IF A STRAIGHT MAN LIVED IN MY HEAD I SUPPOSE HE WOULD SOUND LIKE THIS

I tried to say something to her
the other day but she didn’t listen.
maybe she couldn’t –
it’s turning into a zoo in here
with all the corpses of these exes
she won’t get rid of.
sometimes they twitch awake
to say something and then
they go back to sleep.
I keep telling her
to call the fucking priest
for an exorcism already
there isn’t enough room for all of us.
what I wanted to tell her was
that she needed to watch her weight.
all this sitting around
at that new job – of course
she’s been putting on a few pounds
and while her boobs are getting better
the rest of her body isn’t.
get a gym membership, I shouted
while she got dressed the other night
but instead of doing some sit-ups
she went to her computer and
wrote more poetry instead. see
there’s an angry bitch who lives here too,
she keeps shoving her boots in my face –
that harpy she listens to, especially
when she shouts over me – keeps
telling her to write this poetry and
express herself. I swear to god,
all this time spent writing poetry
if she did it in the gym
she’d have daisy ridley’s body.
and where does this self-expression
bullshit even get you – she’s still single
as fuck isn’t she?I keep saying
stop painting her face
with that gunk. would it kill you
to stop being such a fucking ice pick
and smile more.
personality is all good but
remember that professor who thought
you were arrogant
because your sentences
sounded like sentences
and not questions.
honey when are you gonna learn
that no one likes a smart mouth
especially when it comes
with a cunt.

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IF A STRAIGHT MAN LIVED IN MY HEAD I SUPPOSE HE WOULD SOUND LIKE THIS

IT IS 2219 AND MY MOTHER HAS NOT STOPPED NAGGING

The old woman in a matching floral pink set shuffles behind me clutching the rusted trolley to her chest. My mother always tells me not to look at her. Ignore her and her soft wheezes will fade away.

My mother is full of this kind of advice. Don’t play in the woods or they will shift and take you with them. Stay far away from the green hills and mushroom rings. If you have to pee and there is no toilet nearby, say sorry first. Don’t look up in the trees at night. Be home before sundown. String garlic on the windows. Salt the corners. We spend each night rubbing holy oil stakes; it works better than water. She teaches me to write code and hack the lesser robots that shamble in the concrete slabs outside, the same way she teaches me to solve riddles and play instruments. These are the skills I need to survive, she says. She never lets me forget about the time my father went out, and never came home. We never knew what took him, so she prepares me for everything.

My mother has banned me from dating. Warns me of the zombies that a boy might be hiding in the family basement. You can’t make him choose between you and his mother, she says. At the same time, she frets, tells me that she is not getting any younger. Who will take care of me when she is gone?

Some nights, the sky lights with sparks as the faeries and robots do battle. We black out the windows when this happens, turn off the machines, and wait for the victor to emerge with the dawn.

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IT IS 2219 AND MY MOTHER HAS NOT STOPPED NAGGING

a fistful of flowers

that afternoon i saw the boy
by the lake clutching sprigs
of lavender in his fist.
look i said, raising
my camera to point.
i don’t remember
what you replied.
more importantly
i don’t remember how
you said it, if it came
with an eye roll or a grin
that sliced through the dull
smog of the day.
 
once i would have cried
for forgetting. the shine
of another memory, gone.
but i remember the boy.
the way he bit his lip.
i wonder how long
he stood there,
flowers curling in the heat.
most days i will not
let myself be so still.
but some nights
lying in darkness
as blinding as midday,
i catch a whiff of lavender.

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a fistful of flowers

Nasi Kang Kang

Well maybe the magic
was really this: standing
over the tub of rice, the steam
licking its way up your thighs,
moisture building and dripping
from between your legs.
They did say that this was how
you know you are loved:
look at his eyes and the way
he throbs. Imagine hands
forming from the wet exhalations
of your body to reach through
his chest and finger his heart,
raking their way down,
stroking every scratched nerve
so he swells with hunger. Listen
as he growls while reaching
to cram fistfuls of rice into his mouth.
The way he shudders after
he swallows, falls limp. His stomach
always gently distended after.

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Nasi Kang Kang

WHO WAS PHONE

i have been thinking about that night
that night with the air con broken down
and we slept with the fans at full blast and
our doors open, lungs growing algae and
to sleep with the fan on my face i have to face
my feet to the door and i have to place my face
to the door always waking up in the middle
of the night with my sheets a puddle under
me and blinking my eyes open to wonder
who the shadow standing at the door was
and if it had noticed me staring and if it
had moved any closer when i blinked

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WHO WAS PHONE

sex in small spaces

i don’t know how we did it
except it was without shame

in a shoebox room and a bed
that would not stop squeaking

through thin walls and long corridors and
neighbours would helpfully turn on music

and falling asleep draping flushed limbs
and waking up to fingers still clutching tight

and today a single bed is too small
for myself i miss the loss of your heat

like a phantom limb curling around
my neck and the small of my back

with the walls closing in around me as i sleep
and i pretend that it is you and your arms

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sex in small spaces

Asiya

He wanted to keep my face pretty
certain that once my skin split
open I would turn my face away.
So first: a hundred strokes and then

five swift cuts with a blade.
Then he decided he was tired
of hearing the constant prayers
so out went my tongue. In my head

I am holding fast. In my head
the river still ribbons around my hands,
loops back to fasten around my throat.
In the reed basket, a baby cries

and pulls me from the pillars
and lifts me up into the sky.

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Asiya