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Poetry Corner: PUNCH-TUATION

Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

 It is quite obvious you consider yourself a question mark
You like the mystery of it
You want to be an enigma
So that others will be curious about you
Even romantically curious maybe

The question marks sit on your head like seahorses
Their eyes in mock terror, silent and drifting with a soft tide
Perhaps one question mark was about your near suicide
Another, the depression that led to it
Another, was the search for your identity
Another, your dilemma with your gender
Another, your tentative sexual awakening
Another, your parental purgatory that drifted between hell and heaven

You feel in between sometimes
like the pause in a comma of this sentence, of your life
or perhaps the forgotten, less often-used, increasingly redundant semi-colon;
that longer pause that separates two equally worthy thoughts

It irks you that others still can’t see there is more to you
no one has really peered close enough, right into your soul,
to uncover the beauty of your exclamation marks
Perhaps you haven’t felt them yourself for sometime
Perhaps you are tired of being labelled with air quotation marks
that suggest you are “someone” you are not
So you stand at the microphone, breathe in and stretch tall
and straight, hoping others will exclaim and see the point of you

Or perhaps you are hyperventilating trying to re-invent by hyphenating:
Perhaps your inner longings are for the pregnant pause of a period
Perhaps the search for you; who you are; would end – finally – with a fullstop.
Perhaps all you ever wanted was to be a good lover or spouse
Maybe even a great mother or father

Perhaps some nights you would no longer feel that engulfing emptiness
that comes with the unfinished poem
Grappling with stanzas that have lost their rhythm
The rhymes that seem so forced
The climax of a faked sonnet
The words that do not come
And perhaps, the next time, you will no longer
take the long drive back home alone
feeling like the last dot in an endless trailing ellipsis…

And all this needy punctuation
will finally end
in the warm embrace
of your own true self.

First published in Delhiwallah Poetry Collective Anthology, India

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