Punchbag

I am thinking of funding my own private study

into the percentages of women who,

after being sexually assaulted

take up martial arts. 
Every time the bones in my ankles

twinge and protest from their times spent in unfamiliar places

or my wrists crack when rotated 

or my knuckles become clenched shells and the balls of my feet are ready –
the uppercut crunches like a ball in a socket

like a fist in the stomach like the

string of his teeth in my pocket until

I rattle and dance like a box full of presents, yes


breathe through my nose – I am ready

take hold of my wrists – I am ready

make a leash of my hair – I am ready
I am ready I am ready come and get me I am ready I am
mottle-throated, copper-coated

lying bloated

in a Seoul motel room

with a black tongue, foreign press and no I.D


I am relieved that, in hindsight 

I didn’t yet know 

how to fight.

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Your Face is Not Enough 

A long time ago

My mother told me someone 

Will fall in love with your mind, 

and not the way you look. I was

Struck dumb by the second

Part as if, in a sweeping cruel caress she had

– rightly – proclaimed never would I

Have one of those God-drawn faces, faces so biting and virile

They made man and woman alike

Look back.
I have lost track 

Of the times I have tightly bound up 

And squeezed my heart into

A compartment too small; thinking

As women do, that I am not enough.

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Nineteen

Nineteen
He is golden-haired

unaware of his own strength

lisping, deep-voiced and beautiful. He brought out in me

both mother and lover, counsellor

last night

fingers wrapped around a cigarette,

he looked at me – no, around me

avoiding my eye as if he’d never seen a naked woman before

I bowed, pressed the fruit of my lips to the steel wire flex in his arms

inhaled hot flesh, pornography, confusion 

he is used to

nasty, nameless stuff played by nasty, nameless people

in his single bed, dreaming in silicon tits and money shots,

what’s left of his brain paints patterns on sheets his mother

 launders with care, for him.

He told me I could hit him,spit on him. Fast forward and

he is regretting his words

watching as they send him sprawling,so nervous that my bed shakes beneath his trembling

as I kiss his fingers, one by one

he is 

what you’d generously call 

a ‘troubled youth’. Two suspensions

angry, isolated Asian parents

only child

occasional wearer of women’s underwear and desperately ashamed of everything. In almost perfect

Chinese English, he tells me his depravity – possibly gay –penchant for stealing. Breaking and entering.I am soft and stern with him,

cradling his honesty and feeling tenderly disposed to this little boy lost. 

Naked against me,he is breathless, mumbles– I don’t know what to do or say – burning with embarrassment, made ofmuscle and iron

I stroke his spine until he relaxes, becomes feline and exhales

I say – think of me as a friend…without the clothes – and

his nineteen year old smile ignites me like a warm blue wave tasting sand. Later, between

the teeth nipping rosebud blooms at the base of my throat and the

solitary re-remembering,

rosy and alone

he apologises. Blushes. Asks for a glass of water, but not before

carefully pulling his clothes back on –

brave enough to stroke, upon leaving,

the flush that decorates my breast bone

and stumbling – again so shy and raw with a new memory – he tells me that I look so pretty

I close the doorand lean against it, likea third-rate rom-com heroine

mid-swoon 

and laugh to myself,but quietly.

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Make Believe Dog

I want a dog.

My colleague asked “what kind of dog?” and I said 

any dog. The dog’s shape is not important,

what’s important is that he is a warm, breathing idea. When my chest constricts with anxiety and the next few days spool like black thread

tangling between my fingers like knots in tiny silver chains

I unpick the fear with the thought of my dog. My village house

on far-out Yuen Long soil, surrounded by a green that sneaks through sunlit windows

few english translations and locals who will stare for years but reluctantly come round to the idea of me in a wide-brimmed hat walking my nondescript dog.

This is a warm picture. I hold it in reverie, like a talisman

til it is as smooth as a worrystone

I turn it over between my fingers at night,

quietly moved by the slow rhythms of my partner’s breathing.

When I am angry I throw that dream away as if fury could keep it

quelled in the darkness of a well a thousand feet deep but 

with each soft kiss that tastes like sleep and unbrushed teeth I feel

my wishing pebble back and the hot make-believe rasp of my unnamed dog butting the foot of the bed.

In the morning

dark outside and in my designated smart clothes

sleepy with the illicit

extra ten minutes we say we won’t spend but find impossible to resist

somewhere near my apartment a baby cries like a broken thing 

and I want to cry too

because I feel like a broken thing.

But I hold on to the shadow 

of warm bodies in the morning, Yuen Long and I love you and

my make believe dog.
 

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2016

The whole world’s free falling, lurching into crisis but he smothers all my sisters talk

With talk and talk of Isis.

I don’t like this – this silence of a female mouthpiece

I can barely breathe my voice is now so quiet

From a guy who thinks half the voting population looks better on its knees

Who thinks that crying RIGGED will detract from grabbing pussies


I said to my mother oh brother that’s the choice they makin

I hear they plan on taking their rifles to the polling station

Aggravating an already fucked up situation

To intimidate, castrate 

chastise a nation so inwardly imploding it’s the world’s fixation 

it’s amazing 

To watch them generating this he said she said shark tank
Even debates no longer sacred as the right prowls among the left

And we’re bereft of all our betterness

We invested blood in bitterness and

Let’s get in the thick of this – ain’t noone proud to witness this

Bloodletting is still bloodletting 
You better read Stephen king’s the dead zone

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The Broken Ships

Two ships were visible against the wet horizon. He anchorless, she rudderless

drifting in a sea of eloquent sadness so vast it seemed colourless. 

One ship succumbed to the greyness pouring into her galley, water leaking 

through portholes pecked by birds she thought her friends turned traitorous

letting herself turn inwards into the weight of it all. 

And so began the torturous and unknown sink beneath the glass shore.

The other broken ship was made more broken by her absence.

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Baggage

About me: I go away on holiday

Independently

And Emotionally all the shit I carry with me always with me always weighing down so inconveniently

Is left behind, like the water bottles they ban on the way to planes.

 Firm-voiced and uniformed guidance of

Leave your hazards here, go forth asunder under the protective arm of

Air-wherever-you-want-to-be

Close your passport on your worries. 

If we’re allowed only

7kg of emotional, social, hyperthetical, election-presidential

Related tensions 

How much lighter all our heads would be how much lighter all those planes would be how much better it would be

To hang out in the sky indefinitely

And never claim back our baggage.

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