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.

Declare Your Goods

Declare your goods:

 

Exotic dirt-danced shoes

Brushing britches

In a two-part tango

Across a coast

Designed by dancers

Powdered streets with foreign footprints

 

Photographs of family

Of friends

Festivities

Embossed in minds

The blueprints of a future

A finite forever

 

A blazer

Saturated in salty scents

Of minerals

To set ablaze

A Golden Gate

Of International Orange

 

Wrist wrappings

Stitched with pride

Declare themselves

In unabashed glory –

Seven shades of soulful souvenir

To parade

 

A distinct new State

Of movement

Of memory

Of mind

Moments to mark in time

 

You must declare your goods.

A General Direction

I was left breathless

Hoping and wanting and finally loving

The way you seemed to be looking

In my general direction

It was a crowded night

Filling with people, intentions and drinks

I saw the way you parted that sea

To walk in my general direction

You smiled and nodded

A flicker of acknowledgement too casual

A way to express any thoughts

You had for passing my general direction

And I stopped myself

Hoping and wanting and finally craving

For a way to erase my hopes that you

Would be more than in my general direction

Transience

A person has not the luxury of dispersion

To mushroom and fade in the subtlest way

It is not possible to become so innocuously beautiful

A whisper of smoke or a lingering scent

Could never have been such a clumsy form

Coats of perfume and and fluttering voices

Are mere approximations

They are cheap substitutes for existing between states

It is a privilege to be so subtle and treasured

And a blessing to be so inconsequential

An Expert Deposition

The most recent expert in existence I interviewed nodded as their shoulders shrugged,

A non-linguistic interlocutory cue signalling the exact disposition we share,

I shrug my coat on

And nod to acquaintances

I shrug my coat off

And nod in acknowledgement;

I concur with the expert — it is impossible to know.

The Girl and the Graveyard

I aim for home between the rubble and the dust,

Somewhere hidden underneath those messy layers

My clothes and shoes and regrets, laid bare and dirty

Mistakes I burrow myself within

I must be hoping to build myself a home

Since no one commits themselves to mass excavation unless they are looking for permanence

There is a vast cavern in me

It is the plot hole in the cemetery in which I am burying myself

The Rotary Clothesline

All the things that could be said hung like wet laundry on the rotary clothesline

It’s groaning under the weight of stain removal, odour extraction,

Limp and heavy and soaking

They’ve been cold washed trying to warm in late summer when sunshine just isn’t that generous

They were wrung out and wet again

Tumbled and blasted

They’ve been through the motions

They are being prepared to be worn by a climate unready for things

That could be said

And are left waiting on the rotary clothesline instead

Hikari

My dearly beloved, bullet train

I was arrested in car number twelve

From Osaka to Tokyo

You had me at train now departing

I’ve committed to memory

Your clean blue and white lines

They remind me of calmness

And I sat transfixed

As Japan rushed me by

As if handmade, hand sculpted, hand nurtured

By an artist with the most loving caresses

Your countryside embellished

With farms of both rice paddies

And the photovoltaic variety

Greenhouses stitching them together

Your cities vibrant and technicolour

Advertisements of character

Tied in ribbons of rivers lined with sakura

And your mountains stood misty

Hooded and strong in a mask of green

Trees to protect what I know must be true

The earth is beloved, and held room in its heart for bullet trains and dreaminess

My own pulsed and resounded

To the rhythm of your topography

Keeping time with your wind speeds

There was no justice in photography

So I drank instead with my eyes

That I used as I wept to the sunset