Back again


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university tumblr academic studying vintage aesthetic

At first it felt as though my old self would simply resume: that I was on pause, would start again should I tap the forward triangle floating above my head. I visited old haunts, striding knowingly, fingers trailing dry sandstone walls and withered vines, broken Roman pillars (it is winter within and without): a revenant with unfinished business. It was a fiery winter’s day and I burned quietly in my clothes. I felt mean again. I used to be so mean; my own Queen—and, I fancied, above everyone else. Feeling tall again in riding boots I went up to the old library again, for old times’ sake, and it smelt just the same: of dusty tomes and stale air, atmosphere most academic! How I used to climb those unsightly stairs to the seventh, eighth floors—and down to fifth and third again—heavy volumes in hand, full of ambition and anticipation. Learning, I learnt long ago, is always exhilarating. I soared like the only bird in the sky, rested only atop the tallest, leafiest tree. It was liberating, I say to myself now, but thinking back, was I ever that free? Was I not, as I hesitate to recall, caged by my own expectations, lonely and aloof? So much for being ‘better’. Now I stand still, pale and spectre-thin, clinging to a past polished by the sands of time. Things are perfected in retrospect, from the present perspective, with the future looming ominously ahead where I cannot see: looming like the grand carpeted stairwell curving turret-ward that I never climbed to the end. Still light shone through the stained-glass window, and footsteps echoed in the stone walkway I once tread with youthful ignorance.

Elegy for Charlie


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You never liked that dry stuff,
Had a gnarled tooth one time,
Was always catching colds;
Had a dirty face, sneezed on me,
Left fur on my black trousers—
I never should have chided you
However lovingly I chided.
And now you’re gone,
Alley cat,
Gone I hope,
Where no mean bird
May reach your bowl.

To my love on Valentine’s Day


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Hair: blonde
Eyes: green
Height: 5”8’

Signed in your cursive hand,
Each letter a musical note
So soft and so lovely,
How befitting an ode.

But darling you’re black and white
And try as I might,
I can’t seem to get it right:

Blonde hair but how blonde?
Green eyes but what green?

5”8’ I can see in the mirror,
‘Kinda short for a fella,’ I’d say
If I didn’t already know ya;
We’d stand shoulder to shoulder, but
For you I’d make an exception:
A song by Leonard Cohen.

And to be perfectly practical,
I don’t have to stand on your books
To kiss you though that’d be cute—
Catch me if I fall, though maybe I would fall
Just to fall into you.
Then we’d both be on the floor,
I’d land on your chest,
Crease that three-piece suit,
Tousle your hair, loosen that tie,
Tease till finally you pin me down,
Messed-up hair falling in your eyes
Pale gold and baby emerald, diamond-bright.

Blonde but how blonde?
A darkish blonde I imagine, the prettiest kind Save for Marilyn’s.
Green but what green?
The clear bright green of a river at the height of summer I imagine, the kind doomed Lovers would like if I’m Wright.

You’d make a dashing actor Love,
Actually they cast those to play you and your characters:
Leo and Tom and Brad and Matt,
Million dollar men, young and beautiful,
Blessed with beauty and rage.

Hollywood’s love bloomed late,
Poor fate, you thought
Broke and broken, maybe long forgotten
—Never more false! Love,
You’re alive again, risen from the debt
They owe to you.
Your name, your books,
You’re Lazarus wearing Adonis’ face;
Boy, the shows and movies they make
You have to see to believe.

Your timeless quintet and more,
In jackets of turquoise I adore,
Crazy in love, j’adore
F. Scott Fitzgerald in elegant font,
Honestly I’ve never been so fond—

Oh! Tender was
Your heart till it fell apart,
Broken instrument I fancy
Mending into art!

Still art thou black and white,
Long ago departed from life.
Love thee true I do
Yet be thy wife
I never could—
All I can do is write.

Born romantic


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Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWhen I was younger I wrote a poem about tangerine dreams that filled the sky, and this one lemon tree atop a hill where lovers liked to meet. When I was younger still, but old enough to know, I filled several blank sheets back-to-back with an essay on the circle of life, having just watched The Lion King for the first time. When I was even younger, while walking in a mall with my family in Hong Kong, our humid stopover before reaching our new life Down Under, I lamented (rather melodramatically for a nine-year-old) on palm-sized paper that I was to depart my Motherland and be separated from her forevermore. I think I meant that I was leaving my old life and old self behind and that nothing will ever be the same again, but this crystalline revelation eluded me then.

In my teens I found my words and the words of others found me. Diving into texts that suited my melancholic taste my proclivity for nostalgia and tragedy flourished alongside a yearning for romance, fortunately this led me to feel understood by certain fictional characters, songs, and artists; unfortunately this meant I was a hardcore Twilight fan. In my twenties, having bade Edward and his night-creeping ways goodbye, my taste in literature improved—I wish I could say the same for the recipients of my romantic attachment, most of whom are dead or fictional, all of whom are psychologically troubled. Romanticising their ‘brokenness’, I once again pointed the finger at time but also at space: both were guilty of separating me from my beloved. Impractical delusions aside, I guess you could say time has always had a way with me, whether I was clinging to the past (thus allowing it to seep into the present), chronicling the present for future remembrance (turning present into past), or fearing the future (which drags it ominously into the present). Sometimes, walking the same path that I used to walk when in high school, I am stopped by the almost material presence of my younger, uniform-clad self, full certain and radiant with achievement, walking towards and past me to where I (we) used to live.

Whenever reality melts into reverie in this way I am caught speechless by the desire to communicate in some way with the phantom of my younger self, to advise, to instruct, to warn. But I know she won’t listen, so I let her go and walk on, older and wearier than I was a few step ago. Is ageing a mourning song or am I simply the saddest songstress in this show? I wish there was some way, reader, for you to feel the dull weight of nostalgia, elephantine against my chest. And I wish I was simply nostalgic for my own past, but I am too for the collective past of humanity—it stirs at the sound of old music, the sight of old movies, faded signs, abandoned factories.

Just the other day, while visiting an old house down the road, I longed to linger and marvel at its remarkably well-kept vintage interior, at the grand ceiling detail and the chandelier attached to it, at the rich garnet, emerald, and gold design that ran along the walls of the hallway, at the gated, once-roaring fireplace, even at the colourful tiles I giddily tread; but, alas, I was running an errand and therefore in no position to dilly-dally—even dreamers require employment in the real world. This is rather unfortunate given how good I will be as Professional Daydreamer, paid to spin invisible yarn, yearning for what was or could be, then realising precisely that in my head.

On that particular day I longed to press my forehead cheek ear palms against the wall, connect with the spiritual remnants of those who once dwelled there, tune in to their thoughts and feelings; in return I’d nod, whisper my own fears and insecurities, maybe even shed a tear. I longed also to run my fingers along the wall as I made my way dreamily down the hall, eyes wondering up and down all the details today’s simplistic interiors lack, but sensing rather than seeing. ‘All this time, you remained unchanged,’ I’d say to the house that stood stoically for a century as life shook all those who sought shelter under its roof. I’d be a whole lot happier if I was half as stable, but bricks and mortar aren’t easily moved and I live to be moved.

Girl in blue: a 25-year journey through time and colour


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It was the opposite back then: I was always a pink girl. When I was the age girls are when all they want to do is become a princess, and so make up for their lack of birthright by dressing up thus, I wanted everything pink. Pink for my Barbies and me. Pink stickers, pink toys, pink hairbands and clothes. Of course, my complexion means that Continue reading

An afternoon’s worth


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Light is fading, and with it the sun’s warmth. The room—golden and glorious just then—seems bigger and impossibly empty without that radiant guest. Drenched of the life it bestowed upon them for that brief, sacred moment, what adorned the room now shrunk in size. They will swell again, in size and in beauty, Continue reading

The millennial’s guide to contemporary poetry


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post Tumblr trite, Continue reading

One Direction who? Meet Harry Styles, solo rocker


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harry styles.jpgWe all know who he is—or do we? On the cover of his self-titled album Harry Styles is rather naked and definitely distressed: the singer bares his back to us in a pool of murky pink water, his downcast head inside cupped hands, a soaking wet study in vulnerability and penitence. The face, hair, and tattooed torso adored by millions across the globe are hidden almost with a trace of shame; the overall impression this image leaves is that of the star’s sensitivity as opposed to sexiness, Continue reading

Max Errman, “Desperata: Prose for a Way Out of Life”


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bear illustration.jpgWent to bed last night with the realisation that all the world’s a sham, except maybe the art of bread-making. Supplying fresh wholesome handmade loaves to the local community, donating what’s left at the end of the day to charity. Betty’s Bakery. No! That means Continue reading