It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Category: free writing

free writing #7 | open mic: Misaki, the japanese sex doll

an upstanding sex doll
i see the irony, too
you don’t get to laugh though
some people like it standing up

let’s talk a little more about irony
you find a contemplative sex doll strange
but isn’t it weird how i’m made to service people
and you had to blow me first

or that we still need rubber to have sex
that you just want an unemotional bang
but I’m full of hot air
now, I’m not here to judge

but i have feelings too. last week,
when you were hosing me down
you missed a cavity
there are only three cavities

yeah that really hurt my feelings
and it wouldn’t matter and it doesn’t.
time is different for me anyway,
i’m not the sentimental type

every day you divide your lives into
compartments of time. a first kiss. 20 seconds.
a last track at a party. 4 minutes. a sunset. 7.
but i don’t see it that way

and don’t get me wrong, i’m fine with that
but yesterday you came up to me
and your eyes were clear
you held my face, intertwined our fingers

flesh and silicone indistinguishable
you tilted your face to kiss me
and i counted 20 seconds
before pulling away

writing prompt Denial


free writing #6 | space oddity


“Hey man, how’re things looking up there”

“The same. Tried changing the channel but apparently you don’t get cable here”


“How’s my wife?”

“She’s good she came in yesterday actually”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah she uh… she says hi.”


He was a chemical engineer and a writer for prolific science magazine, SciTech. We met at a pub near campus. I was bartending, he was playing pool with a bunch of postgrads.  I stepped out to use the bathroom and found him outside the stalls, tossing his vodka soda in the sink and filling the glass up with water. Suppressing a giggle, I tiptoed out the door. The next evening, his friends were right in front of the bar chugging beer. They cajoled and coaxed, but he remained reticent, nursing the same glass of water-vodka-who-knew-really. I offered a refill and against weak protest, placed a new glass in his hands.

He spent the rest of the evening drinking (as eloquently declared between drunken platitudes) “a shit tonne” of vodka. As he glanced my way and we shared a moment of solidarity, I offered a knowing wink as a small smile played on my lips. He stayed ’til the end of my shift and took me home. I’d never had so much belief in the true transcendence of turning water into wine.

The dark side of the moon is a myth.

He told me that on our first date, when I brought up my love for Mulan. He shook tousled hair out of his eyes and grinned surreptitiously, explaining, “In reality, both sides of the moon receive the same amount of sunlight but only one side can be seen from Earth. The side facing away from the Earth has only ever been seen from a spacecraft”. He took a sip from his (virgin) pina colada and saw the utter bemusement on my face before adding, “Oh but I loved Mulan, too”.

Marriage felt a little like being swept up by the ocean after years of wading in the kiddy pool. Everything about Phillip was magnified. I got acquainted with his insistence on wearing socks to sleep, sneezes that sounded like a primal mating call and the seemingly perpetual whir of the coffee grinder (I preferred tea). Nonetheless, we sputtered about this foreign terrain with enough hope and love to last a lifetime.

And then came the ad.

The first one was erected at a bus stop a block away from our apartment. It stood like a sentinel, sanctimoniously eyeing the puny neighbourhood with a gaze that seemed to embody both indifference and unnerving intensity. My office was a couple of stops down from our house and I saw it on the way to work. I actually laughed, the darn thing made me laugh.

When I was 7, I was the master of staring contests. Call it eyelids of steel or a sick penchant for uncomfortable games, but every hapless contender would walk away defeated and a little teary-eyed. Phillip was the first person who made me sweat a little. Just before a minute, we were locked in a fierce some gaze, fighting all urges to lower strained lids in defeat. Throwing all notion of fair play out the window, I reached forward and poked his side and he harrumphed an exhale, accepting defeat. He nodded with mock deference before grabbing me in a

TBC. had a crazy fever dream that kinda inspired this. it’s not done cos I have work to plough through but hopefully I can wrap this up soon

inspired by writing prompt: Obsessed

free writing #5 |whim to fancy

You are the 1%
I can never seem to shake
Peace in disquietude, beauty in chaos
To me, you are made of metaphors
Scrawling across your features,
I’ve repackaged you into a thousand poems
Just to feel you
How many times,
I pumped words into ever growing spaces
Thinking myself a mechanic
Or an operator for a carnival’s bouncy castle
Protecting lightness and buoyancy
Patching the holes with adjectives
Beautiful, kind, eloquent, intelligent, connoisseur, timeless, captive

There is a reason you only fit in poems
I have dehumanised, romanticised too much
To leave you straddled between full stops
your grip is so careless
Your head, always tilted the wrong way
Hold me
Kiss me
If nothing else,
Hand me back the words with which you are made

free writing #4 | lionheart

well son, this one’s a little tricky
you’re going to need some patience
hold your spine parallel to the pavement
yes and flat, flat as the
endless streak of evening light over the savannah
feel the grass bent against you
commit sinew and muscle
to move with it,
each step coalescing into the next
ah yes -and this is important-
pay attention to its breathing
you’ll know the second it sees you.
once you’ve made your move remember
it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to
a hostile hand
when they thrash and scream
what a feeling!

don’t look like that,
oh please don’t look like that
when prey pray,
there is no redemptive fanfare.
just the pleasant sigh of a natural order


inspired by writing prompt: Cowardice

free writing #3 | shangchi

It was 2pm on a Thursday and Jeff was just on time. He thanked the Uber driver and stepped out onto the newly paved asphalt. His neck glistened with perspiration, the taxi ride’s reprieve from the relentless humidity but a happy memory. He eyed his surroundings and decided that some time out of the service apartment would do him some good anyway, even if it meant traipsing about gaudy red banners and whiskered old men. He caught a glimpse of the familiar egg tart shop in the distance and allowed himself a small smile. Same old glass display with mismatched fluorescent lights, same disgruntled lady boss who always seemed ready to launch a lethal vendetta against the next customer to ask for free samples. He chuckled, some things never change.

A cacophonous rise of excited voices drew Jeff’s attention away from reminiscing to a growing crowd. Between the elbowing and neck craning, he saw two men in the throes of a Chinese chess match. An amalgamate of dialects were being used by the onlookers and Jeff (albeit the least qualified to discern) managed to pick up hints of Teochew and Hokkien. The two players seemed like equals and the stakes were higher now that their friendly match had become such a spectacle. His roommate back in Leeds, an ardent chess fan, always frowned upon xiangqi, calling it an old man’s pastime. It was the way he said it that got to Jeff at first. Shangchi. Such a jarring, flippant sound. But no amount of tongue rolling or coaching could salvage his pronunciation and eventually Jeff resigned to calling it shangchi too. Jeff smiled to himself as he moved back a few paces and angled his phone for a snap. He sent it to Lloyd and imagined his eyes rolling, fingers already typing a middle finger emoji in response.

Within the crowd, Jeff saw some eyes flicker towards him and it almost felt like a wall of hostility pushing him away from the crowd. He blinked and chided his overactive imagination. Still, it was as if the crowd knew he’d been shangchi-ing his way into blind anglophilia for years. Slightly befuddled at his own presumptions and no longer invested in the match, Jeff stepped out into the main square and noted the sudden coolness of the Chinatown air.


free writing #2 | expecting

Finally alone for the day, she traced the topography of her stomach and revelled in its smoothness, only momentarily interrupted by the small indent of her belly button. Often times at night, whilst lying beside the crooked frame of her husband, she would concentrate on the tenuous rise and fall of her chest and imagine a thousand workers feverishly pushing her diaphragm up and down with each breath. It seemed almost inexorable to her, a laborious insistence for survival, a divine prerogative. In a matter of months, she would be led by the wrists into motherhood. She would have to sport joggers and join the ranks of womb-weary women, bellicose birth-givers, each working their little diaphragm minions to death. She shook her head. No, she wouldn’t be one of those women. She would love the child the way a bird-watcher stays fixated on the Nordmann’s Greenshank a metre away. It would be as beautiful and clerical as noting a rare species on an identification sheet.

free writing #1 | yum seng

Sometimes when I’m at the dinner table with my parents and grandparents, it becomes strikingly clear how the rest of my life may play out. For instance, I can see myself as my mother grimaces at another one of Gong Gong’s tirades against the injustice of country club politics, as if there is nothing unjust about the way he expectantly waits to be served food; or the way his weathered, waterlogged calves can no longer carry him through a round of golf. Other times, I see my grandmother and imagine that I too will have a wiry, tired frame to withstand the brunt of my burgeoning depression, which nervously festers when I am alone. But I am interrupted by my father’s distinct coughing to see that all the food is on the table and everyone is ready to begin.