in which there is a decided difference between a house and

a home –
our two burning
heads bent together,
a roof over hands
and feet pressed against
each other,
a blueprint of unfinished
hearts

look at what
is left of that shanty
house: my blank body
and clay handprints
from when you left off
the building and walked
out the hole in my chest –

i break apart the
sprawling ivy of
the messy leaving
and try and plant
hope back in an empty
chest

i still remember

our legs
were tangled
roots, shaking
foundations of
unsteady feet
and i still miss
the earthquakes

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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#trainwreck

  1. he only wants so little,
    as much flesh as he can
    fit in his palm. he only
    takes as much of me
    as he can see and lust
    has clouded so much
    of his sight that he takes
    almost nothing.
  2. the second boy wants too
    much, wants my brain and
    my heart and i say goodbye
    to him the first time he traces
    over the fourth finger of my left
    hand, pensive and thoughtful
    and i thought we talked about
    this,
    i say, shutting the door
    behind him
  3. he is sweet the way a knife
    might be sweet, sharp and
    shining in the dim light of
    your kitchen. it is always so
    tempting to brush your hands
    against the tip of it – you never
    think it will cut you because
    haven’t you played with more
    dangerous toys?
    i stop texting
    back before we watch the last
    harry potter movie because blood
    on my DVDs is a no –

    and there is you,
    who wants my everything
    and my nothing and i have
    always been terrible at
    being two things at once –
    it is an art, being held and not
    and being wanted and not,
    but i practise and practise
    because i know what it’s like
    to not want to hold something
    with two hands

    conveniently forgetting
    every time one hand
    wasn’t enough to keep
    the plates from breaking

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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here comes the battering ram

you still ache
from the last time
he put a hole
through your body

just a drink,
a couple of words
and then bam

you are a
zombie.
you are something
they speak of
only in song.
you are a walking
tragedy, all dressed up
for a funeral
that no one will
go to.

because all his
friends are your
friends and he is
still taking –

even in the wake
of all your loss.

even in the aftermath
of a song that used to
be ‘your’ song, plural.

even in the light of
a box of his things
you never should
have opened –

and while you are
grieving for that entire
year that no one else
remembers, he will
steal at the hearts of
younger girls that look
a whole lot like you

and you wish you
could call out to them –
but you have sewn your
lips together, still keeping
secrets of affection
for an absent owner.

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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stress eating

they tell me
that the month
after you left,
i grew so pale
and thin they
were afraid i
was going to
disappear

they tell me
that i didn’t
eat, that it was
like i was
starving myself
in your absence

they don’t know
how full i was,
how i had stuffed
myself so i was
sure i could never
eat again –

they don’t know
about every single
lie i swallowed,
smiling after each one –
so good

they don’t know
how that entire month
i’d try and fit my whole
hand in my mouth, try
and eat that urge to reach

how i ate the silences between
one text and the next,
not even rationing for
the long night of your
not being beside me –

who knew white noise could
be so darn tasty?

they didn’t know about how
i spent our whole relationship
binge eating little parts of myself –

sorry, honey, i’m out of self-respect,
but i still have some love left in the
fridge

(the month after you left i could
only restock with tubs of bitter
and everything tasted like the waste
of that whole year)

is it then any wonder that i wasn’t
in the mood for fried chicken,
dim sum or
an all you can
eat buffet?

can’t come for dinner,
too full of the bullshit
he’s been feeding me to
get off the couch

i used to love eating,
used to never stop –
then you came along

and god, even now,
i still taste the burning.

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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kooza

go to the circus:
and there is a girl
who will hang from
a hoop 20 feet up
by only her neck,
with no safety net

i want you to look at her
and think about the last
time i jumped:

my words flinging
themselves into open
air with nothing
and no one to
catch them

my ‘i love you’
still hangs there,
in the aftermath of
the confetti that
no one asked for,
waiting to fold into
itself

a contortionist;
they only learn
to bend themselves
that way to make themselves
smaller –

didn’t you know that?

and do you know
how small I have
made myself
to keep all my broken
pieces together?

i want you to
go to the circus:
watch the men
dance on the tightrope,
their steps stuttering
like your heart beneath
my careful fingers

look at how narrow
that rope is,
admire its
fragility

you should know
that accidents happen
at the circus all the time.

a careless word,
a question badly phrased

the line between trust me
and don’t frayed.

god.

wasn’t
it
such
a
long
way
down?

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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why your teachers always hate run-on sentences:

what bothers me
are your ellipses
trailing

to wrap around
my throat with
the things you
have made me
too scared to
say

i have always been
outspoken, an
exclamation in
a grand canyon –

you are the void
i speak to, the
dash in the midst
of the rolling hills
that tumble dry
their lovers’

i stand, alone
slash not in the
in between we have
made

(what a beautiful
bracket of uncertainty
we make, falling
headfirst into each
other by lazy spines
that could not hold
us apart)

there is no
full stop.

there is instead,
a non-exhaustive list
of all the grammatical
mistakes we continue
to make

a train I should not
have taken – the
sentence that kept
running

missed phone
calls – inverted
commas with
no dialogue

a text
that has no
good reply –
never-ending
question marks

and a couple of truly
terrible nights in
July –
a poem

a kiss,
we didn’t
take – it
hangs, like
a participle
with a noose
round its neck,

like that
desperate
moment
missed in
the last second
before midnight;

Raemae Kok is an aspiring Singaporean writer that dabbles in prose, poetry and theatre. She is currently an undergraduate student who hopes to major in Theatre.

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Young Man

Broken shale, I wondered why
I saw everything as an animal, with a soul.
            How long were you underwater?
Did I dry you out when I brought you up?
Is that why you crumbled?
            I wanted to remain sentimental.

I repeat,

            I wanted to remain sentimental
when I grew older, but hang on to my strength
when I lost my dreidel.
            No, I’m not Jewish,
but a rabbi gave it to me, and I forgot his name.
He taught me the phrase, Nes Gadol Hayah Sham.
            He had a glass eye.
I was the only one who didn’t scream when he took it out
to clean.
            He told me I was brave,
so I bit my lip when I couldn’t find the dreidel
            when my family moved away.

M. N. O’Brien received his B.A. from Roanoke College, where his work was published in On Concept’s Edge and received the Charles C. Wise Poetry Award. He currently lives in Roanoke, Virginia, and feels awkward writing about himself in the third person. His recent work has appeared in Quatrain.Fish, SOFTBLOW, and the Ekphrasis Review.

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