Monochrome Me

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"Annie and I used to play in their backyard. Annie. Probably the sweetest, most innocent name anyone could ever come up with for an equally sweet and innocent girl. Annie, with hazel in her eyes and the crooked teeth. Annie, whose mother was never there. Annie, whose father was always there. I think I was maybe four or six when Annie’s dad started talking to me more often. He had this loud, raspy voice. But when he talked to me, his voice turns into ocean waves dipped in honey. He started fixing my hair more often, started giving me new dresses whenever I visited. Dresses that were sometimes too big and sometimes too small. And he’d apologise too many times, tells me to take them off immediately so he can let the dressmaker redo them to fit me perfectly. They never did fit me perfectly.
One day, my mom wouldn’t let me go to Annie’s across the street anymore. It was the same day she’s been using heroin for two years. And much like in every movie, I came down the stairs past nine in the evening just in time to hear her by the refrigerator light talking about me with this strange man, whose voice I failed to recognise at first. That was the first time I heard my dad drunk. No one’s going to sexually abuse her under our roof, he says.
Two years later, my own granddad did, in my own bedroom, just past three in the morning. I knew because I had just received my new digital clock yesterday with the green lights that blinked with every second that passed. It also tells the date and how hot it is. And it told me that it was six degrees colder than usual, that it was the early morning after Christmas.
Unlike in every movie, the mother is taken away from the child multiple times, not the other way around. Unlike in every movie, the protagonist is also the antagonist. Instead of repressing all these memories, these memories repress me to the point where even I don’t know myself.

- MJL, One Story Out of Millions, on Sexual Abuse 

When A Psychopath Loves You


i once loved a psychopath

who loved me back.

everyone’s saying that he’s the kind

of person who’s not capable of love

but i guess they’ve never been loved

by a murderer who kills

their demons for them.

they were right

he lied to me too

every single day

and i didn’t mind.

because he told me the world was beautiful

that the reason why our blood is red

is the same reason why some stars are red -

their time is almost up

our time is almost up

it has always been almost up for us

and he told me it’s okay.

that this only means it won’t be long

before we become fireworks

and we’d be part of something bigger.

he told me i was beautiful.

i once loved a psychopath

who kept me alive

longer than the meds ever could

until he wrapped his hands

around my throat and squeezed

so hard, i began to see stars

and i say to myself,

this is it.

my time is up.

i am a firework.

i am becoming a part of something bigger.

that’s when the white coats came

and took him away.


A Little Something About Me


i’ve never been comfortable talking about myself. on the occasion that i do, my friends tell me it sounds like i were speaking of a distant relative instead, who’s died of substance overdose just yesterday.

i am shy. my professor once told me that if we stripped shyness off its sheepskin, we’d be left with a wolf with pride for claws. but she was wrong. because pride’s supposed to be a five-year old’s balloon tied tightly around your neck to keep your head held high, it’s not supposed to be a brick on your head and carried on your back, on your shoulders and definitely not on your heart. i think fear wears shyness like a bulletproof vest in a crowded hall. and you get shot in the chest anyway.

i use way too much contraction. most of the time i feel like i occupy too much space in the world that i feel the need to make myself smaller, make myself less of a hindrance. so that no one would notice me or look at me, force me to speak.

there was a time when i couldn’t even look at my reflection, whether it be in the bathroom or if i pass by quaint little shops uptown with the one-way mirror for walls, even in the puddles after the rain falls. because i believed there was something too hideous lurking there and i thought ignoring it would make it go away. i was wrong. and don’t you think there’s nothing better than admitting you were?

i worry a lot. i’ve read too many books growing up. i overthink. if i were meeting a friend at four in the afternoon and they’d not arrived yet, i’d imagine they’d been hit by a car. i could hear their bones crunching, feel the heat of their blood seeping into the concrete and one day a wildflower just might grow there, right in the middle of the street. or maybe they’d never meant to show up. maybe they’re being kidnapped right at that moment, and when no one hears their scream in the alleys, were they never really raped?

i am selfish. when a friend was ill and had to leave school to be treated, i worried more about being alone in a room full of strangers while we studied trigonometric functions as i tried to sink deeper into my seat so the teacher would have less of a chance of calling me, than her being alone in an air-conditioned room full of tubes while white coats studied her as she tried to keep her body from trembling. goosebumps tattoo her limbs. i need to feel safe. i have an irrational need to feel secure, otherwise i’d lose myself.

for some reason, my brain works best at night. it’s the time i feel most productive and willing to try anything at all. it’s when i write. it’s when i most feel like walking outside and i’d not mind the people looking at me because it’d be dark anyway. we’re all faceless. but i don’t, because i’m a girl. and they tell me it’s scary out there. i wait for the sun to rise.

the first time i wrote poetry for myself was in the form of a suicide note. and thank god for writing, because here i am still.



He called it quits fourteen hours and twenty eight minutes ago. You didn’t think it would take you so long, but not this quickly. You spend a fifteen-hour work wage on one bottle of whiskey. They say this would be enough to whisk your brain into a thick, grey slop for the next fourteen hours and twenty eight minutes you try to get over him. You felt good being with him, what made you think feeling bad now that he’s gone is what you deserve?


Half a Day Late

You called again tonight, I didn’t answer. You left a message saying there’d be a meteor shower tonight, you said I should look out the window.

You didn’t know I’d be working overtime again. The only things I’d see out my window are tubes and patient number eleven.

Twelve twenty nine am, the phone rings twice, I answer your call, you say look out the window, my eyes refuse to open.

Twelve twenty eight pm, my third bite of BLT, I call you, you say you’ve counted four so far, my colleague mimes cutting her throat.


we laughed at his chipped front teeth,
at his chapped lower lip, we laughed
at his crooked smile until he forgot how
to. what we didn’t know was how his dad

beat him up at night. he was eleven,
with a drunkard for a father and a
missing person for a mother. their
house wasn’t the creaking kind of

house. but at past midnight, the
floorboards screech at his weight
like little woodland creatures
caught in a bear trap and we’ll

never know what, because it’s
nothing but blood and bones
when we get there. it’s always too
late. and it’s not so funny after all.


core, seeds, stalk

You wanted to make room for him, you finally confess. Because he was the first boy to tell you you were beautiful. His smile was a light that lit you to the very core. That’s when you halved your apples and poured your coffee down the drain so you could use the saucer for dinner.

Because you were so afraid he’d leave if you haven’t got enough space for him. You wanted to keep him comfortable. Every time you looked into the mirror, your hipbones jut out a little more, much like Lady Liberty’s crown. And you never intended to hurt him, or anyone. 

So you pushed back farther into your mouse hole, where no one was small enough to reach you, consuming less and less to make more room for him. You realise this only sharpened your bones. You look into the mirror and the hollows of your cheeks are filled to the brim with a week’s supply of your mother’s tears. 

Big or small, light could fill any room. Remember that. So you swallow your apples whole. Core, seeds, stalk, and all.


First Love

I guess what hurt the
most was when she
came and you left
while I was still here.

I guess I jumped
straight in, not
knowing this part
of the ocean was
emptier than deep.

I guess it’s my fault


If Opposites Attract, Then This Would Be It

At first glance, they think of a Catholic school girl,

those with knee-high socks who live with their parents

in the friendly end of the neighbourhood with the

plant a tree posters nailed onto every fucking tree.

At first glance, they think of him as a cigarette-

smoking vagabond, whose parents were probably

drunkards; one’s a hippie, the other’s a vegan and 

they cared a little too much about food and world

peace to be able to raise a child who’d get good grades.

At second glance, they see a couple who liked moonlit

walks and poetry.


For the first time in my life, everything seems right.

The night air doesn’t sting so much, moonlight

filters through clouds, making all this like a 60s

drama film with the pearl necklaces and tobacco.

The water looks inviting for once, not like the

lake when I was twelve during a family holiday,

which ended with a funeral. 

The candles tonight don’t weep that much

and they don’t flicker like horror movie lightbulbs.

Everything’s right, even the stars are aligned.

Everything’s right, except you. I jump into the waters

wishing upon the stars that I’d drown this time around.