Muhammad Hilman Bin Rosli
On a school field trip, Muhammad Hilman Bin Rosli (he/him) was bitten by a radioactive book. He used to dream of earning good money, but now he writes poems and stories instead. Incredibly funny and extremely attractive, the only reason he hasn't won any literary awards yet is because he is far too humble.
He is currently pursuing a BA in English Literature.
As I understand it, you have to take what you can get.
Scrap and settle for every last bit of good.
Today, I went outside and stood on my own two feet—
unsure as they could be sometimes—
they carried me downstairs and planted themselves underneath me like strong roots.
The sun was at the highest point in the sky, the concrete underneath me was warm,
and around me the whole world paid me no mind. No mind at all.
It’s not much, but you have to take the little victories.
Like my little brother blowing out his birthday candles, even if he’s too embarrassed
to be the centre of attention, the love he feels is not so easily ignored.
Like the florist right across the street—she sells the most beautiful tulips.
Yellow and red and purple, folded in on itself, hiding bashfully.
Like how smooth the strum of my guitar is,
even when it’s out of tune, I play the same strings
over and over again, trying to find the right sound,
and that’s okay, I’m sure. See, every note is all-new, all-different
because no two moments are ever the same, as far as I’ve seen. Little victories.
It used to be important to me that you knew, really knew about
the quake and tremble in my knees the red staining the red the blue and the black
and the black and the white and the clear arc of the clenched fist.
Whatever it all means.
Now, I pay my fear as much mind as I can be bothered to give it.
Let it wash over me. Brush my teeth. Spit in the sink.
In the mirror when I look up is all that the fear’s amounted to.
I’ve done my time. I’ve mopped the floors. I’ve burned my bridges.
I will go to sleep content with that, and
when the strange, bright being in my mind lays themselves right next to me in bed—
arms locked behind their head, one foot crossed over another, perfectly lovely,
perfectly content—and asks me whether I’ll still be around when they wake up.
I’ll take their hand in mine, lay my head on their shoulder. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I will grow old. And I assure them they will grow old with me.
The little victories stack up, I’m telling you.
Both metaphorically and literally, Rin Azhar wears many hats. By day, she runs her vintage store, Threadlightly, where she aims to contribute to environmental conservation through circular and sustainable fashion. At times, she moonlights as a musician under the pseudonym “Parinzoia”. Right now, she’s a writer. And if you are wondering, she also has a white hat on today.
Mama is Fearless
the curvature, the way it shines
the way it drips and
its temperature on my skin
some stunted, the unfortunate inverted
the milky effervescence a sight
to behold, a waterfall i once bestowed
but mama tells me never go nearer
for growing adam’s apple
in eden’s garden will bear fruit
i am not ready to hold
not until my finger is wrapped in gold
not until the Imam declares God as a witness
even cotton rolls cannot be present
even though walls can break anytime...
i tell mama i want to ride a bike,
and she tells me of stories
of intestines falling
and men not loving me enough.
how my worth is weighed by a little piece of skin
mama! i tell her:
i do not care if men do not love me.
do you not understand?
she shakes her head in disbelief
her warnings ever ringing in my head
of their slimy hands—
for my worth is weighed in the taste of peaches
my worth is weighed in the color of Her sundress
and in the way She holds my hand,
when there is nothing but imbalance.
my worth is weighed the risk of heaven,
if that’s what it takes to be with Her.
how do i say this but
i do not breathe the same air
as numerous limbless, scaly, elongate reptiles of the suborder Serpentes
and while mama wishes for me to deter,
to repent for her,
it is still all she asks for me to worship
so i whisper, legs crossed, just silent enough
so mama cannot hear me:
do you not understand?
i only care if She doesn’t.
and perhaps that scares her more
than my love ever could.