Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way?

Tag: poem

On coming home 17 years later

My friend wrote this lovely poem~ Original post here.

When I was five my parents moved us to New Zealand.

I learned how to say Aotearoa before I knew how to write my own name in Chinese.

I knew how to spell New Zealand before I ever knew how to write the two characters that read ‘Taiwan’.

Yet I was always reminded of one thing:

Even if you grew up there, your skin is still yellow; they’ll never see you as one of them.

Don’t forget where you came from.

I know this because I’ve spent my life listening to people

yell go back to your country

from car windows when I walk down the street

and I want to yell back “this is my country, I know no other”.

I will always be immigrant in their eyes.

Politicians spit Chinese, spit foreign like we have not brought wealth;

like we have not paid dearly in both currency and dignity to make this place home.

I have heard the words bloody asians more than enough times,

so don’t worry, I’ll never forget where I came from.

Taiwan, I say, when people ask.

I’m from Taiwan.

But I wish they didn’t feel the need to ask.

Two years ago I moved to Taiwan.

(Or should I say back to Taiwan?)

My mother says when she looks at the sky here she sees her youth floating past,

and she knows the streets we walk down by heart.

She hears home in each step she takes.

She did not want to leave 17 years ago.

It was here, too, that I drew my first breath, spoke my first word, took my first step, learned the word home.

But I was torn from my soil as a sapling, and now my roots have all dried –

slice them open with a pocketknife and nothing spills out.

But if  you cut open my veins I will bleed pohutukawa flowers.

I will bleed the salt waters of the south pacific ocean, childhoods at the beach fighting with seagulls,

and an expanse of long white clouds.

I will bleed quiet night skies filled with stars, the damp smell of bush walks in the Waitakere Ranges,

and the taste of cold L&P.

People here tell me how lucky I am to know how to speak English but

How do I tell them I wish I could exchange my tongue for one that matches my skin?

How do I tell them that when I try to speak Chinese, I often opt for silence because I struggle too hard to find the words;

I guess I just misplaced them when we crossed an ocean all those years ago.

How do I tell them that when I try to write Chinese, my pen is like a lost explorer, depressed and drunk;

each stroke is a maze that he cannot fathom so he sits down to cry.

How do I tell them I wish I could write the intricate characters telling stories in the language that should be carved into the walls of my brain?

My grandfather told me that each Chinese character evolved from a picture and each picture tells a story.

If a picture is really worth a thousand words, and there are over 50,000 Chinese characters,

there are 50 million stories to be told.

50 million stories I do not know.

I have only 26 letters to rearrange, but they work with me,

use my tongue as diving boards,

fall from my lips like fearless skydivers,

deliver my thoughts like practised messengers.

Nowadays I avoid mentioning that I don’t belong

but when people ask me what city I’m from I don’t know what to say.

I was born in Taipei

but Auckland nurtured me with its gentle fingers.

Auckland taught me peace,

taught me how blue the sky can be

taught me, how it feels to take off your shoes and run barefoot in the grass.
Do I say Auckland or Taipei?

I’m not going to point out that I’m out of place

but I can’t claim this city as home and

I don’t know how to talk my way out of this one and oh no my words are tripping over my teeth on their way out again.

I wish I could say what I’m trying to say in English –

no i’m not saying I’m better because I speak another language –
I’m sorry.
I wish I was one of you.

And when I say I miss home I’m not saying I don’t love my birthplace,

it’s just that the definition of home has always been fluid and

my search for belonging has made me an albatross,

gliding along the shoreline on switching currents,

my feet never touching land.

And even though I finally look like I’m home now –

a dark haired, yellow skinned puzzle piece that’s turned up as last,

my edges don’t quite fit as well as I’d hoped.

So I tell my parents I don’t think this is home and this city is a stranger to me,

and that it makes me want to run because they’ve always warned me against the unknown.

I tell them that before I left Auckland,

I ground my heart into sand and let the wind carry it away

so New Zealand would always have a piece of me

and now when my friends walk along the beach there,

I feel each footprint in my chest.

I tell them the sky in this city is thick with a collective memory that I cannot access,

and when I reach out to those around me I only grab empty air –

but my father insists that I’m home now and so I say

I’m home now.


this time last year
i was your lover’s ghost
it wasn’t long till your hands slipped
and when you threw me against the wall
my head cracked open
blood splattered on the musty plaster
unveiling all our flaws

this time last year
you had me down on my knees
confessing to a life of sin and tragedy
you picked me up and dusted me clean
held my hand and watched me scream
i woke up to your smiling face
and loved you an eternity

this time last year
you taught me a brilliant lie
if you want someone to stay
whisper i love you in the most sincere voice
promise to heal and make sure you take
steal their heart then cast it away
keep her in her place

Someone wrote me a poem…

sometimes, late at night, i think of you when i really should be sleeping
i rarely sleep, mostly due to insomnia,
but sometimes i’m not sure if it’s that or the fact that i am breathlessly waiting for a chance to talk to you
and talking to you is painful
and exciting
the discomfort is totally worth it when i get a laugh or a smile or, my god, a “you’re adorable!”
it’s worth even when there’s no response and i panic and assume i’ve said something too awkward to overlook

sometimes, late at night, i think about kissing you,
when i really should be sleeping,
and wonder how your lips would feel against mine
(and abruptly remember that i lost my chapstick ages ago and never bothered to replace it)
if you would taste like cigarattes
if i would like it

sometimes, late at night, i think of you
in the most innocuous fashion
and just want to know how your day has been
when i have absolutely no business being awake


late night thoughts | Penn Manship


Well baby
I remember when I was freezing and you put your hand on top of mine
The chills disappeared for eight perfect months
Then you took back every warm word I rested my heart on
I never imagined that two hours was enough time to turn someone from a lover to a beggar
I saw you smile when I unravelled like broken strings
Don’t you just adore the way love can burn
It hurts so damn good

Well honey
I remember those tears we both shed when we were tired of screaming
There were no real winners in that last game
Only bloodstained memories
I counted your flaws and ran out of hands
I called you a pig and asked if she was pretty down on her knees
I’m still apologising to myself
For missing the feel of your skin
I’m still hating myself
For how easy it was to let you touch me

Well darling
It’s 2 am again and I’m not calling
This time I’ll keep my loneliness to myself
Pour another cup of tea and pretend you’re sleeping alone
When I know you’re holding a warm body
The way you used to hold my hand
I don’t miss you
I don’t miss you


i am creating a revolution
with skin and bones
still unbroken, untainted by scars that threatened to win

i am cleaning the residue
stained memories
silent evidence of who we could have been

i am drawing a picture
frames of disjointed past
seeking redemption for mistakes you pushed me to make

i am living a life
with no shoulders to lean on
tired of the blind leading the blind

i am hoarding sins
no one is here to save me
from the masochist who craves destruction

i am composing melodies
lullabies don’t lull me to sleep
the way your voice did

i am fighting fire
with fire
tearing down walls of insincere apologies

i am cheating death
leaving only ashes
to deal with unanswered questions 

i am luring loneliness
carved from leftover heartache
it will take more than a lifetime to forget me


let me tell you about the time
he passed a cigarette and accidentally burnt my skin
but instead of saying sorry he laughed
at my clumsiness and
told me to be more careful next time

let me tell you about the time
he made me coffee and never asked if i took milk or sugar
and I drank it black with a grimace
too grateful to complain
but I knew he noticed anyway

let me tell you about the time
when I leaned in then regretted my sin
because he was still too far to kiss
but it was too late to leave with nothing
so i hugged him awkwardly

let me tell you about the time
i caught him staring at the scar on my leg
but never stopped to ask me what happened
I suppose he simply didn’t care
maybe that’s the worst injury


I had fallen a long way
To tell you not to come after me
Softly slowly silently you stole what you never intended to keep
Left it on the kitchen counter
I have looked under all the knives
Trying to find old demons to hunt you down with
But all I found were petty mistakes
Our first kiss
My only pleasant memory
He accused me of smiling too much
With such sincerity you should have been a witness so you could learn
It’s impolite to put out cigarettes on fresh wounds
Still bleeding, I told my therapist and he called you selfish
I called your mother and she told me she loves you no matter what you did
I have not been able to lie in bed without feeling my bones ache and kicking invisible enemies
I have been seeing death in every mirror, every window
Telling me it’s time to leave


What is your name
The one your mother called you before you were born
That no one else knew about
Who were you supposed to be
A lover or a friend
How did you find me
I was not seeking
For a love that would destroy me
When you left you broke my universe
Will you let me come back
Would you hurt me again so I’ll feel alive once more
Nostalgia haunts me
Now that you’re gone
I have written your name on my spine
That’s all they’ll see when they grab my throat
He knows
It won’t stop him
Please lead me back to you
Before he hurts me differently
You won’t be around when he inflicts real bruises
When every punch leaves purple or black
Will you save me again
Pretend to care even a little
A kiss with a fist is still better than none


Do you ever wake up
Roll over to touch me
And realise I’m not there

Do you ever sleep
Try to hold me closer
And only grab thin air

Do you ever think
What you could be missing
Might be worth the fear

Do you ever dream
Of a happily ever after
A life we might have shared

Do you ever listen
For the sound of my voice
Whispering in your ear

Do you ever feel
A twinge of regret silenced by
Uncompromising despair

Do you ever follow
A lover’s harsh advice
And stop to think twice


Do you really believe
That the heart can mend
By sharing another’s bed


These words are not coming easily to me.
I stare at the blankness and I want to bleed.
Fill the pages with blind rage and paint it red.
It seems the only way the monster within will be fed.

Tell me, girl, did it hurt when you fell?
Was it nearly as bad as being pushed down a well?
Tell me, boy, did you bother to cry?
Were you kind enough to fake a tearful goodbye?

I’ve been waiting in line, waiting to die, waiting to see what’s on the other side.

I heard it tonight, I’ve heard it before, I heard it when I sank and my knees hit the floor.

I see where you hide, I see through your lies, I see the way you avoid looking into my eyes.

I find you funny, I find you mad, the only dreams I have left are ones that make me sad.