toska

to hell with stolen hearts,

broken hearts,

the beautiful and the

damned.

to hell with thieves,

the wreckers, their grand larceny, a

sham.

i’m curious, girls, what were you

thinking, where did you go wrong, how

could it turn right?

unplug the telephone, turn

down the heat, your house is

on fire, so bright, so

bright.

‘listen asshole:

“you were my worst mistake, my

favourite crime, raised me

like ecstasy, dragged my

soul through the Styx.”

‘dearest jerkface:

“a seed for every sin, pomegranate

for sanity, a coin for Charon, for

you, a coin for the

prick.”

to the dearly departed, those are

crimson cries, your ache and break, in

diaries, letters, in

death’s slow wake. see,

Troy only burned when a horse rode in, its

pillars its columns its trysts

made faint; and he was your flame, your

white shining horse, the devil

posed like an angel, like a

fucking saint.

it burned, did it not, the plums and

tangerines, the coal in the orchard, like

apples in the grave.

it burned, how the fire burned,

raw and relentless, but

never ate away.

there was coal in the orchard, licked by the

flame, grazed and caressed with fire’s heated

grace. that was the way he kissed you, the

way you echoed back, the way he gazed, the

honeysuckle taste. the same way the flame

receded when it gave coal its all, it’s

a dance of desire, the dance of

its fall.

i say, don’t go weeping, don’t

douse what was yours, remember the

flame quivered, remember it

adored. it’s how

you get by, the lingering

truth, the shimmering layer

above any lie. remember

the soft flicker, the

flicker in the flame, remember the

tears of the wicker, remember the flame

flickered all the same.

 

1. when your eyes meet his across the crowded bar

when your eyes meet his across the crowded bar

you are alky and he is flame

a guy in your psych class is

going at it against the wall

with a girl in lace tights and

smeared lipstick, and

you wish they wouldn’t, haphazard

under the strobe lights

people give themselves away too easily and

the world is too big to find a soul that has let away

when your friends are blaring off-tune about the bludgeoned and

broken, welcome the darkness, welcome

to the dark parade as

the girls outside blow out smoke swirls with

their eyes closed, the truth is

you know what they’re seeing

you know what they’re singing about

inside, the glass floor with neon lights is a battlefield

of terracotta soldiers with bullet holes for

hearts, and

you’ve walked their walk before,

it isn’t a happy one, it isn’t even

sad, lipstick and bruises ought to

scream out

and it’s something at the cusp of your tongue that sours when

you realize they only whisper

they’re dreaming they’re awake

 

2. when your eyes meet his across the crowded bar

when your eyes meet his across the crowded bar

space and time and distance meld

into one and the only divination

the only dimension plotted is

the displacement in between

his gaze is a hundred luster beams

a thousand voltaic pulses

the incandescent flare of something lit up by nothing as

your nose grazes his

you aren’t two ships passing in the twilight

when your eyes meet his across the crowded bar

you are

two parts of a ship coming together

again and again and

again

aether drifting among the mortally broken, the

drizzle before the storm, a

supernova waiting to happen

but before the big bang, the explosive splay

a cosmic aurora dancing above earth

when your eyes meet his

there is a moment

where darkness flickers and

whispers fade

all around, lights go out, one

by one, nameless faceless terracottas dragged

by the ends of their coats, the

weight of their bullet-ridden chests

you are two entities

gravitating towards each

other in the moonshine, so

don’t hasten your steps, don’t

dash for flight, take

into your palms these

violent delights, for

in the beginning you plunged

into the black sea of

gunpowder cries, and

tonight

you are coming together

a soft respite.

 

the beginning

shadows recede, the first day of spring

endless waiting, shadows aren’t shadows

when they materialize into things, and

things with affinity always

come back and voices

in your head whimper, not yet

this is hard,

the mind, in tune with the gods

above, as the door opens

it sighs finally,

finally

and for you, it wasn’t the brightness of day or

the way the clouds skipped and hugged the trees

and earth that marked the start of spring

when the door opens

you are on wings

this is where spring begins

the heart is a chorus of crickets

it sings, sings and sings.

 

full circle

before the hollow amber glass spins,

its final round

this time settling

unmistakably

in front of me, its

bitter lips

puckering

and saying

‘i choose you, finally’,

i am sealed within a circle

of judgement, a ring of

secrets and

heart.

secretive hearts

are unwelcome

in the non-judging drinking circle,

while unrelenting eyes and coarse

whispers judge anyway, gasp

at the atrocity behind the absence

of a presence, the blowup of a

breakup, the dregs after the death of

kindness.

how is it terribly wrong

of me to cease

up, when i am at the crossroads

that separate the

bold

from the brave?

truth or dare

do you dare to tell

the truth, or

are you only brave

enough to burst into flagrant

flight, show some sudden strength

to leap off a ledge or

climb a cliff in the drunken drizzle

of harsh beer and champagne?

why i am forced

to take on that oath is

beyond me;

i either bow out or

bow down.

a coward for both deeds,

giving in or

giving up.

the circle applauds

with my vow

to say the truth

and the truth is

that i am far from

stupid.

i am not an open book,

as the judges sit

in unison

waiting

for a sliver

of untainted wisdom,

never before uttered detail

of what-happened-when or

remember-that-night-of.

i vow to say nothing but

the truth, and the truth is

that guilt doesn’t wash over me

when i spill scotch

over scars, champagne

over shambles and

shame.

when i say the truth,

i am saying what

i’m expected to say, what

they are waiting in haste

to learn, their worst fears and best

wonderings confirmed, anything beyond

that train of thought

earth shattering and

you only say

what they are waiting to hear.

your heart

is a closed one,

locked and

bound and its

see-through moments are best saved

for nights when you would fling

off its bandages and bare all

for the ones who were there for it all.

your face is a closed mask

but you aren’t transparent inside,

no light passes through

in the moment

when you utter words

that lace the hard sharded truth

with citrus curls, the sugar over

the astringent, the tangible over

the surreal. tonight you performed

a survival act,

and you are simply grateful

your heart is

intact

 

April Chye

 

 

April Chye is an undergraduate student currently studying English Literature in Columbia University. Her collection of poems is an eclectic mix of Western and Eastern culture and experiences reflective of a student from Singapore who spent her teenage years in an English boarding school in the UK.

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