a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
for Hugh's birthday
it took a while for you
to spit out your first words:
daddy. mummy. and when
they did arrive, they were
few and far between,
the blooming of tanhuas,
shoots that desperately
it has all come to this:
guests leaving in droves
in their sparkly limousines,
jostling lines at the front counter,
hollow, loaded echoes
of wheels on marbled granite.
The Straits Times, 4 Sep 2022: “Who of these two prospective suitors would most appeal to women here - a handsome man with little to no savings, or an average-looking chap who is savvy in managing money?”
paint the streets green—forget
about red. red on flags, red
of the setting sun, red of
our blood, red of saga seeds and
passion; you shall discard them
[Content warning: traumatic event/death]
In memory of the Itaewon victims
they each had their own:
irises, shoe size, colourful clothes.
in spheres more invisible,
each to the neon clouds
of their dreams, flying westward
faster than the setting sun--
they did not run fast enough.
Coming home to you,
I lapse comfortably into
our native tongue,
eddying in its lilts and lulls,
carousing in the famed crescendoes.
It does not make sense
how we reluctantly found our
way here, mecca of hearts,
heir apparent to True North,
past the little brick hut, past
the pebbles in the rain, past
the scattered hoa mai, lying
downtrodden as youthful year
This maze was not made for someone
I am running silently,
blisters on my toes,
as I remain frozen in a wooden chair.
Leather seat cracking from the moisture
of my nervous sweat.
The library was an ordinary one—complete with the scent of musty books and the even mustier scent of the wizened librarian muttering to himself behind the counter.
In front of the librarian, however, a twenty-something assistant was shelving books. This assistant had attracted somewhat of a crowd of other twenty-somethings, only this crowd was primarily male. It likely had to do with the assistant’s curled tawny hair and doe eyes, her fair skin and slim frame.
July 7, 2015
Thank you for your interest in joining San Francisco’s historic Chinatown. We hope you enjoyed your summer vacation and visit again soon.
Unfortunately, we can’t offer you a position at this time. Although you possess many great qualities, you’re not what we look for in an applicant. You would not mesh well with our work environment, but we hope you find success elsewhere.
Is it wrong to spend my nights thinking of her,
My love for her sun-kissed sepia skin makes me kinder to my own
The drape of the silk saree from her hips keeps me attentive during pooja and prayer
The glassy chimes of her bangles as she tucks hair behind my jhumka adorned ear,
Perfumed with jasmine and sandalwood incense, aromas of home
[Content warning: eating disorders]
At night my hands multiply. I shift through the kitchen, pantry to fridge to hidden nook and cranny with them bared into claws, and they grow eyes and minds and greedy hearts that desire indiscriminately. Anything goes. There’s no need for nitpicking because this freedom is my right through a day played by a numbers game: simple addition is grape by grape, nice linear plot that settles my nerves, never noodles or rice (God forbid a tablespoon of oil) because that is exponential and we’ll have to start over, fresh clean slate at zero, 0, tomorrow. Zero is nice because I can add it an infinite number of times, 0 to 00000000000000, and it will be the same. This equation I’ve got down to a tee, good old 0 + the free-for-all that is night, and my stomach. Rules begone (only until dawn) and I follow my multiplying hands, their greedy eyes and minds and hearts so ravenous, so eager to gorge it’ll all have been a dream by the time I wake, memories swallowed whole beneath the uncounted, unmeasured, unbound high of leftover dim sum takeout and unthawed ice cream.
Morning and these two hands steeple in prayer to the neat square of nutrition labels. I wait for nightfall.
The mother is sullen. Sleepless nights drew maps around her eyes. Enervative months
bulged sacs around her waist. Her fingers tremble from the night before. She feels
exactly where her muscles flexed, where her joints folded, and where her nails clawed
deep. She’s losing focus, so her husband releases it for her.
Through the dawn break,
Do you see my silhouette dancing?
My frail vein burns
irresistible, pains grow obvious.
I once looked up to you, your gentle
taps on my curled up stem
put me to sleep. You stood by, holding on
my callow leaves.
Silent screams with a mouth shut tight,
Flashing sirens wail with no light,
Empty weeping, cheeks run dry,
A raised hand in the absence of sky;
I stretch out my fingers to the mobile of stars,
Alas, my arms cannot travel that far.
Our lives are written on paper.
We alter our words
According to the preferences of our readership.
When there’s a mistake,
We try to erase it,
Alba and I were virgins together
I never understood her Spanish because she spoke it too well
But I loved the way she did,
With rose petals the fabric of her irises and wind rushing through her veins in place of blood
And one night we practiced dirty dancing to 90s hip hop hits and we were fading fast, blurring out of existence, like two blazing comets orbiting each other in the blink of a supreme being, divine paparazzi,
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.