Kindness Kills

Artwork from:

“Hazy Winter Sun” by Flingling. Watercolour on coldpressed paper. Source:

Kindness kills with the calm of winter.
It freezes my fist in its fetal form,
it steals the heat from my words, vapour ghosts gone mid-air,
it gathers my thoughts under its gracious light
and reveals the skeletal bark I have donned
in the mirror-pools of your frozen lake-face.

Kindness brings more pain than steel swords ever could,
because it cuts deeper than steel ever could,
past cloth, skin, character-mould
into the soft flesh of ego,
because it lances open questions of “Who could ever deserve kindness?”

Kindness hurts the way pity does,
when a tender touch or gentle word
speaks only of stinging generosity.
Kindness bridges the chasm we left between us
and its soft warmth only reminds me of the coldness I was prepared for.

Your kindness leaves me bereft of myself.

Kindness is passion distilled in the afterglow of sunset
when all light has faded except that which we hold in our souls.
And yet kindness feels like all passion diluted
in a single timid cup afraid to spill over.

I do not know how to deal with kindness.
It is too much, or too little
and never enough.

It leaves me with a longing for the winter sun
and wary of its light.

Your kindness makes me unkind.
I wish I could destroy it, discard it,
spit the bitter pomegranate seed at you, devoid of sweet juice–
Or return it to you with the grace of my own kindness
but your kindness wakens my fears.
And fear makes me less hopeful, more hateful.

Your kindness kills.
It kills me in imagined conversations and illusory fates
It kills me though my pettiness, your guilt, our falsehood,
It kills me that you only ever show kindness instead of the love I was always looking for.


On Limerence


Finally, it came off today
          sad little thing
          all blurry teal and dusty
With a meek clatter

It had been warped by the heat
          the chain cracked
          the point dulled
A shallow platter
          awaiting the next
Perfect serving.

Colossus Winter

Shannon tells me she thinks it is the ghosts of them that trail my mind, turning over stones to unveil the squirming doubts and insecurities beneath. She’s right. My mind is a coin caught in a carnival collector’s bowl, circling the sides in a circadian spiral that never seems to cease.

I miss the colossus. I miss lying in the coolness of his shadow and the roughness of his skin. I want to lay like a beautiful, precious seashell in the palm of his overgrown hand and be held, remembered if possible. But despite his immense size, I am never able to see him clearly. Maybe because of his immense size.

A transparent film binds my mind. I see images of possibilities but there are wrinkles in every scene and sometimes, where a face or hand might be, there is instead a flesh-coloured blur, plastic and immaterial.

I feel through this film: misty love and a kind of liquid pain that collects with the condensation of hopes and doubts against the coolness of plastic-wrapped reality.

I want to have a heart cushioned in shrink-wrap and styrofoam. Non-microwaveable, of course. Where the countours of the ripe, uncooked flesh can be traced as it presses against the plastic. Where the delicate veins can pause their pulsing, removed from my thirsty body.

Where, unconsumed, it can be safely tucked into the ice to bide away another winter.


It’s hard to work on a bike when you’re crying. The task is simple: unscrew the bolt, pop off the nut, take off the clasp, slip in a shim, reassemble. A child could do it. But then tears get in the way and you can’t seem to get the wrench around the bolt. And the times when you do, turning the wrench is harder than it usually is, what with your muscles being too busy keeping your rib cage in place while your lungs are heaving. Then you realize you had popped the nut out and dropped it while the wrench was holding your attention. (And you’re starting to hate the sound of your crying.) So you start looking for the nut but the damned tears get in the way again and it’s even harder to breathe when you’re crouched over and you wipe your face and smear grease all across it (somehow you managed to get grease on your fingers even though you never touched the chains) and you end up sitting on the ground, dirty and wretched.

It’s hard to work on a bike when you’re crying. It’s hard to do almost anything.

It’s much easier to be okay. You can even be okay “for the most part” if that’s too difficult. Annie, are you okay? Yes. Yes, I am.

People who are okay go through their week and get their tasks done. They follow the agenda and meet deadlines. They make progress in a timely manner. They are productive and useful and reliable. They don’t have time to cry.

It’s better that way.

Because when you can’t be okay, when you lose your grip and drown in the implications of the situation, you can’t do anything and you let everyone down.

Worst of all, you let yourself down. You aren’t capable or reliable. You aren’t responsible or helpful. You are horrid and selfish and pathetic.

And then you have to vanquish the demons, separate liability from responsibility, retaliation from reaction, tendencies from innate traits. You have to talk to people, you have to be honest, you have to swallow your pride and naivety and guilt and frustration, you have to face the truth, you have to let go and cry, cry, cry. And you can’t do anything else.

It feels so tiring and pointless.

Some days, it’s a mountain I just don’t want to climb. So I take a different path, the quieter path. I go places where I can smile and wave and talk about the weather. I read and draw and feel whatever the characters need to feel. I breathe because it requires little thought.

I do what is necessary for daily life and things are not so hard.

Except when the numbness fades. Suddenly, I’m lost and the tears rise and I flounder. What do I tell them? I can’t function because I’m getting emotional because the worst happened because I made mistakes and I never get emotional so I can’t deal with anything right now?

It’s hard to speak, (even to write). So I’d rather not, thank you.

It’s just a little easier to swallow the tears and finish working on my bike.

Exposition: Mending

Ten fingers and ten toes, and you’re okay
Yeah, I think that’s what they say
Well, how about today?

–Laurent O’Connell, “1988”

Amazing that the longer you go without upheaval, the more striking it is when it happens. There’s surprise when there really shouldn’t be–you’re human after all, is it odd that you should have feelings?

I was steady for so long, careful, composed, content and okay with everything. I felt capable of letting things happen as they did and when my hopes were unfulfilled or the unsightly inevitable occurred, it simply passed over me. I was fine.

I don’t get upset easily. Onstage, it is easy–faking tears comes as naturally as closing my eyes at bedtime. Getting truly emotional though (emphatically or empathetically) was as foreign to me as trying on a stranger’s clothes. Perhaps it was my upbringing–perhaps a defense mechanism.

So on those rare occasions when something twists inside and some sharp spear of daily occurrence hits home, it hits hard.

I had a real cry today. One of those rare, quiet, tensely personal cries that you clench to yourself, maybe because you can’t help it and maybe because if you hold it closer, it will make peace with you and leave you alone.

There were the usual culprits: pain, fear, guilt. It is, in part, undeniably my fault. But the more agonizing was the frustration I felt at a situation I could not, or strongly felt I could not control–the circumstances and commitments and congruence of events that led to that kneeling pilgrim, Helplessness.

But, of course, being an Atheist I had no Higher Being to plead alms from.

Yet this is no complaint. As unsettling, painful, and goddamn uncontrollable that moment was, it refocused me. Like how shaking a jar settles its contents by size and density, my moments of weakness reorder my strength.

I cannot deny that I am as fearful as I’ve ever been in childhood. The old fears are still there but since they surfaced, they’ve been pinned, sliced, and autopsied. I know I can’t be fearless. I can’t right the past. I can’t control everything (clearly, not even myself). But I can start mending the broken things. And I can take the first fragile steps to banish my fears from my future.

Settling for second-best is like… cake.

You have two cakes in your hand:

One is a bland, kind of boring but alright-tasting plain sponge cake. It’s always there for you, goes well with most things, and so easy to find or bake. It’s your best friend when you’re feeling peckish and want a quick, simple cake to keep you company.

Above: Boring as fuck.

Above: Boring as fuck.

The other is a holiday fruitcake. It’s so full of everything—fruit, nuts, spices you’ve never even heard of. It’s got everything in it and more. It’s like it’s trying so hard to be yours, all covered with exotic fruit and multi-coloured gummies and and freakin’ fairy dust. But no matter what, it’s still fruitcake. And fruitcake… never really tastes that good.

Above: Trying way too hard.

Above: Trying way too hard.

And then there’s the cake that’s just out of reach, right on the top display shelf. It’s gorgeous—creamy, delicate frosting; just enough supple fondant to look good but not too much that it tastes fake; a warm, moist base beneath that smooth exterior; and it’s always in your favourite flavour, a perfect complement.

Except it’s not real.

You’ll never be able to have that cake because it doesn’t exist—it’s a dream, a gossamer ideal of the perfect cake for you and that’s all it is. You can’t eat a dream.

So instead, you’ve got to choose one of the cakes you can have.Which would you rather settle for?

The friendly, reliable, plain sponge cake?

Or the complicated, overfilled fruitcake that just never clicks? 


“Touch” by HansProppe /

How is it that you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely? How is it that you can be connected to so many other souls, through wires, cables, soundwaves; that you can be abuzz, atwit, alive with the energy of all those connections; that you can give and take and feel the projections of every nuanced relationship — and still end up alone?

Or maybe that’s not the contradiction. Maybe there is no contradiction.

Because the loneliness crawls into bed with you only when you reach for it. When the lights fade and you can’t see their faces, when you can’t feel them reaching back, when you only want one thing and no one offers that. So you reach into the darkness and loneliness is the first thing you find.

Because loneliness is like a drug. You take it when you can’t sleep at night. Or you take it for fatigue, for momentary alertness and angst. You take it despite the lows because it’s always available and you are so very familiar with it.

Because you chose it. Because you would rather turn away from all the offers available in search of a high you can never seem to achieve. Because you’re looking for something that you will never find, something that might not even exist. Because what you’re looking for is not like loneliness at all—it won’t crawl into bed with you and it won’t be your drug. Because what you’re looking for isn’t a high at all—that’s not its purpose.

So you take your draught of loneliness and you look for the next best thing.You look for human contact, you look for touch.

And even though it’s an empty promise, even though it won’t last, even though the high is nothing compared to the one you’re looking for, at least it’s something.

At least it’s not loneliness anymore.

Die or Dream Forever

A Dream by juusan13

“A Dream” by juusan13 |

I have always been told not to fall in love with “the idea” of something but what is the point of pursuing something we cannot dream about? Dreams and ideals set souls on fire, spark persistence, light the way for betterment. They lead mortals to immortality, savages to enlightenment, each being to growth and personal fulfillment.

No one would be happy spending time and energy on a task they find irrelevant. Who would spend decades trying to enter a field they have no interest in? Who would feel motivated to pursue someone they don’t admire? Who would give up their life to live someone else’s dream?

But too many do anyway. Why?

Where’s the harm in dreaming? I ask. The threat of failure! The lack of success! Regret! These are the replies I’ve heard from everyone, and myself.

I’m tired of these answers.

What is the threat of failure compared to failure by default? If the threat of failure is realized, there have been mistakes made, thoughts to regather and reapply. Failure by default is complete and impossible to recover from. ”Success” has never been a commodity nor a destination. Anyone is successful when they say they are successful. And regret is for opportunities missed—the bitterness comes always (but only) after realizing what could have been.

So I ask a different question: what is the point of pursuing the mundane? Pursuit of staid convention, of outdated customs, of the same picket fence box in the same small town, the same red-brick low-rise in the suburb of your birth, the same scarred hammer that your father wielded and his father before him. Tradition has its value, of course, as a set of proven practices that have been effective the majority of the time (such is the basis of the scientific method, birthplace of countless human innovations) but pursuit of tradition for the sake of tradition is baseless and tiring. And when times change, traditions lose their efficacy and have no reason to be upheld.

My message is not to dream big. That can be just as outlandish—it would not be an infatuation with an idea but an excess of ambition and zealotry alongside a shortage of sincerity or resources. It would be an empty promise.

My message is to dream humbly, and honestly. Pursue those dreams that drive you to such incredible heights that you cannot help but hold them close to your heart. The dreams that infiltrate the basest aspects of everyday life and still fill your thoughts when you leave your mind out in the sun.

My message is to live passionately and fear not failure. Failure is nothing. Fear limitations. Fear believing in failure. Fear believing that success is impossible, for the fear of it will make it true. Fear regret. Life does not come again and every moment dissipates from our shallow, linear existence—so revel in every tenuous second.

Wildfire in Arizona

Series 2: Opening / Poem 4


My night cold, my flesh bone-dry as the Arizona skyline.

And my thoughts wander back
to red leather rooms
steam of night smoke
arch of sodium vapour ghosts
slam of your hips on mine–

Your fingers play my spine like
a xylophone
up down up down like
a children’s jump-rope rhyme
“Up the ladder / down the ladder / don’t miss the beat”
You never miss the beat.

Slippery fingers fly
like fish through water
buttons slip
clasps unclasp
ties unwind
and we are escape artists:
You escaping my time restraints,
my reasons that slide
like prescription pills
out of sight / out of mind
Me escaping cloth confines
button eyes
‘fraid cotton lines.
Free we breathe each other’s breath
like newborns
breathe sweat
breathe dim perfume
and sip lust
amphibian passion entwined.

Heat hot against both our faces
my breath in your hair
as you pan for gold on the shoals of my breasts
Sunbursts behind my eyes
and sparks where your want rises to meet my
liquid need
Like smouldering embers dropped into gasoline
we gasp and
burst into flame

This way not that, you school me
Angle here, look at me, look–feel me feel you feel us–
hands run like sand down the curves of an hourglass
Our hours pass
in heaps and sleep–
sleep is a long-forgotten lover

–August 26, 2012–

Entreaty to the Captain

Captain — Let me be a sailor that does not swim, the dash of ill fortune on your men-manned ship, the figurehead, mermaid-aspirant.

I will follow wherever you go, perform any duty you assign, follow and heed the needs of any man you appoint me to.

I will play cabin-boy, deck-sweep, kitchen maid, seamstress, launder, bard, comfort woman. I will play every role you ask of me, any role that I can fulfill.

I will work for my keep, a dish of surplus gruel and a humble corner on your fine ship. I will work for whatever you will provide.

I will weather any storm, accept any penance, lay my life on the line for the sake of your ship or crew.

For your crew, I offer all that you deign I should offer them. If you deem that I should be theirs, I will be theirs, no matter the price.

I will be silent. I will be deaf and blind to anything you wish. I will be mute and dumb except to obey. Unless you choose that I should entertain. I can provide any pleasure: music, dialogue, earthly pleasures—command and I obey.

I will obey earnestly, gleefully. Or silently, solemnly. I will obey as you see fit, in joy, in gravity, or in reluctance.

Lastly, most of all, I will love your ship. I will maintain her, care for her, protect her as if she were my own, though I cannot ever imagine to claim so grand a vessel.

I beg you, let me sail with you.

Despite my sex, my size, my weak unskillful arms, I will not play you false. I offer you my lithe limbs, my deft fingers, my soft touch, all my youth. I offer you my desperation, my passion, my eagerness.

Captain, I offer you everything. All I ask is for the chance to escape.