“It’s strange, I long for a central privacy, but also feel terribly isolated. I go to bed hoping the next morning won’t have that tinge of dread…

To make it better I imagine a fire and a good feeling, and new snow in the morning, of eyes that don’t itch and burn, swimming in cooling water, standing on big rocks overlooking the ocean, seeing birds, and the possibility of reaching out to the soft skin of someone for whom no amount of closeness would be enough.”
“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (via petrichour)

(Source: larmoyante, via cornerof)

“There’s no method. There’s no formula. If you really proceed a sentence at a time, if you pay attention to the sentence you just wrote and look to it for the clue for what to do to the next sentence, you can inch your way along to what may be a story. This wouldn’t have occurred to me starting out, for example, when I thought you wrote one sentence, then just looked out to the world trying to snag the next one. That’s not how it works. You look back at what you gave yourself to work with. Sharon Olds said something beautiful about sometimes thinking of her poems as instructions for how to put the world back together if it were destroyed.”



Olivia and I were talking about how I can be more compassionate. Olivia says to think a good thought about someone whenever I have a bad one, but she said it, as she always does, in a way that sounded better and meant much more. I told her that empathy for me is all tied up in sadness. When people say, where does the sense of loss come from? the answer I want to give is, from being human, but what I mean by that is, probably, the heart. If I give in too often to empathy it will flow inevitably into sadness and so it is easier to be cruel than to be kind, or to be silent rather than speak. This is a position that you’d think someone well versed in the particular histories I am well versed in would not want to take, but it’s where I stand for now.


Dear Caroline,


I have long suspected that my restlessness is simply a futile wish to escape not this job or that apartment or the other city, but my own circumstances, my own intolerable skin.

I have never thought of your constancy and contentedness as a punchline. I have always found it deeply enviable—no, admirable.

Where did I learn this thing, that all the pieces of myself that are different are the pieces to be hidden or forgiven or escaped, not treasured? It was not my mother, so heartily a snorer. Not my sisters, joyful and beautiful and serene. Maggie said to me the other day, as I ate my second chocolate bar of the day, “I like that you’re always eating chocolate. I think it says something about your personality. Like, it’s indulgent.” Something in there somewhere, if I can unravel it, something about loving yourself just for being yourself, the way you love your friends and family for their exact selves.





limbs move slowly, knowing there’s no other way to move. heavy airs dampen ability to respond, and there is not enough blue when i look outside to calm these aches.

there is not enough blue when i look outside to let the tiredness overtake me, belly where it belongs — pressing against the floor or bed. i want the promise of being taken care of by surrendering to whatever is happening inside me, but —.


now when i see someone with a red nose i feel sad. so, so sad.

it is so hard to rest here. my eyes, they’re dry and sore from all the salt kept secret inside. i don’t know how to get on with things like i’m not waddling through air made of thick jelly. 


i blame this arbitrary slowness on my body’s irrational preparation for a winter — cold to wrap me in four layers of clothing before venturing out the door, chill to remind me where all my bones are, grey skies to parallel with the greys inside, the need to cup and touch all the warm things around me, darker nights for easy sleep. i’ve never missed winter as much as i do now.

there is no winter here. this place will never work that way. 

before this i could have sworn i was getting used to these hours and monotony, but then i started to think i’m waking up in the wrong bedroom again.

after recalculating the years and events to wear off the shock from waking up today, i thought, how long more will i be jet lagged from the past?


i will always be jet lagged from the past.

and from all the loss and losing that brought me back here.

-DH (afraidofwords)


Question: When you were twenty-nine, you wrote that there were two women in you: “one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning, and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, and despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.” How did you master yourself?

Anais Nin: One continually leaps over the negative. I haven’t yet reached a point where I’m courageous every day. And the struggle keeps my diary alive. Now I have a sense of harmony, of integration. I feel free. The two women are there in me, but they don’t tear at each other. They live in peace.


My book of cartoons “You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack” is out now. Click here for details.


My book of cartoons “You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack” is out now. Click here for details.


I am digging my way out to a day when words don’t matter, when
I have spilled enough of these voices out so I can hear myself
and not be left wondering — “What else have I to say?”

The Sky Speaks to the Ground and We Are All Buried
is a collaboration sparked by a conversation over pastries between me, Syar S. Alia and Syazwina Saw. What felt like an ordinary venting and munching session soon became linked to an ISSUE Magazine theme, Hunger. As we filled our tummies, we spat out sentences and expressions, flailed gestures in the air and clawed at our breaths, finding similarities in each other’s words. Our tangled and desperate thoughts revealed a sense of displacement so absurd, a yearning so strong, a shared hunger that made us more aware about space and place and where we are/aren’t.

We decided it was time to explore these things that fired us up so much — or maybe we hadn’t. Maybe we all gently nudged each other into this and came to the realisation that it was time to stop merely thinking about this, and to start talking. 

The work consists of three written pieces, topped with a spoken word track of a ‘conversation poem’ we wrote together. We’ve also included tracks of each person reciting their lines from this poem.

I’m really grateful to have worked on this theme with two lovely and supportive ladies. I hadn’t found it easy to make an actual, for-real start on this — it’s daunting, investigating something that has haunted and hounded you so closely for years that it becomes hard to hold at arm’s length for the observation and for the yelling. This felt like one of those things that needed the hands and voices of others, the good company was crucial for the process (the food and tea helped too!). 

The final result, for us, is a big sigh of relief. Click through for the full piece!

P.S. illustrations made by me, a big thank you to Syar for the sound editing and Syaz for documenting our eats for the blurb!




I have finally decided that the submission due date for Under The Influence; Well Read is SATURDAY NOVEMBER 9! 
Please send me your stories, essays, letters, artwork, doodles, WHATEVER all about the books, authors, stories, novel characters you love and love to hate.




Just putting this out there again. Because it’s my job to, I guess. If y’all would be willing to share it, that would be cool. Would really love to make Well Read a big one.