Cosmos Breathing


through certain lenses,
the perfect isotropy of the universe suggests
that if you kept very
very quiet
you might hear
the harmonics
of a rain drop
in the thundercrash of a collapsing star.


You are the universes’ dark eyes
expressing themselves in flesh and fire.

Is it not plain to see
you are the many-armed goddess
you scream to be?

Galaxies threaded on your fingers—
crepe-mobile worlds papering
the ceiling of your existential expanse—

You are all that
and all that
is traffic
between your cranial stars.


Coming of age

When I was thirteen years old, I began to feel the bird inside me. Crammed inside a pelvis too small for its wings, it was trying to unfold. It burbled something, hoarsely, a parody of birdsong, as I stared and pretended not to hear.

I was inside a tepid factory of scratching pens and clattering clocks, chalkboards bearing evidence of war, scuffed desk corners remembering the brutality of children’s nails. I was sprawled across my operating table, the fan blades slitting gashes in each thought.

We were all waiting for something in the heat.

“Destroy the establishment,” rasped my little bird in me, while I stared at chalk marks on deep green.

The room was boiling the sweat out of my skin and the howling fans could not hold out against the heat. Sweat stained the seats of chairs. Sweat smudged pencil marks. I could feel the groaning metal, could feel the windows straining inward.

And we were all waiting for something in the heat.

The pen nibs went scratch, scratch, scratch, like birds clawing at the windowpanes of my brain, drawing the coastal flyways they would never explore.

“They’re all sick,” said mine, gaining a semblance of a voice though it was still choked. “They are sick, in this infirmary, so bring them salvation.”

My heart boomed, blood shooting through the arteries in my ears. The teacher’s chalk began to scrape: S, O, C, I, E, T, Y, and then the white stick jammed against the black and with a bright snap the upper end went spinning through the air, stabbing the monitress in the cheek.

“I’m—” He picked the oppressive thing from the groove in her desk. “—sorry.” His brow knitted behind his glasses as his eyes met the monitress’ unprotesting silence. The trees were cracking in the heat.

By now I felt a small thrumming stir where my bird had clawed its way through my gut into my chest. It was gasping, starved of air by the whir of fans beating the heat away.

“Destroy yourself,” it said then, levering at the pencil-spire that jutted into my spinal cord.

So I did.

I watched myself ascend into the higher air, volcanic heat lashing at my lids. I began to crush my pencils in my hands. I felt their splinters bury themselves in my fingers.

“Stop that.”

I watched eyes glisten.

The bird drove me, desk by colossal desk, as I split each prison and freed the hissing, beating creature inside. The heat burst through my blood. I watched the teacher try to spread his claws but his skull was too tight and his tiger had long taken to cowering inside its cage. And the class listened to no ringmaster.

In the thick of flying sheets I heard my bird, and it was barely breathing, but its throat filled with air every time I snapped a ruler as if breaking a murderer’s neck.

“Stop right there,” the tiger mewled. I kicked him to his knees and drove a pen against his chin, grinning.

My bird had climbed onto my tongue. “You’ll pay,” it snarled.

You’ll answer to the principal,” answered the teacher while my pen drew incision lines on his neck.

Then the little tiger found just enough strength in itself to fling me, chirping, to the tiles. He had his chalk again and he had wrenched his phone from inside his pocket, and I was lying in the remains of shattered desk legs and pen nibs torn from sockets.

By then the classroom was empty and I felt my bloodied hands uncurl, all chafed, as the bird fled me and began to destroy the school.

romanticism is well and good but

they were wrong:
we are not stardust. We are
fact, pieced together over
millennia, we are
solipsistic nightmare
photographic evidence
on billions of retinas and we are not
stardust. We are thought
and sensation, developed,


A kitchen coroner cleaves fish membrane, flings the
entrails and scales to the wet hawker floor, a slurry
of blood and offal between his toes

He slaps pink flank on buttered pan
where it sizzles and spits for
the couple waiting on the other side

A child discusses mermaids with precision
and hunger, as if he has done it before:
slid a knife through derma and understood
the system of caverns and gills within

Overhead bare stars yawn into the
cosmic dark, light flung out
in a dusty disc, from which a planet tries
to cough to life
while an infant peels through her amniotic
egg-white, sliding into
the mouth of life, already pulsing
to swallow her

“What’s on your mind?”

It is strange that cold after heat registers as a pleasant tingling across the skin. Why is it pleasant? Why do we call it pleasantness? It is stranger to think that the cold, wonderful and skin-tingling, will persist long beyond the end of all terrestrial life, or that the same sights capable of producing a similar frisson will continue to glow to the blindness of lifeless space in which the planets and stars would simply be nameless balls of gas. Maybe in a distant galaxy in a hubble volume we will never visit an alien lifeform understands the cold as blazing surges of pain across tongue-like appendages or maybe sees stars in ultraviolet and other radiation and responds to them in fear instead of wonder. I find it strange our tendency to be happy simply because the molecules in the air are vibrating infinitesimally slower than usual.

Radio: 不明

a vapour voice percolates through
the static hailstorm in the mouth
of the radio: snatches of
news from a frosty wherever-abroad,
of clawing deep freeze, cracking ice, all the things
these smoke-capped shingles, on which
the summer is crusting,
and the sultry throb of cicadas boiling
from the hearts of trees
cannot begin to understand

Breaking water

I breach, a whale
in the shallow of the womb
breathing, a ball of cells that once
in all its broadness
dropped anchor in its bloody berth

and burst with a wail
from the hollow of this wound
breaking from my well at once
in all my smallness
seeping ichor in the flood of birth.