Ilsa Harun2 October 2016
Winter is over. It’s time to put away the onesie and venture outside into the dating pool.
Later this year I’m travelling to South-East Asia for three months, and I feel gut-wrenchingly guilty about it. It’s not only because of the carbon emissions involved in flying, nor the chequered and problematic history of white people journeying through Asia over the centuries. Since long before Elizabeth Gilbert ate, prayed, and loved around the globe, people from one place have travelled to another place, returning with souvenirs, stories and “new” ideas. It’s tempting to view this dissemination as a holy form of multiculturalism that celebrates social, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic difference, but I think that this belies a much shadier truth: self-interest in all its forms is the bedrock of travel.
This story ends with a girl whose hair is too long for her liking. Seven new songs, unwashed swimmers, and a pair of luggage tags for the flight home tomorrow. She has a lump in her throat that’s been there for two months. Everything’s tasted bitter since September.
in sophie’s skin
in summers knowledge
The way it starts is the way it ends and I kiss you like the worst I’ve ever had is a paper cut. I dream of asking you out for coffee, watch the flowers grow in real time. You live above me so I stick stars on the ceiling. I’m hoping that they’ll help you sleep better.
Close your eyes and accept the tug. Crunch the numbers and you’ll be safe. But the tangible dangers of collision aren’t what I distrust. It is the stasis of what it lacks that makes me uneasy. It will always be an eerie pull that I can only see in my messy calculations, only existing inside my head.
she lies awake
legs spread wide
ready to birth a new star
Through cradle and gravel,
A truth to tell;
Mortal is lost,
Till last bell.
At night, the streets—unlike any other city—are empty, but the repurposed Victorian gas-lights remain lit. They project onto the neo-classical architecture, the statues of Oxford circus, the garrets made of red brick, exaggerated angles/boundaries of shadow like the cabinet of Dr Caligari, or the fingers in F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, edging around the columns and overly decorated facades like vines.
The light stains the tops of buildings
gold fish orange
Thoroughly stir ingredients in a bowl of spare time at the station,
Saving the addition of reactive liquids until after departure.
like a pearl-shaped ship on an inky sea
she glides imperceptibly, making headway
without want of lighthouse, for no beacon
PLAYFUL PUNS AND ONE BIG CROSSWORD THAT FITS IN 100 WORDS AND UNDER
He felt them inside his hands and legs, inside his chest, even inside his face. He saw them too, sometimes. Nobody else did. Only him. The miniscule worm-like parasites which had taken his body as their new home. He would never have noticed them had it not been for the unbearable itching. They slipped out of his skin to peak into the atmosphere, he felt them crawling on his skin. It would start itching. Nobody would believe him, even when he grabbed one of them and pulled it out (and caused a wound which had still not healed). Every test he underwent, told him he was normal, with nothing wrong with him. It would still itch.
I am brown before I am human. This is something I’ve learnt to live with staying in Melbourne. It isn’t something I’m okay with. It shouldn’t be, but it is how I adapted to a society that often sees me as an alien.
and bottle sated
associated resting rates. in time
find purchase in separate anxieties
“It’s a water rat,” I say to Hannah, but she probably already knows that. The rat pulls itself up onto the boardwalk and rests its little hands on the hunk of bread. Its stomach bulges. Hugo takes a nibble and then drags the bread down into the rocks. The white tip of his tail flashes.
Long ago, Snow White’s ancestors invaded a beautiful, sunny land. There she lived in the Queen’s care. The Queen asked her magic mirror, “Who is the fairest in the land?”
It replied, “If you mean fair as in pale, it’s Snow White. But don’t hold yourself to the beauty standards of your oppressors. Love yourself.”
A spacious, well-lit, and illuminated afternoon that
carries one forward through morose times
of dreary, unanswered dreams.
We kept a jar of my grandmother’s chilli pickle in the freezer while my father flew to Malaysia for her funeral.
Content warning: sex
The doctor is kneeling on top of the Tardis. They raise one of their hands; floating through the rings of a gas giant—imagine Saturn but lavender—particles twist around their sixth digit. They remember a quote from a Futurama episode: “The ship stays where it is, and the engine moves the universe around it.”
In memory of Kim Jonghyun
The moon is Listerine tonight,
the electric blue and the shock
of that light shooting down my spine
reminds me of you.
father told a story
of Koschei the deathless,
wove his death through a needle eye,
stuck fast in a duck’s skin,
made flotsam of a foreign body
Laura wakes up. She thinks, “Oh god, I’ve got that big presentation today!” She jumps out of bed to get dressed, but suddenly! Her legs are computers!!!!!!!!!! By the time she gets to work the meeting is over and she’s still in her pyjamas.
She is preparing to go “full campaign mode”, after sharing Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech on Facebook for the seventh time.
It should be fine, I think.
the clouds and the birds float by.
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