let’s talk about demise. you are my nuclear shadow. from the moment you intruded into my space
(                           EXISTENCE                          ) has swelled under your oppressive
breath

               it’s vile, the way you touch or think to touch
               your hands are smeared across my mind

               and on my memory of you

let’s talk about willingness. i am willing to visualize you as a burlesque abortion.
you’re an aftertaste i can’t mask with mint

              you are a hollow
              fizzling
              popping
(more…)

Chalk

And I am still here: the house
holds up under warring clouds and sun.
My bedroom is square and white and the hall stairs
rasp and chirr. The cellar ghost cries in my woodpiles,
the sacks of grain. Maybe what it needs now
is some fat, some salt. Not my meager keening
or blood. But something from the pantry
perhaps. My cans of oily chilies,
my pearly mayonnaise. (more…)

The Fiery Bird

The spaceship, the fuel, The Fiery Bird,
the vessel builder,
rubberized boots for my feet.

The woman in the leaden space gear
draining danger from the cusp of my tongue.

A great diffusion of emptiness
in a sudden outpouring of space.

The outer rim cemetery, bathed in star shadows,
a docking of red corpuscles and broken wine glasses

floating eyes of the traveler
closed to worlds of seeing. (more…)

     In the northern woods, where the hills grow tall and deep with green, a little hut stood by a thicket of colorful trees. The hut was gray and crumbled with age, and inside lived a fat, choleric little man with legs as pointed as spindle needles. He sat all day and spoke to no one; though much longer ago than our story begins, he had held council with kings and was called by many illustrious names. For he knew the true matter of every skilled craft and also the words of Changing, used to coax frogs into men and children into trees, and even (and this was his pride) straw into gold.

     But Time had forgotten him, and he soon found himself alone. Only the grove of trees brought him pleasure. They were of red leaves and gold, purple and ivory, carmine and the deepest cobalt. He sometimes stared at them for hours, letting the evening’s fire go cold until it was time for bed.
(more…)

     I am Sadie’s original shadow. She keeps me stitched to her being, calls me Girl and whispers, I’m scared, when her brother staggers down the hall on the prowl, sour smelling and angry. I won’t leave you, I say, wishing she’d turn on a light to let me loose but knowing she won’t reveal herself. Not until he’s gone. Instead, I lie flat against the soles of her feet while she hides underneath her bed and says her prayers, all those words she doesn’t believe in but says just in case they curry some favour. I’m not afraid of the dark or of death like she is. I will do whatever I can to keep her safe.

     Sadie waits until her brother is asleep and snoring on her ragged comforter. She turns on her bedside lamp and I come to life, spreading my mass against the wall she’s plastered with pictures and stories of great warriors—Joan of Arc, Trieu Thi Trinh, Queen Boudica. I’m so glad you’re here, she says, casting a look my way, and I can tell she’s comforted by my appearance.

     I zip back and forth as she darts around her room, as she stuffs her lucky penny into her pocket, the penny her mother kept in her pocket before the hunter shot her dead by the falls. The penny Sadie keeps close when her brother’s around, the one she makes the same wish on every time.

     Please come back, mama.

     She pauses for a second before pushing her window open and pulling me through. Silent as a snake we slip into the night and I melt into the darkness, attached to Sadie’s heels. (more…)

MY SELKIE LOVE

I knelt down hi the sea grass
to watch you waltz on sand.
I crept closer and closer,
reached out and stole your seal skin.
As dusk rolled in,
I could hear your distant wail.
Without your sleek gray hide,
your waters were now forbidden you. (more…)

     When Nenek disappeared, everyone panicked. She simply left for her usual walk and didn’t come back. Mum was beside herself with worry. My aunts basically started calling everybody, demanding, beseeching, begging for her whereabouts.

     Nenek’s memory had been slipping ever since. It started with small things first: forgetting to put certain ingredients in her cooking, misplacing items, mistaking names. She brushed our concern off, saying it was just old age. She hadn’t joined us on our nightly hunts for months. Her joints ached, her fingers stiff. She hated flying for too long.

     She had been such an inspiration for the younger women, my sisters and cousins. We were a big family, yet we often got together for meals. Our blood was thick, our love was thicker. Nenek would cook our favorite food. Rendang. Curries. Even her special rojak which we must have every Saturday. Mum told us that Nenek taught her and her sisters how to sing and hunt. Sniffing out pregnant ladies in the vicinity. Looking for willing men. Mum was distraught that this era – Nenek’s time – was ending. (more…)