The £1000 Bend

 

The following poem was originally published in September earlier this year in Verge 2017: Chimera and is available at Readings and online.

 

The £1000 Bend

is scraping thin

between two things

that will not ever meet.

it’s holding onto handrails just out of reach;

the brightly painted bars

running overhead but not ahead

to hold you steady

as the faint electric whistle

cultivates a home

against the rhythm of your dreams.

 

Sometimes it lives in scared strewn things

screaming Shakespeare in reverse

too afraid to sit amongst the people

gambling on their £1000 bends.

It breaks the bones

of suburban homes

struggling to find a foothold in a crowd

as the tunnel closes in

at six o’clock

and the rails are beaten to a bend.

 

It’s warping iron tracks

and making glitter from graffiti,

pretending to be Michelangelo

praying in ¾ time

along a soundscape uninvented

and unparalleled.

You break facades

and paint them fresh,

tattoo the underground with compositions

and listen to the echoes

that beat like broken metronomes

skipping inside bars untimed

to the direction leading home.

 

You breathe the £1000 bend

like it’s the thing with feathers

and dare to waltz into skies of grey

as the weather stains in untimed droplets

to cries of engines and of people

who all start to look and feel the same.

 

Route maps and itineraries line your pockets

wearing along well folded lines,

as they leave unappreciated

little scabs of secondhand existence

in a notebook of apologies.

 

But before the steamrolled tracks

grind to a stop

you cannot drop

your fearless gaze.

Having lived, and breathed, and gambled,

and lost

you continue to bend

a thousand pounds to search your soul.

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To My Sister and My Brother (in-law), On Your Happiest Day (yet)

Preface:

The privilege of witnessing a love like this has been my heartfelt honour. I post this speech, the one I gave on their day, with their full consent.

I hope that when you find your own love, you will know.

I trust you will.


I am feeling so many emotions right now, but within this immense happiness, I am also feeling very lucky to be the youngest of so many loving sisters.

In particular, I have been blessed to have shared a wealth of experiences with Thuy. Together we’ve climbed the most reverent mountains and jumped into limitless skies. Imagine stretching as far as you possibly can and realising that the sky was not the limit. And never was. Skydiving with Thuy was like holding the impossible. Such moments in life, are truly, exceptional.

Those of us who are privileged with loving Thuy and being loved by Thuy, know that there exists a kind of love that is more than an absence of something like fear or doubt, and more than simply the addition of something, like warmth or safety. Instead it is the kind of love that forces you to redefine your limits of expression. It is expansive. Much like the universe.

So if you imagine the planets and stars as happiness, joy, support, and so on, and the vacuum between as space cleared to highlight those things that make life beautiful, you get fairly close.

But exceptional love, isn’t adding up the planets and the stars and subtracting the dust. It is the very fabric on which the universe exists. It is the landscape to the architecture we build. By default, everything we are becomes a narrative told within this fabric, this space. And exceptional love is the kind of space that is always expanding, equipping you and inspiring you to design your stars, together.

Since I was little, Thuy has always inspired my understanding of the world to expand into new dimensions. From the strength of your reach, the depth of your person, the heights you can climb and the volume of your voice, my navigation through life has been underscored by a sisterly love so encompassing and so generous, it is always larger than yesterday.

Thuy is my biggest cheerleader. There for me in the worst of times, and the inspiration behind the best of times.

So when Thuy met David, I felt like I kind of met David too. In the way that sisters talk about what happens on dates.

And then, I actually met David. I remember thinking how quiet he was. But in retrospect it was probably because I was nervous and talking an absurd amount. But David will do that. Listen to you with the most generous ear, even when you’re not saying much at all. And the more I get to know David, the more I know he is the kind of person who does not simply possess qualities. He isn’t a vessel in which kindness is carried and from which it is expressed, rather kindness forms and is cultivated from somewhere within. And that is much rarer.

Thuy says David gives the best compliments. You might be tempted to say it’s easy when it’s Thuy he’s complimenting after all. I think the best compliments are genuine and precise. And I think David is meticulous and thoughtful in such an admirable way that can only manifest itself as the pervasive support integral to love.

I know, however, that Thuy and David’s love for each other can only be defined by their own dimensions. It seems that everything they do stems from an internal, conscientious choice that is then expressed. And they do so, consistently, and generously.

Everyone, these are two, exceptional people, and as is often the case with exceptional people, their love is just so.

Thuy, David, I wish for you always, a beautiful, limitless sky. I know your story will be exceptional.

Skype

It is not the lapse of time

But the intensity of feeling that defines

You and I

Nor is the proximity

At which we exchange

Our accented vowels a measure

For I need not taste your breath

To know your closeness.

Rather

It is the way your image illuminates my screen –

Your pixelated person

Lit

By the familiar light of far away

Inducing high contrast brightness

That insists:

Darkness is the absence of

You.

As published in Monash Creative Writers’ biannual anthology, Incisors & Grinders, the little book of love and recovery 2016 edition

Annalise

I dream of far flung places –

the recesses of my memories –

old cornered crooks of dusty hardback books

cataloguing misspelled spaces and smells of Annalise.

 

In January she smelled of February,

was swatches of the sunshine

and paint chips of witty quips

I’d use to brush my cheeks

though I’d rather stain my lips

and paint forever in my dreams

than stubbornly memorise

subpar sentences for sunshine

and the fading scents of Annalise.

 

In Autumn I would fall

between the cracks

between the leaves

and she would have already been

somewhere she’d rather be

someplace else she would be sight seeing

I hope she doesn’t mind being

the subject of my dreaming

come winter and the raining

damp and itchy Spring.

 

I’d rather keep believing

this Summer belongs to –

but the way the sun is scorching

I’m left with only traces

mismatching other faces

and I cannot keep up spending

furtively pretending

I haven’t fallen through the spaces

between those far flung places

Origami

You are the origami craftsman cleverly concealing

layers

under

folds.

You only reveal your sharpest tips,

Your strongest wits

To protect inside those crumpled paper bits.

It’s a little bit

disconcerting, I should think,

That beautiful’s only whole.

But this whole time

you’ve spent alive

seems much entwined in building paper holds.

And that, I think, is something altogether bold.

The Pattern On My Pants

I look at the pattern on my pants and I’m reminded of the permanence of complexity. And furthermore how useless my vision is that it cannot turn paisley into pinstripe no matter how long or hard I stare. It’s simply an unfortunate circumstance that they were ever pants at all. Why, then, does it matter so much to me that the pattern on my pants be other than they are when all I ever do is to avoid blinking?