primum non nocere

first, do no harm

so I wrap my arms
like petals
in winter
and fold my knees
and cards.
to shrivel
and lose,
at least I am alone. 

                             - Eleutheros 

 

 

red from the diary of grace limpton

the smell of popping corn is in the air. yet another strategy moulding into place the image of this wide-open space i hesitate to call my office. greg churns the kernels, that probably isn't his real name, but we'll take that and fly won't we, Red? that's what we do we take it and fly with it to great heights, illusions and falsity, we take them. greg. 
i really hate your color, Red, but you can't help it, like i can't help myself, like i couldn't help myself last night when linda, you remember linda, mousy brown hair, thighs of a lumberjack and the voice to go with, when she said you're the skinniest in this program, gracie, you're the skinniest. and i smiled right, all big like this right now, i smiled and turned away so she couldn't see the victory spreading over my face like milky buttercream. no, linda, there's the other girl, mags, right? all limbs and long. linda snapped the heat off on the stove and her curry burped miserably four times in quick succession, little air monsters that grew like eggs and popped like balloons under a thick orange skin. linda said yeah, she shrugged and then went to bed. 
i really hate your color Red, you're the color of that witch's hair, but she's no witch for real for real. just another girl like me, and maybe like you too Red. a girl with maybe acne scars and maybe a belly that remained in my hands when i squeezed squeezed real hard. but i demonized her at the same time i worshipped her. i worshipped her perfection and i hated it. 
i have you Red, then I have a without-you state. swinging between seeing red and grey and black and white and its all about categorizing so i'll let you decide which little package you want to fall in and tie yourself up all pretty like a gift unwanted gift. 
i'm picking pieces out of a brownie right now, mags said she didn't want it and then the other girl, the one who ate and ate and shrank and shrank (that's a demon for another day Red) grabbed it first and then when she was sleeping i stole in and took out a whole banging chunk to bring to work. now i'm eating it with my fingers and there's some stuck under my nails, nails i just got did LAST WEEK RED. Last Week. when the Head came down to do his checks and i was just so upset the whole time because he fed me sweets and sweetheart but i knew all the banging while he was banging HER. that witch. i saw you a lot that week Red, I saw you a lot. anyway, he went and he got me my nails done right? so i pick the quietest color. oh quietest color yes not the type that screams GREEN FOR GO TOP YOURSELF or pink for hey c'mere. i picked one that was two shades lighter than my skin color. and everytime i raised my hands to pick at the scab on my forehead or the scabs on my cheeks i'd see them and remember the Head and his stupid sweethearts. 
 

corn's popped. 

see you later Red 

park

there is a park slightly before the center of downtown Detroit,
which doesn't have a name.
It does have a fountain in the middle,
it does have rules,
and it has rulebreakers.
A lady in blue cycling past the security guard yelling at her to get off her bicycle.
It has birds, 
I saw a pigeon standing on one foot, 
silly guy, playing flamingo.
I saw a blackbird with a deep emerald neck,
glossy, gorgeous.
"Hey little guy," I heard myself calling out, "You're beautiful, come here so I can take a closer look at ya." 
I have become the lady that talks to thrushes.
two construction workers walking past, 
smiling at me alone smiling alone at me
and my coffee cup. 
"Have a wonderful day," they said, 
the whole city wants me to have a wonderful day.

 

heartsong

Let me tell you what Chicago is,
it is waves lapping against your right foot and gravel from the passing cars spitting upon your left. 
It is a single man with a saxophone in a tunnel that goes nowhere,
another single man with flowers in a tunnel on a train going everywhere.
It is impersonal buildings that look the same and men in fishnets calling you "honey" "love" "baby" while flicking back your dressing room curtain to compliment the new dress you find yourself stumbling out onto the street in, having had no intention before to buy it.
It is a cat named Karma and cappuccinos with a view of Uno Pizzeria & Grill. 
Above all, it is a city and this heart sings whenever it finds itself in one.
So maybe what I was trying to say is,
Chicago is a heartsong. 
 

I've been feeling suspended in between spaces, and times. 
I'll get my bearings back soon enough I'm sure.
 

heavy

one of my favourite lines in a song goes like this
"a tully device to make sinking stones fly" 

I think the reason I love it so much is because I love the idea of sinking stones doing the opposite of what they're called to do. Levitating instead of dropping. 
I think it's because I wish I had a tully device to do the same. 
Instead of breaking hearts, breaking hearts mending.
Instead of crying lovers, crying lovers laughing.
Instead of dying souls, dying souls living. 

I think the reason I love it so much is because, 
I am so weighed down, 
every goodbye a sinking stone around my neck,
I am ready to fly. 

curse

If I could curse
i would curse half the world
to forget everything
and the other half, 
to remember it all. 

could you imagine
the chaos that would ensue?
it would be madness, 
and heartache,
and a thousand times over
it would be
me and you. 

today while walking home, a man in a black tweed cap said hello, how's your day going to me. good i said, and then to be polite, how about yours. he had a cup of iced coffee in his hand and he motioned towards the sky as he replied i'm going to work now. where at i smiled it was alright to talk because we were walking down the street and the street was busy with other students walking home. just around he replied. he had deep wrinkles in his face. what year of school are you in he asked. second i said. you're a beautiful lady. you're a very beautiful lady. he said. take care of yourself now, take good care of yourself. his smile was kind. his eyes were tired. i thanked him God bless i said as i turned into the shortcut i took everyday after class. he had nothing to lose and even less to gain. so he must have been telling the truth. i allow myself to smile. 

 

There's the skyscraper New York, the loudhailer New York.
Lady Liberty tall and proud and unapologetic. 
There's morning Brooklyn, coffee-with-your-flaky-croissant Brooklyn.
Artists walking their dogs that piss confidently on tired but cheerful-red fire hydrants.

13830013.jpg

Then there's subway New York, the underground New York. 
Cowering in corners, caving-in cardboard homes.
There's neon-lit Brooklyn, warning signs Brooklyn.
Young uns backing into the walls, whistling loudly but carefully at passers-by. 

borough

when we finally felt as if we had come to our senses, 
we decided to walk through New York one last time. 
the rain was warm, 
and that surprised me. 
your arms were not, 
but I didn’t miss a beat. 

the first borough, 
we pretended that we were not pretending at all. 
I stopped for a photo of a child, 
so that I could pretend in our pretend world
that she was mine, and I was hers. 
the second borough, 
you grew tired but I was used to walking the talk, 
so I carried the act on my back
while you carried my collection of books on yours.
(we had agreed that no trace of each other should be left in our homes and so
I took with me Dickens, Poe, and Plath) 
the third borough, 
you stopped for a smoke and I didn’t look away
as you inhaled everything that was wrong between us
and exhaled in relief. 
I had a lifetime ahead of me to not see you
do the everyday things you did, 
so I watched you with clear eyes and clouded conscience. 
the fourth borough, 
our steps
faltered

and

and I kissed you
for the last time
on the end of the fifth borough
and what I didn’t know was that
you too
had wished with all the broken bits of your heart
that there was a sixth borough.

 

now

If you saw me as I was
today, 
my unabashed laughter in a roomful of those
we never dared claim to be near the standards of, 
be it intellectually or just by sheer virtue of
skin color.

If you saw me as I was
yesterday, 
brave.
My voice the only one in a hall of 300. 
Calling out the right answer. 
Better. 

If you saw me as I am. 
Would you still say you knew me? 
Would you still say you know me?
Would you still say you loved me?
Would you still say you love me?


 

lemonpee/

a woman wails and people clap 
amongst other things
Yoko Ono 
avant garde 
what?


holding a kitten tight 
stringing around your neck 
to settle in between your breasts because
cats purrs aid healing 


drawing the evening out 
into midnight on my canvas 
because sleep is for the weak 
minded who are unable to conjure up 
the sort of wars that rage
in my subconscious state

every creak is a murderer 
every squeak a Russian Roulette 
in which the only player is 


wish that the night would carry you out 
on four shoulders 
and not return in the morning



mad girls

Mad girls
drunk on evening wine
eyelids coated in hues of clementine

Mad girls
laugh, not from lack of inhibition
instead from potent need of validation

Mad girls
paint the streets red
with real-life metaphors
blood from their blisters
soles of their feet sore

Mad girls
lie awake in the dark
their lips whisper 'love'
their hips - 'let's just fuck'

Mad girls
with flaming hearts ablaze with guilt
setting alight all the bridges they've built

Mad girls
pay debts from popping tops off beer
for weak men who sell guns
to weaker men living in fear

Mad girls
living under labels misconstrued
mad girls
are actually just sad girls too




I had a first kiss in the middle of a subway station once. One of the biggest in all of Tokyo and subsequently one of the most famous.
There's no underground subway metro quite like the Tokyo underground subway metro.
You are but a drop of water in an ocean once you've descended the steps.
The roar of the trains rushing across the tracks sound like the crashing of waves upon the rocks.
Ticket machines chirp, beep, click.
Muscle doesn't float so you must let yourself be carried along by the surge of the tide of commuters. Don't fight the flow.



Before the kiss, I avoided the subway. I held my breath whenever the train tracks dipped into a tunnel and we were bathed in darkness. Only during those brief moments I would catch glimpses of my reflection in the window.
I saw a young, terrified girl.
Three years later, I still see the same young, terrified girl.

The kiss took place in front of the ticket machines. Next to a pillar with station names plastered down its side. It was near midnight but still the trains roared and the waves crashed.
I finally understood the pull of claustrophobia.
The deliciousness of vertigo. When up becomes down and down becomes up. A world existed beneath the world above.


He is no longer here, in my life, or in that station. But once in a while, to indulge myself, I would take the train to the subway station where we first kissed. I would walk to the same spot where we once existed together in a common time and space and stand there awhile.

I had a first kiss in the middle of a subway station once. One of the biggest in all of Tokyo and subsequently one of the most famous. What they don't tell you, is that it is also one of the most beautiful.

couple walking in Ueno, Tokyo 
My thoughts are free to come to me,
and even better ;
they are free to stay.

Solace in Colace

jealousy is a laxative
it makes your stomach muscles clench
forces out the fullness of your body
so that all you become
is bitter bone
and skeptical skin

once i read a story about a girl who couldn't stop taking laxatives
"Where's my Ex-Lax" she would hiss
"I want my Colace"
the nurses ignored her
the other mad girls laughed at her

I flipped through the pages wildly.
maybe i would find her cure to my madness
but i was disappointed
because she was sexy too
according to the writer.

sexy
with her glowing limbs and lazy stride

i went on taking my laxatives
i purged myself of self-worth
after a particularly strong dose
i would feel light and empty
nothing coating my insides except an intense hatred

for today


Systematic, regulated calm.

I unlock the door, step onto the smooth familiarity of a polished wooden floor. My soles soak up the coolness of sun-deprived boards. "Scratchy, scratchy." I sing out to the German Shepard in the corner of the room who is batting at his ear with his hind paw. A brief thought crosses my mind, something about a vet, but I smell responsibility beneath the fleeting sentiment and willfully, almost guiltily, push it to the side of my mind where it finds its place between tomorrows' chores and today's' class work.

Smoky, wisp.

I'm not sure when lighting incense became habitual, but I surmise that it might've been somewhere in between a lazy Sunday afternoon and a rushed Monday morning. I must have seen or read about it somewhere and in all my romanticizing tendencies, decided to embrace it. The first time, smoke attacked my eyes and made them water, a half-burnt ashy bit fell off the stick upon my palm and left a mark for weeks.

I breathe the scent in deeply now - a mixture of citronella and smoke.

Joey Pecoraro's Tired Boy jazzes on. I look through the film photos just developed last night. None of them catch my eye in particular. Instead of feeling disappointed, a curious sense of gratitude for the moment fills me. My music, my scented air, my words. All self-centered but I see the effects rolling out from this little space in waves.

Slowly, I feel the bits and pieces of who I am gather themselves.
It's a Friday afternoon.









I find it justifiable suitable that the final photo of my family would be one of overexposure due to the glaring rays of the noonday sun, because after all, they were truly the highlight of my entire film roll. I see you rolling your eyes and clucking in disapproval. But it's fine, that's justifiable too. Chiang Mai was breathtakingly beautiful, holding its own in a country already so slathered in colors, textures, and taste. Every single day was a sensory overload but in a wonderful way. I enjoyed losing myself in the racket of vendors yelling for you to get your baht over there ASAP, in the tom yam kung that mercilessly tore through your tastebuds like little sharp knives, and in the general aura of a land aware of its own appeal.