Murder In The Stars

TW: Self-harm, anxiety, depression, suicide 

Note: In the Zodiac, Capricorn is half goat, and half fish. This is important. 

Note 2: Last year I dated someone with anxiety and depression, and broke up with him for reasons that were not about his mental illness. Afterwards, someone who I am not friends with anymore told me that if he killed himself, #nataliesfault would be carved into his grave stone. This poem is sort of response to this incident but also more than that. 

This time we screamed too loud and the angels have come, white uniformed, halos aglow. What’s the problem, they ask, and I don’t know what to say. The problem? Where do I even start. There’s glass on the floor and a hand clutched around a knife. Capricorn is in the kitchen and his fish half is still flopping on the floor. His fish half is a half. Do you understand me? His scales are wet and slippery and it isn’t from the fish tank. There’s another goat here, this one has a knife in its heart and a chainsaw to its legs. There’s a sewing kit out, thick surgeon’s cord threaded through.

Last year, Capricorn said I think I need to see a shrink. I said Okay, yes, what for. Capricorn said I think I’m crazy. And I couldn’t say no, you’re not babe, what you are is lazy. You tell me you have work to do and you sit in front of your computer but when I look over you’re playing DOTA instead. Capricorn said I’ve got anxiety. I said why, your life is great, you got the money and the brains. Capricorn said Have you seen me? I’m a fucking sea goat. At least the Merlion can roar at the haters, I can only baaaaaah.

I said, well, then, if you’re so useless what the fuck am I doing with you. Capricorn said I don’t know. I wanted to throw something at him because I don’t know how many more times I can have this conversation but I can’t, because what Capricon is really saying is do you know how hard it is to be a role model for all the sea goats? No, I don’t. I’m from the majority, remember? Two legs. Ariel gave up her tail to be like me. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I’ll never be a role model when I’m always expected to get there. We don’t tell each other this, but we think very little of each other’s problems.

Capricorn said It’s cold amongst the stars. I used to say – well I’m here to keep you warm, but these days I just nod and buy him a new jacket. I have learnt that no one can give another person their place, but Capricorn has not. Had not.

He called me over, like he called me last night, and the previous night, and the night before. I told him he needed to stop, that we were over, but he said that I was the only one who picked up, at least sometimes. I pick up because Sagittarius shot himself with an arrow a year ago, but I don’t pick up other times because there are days when I don’t want to be the one to pick up. I run out of voice and feelings to give too. If it’s my fault he’s dead, where was everyone else with their haloes and wings those nights when the phone kept ringing?

But the stars will stay. The angels will fly home. Tomorrow night we still need a Capricorn to hang in the sky, so we’ll be looking for his replacement light before the night is out. Like Sagittarius, his death is a tragedy, an accident, a suicide, a murder. And our prints are the ones on the knife.

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Murder In The Stars

WIP

Last month a dragon washed up along the shore, its scales greyed and dull, the skin on its belly turned see-through so we could see its last meal of two-headed fish teeming in its stomach.

*

After the ash settled, the spiders crawled out, and then the spider women, who took up residence near human settlements and would cast spells and provide help, if we sacrificed meat to them. When our neighbour went to her begging for help in conceiving a child, she gave birth to a baby after nine months, one that had twelve eyes and eight spindly limbs. No matter how much love she showered the child, it crawled back to its true mother once it could and she was left alone crying again.

*

The trees that were not killed by the nuclear winter were scorched by the fires the survivors lit to burn the walking dead from the earth. There are spirits that linger in the ashy fields. You might meet them on the way home, in the right shade of dusk. Always they are crying, as they shamble aimlessly with bandaged limbs, so you might think they were just another zombie, but their hair and clothing are untouched by the wind.

*

The sea breeze is always brimming with salt and rotting fish. Once, the elders told us, the ocean was blue, but we have only ever seen them red, orange, and black. That was when men could fly, when we controlled lightning and energy itself. The nuclear waste did something that shorted all that out. Things changed; the dead shambled from the dirt when we did not bury them properly. When we ran out of food, we took to eating them instead.

*

This morning my father ran over a fox. It spat curses at him as it died, which he patiently heard out, before placing its still-warm corpse in a sack for the night’s dinner. Once we would have lit a dozen candles and offered up scant portions of meat and wine. Today we know better than to waste food on offerings for powerless spirits. They can scratch and howl at our doors and dog our steps. But they cannot make this life any more hell.

WIP

Fall(ing)

Come October,
the maples will set
your world aflame,
crackle with the wind
and every passing foot.
When the dead leaves slither
along pavements
it is the same sound
as a ghost shuffling its way
into life, pretending
that it has something
left to give.

The poets will toast
to every falling leaf.
They might compose a poem
on change. Or loss.
Or death. I do not know
the difference while I live
in an island where the trees stay
the same throughout the year.

Fall(ing)

That Everything You Chose Was A Mistake

Fear is ending up as you:
potato chips crusting your fingers
as you regale us with tales of the time
you spent flying with gryphons,
of your twenty-three inch waist,
twenty-three also at your own wedding
where you carried lilies, auguring your own
future. For years your body grew bulbous,
fruiting. After a while, it just grew.
When I find myself spinning my yarns,
I shudder, snip the threads. It is so easy to slip
into you. Fear is that there is such a thing
as fate, as red threads, as karmic parallels.
Needles and knives sliding under skin,
choking down the hundred and thirteenth pill,
I gasp awake at the little nightmares,
watch other women with their husbands
slung over their arms like handbags.
At least they knew how to stop at two.

Prompt: Write a poem expressing something you’ve always wanted to say to someone, but couldn’t to their face.

That Everything You Chose Was A Mistake

Strange Tales From A Singaporean’s Bedroom

1.
The monk told him to give his wife realgar wine to force the snake demoness to reveal her true form. When her last breath sputters in her lungs, she turns white but does not grow scales. He never finds the monk again.
2.
Four years after their exile from each other, the Cowherd tells the Weaving Maid that they must let go. If a day in heaven is a year on earth he will be dead in two months. Their children have long outgrown the baskets he carried them with when he chased her across the sky. He has new aches and scars she does not know. When he turns to go, the bridge of magpies dip under his weight for the first time. For years after, the clouds she weaves hang low in the sky, the colour of a bruise.

Continue reading “Strange Tales From A Singaporean’s Bedroom”

Strange Tales From A Singaporean’s Bedroom