As You Roamed The Earth, You Felt The Drying Skin of Age Itself

it is the waking that is the hardest.
the first step in sleep deprivation:
you learn you miss dreaming
of holes, the spaces between lines,

the gap between the train and platform.
you dream of ways in which to die,
how the train brushes against your feet,
the space just big enough for your thigh.

there are other gaps you remember:
misspelled gpas, an empty desk
in class. visions of your friends,
long gone and passed, moss-grown,
flowers atop: a forlorn crown.
their faces eating the light.

in chasing the gap you lose yourself
in the coming and going, in finding
the joy of godless verse, the sound
when you spread her legs, or some
other sex line that marks you adult,
because penetration is the space
between childhood and modernity,
the answer to your wet dreams.

you tell that to your mother, spit
in her mouth, regurgitate the soap.
still dripping from last night, your
eyes clouded with the ocean.
before you leave, look in her eyes.
they are the ending credits of a film.
they are the same sea, the same salt.
you, the end of pages in a book.
you, the closed off dog-ear.

because you never hear of
hungry children, you
eat yourself whole, give in
to desire, the single moment
when your teeth eat into your lips
when your mouth burrows into your tongue.

this dream that eats away at your tail.

all this, to uncover
the space which your voice hides in:
the gap behind the kitchen cabinet.
that unknown place it goes
when you can’t find it, unwilling
to be coaxed out, like the last drop of wine
like a petulant child, forever, forever.

Holes

Holes

1.
When the holes started popping up so did the epiphanies. Men and women rushing to the mountain, eager to find where they fit. When it showed up on the telly I wanted to switch it off – but there I was, rewinding and rewinding the footage, trying to see if anyone I knew had gone there. I had hoped that they would try going in, like a key in the lock. If I could, I’d push them in myself.

2.
Having spent my life on the path, I learnt one day that I was but a stepping stone, when all this while I thought I was moving.

3.
These holes, they stretch all the way through. One in the hole slowly moves, elongated in all directions. There is no way of turning back. They walk deeper and deeper into the the earth. I sat that night in front of mine, peering into the black. This was my hole. Of all the other holes my size, my heart had decided that this was my own. And so I could not muster the strength to go, nor the strength to leave. So there I lay, imagining myself walking through miles of stone, with no light, no sound, no end to be found. I imagine another me having made it through. What would that me look like?

4.
I sat on a hill in Vietnam, looking into the distance. There, I could glimpse into infinity. Surely somewhere, elsewhere, there is a home I do not see myself in. That is a world of nothing but happy places, a glorious plane, one I cannot and do not belong.

5.
There can be no salvation for me now. No escape, no return. The walls close in, like mothers whispering love. This is the path I had chosen – and now I must die on it. Or worse still – I don’t.

the sharpness of theses at 2am

pause for thought – one mistake begets another. A treatise
on compulsive lying: how one wears long sleeves even in
summer, how one nods along to the rhythmic ritual of “yes,
I am fine.” No. Break the glass – this is not just an emergency
this is real life. Real in the sense that there are no take-backs. No
individual feedback sessions where God sits you down and tells you
“Valen, you’ve done well; just well enough.” Not where he says
“everything will be fine, but you must suffer now, or it will all be for

naught.” And I know this now. Yes, I want to be better. Yes, I know:
everything that will be, will be. That time with the rusty penknife
gets played over and over in my head like a film reel, static
and emotionless feedback looping on a blank TV stuck on CH8.
Treatise Two: I know – I must be better. I am better. I am no longer who
I was that day. I want to sit down next to naked me of yesteryear and say
“Valen, you’ve done well enough. But you must do better.” I know now –
everyone suffers, but not everyone has to die. And certainly, not me, not yet.


SPWM Day 5.

Merely Players

Paralyzed and emotionally stunted,
poet finds solace in unread words.
Sometime tell me it’s wrong to
be. Mad, about everything and
nothing. Sad about something
for sure. If God is real, is this
ataraxis, or bad writing?  Am
I a background character on
this ugly stage? The man in
a tree costume. I feed, off
the bright of these stage
lights. I stand reluctant.
I want to live – I want to
die. I see your message
and I don’t reply. The
sun rises; I turn away
into falling leaves,
denouement, exit
stage left; to no
applause, no
audience,
no no no.

typo

I bought 22 calendars
and stacked them, to see
how long I could stand

those blank squares, like rooms
in a HDB; as empty as drywall.
Everything, anything could fit-

anything could have. But the pages
are glued shut now, lost to memory.
Will you be with me today next year?

I shudder. How many pages would be
a good estimate? It need not be
reasonable. It never is.

What if I’d doubled down- bought 33.
Could see to 2050, in your final stages.
I’d have to bury you in an empty plot,
surrounded by stacks of silent pages.

Words

i.

Those fearful,distant words,
these hollow,centered wishes;
surely in twenty years they’d
have expired. But they haven’t.
Fossilized, they stay forever:
pointed, sharp, piercing, true.

These are facts that we cannot
change. Bridges we cannot rebuild.
Tell me darling how do I tie this
rope’s frayed ends into one again?
How do I forget the taste of ash?
How do I learn not to ask?

How do I stop.

ii.

And those lines echo and reverb
in the vast emptiness of my mind:
I wish you happiness. I wish you’d die.
Beautiful, tragic, desperate wishes.

Do people wish harm upon others
when they blow the candles out on
their birthday cake, surrounded
by their friends and family?

People – people, are but bodies of
70% water. What lurks beneath the calm
is but wilderness. There is much to learn
about this – perhaps, too much to ever satisfy.
Perhaps, any amount is an amount too much.

Perhaps there are things I wish to unlearn.
Simply put, I want to grab these said words and
chuck them out like golden and silver axes.

iii.

These words, we hold onto,
serifs biting into our palms,
knuckles white as filament.
Blood flows, as fresh as yesterday’s cut,
taste as rusty as a used needle.