own Daughter coming to you this spring.
…because first and foremost, before anything else, I am me.
It was a bad day and I could not spend any more hours sitting in my car in the parking lot before classes. I took two girls out to a late lunch that day and told them: in a distant past, I did a very bad thing and I haven’t been able to move on from it.
They didn’t ask questions, they just sat there with me, eating.
That day I decided, I was going to quit my job.
Resigning from an established institution was a torture. Convincing your superiors that they could easily let me go, that there will be someone else, and they might be a lot better doing what I was doing, is. a. torture. Of course they wouldn’t let me go. They offered me positions, new spaces, new title. New office in the city. They were tempting. I could hear my younger ambitious self screaming loud inside my ears.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of an Ivy League team, sitting in that ivory tower, judging everyone while at the same time being inspiration to a lot of people? Never have I ever in my life been treated better than when I had that title. It followed me everywhere and gave me the privilege my parents wanted me to have. I finally lived up to their expectation, being the trophy kid all my life, ignoring all stabbing knives on my back while smiling in front of hundreds of audience, hoping they would gain some kind of wisdom at the end of the day. What a time to be alive.
But I needed a good cry. I needed to hear music again. Someone just wrote a song for me, about how wonderful I was when I was none other than who I truly am. I needed to cry. Not in-the-shower cry. Not the kind I had before I went to sleep. Nor crying screaming into a pillow. Not that kind of cry.
I needed to go somewhere far, and shed that single tear, and meet me again.
It’s been, well, different ever since. Different. Living your true self is a struggle when obviously it’s a lot easier to portray what everyone thinks of you. So I cut everyone lose and let them go. Appointments, canceled. Contacts, blocked. Social media, deleted. Said goodbye without them knowing, or aware if it. I just wanted to be me.
Why is it so hard to be alone these days? Why wouldn’t you? I want to. I want to be alone, just me, by myself – to be able to finally breathe. Life is so precious, you wouldn’t want living hating it. It’s why I did what I did.