Irrelevant.

I chase shadows in the daytime,

running from a flood of almost-solid

rays (glazed in anger) that

eclipse the broken cobblestone

leading me back home.

Each dark wisp eludes me,

vanquished by the noon, yet teasing

a hearth and gentle lullaby as the

night descends to take its beloved

throne atop my eyelids.

just another Where I’m From

I am from white male writers:

from Gaiman, Orwell, King.

I am from clockwork oranges and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I’m from “Don’t be like that”,

from pro patria mori.

I am from a way with words

that I questioned,

The Old Lie.

 

I am from waiting for the jingling of keys,

from Tupperwares of empty coffee packets,

then from tired games of chess and Monkey on the mattress.

I am from timetables for times tables,

from structured workaholism.

I am from pdfs and Excel spreadsheets

highlighted for my

attention.

 

I am from no New Year visitors,

from late hours shared by three

I am from bruise-ringed eyes and the desktop glare at night.

I am from pretending to be lost,

from empty seats on awards day.

I am from “Just be happy” and “No expectations”,

as if two voices

could usurp the world.

 

I am from outside the gate of every church and temple,

from choking on sandalwood,

I am from slammed doors on missionaries and crumpled invitations.

I am from a trash-strewn beach,

from failed searching for a god.

I am from noisy funerals and headlines

that I red-inked

with teardrops.

The Puddle

A pond-sized puddle sprawled over the court,

lambent despite the blazing sun

and deep, too, as if the heat

were as illusory

as the blue reflected on its surface.

A torrent of rain must’ve brawled and fought

to win the water its place.

Oh, how droplets would’ve fell

like cannonballs

just to secure their stagnant, dying race.

A teaspoon-sized sea would’ve hellfire wrought,

if scorned by its nature, forced to leave,

but the leaf-battered puddle

tired of land

shrivelled in silence and left us its space.

Not Too Athletic

There’s just one thing PE lessons are good for:

It’s that they give me the space

to watch, observe, to see

(or to wonder)

How you are a dream-peeling machine.

How you have the means for fancies,

to run, jump, to scratch the sky

and still land soundly.

Meanwhile they laugh at me for tearing tendons,

for being flesh and bone,

for feeling, for thinking, for

breaking on land.

An Internal Monologue for the Crowded Classroom

They say the cold numbs you, but the refrigerator-like chill in my classroom is no analgesic. Clinical white light glares down, stinging my eyes as I pore over a mass of highlighted notes. The wall clock mocks me with every smug tick of its hands.

I think I’m drowning on dry land, overwhelmed by the ocean of students around me. The plywood classroom walls can barely keep them from bursting out into the corridors. In the air there hangs the musty, salty tang of sweat both new and old. Even with my ears covered, the excited chatter and laughter send an earthquake through my eardrums, disrupting all communication between my skim-reading eyes and my brain. My fingernails dig into my arms in frustration.

As I survey the crowd, unable to focus, a gut-twisting realization of my powerlessness before them strikes me. My classmates swallow me with their shadows, exuding dominance even as they recline on the tables, like panthers. Their backs and hips slide along the front and sides of my desk as they navigate the room, uncaring of my personal space. Despite my urge to strangle them, when a paper plane goes whizzing through the air and hits me in the head, I simply recoil, insect-like.

In one corner, the class couple perches on the teacher’s table, fingers interlaced. They smile stupidly at each other, their cheeks a makeup advertisement. In another corner, three boys congregate around a table playing a game of Uno. Watching them sucks the warmth from my heart. I sweep my jealous gaze over them the way an old person might aim a laser pointer at a screen, expecting something to happen.

At last, the bell rings for recess. The crowd flows out of the room, noise following them like a raincloud, leaving me alone on the bare tile floor. I inhale, expecting to breathe at last. No luck. My lungs weigh down, sinking, and become shipwrecks at the bottom of the sea.

What They Say

Telling a story is just

one leap of faith after another

off the edge of a cliff

into a pitch-black pit

brimming with dark matter.

They say you must trust

the ground beneath your feet,

that the abstract nothingness

is reinforced

by a bridge of glass.

Telling a story is just,

you keep true to your roots

even if you’re aeroponic

and they dangle,

grasping at thin air.