33

Bumblebee
buzzing over mason jar
your mother’s secret recipe
embalmed in glass
a strawberry, macerated
soaked in sugar, honey
in my bloodstream.

Crimson checkered cloth
scratchy grass just a fabric away
a summer of sunburnt complaining
and wearing rose-coloured glasses by fall.

I’m flipping pages of someone else’s story
laying, leisure
the protagonist battles the beast
as I tame my windswept hair

A watermelon in July
the peak of fruit
like the trailhead of a hike,
I come back every summer
to stay in the warmth
just a little bit longer.

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32

As if everyday was New Year’s Eve,
you crack me open to see what you get in return.
When you treat everyone as just a gear to a mechanism,
you’ll soon realize how robotic you’ve become.

You were born from love
of jungle gyms and stomping grounds, but
if you’ve only ever seen the world through
this lens of us versus them
then I’m sure you were great at hide and seek.

Wearing others down like
a pair of shoes I meant to replace,
when someone’s resolve shatters under your pressure
like the snap of a thunderclap
is it music to your ears?

We were put on this earth with others
and maybe one day you’ll figure that out.
It’s no quiet accomplishment
sewing up these loud sutures again and again,
but if you do find yourself alone
thinking maybe I’ll take your call,
know that I am among an army of others
and you’ll be a ghost in my voicemail.

Because while I walk with such unsightly lesions,
at least I don’t carry the weight of your nasty, nasty heart.

 

Hi everyone! I’ve been so busy at my summer internship, and I apologize it takes me so long to get back to all your loving comments. I swear I’m working through them– you’re all so important to me, so please be patient! If you’d like to keep up to date with me and my personal adventures, please find me on Instagram at @elleguyen 🙂
Thanks for coming by this Sunday! Always remember it’s easier to say no the first time than it is to sew yourself up after the fact.

Love,
ELLE

31

Within these dusty diary pages
nostalgia lies for her midday nap
3pm, summer day
windows wide.

I remember when growing older was a promise of the future
the A-OK to have pancakes
anytime we damn well wanted,
under our own roof, our own law.

I used to sneak out of that humble home
we’d meet at the park and race to the swings
he’d reach so high on the set, he swore
he touched the stars with his own two feet.

Growing older meant we wouldn’t have to
give report cards to our parents,
we could rip them up
and never see the light of judgement.

Recess at 9:40,
lunch at 11:40;
turns out,
without that structure,
we collapse under the scaffolding.

We have lived our childhoods in regimens and timetables
we’ve added those numbers together
and that’s all we have.
My parents were so eager to show off my grades to aunts and uncles
but years later, I realized
I was never taught a pancake recipe.

I’ve spent so much time keeping busy
this façade of adult success,
that my feet haven’t touched stars
in years.
Like gutting a pumpkin just to put a candle inside,
we ache in order to impress others.

30

A nation of car horns and serene waterscapes
women in masks, shields against the burning sun
a family of bandits,
streetside dining.

Nation of noise
I return for the tranquility.
Strong drinks and ice cubes, sweating
a firm opposition of to-go coffees
because if you have time to order one,
you also have time to sit down and enjoy it
in the company of others doing the same.

Weekend getaway to this island home
even in another language,
each gust of wind
whispers my native name.

Cutting open a ripe mango
its nectar races to my elbows.
In oceanside hammocks,
we’re laughing anecdotally of all the places we’ve been
and how home has never tasted
quite as sweet as this.

I did not win the scholarship essay contest you all so kindly voted me for. However, I’m not upset, because I landed an internship at a PR agency which directly relates to my school studies! My blog numbers and being part of this community translated perfectly to how I managed to get the job, and so while one door closed, a larger, MASSIVE door opened! Thank you all for following up with my personal studies, and I hope you’re all doing well too!
This piece is dedicated to my parents’ home, Vietnam. Have you ever been somewhere that felt like a second home? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thank you all again for supporting me.

Love,
ELLE

29

Pair of keys,
I am left in the mailbox
just in case you forget yours.
Always last picked,
choosy team captains.

Once, in a dream,
I piloted my own ship
stern and bow,
then and now?
Plenty of difference.

If only my voice was louder
than the waves surrounding me,
my siren’s song, crystal clear
reeling in my catch.

I’ve forgiven a lot of awful things
just because I still loved
the mouth that said them.

If only I knew then
that apprehensive kindness
is not kindness.

If only my voice was louder
I’d say more than just what
they wanted to hear,
(maybe I’d be on my own team).
For now, I’m just a
parakeet.

28

On the correlation between
gaining weight and losing value:
like knowing to throw salt behind your back for good luck,
throw that notion away with the same reverence of belief
that no one really believes that either.

There is no glory in eagerness to be extra small
there is no shame in size medium.
Your wardrobe should not be a museum
of all the smaller versions of you
that you can’t wear anymore.

This toxic idealism;
a carrot, dangling;
if I continue to remind these clothes hangers of the old me,
maybe I’ll fit back in, someday.

Like a butterfly, yearning
to crawl back into cocoon
you are neglecting progress.
You have shown yourself compassion
by not ascribing your worth to your weight.

Your beautiful three-pound brain
is far from average
and if it expands with knowledge,
empathy, humanity and dignity,
and if others weigh in on your gain
and if you are alive and healthy,
quite frankly,
tell them to go fuck themselves.

27

My whole life I’ve heard:
“travel the world
fill the passport pages
and at the last sheet,
you find yourself.”

How clean, picturesque a concept
you forget about the way there.
I’ve left my home behind in search of the greater me
and I’ve also not arrived at the destination.
The fear of adventure lies
in the in-between of on-the-way

The eerie silence of a hostel
filled with travelling strangers
staring at the ceiling, willing it to open up
and for the stars to align your way.

That deep sense of regret,
of thinking you’ve made
the world’s worst choice by leaving home
and the blessings of everyone you’ve loved
your comfy nook of this universe
their good will an ocean away.

The flight isn’t the scariest part
but the landing.
Buying a ticket to destination is easy
finding somewhere to
set your heavy luggage down
somewhere soft,
and making it a home is the battlefield.

 

Thank you all so much for your support in voting for my scholarship essay! We reached 4100 votes by closing day, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone in this community. The recipients are announced on April 30, but I’ve already won, knowing how supportive my followers have been to me in this academic endeavour.

I can’t thank you all enough for your sweet kindness towards me. I appreciate you all endlessly. Happy Sunday.

Love,

Elle