A Second Chance

I put all my hope in

a good hair day, bending over

the bathroom sink on second thought

having misjudged the distance

I could go without shampoo, I don’t

go as far as to condition at

midnight in case I alarm the house

and I don’t go as far as to cut

a bob, which promises just one night

of wonder and many mornings of

regret, all I want is to be clean

which is close enough to being new

—dark wet hair, a pale face at night


Almost Done

I’m three pages out from finishing my current journal, and the last time I graced the miscellaneous section of this blog I was finishing the one before that. I’m accumulating an impressive pile of unassuming, plain black notebooks on my bedside table–so many that they will have to be moved somewhere else eventually. It’s impractical. I remember seeing a video of Tavi Gevinson locking hers away in a safe, which is exactly how dramatic I would like to be one day about the importance of my words.

I’m not sure who I’m writing for anymore, if I’m honest, apart from myself. But when I get close to the end of a journal I get so excited to start another one. I’ve already mentioned that I start them with quotes (2015-17 was Kurt Vonnegut, 2017-18 was Tavi) because I like to take a guess at an epigraph. In novels these are usually done afterwards, or at least during. Starting a new era of my life by taking a chance, guessing those words might mean something to me in the future, is hopeful. It assumes a future that doesn’t always seem so sure. This time around, it’s George Saunders: “There’s a moment of truth where you let everything you actually are to the table. And you may not even know what that is, and often I think you don’t even like it. But the stuff that you maybe unconsciously have been trying to keep out of the conversation is the stuff that saves you–if you’re brave enough to let it in.”

In a lot of ways I feel like I’m back where I started. I’ve neglected writing because I’ve been tired, and sometimes doing this is sadder for me than not doing it, because I remember how good it makes me feel and I kick myself for not making the time. Making the time isn’t even a strong enough phrase. Fighting for the time, or tearing back the time, or raging against the night, losing sleep, crying, screaming, going hungry for the time. However, I am doing something. I’m cycling through eras, bridging several volumes of scrappy journals, a lot of the time so tired that it’s visible in my script. And I’m nagging myself more and more, because I’ll be turning 23 next year, and 24 after that, and no matter how hard I try to pull the brakes through all this documenting, it isn’t going any slower.

I have become that person who wishes something so hard that they expend all their energy on the wishing, rather than the doing. There’s a reason I write so many god damn poems about sleeping.

sit alone and watch your light

falling asleep, thinking of how the world slipped through

my fingers—how I was unable to hold it tight to my chest

the way I’ve been practising this night and every night

spent curled tight until my knees are so close to my nose

so close they might just touch when I cringe, thinking of the

failures and embarrassments that I now have to carry with me

when I walk out into the world and when I close my eyes.

and I do this instinctively until one day I try to recall something

different before I rest—different, private, a memory shy of the world

but booming: dancing to Queen knowing the downstairs neighbours

aren’t home, making a ruckus to the voice of Freddie Mercury, and

it’s a calamity, this memory I’m making and remaking in my bed

the kindest of things I subject myself to…


My Own

Folding myself into the covers after too many hours

awake, sighing, creaking, sinking into the springs of my double

—sometimes single bed, stiff from my six-month absence, dusty

from the still air—wrapping up in worse-for-wear sheets: I’ve been here before

and my body knows just how to curl to miss the wire in the middle

of the mattress, placed especially to dig into my back, to protect

me from complacency in my teenage bedroom, where memories hide

in closets and under beds, and where bad, sad feelings stow away

in untrustworthy sets of draws with nothing more than a thumb-sized lock

for safety, to later be pried open with a mangled bobbie pin and luck

which arrives a decade too late through the open window, with the breeze

Anything Can Be

all my tarot readings are ending in hope:

self-performed to mundanity, as if brushing my teeth

or blowing out the night’s candle so as not to burn down the house

where do I go, what do I beg for, when will I have survived

hope comes in the form of The Star, number 17, telling me


reading my mind WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?

and comforting me  ANYWHERE AT ALL I try my best

not to nudge my fate out of formation


do I have hope, or do I need it, or will I need it, and when—

is this something I possess, or a thing to search for, and where

—some people trust the universe but others are wary

and I feel as far from you as you do from me


all my conversations lead to the same full stops

so I lay out these cards, searching for a change

in myself and in the world, to wring something different out of both

twisting a wet flannel until it drips over a porcelain bath, until

there’s no need to manipulate an answer WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?

to arc up, just-to-make-sure WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

because the answer ANYWHERE AT ALL leaves me questionless

and for tonight I’m too scared of the dark to ask another

An Annual Forecast

I wasn’t prepared for winter when it came. I was confused, living with more questions than answers, and didn’t own nearly enough jumpers. I went to the psychic in April. Her office was on King St (a Sydney street that can only be described as alive, all hours of the day), up a set of stairs, warm. I knocked my knees on the low table between us, upsetting the cards, and she apologised. The session was recorded for posterity, and because I knew eventually I’d want to compare notes. It was an expensive half hour, but it got me out of my house, and once I was out of my house, it got me out of the rain.

“There’s nothing light about this energy at all,” she said. “But why does it need to be? I think you’re feeling a lot more deeply than you ever have before… and with that comes an awareness that this is a strange place to inhabit.”

Read the full essay on Plasma Dolphin

Art by Siobhan Schmidt

Big City, Big Heart

Before I left home, I had to have an x-ray. I have a crick in between my ribs, on my left side. Every time I breathe I feel it there. All I wanted was for it to crack, the same way my spine does when I anchor myself on a doorframe and twist. I had to wear a gown and hug myself. Stare at the wall. Listen for the click. My doctor looks younger than he is, and bulk bills me no matter how many times I turn up in his office with questions. He tells me all my bones are where they should be, just one of those things—sit up straight, do some jumping jacks, maybe it will go away—and in passing notes the size of my heart. Small, he says. That’s a good thing.

This is all in an afternoon. The next time I go to the doctors it’s the width of the country away on Hercules St, which I walk down most days. Every time I pass the bakery right before the traffic lights, I look to my left and spot the donut with pink icing that’s always there, wondering when I’ll finally buy it and why. I’m always walking at a pace by then. No time for donuts. A few steps more and I pass a shop with fresh seafood, another with what I assume is duck hanging in the window. Let’s pretend it’s a weekend. I think I like myself better on weekends, when I belong to myself and not the world. I get to leave my street and forget that I’m seen, stuck in my own loop of thoughts instead: choruses, grocery lists, arguments. Mornings are spent with Nat Geo or the radio, a healthy dose of pretention after sunrise. I don’t have to pay attention to the headlines or Twitter. I get to walk down Hercules St, and from there I can go anywhere I like.

Read the full essay on Into the Fold