This see-saw need


Selected poems




We were the sun

dipping low

long past its zenith


we were marked

scratching at calluses

leached of life


me depleted

pestled into powder

away from you


the ground

loosely packed

air I still breathe


away from you

we were the sun

the process has begun.




For Ava

Your mother

is an in-betweener

in transitional mode

from what is, to what will be

over the shoulder glance:


a throat-scorching landscape

for the love of you

I tried to make the triangle prevail

until enough

I could prop no more

a collapse of this formation of sticks

stones that did hurt

a soul in unfashionable black


shield your eyes darling girl

I don't know

what will become of us

a looking forward, a dazzle

for this tiny binary unit

is all I can write for

those who spark

then fade

will make their presence felt

but you

you are the lodestar

to light me out

a reminder

of a life to be kissed.





If I could write you out of my system

I would

siphon every last drop away

drain the bloodstream

of residual traces

flatten memory

and sandpaper flesh

where skin impressed

upon skin

on your audio track

I would press delete


but there's no antidote

just time's slow crawl

and this see-saw need

to recall

months of fitful joy

when in tune

a pas de deux

we gleamed in a bubble



from the creases of the world.





Through a camera lens

across stage boards

dancing over pages

they hurtle through space


an invisible bridge

the stories that knit

mend the dissonance

between artifice and reality


from lower to uppercase

we speak of little and big

determinism and fate

the weight of our days



but now, here with me

the pause button pressed

          you've stopped.






fate's merciful handmaiden

and here we are

Degraves Street

this Mecca to caffeine

black-on-black uniform

specials chalked

heat-emitting pillars

murmurings and talk


our conversation

a stream devoid of pebbles

our faces contoured

by tea-light candles

Van Gogh brushstrokes

flashes of colour

the blond of your hair

the red of my lips

green beginnings.



Thuy OnThuy On is a freelance literary and arts journalist and critic. Her work has been published in various places including The Australian, The Age, The SMH, Books+Publishing and ArtsHub. For the last seven years she's been books editor of The Big Issue. Author photo by Leah Jing.

Topic tags: Thuy On, poetry



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