White-Out

It must take quite a madman to sing praises for the white-out

The scourge of every egoist who ever whipped their pen out

The tool perfectionists take though deemed unholy by the Rooks:

orators fresh from training, and spotless self-help books

who stand among the pieces frowning at the non-believers,

at those who see mistakes, mistaking wins for falls, inversed

who make beelines for the end, and ‘cannot into turn’

who scream “My Conviction” while others they do spurn;

refuse to chew the errors in their syntax and their prose

turn noses up at meeting certain standards, I suppose;

deride the strengths of Pawns, enlarge the heads of Knights

abhor the poor’s desires and lament the rich’s blights

But if they call me mad, then the maddest I will be:

I say the white-out is the pen’s best friend that we can see!

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Inspiration

Places are much different, when left to rot and die

Wind once soft grows restless, heaves a drunk man’s dragging sigh

Life, it births where never was; and death, it hunts new land

Quite a fitting dowry for a muse’s golden hand.

 

People are much different, when left to rot and die

I, for one, have extra hairs above my worm-filled eye

Poetry is born of gold; I say you are diamond

Treasure draws the muse from high – but you have left mine silent.

The Library

They are not supposed to have favourites. Most of them simply lay back and watch people wander in and out of the doors. Oh, the humans and their clockwork paths. They watch the same pairs of hands fiddle with the same rusty old locks, the same heads bump against the same railings after a night spent sleeping on the stairs. Nobody thinks to choose.

Granted, there are no rules for this sort of thing, but it cannot help but feel a twinge in its stony foundation for watching one more than any other, for creating an imbalance when it loves all life equally.

The girl comes in on weekdays after school. Placing her bag on the pigeonhole by the children’s section, she wanders off from the storytelling circles and pastel-tiled flooring to tread the creaky floorboards in one of the dustier sections of its body. It worries sometimes about that dust. What is no good for breathing is no good for life.

Having the girl walk through the back-aisle tickles a forgotten crook of its body, sends a gentle pulse through an untouched nerve. Her arms barely wrap around her tome of choice. It is a book on Empires and their Wonders, the sort with ripped pages and no bibliography to speak of: a favourite of curious children and disillusioned adults straying too far from their finals papers. The plastic table creaks under its weight when she sets the volume down.

Reading to this one comes easy as breathing. It does not see prodigies very often, but when it does, it is cautious. Humans like her are very much like the ancient land of Rome they love to read about. They grow quickly, conquering territory after territory; perhaps they make it big in business or write one of the bestsellers that come and go from its shelves. They construct wonders, dye cultures with their own hue, forcibly scratch their mark upon history . . .

One day the girl takes the bus out of town. She is going to build her empire, it thinks. Though it cannot wave goodbye, and cannot brood in longing, the curtains sway just a little out of sync with the wind, and in the second-floor bathroom, a bulb flickers and dies.

Still, life goes on. It must, even if the air sinks heavier without its favourite. Both life and non-life proceed harmoniously inside of it. The librarian grows grey hairs, her black strands falling unnoticed to the cushy swivel chair that is slowly losing its mobility. Students graduate and are replaced with more students – and they seem to lose more hair per capita with each passing generation. It loves them all, all but for the treacherous dust that cakes the ripped books in the back aisle.

(Seasons later, it hears a sickening splat on the pavement outside the School, hears the sirens blaring, and it knows: Rome has fallen.)

The other buildings like to ask why it stays. Many of them simply fall apart after their generation grows old and wrinkled. Many others choose to leave even if their bodies are intact: these are the skeleton-like abandoned warehouses and prisons. Sometimes life is not worth sustaining, so the non-living leave. This is not a bad concept, for things like them. It is just that: a concept.

But the Library loves life.

Light filters in through the stained windows, lending the loft a tint the colour of fresh peaches. A cast remains around the sleeping girl’s leg, but that is all that is left of a painful battle from long, long ago. They call her a woman now, it knows, but it likes to imagine that all who read retain some part of their child self within them.

Papers lie strewn around her exhausted form. Scribbles fill each: ideas and plans and hopes, dreams, wishes – the things that never die. They have not allowed her to, either. There is something good about the human’s desire for repetition; the musing comes to it as the grandfather clock strikes a resounding eight in the morning.

There is always time for a new empire.

 

Tasteless

Nothing stings more

than the bitter stink of homemade cookies

made at home one too many times

the lost sparkle of tropical seas

seen every day through the same office window

the words sharp as swords

blunted from overuse

the void-black of a bottomless well

losing novelty in death and danger

Nothing aches more

Than not wanting.

And All the Little Things As Well

By god, do I remember

The cold touch of honey skin

Carrying but a stern reminder

Of skirts fluttering in gentle breeze

Of ribbons in long lush locks

Of sloping hips and bright red lips

Hushed by a finger

One clammy with sweat.

 

By god, do I remember

The frigid stab of fear

Wielded by a frightened voice

Of heartbeat pounding in the chest

Of bones trembling with every skip

Of cells dying with every breath

Wielded on a sunny day

While playing in the yard.

 

By god, do I remember

The moments so small

How they were fairy lights

Of changing colours in the dark

Of blinking in and out through midnight

Of feelings twisting, turning in seconds

Left forgotten after Christmas

But hell, they broke me.

plea

please don’t sing so sweetly, for fear that I might hear you

and be drawn to your honeyed tones

and your sugar-coated lips

please don’t croon so gently, for fear that I might harm you

chill your olive skin as I

edge closer to listen

please don’t beckon to me, for fear that I might break you

fracture every bone

with my white and desperate grip

oh, for fear I may destroy you, do not sing for me.

Colourless II: A Wanderer

An exploration of cultural identity.

Read Part One.


Awaken

from slumber

from a sandstorm of terracotta

and the smell of spices.

 

The great wide world blinds her,

barrages her with

flurries of azure, each speck of rain stinging

gushes of emerald – the scratches leaves are leaving!

Her blood like water dries in the blaze

and with it she shrivels.

Awaken

at midnight

to pace the ink-black pier

where the moonlight once did.

 

The great wide world drowns her,

floods her throat with

slate grey, pearl white, with looming monoliths

asphyxiates her, choking with their pitch-stained shadows

and saffron lingers in the dark–

disguising the decay.

Awaken

Too often

In the eye of a restless storm

To over-shoulder glances

 

The great wide world derides her

and chides her with

stares so cold and silent, hands withdrawn from contact

ghostly touches so faint, the figures fade to black

Far from roads and pain and fights, it insists:

she is lost.