Nature v. Nurture

an open poem

When I was 16, and so young
I said my favourite colour was blue
because I did not know that there were
other types of girls, and that it was OK
to be different.

On a school trip then, we hiked
several mountains up, too close to the skies
and I tasted the stars, shimmery and sweet,
against your neck, your still-boy-almost-man stubble
burning, burning, burnt

Whiskey sweet, devouring
every inch of my being, I felt the wait
of a million worlds, constellations that crissed-
crossed, always crossed,
star lovers.

Now, at 25, a quarter of a century
older, I say, I’m sorry I never loved you better.
I did not know, then, that there were
other types of loves,
and that it was OK

that the stubble-burn you left
on my burgeoning skin never quite satisfied,
never quite tasted right. I wanted
the burning death of sun-kissed cheeks
and velvet skin, smooth and warm

in ways I didn’t know how to articulate,
and it’s taken me years, of burning,
of almost dying, of imploding
of spinning without knowing, to know
that my childhood books lied

Now, I know
exactly where we are
in the universe, and
it is full
of stray thoughts and
loose ends.

But I do not know, yet
how to express
myself. How to do this, because it is not Math,
it is not a constellation,
it’s a fucking rainbow

and I know now, that blue
is a warmer colour. I know now
that it is OK, but OK is not quantifiable,
not justifiable
for who I, simply, am not.

This piece first appeared on Medium, published by Poets Unlimited.

Thanks for reading the first new piece I’ve written in a while.


Love & Other Short Stories

It’s not that I can’t love you anymore,
it’s that I don’t want to.

The days trickled into years,
unravelling the tapestry of our limbs

Casual snippets snipping
— snapping —
the last threads of us.

The future looms, as it does, as it always will.

Your tender eyes were a dropped stitch
weaving tales of fantasy and love.

I guess you wanted a Princess,
or some form of Juliet
to lie prone in your arms

but my warrior heart blanketed yours

and you learnt that
not all Beauty is created fragile

and I learned that
not all monsters are men.

Some are sweet little boys
with charming smiles
, eager 

to ride off on white stallions.

This piece first appeared on Medium published by Poet’s Unlimited. For more of my prose and poetry, check out @CharlleyThen


An abecedarian poem.


All my life, I’ve
Battled with the
 of being an only
Daughter. Taught to stay silent,
Eclipsed by emotions
For a son, constantly belittled.

Going through the motions, I ran,
Heart pounding, head hurting,
Intentionally sidelined
, constantly
Just shunted and told to
Keep it all in.
Let it all go, like
My emotions don’t matter.
Nobody tells you it doesn’t get easier.

Over the years, I’ve struggled.
Pondering the differences,
Quintessentially different
, in
Relation to my relations,
Stirred the pot, was the rebel.
“Thoughtless, headstrong, independent”, all said
Under condescension,
Veneers of self-importance,
Waxing prose of familial intent
Xenophobia expunged:
 too little, too late.
You begin to believe what the
Zealots espouse 
— you’re never good enough.

Thank you Tamyka Bell for introducing me to yet another cool poetic form. ❤


Damp coldness
blows by
with the scent of wildflowers
dragging up pieces
of past

with that single scent
i remember
blueberries, tossed high
into the air, falling
into open mouths,

The feeling is stuck
inside my chest where
the helplessness lies
and my breath catches
hard swallows won’t dislodge
that panicked loneliness:
and I am blown away
by the scents
bowled over
by the hay-fever inducements.

it rises
like a phoenix
every so often,
the dying embers of
winter heat
breathe deep
— inhale the promises
from yesterdays, pass —
It creeps
through sluggish veins,
memory keeps
hurting most

when the dreams come,
it is all I can do
to not run. Trapped
quicksand feet
encased in cement,
the lessons learnt
through hard work and
hard headedness
to think happy thoughts,
but you can’t run.
In dreams, when you fall
you Never-land.

The scents come
in the rain
sleek wind blowing
coldness settling;
the last cold
before spring flowers
and I know, I know
about April rains. I know,
I know, I know, I know
of seasons passing
and time changing
and planes leaving.

I have tracked
the migration of birds
and tracked sand
from cities to suburbs,
and I have turned
tables and flipped books
and written sonnets.
I have never been so fine,
as I am right now,
but the phoenix calls
and I fall.

Blueberry taste
bitter in the back
of throat
with cigarettes
and the out of season blues
in the almost-spring
I spring away
like a phoenix, rising
I know that we can die
a million deaths and burn

firework bright, flares
and still be OK
in the end.
In the end, all that mattered
were the memories…
buried in the heat
with beers that cooled
from the inside out.
Molson stained laughter,
damp sand in my shoes,

Caught up in
a memory moment
flashes past. I crumple
from the views
of wildflowers, springing
forth and bringing
new light.
Pain; embraced
fairy-light memories,
touching arms, hooked,
so assured that
the rains will dry. Still,
Winded by
the scents.

This piece first appeared on Medium, published by Poets Unlimited. If you’d like to read more of my poetry or prose, you can find them @CharlleyThen.

“I have to let go because it will allow space for all that’s for me to show up.”

What perfect, beautiful sentiments. When Life carries you beyond your imagination and expectations, sometimes, you do have to let go of your preconceived notions, of your definitions of who you are. The stories will be there. The memories exist. That magic happened. But it is not the end. It was a middle. Let’s keep going.

I keep having this image show up in my head – a young boy, backpack on, opening up these big white doors and on the other side is the rest of the world. There’s a mixture of emotions right now. A part of me is incredibly excited to head back out on my adventure again.…

via The Doors I Am Opening — The Better Man Project

Day to Day Variables

loneliness descends
like a moth
fluttering in the hollows
where light breathes
and devours
all shards of self
esteem is a treacherous slope
sliding backwards
hands grasping
only emptiness
fingers tighten
fluttering against the torrent
of cresting emotions
varying daily
the subtlety of trying
the audacity of caring
the implicitness
of simply being
i tied my shoelaces
sat up
drinking in
sunlight that streamed
through open windows
catching dust
and my thoughts escalated
i drifted
back into the hollows

This poem first appeared on Medium, published by Poets Unlimited. For more of my poetry or prose, check me out @CharlleyThen


A cinquain chain

it came
out of nowhere

a dying need to be
that flared for a second before

exhaustion drips
from souls: wearied, pushing
for some semblance of normalcy

like the feel of
memory words dripping
venomous tears, passionate pain,
some form.

some form
of love and art
disguised as a price for
consolations of the soul, burnt,

bright lights that flared
for a second before
the eclipse that ended it to

This piece first appeared on Medium, published by Poetry-in-Form. If you’d like to read more of my poetry and prose, you can find them here


I wanted to miss you
with words
but my body rebelled.

Your ghost fingers triggered
murmurs and mirages
heated flesh and goosebumps
that belied truth.

You sank your teeth
into the hollows where my neck
flowed into collarbones and
quick tongue darting
soothed the pain.

I wish heartbreak came
with a manual,
easily overcome like
quicksilver that flowed, molten
through veins; lava thick

in distinct memory of sticky fingers
and closed thighs, pressed
shut for friction
never enough.

The hollow burned
through layers of guilt, rapt
in leaving and being
left behind.

You called me at night,
out of the blue, breathless at two
and I, I had no choice
but to answer you
and that voice
that continued to heat

burn, burn, burning want
negating logic, igniting
deep trusting and flashes of yearning
incoherent, translating
into some semblance of poetry
or maybe hate…

They say love is a passionate crime.

When was the love lost,
I remember only being

This piece first appeared on Medium, published by Poets Unlimited. You can read more of my words, poetry and prose @CharlleyThen


An echo verse

The night came in shades,
into brilliant storms,

pieces of us

the bed that creaks,
a space in my heart,

past the lines in sand,

genuflections from the waist
with memories of grace,

your hand upon mine,

your place in my heart,
that echoes in memories,

swaying in the evening breeze,

the night that I might find,
lips on your lips

grazing your sheets

up with our bodies
unfold in midnight

me up with your words,

that fade
in the shade.



You were not mine,
but you were my

We shared secrets
and futures and traded
long talks for long distances
as Life took us
in different directions

Somehow, we managed
and somehow, I believed
you were a fixture,
permanently glued
in my periphery
and my heart.

Superglue meant
forever and you
with your gifts of puzzle pieces
that I painstakingly pieced
together, 100 jigsaw places
forming us,
was a given.

The years, they drifted
blowing hot and cold
and long silences that
never remained silent
drew me
into a false lull

somehow, the glue crusted
and we began crumbling,
long before I took notice
and long after you’d
given up.

We used to ring
the new year in, literally,
without fail, your voice
lit up with fireworks
from whichever mountain
you were skiing down
or beach you were
lazing on.

We’d count
down the beers
and talk
numbers that only drew
us closer to

this year,
you gifted me
with silence and I
took all you had given
and let you go.

You were never mine
but you were my


This piece first appeared on Medium, published by Poets Unlimited . To read more of my pieces, both prose and poetry, head over to @CharlleyThen