All posts by William Lim

Poem: “Hikari”

To you, I write “happy birthday”.
On this day, October 20, 2016,
You are eighteen, with stars
In your eyes and the same fire
In your chest that you had when I
First met you, and you walked into
A room not knowing quite what to expect,
But illuminating us nonetheless.
And now, after so short a time,
You will soon have left
To light up rooms so far from home
As we miss the warmth you gave,
Gleaming up there on stage
Or through headphones, like candles
Late at night, in grim places that
Needed a little glow when we couldn’t
Find the beam of your smile
Because it was shining somewhere else.
Eighteen now, you’re a flame in the dark,
A star in cold space, and I know
You will defy physics, and grow,
Not collapse, even as the universe
Changes around you.
You’ll be dazzling all the same.

Poem: “Letter of Resignation”

I don’t miss you.

I don’t miss you
The way I used to.
I don’t miss you at all.

I’ll take the buses
To where I saw you
Every day, where you’ve left
Not a trace.

I’ll play the songs
You sung to me
And hear only emptiness.

I’ll search for what
I buried to find there’s
Nothing left in the ground
But corpses.

I’ll look up at the sky
And see stars that don’t burn
For anything at all.

I don’t miss you.
I can’t miss what was never there.

Prose: “James Murphy, Aged 29” / “December 2014 – January 2015”

“So, what are you going to do, kid?
Still ratting at the chains of the gates of the world…
But you can’t quite pretend.”

It’s been eight weeks of not really doing anything; late nights of trying to write but ultimately only to avail of a full trashcan. I was always able to write when I was going to school every day and repeating the same hollow routine, ignoring a weight that was constantly growing. I pretended I was okay, and when people asked if or why I was sad I just made it seem like a joke, like everything was fine. Then I got home and wrote. Writing in those times was always just a way to get a little bit of that weight off my chest. But writing never really changed anything for me; I was always still the same person at the end of every poem, story, script, diary entry, essay, review and article. So, when I stopped being able to write, about eight weeks ago, I still felt the same. The sole difference was the maddening notion that I was no longer doing anything even as remotely productive as my useless writing, as if eight weeks of complete freedom couldn’t change anything. It seems like more than enough time to completely turn a life around. Fifty-six days, or one thousand three hundred and forty four hours. An excessively long time, when all it actually takes is a second.

It’s obvious at this point that change starts with me. Only, it’s completely disheartening when you don’t know where to begin: a million directions for your next step, each one more daunting than the last, only an abysmally low number of them leading to anything good. Odds can be the most frightening thing in the world. You have to remember that the odds will always stay the same unless you make a choice. Then, at least, something becomes a reality; a certainty. Naturally, it only makes sense that you keep moving. I’ve forgotten that. It’s become too easy to merely stay in the same place and forget. I forget the things that I want and the huge unexplored world outside, instead giving in to quick fixes in an unending effort to stave off the anxiety of knowing that I never tried hard enough, and the fear of failing if I do. It’s like standing on the edge of something, ready to make the next leap but constantly second-guessing myself. I’ve been on that edge for literal years. I’ve made promises to myself again and again that I’ll make the leap, move forward, change; I’ve made promises in a million different metaphors and never once kept them.

I’m still here, in the same place I’ve been for so long; still a scared little boy on the cusp of becoming a man (by societal standards, anyway); frozen in one place trying not to cry; trying to look strong, but this was never about strength. It was always about focus; keeping exactly what you want in your sights; never looking down; never getting distracted, even if you get tired.

But you won’t get tired.

Hypertext Fiction: “Wata” / “October 2014”

At home, I live in a cold, little, cream-white room, the walls thin enough to hear my father’s age wearing down upon him as he sleeps for five or six hours in the adjacent room and awakens to a job that he hates. Some nights, I sit in that room and my father snores and my computer whirrs and the wind howls like plague come to kill all those without walls or warmth to comfort them, and I cannot help but wonder what I would do if I was one of them. My things are spread out all over the floor because I have no other place to put them. My father tells me I need things like a shelf for my records, and I tell him we’ll get it sometime from IKEA, but really, I just don’t want to waste his money. I should get a job. I should get a life. I should finish all my homework and accomplish all my goals in life and make people happy and maybe then, I can die happy.

Some nights, I sit in my room and I feel my perpetual weight and perpetual loneliness and I see myself drowning at sea. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes; the boat is going just too fast, chasing a white whale or something. It’s running through a storm that surrounds me in black and rain, flashing lightning to reveal grey shapes before it all goes dark again. I’m holding onto a rail but it’s too wet and the wind is furious. Like all hell has me by the ankles, I’m holding on only to realise that I’m holding on to nothing at all. It’s over, I know it is. I let go.

For the seconds that my body is swept through the air I feel a certain freedom, finally yielding to the force of the wind; the force of nature; the force of a power bigger than I. I’m smiling. Then the impact. Then I’m too far down to see anything but water; kilometres down and I just keep sinking. Dark blue; there’s nothing here—no fishes, no reefs—just me. My heart beats slower. The sound and the fury flee my head. It’s quiet. Peaceful, unchangingly so, as if hidden in this purgatory is the singular encapsulation of eternal peace. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes, I lay back and close my eyes. Suspended, I lay there for what feels like seconds but could very well be years.

There’s millions of tonnes of water pressing down. I pay no mind to it. In the darkness, over time, it is the loneliness that swells around me; within me. It grows inside me and when it finally, inevitably screams like a newborn child I am suddenly unable to breathe. In my panic, I would scramble for air in this airless void and my body would contort and wrestle but pinned under millions of tonnes of water, I am motionless. It is now that I feel life leave me. It is now that—after the impossible weight and time and failure has crushed my bones— it is only now that my spirit finally concedes. I could tell you that it is at this moment that the great sun shines through the water and illuminates the loneliness; I could tell you that my leaving this world after all this strife is beautiful and perhaps meaningful. But, in truth, there is only blackness amidst the blue.

NOTE: Though initially unintended for this purpose, this piece has become part of the blog’s Hypertext Fiction series, in which our writers respond to pieces written by other writers in an effort to create a large, connective body of work spanning the entirety of the blog’s contributors. The piece continuing onward from this one is Zachary Sunter‘s “The Rope, the Stars and the Night Sky“.

I’ve had a few moments of breakdown while listening to the album Flood by Boris. At the start of part two, the only thing that’s happening is there’s these really quiet drums and lightly stroked guitar chords; its minimalism is really confronting. I reckon it evokes the cover art, which maybe looks like the perspective of a person drowning underwater. So, that’s where the idea came fron.

Oh yeah, the title “Wata” is a dual reference to water and the guitarist from Boris. Damn, she’s cool.


Poem: “For Whom Does the Alarm Bell Toll?”

Good night 6 a.m.
From staying up way too late
From getting out of my bed as the sun
Comes down with my feet as they meet
The ground, the morning, reality

The first solid truth since I went to sleep
All those years ago comes to light in a
Lightless room in the morning of the
Afternoon as my feet come to meet
The ground, the afternoon, reality

Alive or just breathing?
Awake or still dreaming?
Is it morning or afternoon?
Am I late or is it soon?
The waking truth is that
At the centre of the clock is I
And at its rims is death
Circling without cessation
Ignorant of irrelevant time
He is waiting

For whom does the alarm bell toll?
I couldn’t care less;
I’m getting out of bed

Written for going to sleep at six in the morning and getting up at four in the afternoon.

Poem: “Of Trudging Through Rain in Wintry Summer”

These are the truest blues
That I have ever felt

It happened in summer
Not quite summer
The rain still fell, albeit half-heartedly
From a decaying grey sky
That never quite died

Only receding, as an adolescent whim
Hastily, hesitantly, unsure
Pitter patter pitter patter

To reveal grand blue
And illuminating yellow
And free white

I learned it that summer:
Grand and illuminating and free were not
As permanent residents. They come and go
Vagrants that ought to have stayed

When I needed them more than anything
Pitter patter pitter patter

And I am alone again
And suddenly the walls crumble and fade
And suddenly I am without home nor heart

I am the vagrant
I have always been the vagrant
The light rain batters my bare skin
And no sky’s blue
Could ever be as true
As that which my eyes and soul and body now wear

Pitter patter pitter patter
It erodes me

Written for the first days of Melbourne’s summer of 2013, in which it rained like July. We had not seen spring that year.