A series of well-meaning gestures pertaining to the many definitions of Love

Alex Rich

Music @whataboutphantom



I would like to thank the spirits

Who have set up camp in my hippocampus

And allow me to dream

Because this morning I woke up

With the feeling of your bony fingers running through my hair

I had almost forgotten the sensation


And the only time sleep paralysis has ever done me a favour

Is when I woke up incapable of moving

With you standing next to me

Twitching, slightly dancing

With a light smile of,


What have you been up to?

It’s been a while.


And the only solid my anxious muscle memory

Has ever done for me

Is the occasional feeling of your always-too-cold hand in mine

Despite your willing disappearance

You shuffled off this mortal coil like the goddamn dancing queen


The reason I loved WandaVision

(I believe you would have loved it too)

Was this quote right here:

‘What is grief but love persevering’

And that is why when you make a cameo appearance in my mind’s eye

And I drink you in like milk past its expiration date

The sick I expel is pink


It is the pink of the cheap ass hair tie you bought me

Which meant more to me than you will ever know

You told me to wear it on my wrist as a symbol of she/her days

Accepting my fluidity like a scientist accepts climate change

I loved you for that

I love you, I love you, I love you.


It is the pink of when I hear

“You’re one of my favourite few”

I listen to it over and over and over

Whenever I’m on the verge of collapse

But my eyeliner’s just too dang perfect for tears

I whisper it to the moon

I love you, I love you, I love you.


It is the pink of LED lights

Shows you’re not even in

But you showed up to call time anyway

And as the tech screwed up over and over and over again

Instead of wracking my body with sobs

I watched you dance with the costume rack

And we danced, and we danced, and we danced

I love you, I love you, I love you.


So I would like to say thank you.

You set up camp in my heart

And accessed my inner child

With some kind of lock-and-key arrangement

Which allows me to wake up and keep moving every morning

Despite the sickly sensation

I know you’re gone

But unhealthy as it is

I pray to god I never have to let you go.




I want to peel my skin off

In an inner-outer-layered-motion to the court

Of hypocrisy and wishful thinking

That I could ever be blue

Purple yellow white black

Pink white and purple, black and blue

Marks to the bits of skin I was perfectly happy keeping

But an unsolicited misdirection

Colon semicolon oxford goddamn comma equals

I would rather be skinned to the bone

Suck out the marrow

And throw me to the wolves

Will I be pretty enough for you then?


Table salt


The sun’s radiation glints off their hair

Light shattered into a million pieces

The brine under their fingernails

Draws me in like flytrap nectar

Trapping me in the trigger hairs, motion detectors

Their crooked lips revenge against a host of unknown variables

Unconsidered, jolting the test tubes

Out of my latex-coated hands


My latex boot crushes a sugar ant

Underneath its heel

Its reanimated corpse travels slowly up my body

Lurching movement combined with the stench of oleic acid

I brush its miniscule form from my titan thigh

As I, Atlas, bear the weight of the atmosphere

My shoulders strengthened from the years of carrying my own burden

To avoid placing it on my mother’s bad back

They lift it off and place it on the ground

I forgot the gravity would eventually kill me


In their palm they hold a single grain of sand

They study it carefully and hand it to me

They bring their forehead to mine and remind me

That the weight of the world has the meaning I assign it

And not to underestimate the small things

Sunlight on their hair

Poseidon’s nymph

Air freshener in my lungs, ocean breeze

Their lips taste of sea salt and possibility


South Australian Aphrodite


In the back of my mind I have held your hand

I whisper sweet nothings

To the lover I imagine you to be

How long has it been?

Three days?

Maybe weeks?



It feels like millenniums

If we’re being honest today

My dear


Unfortunately I have been a liar all my life.


With my guitar in hand I write you songs

I sing sweet lullabies

And truths I cannot face up to without melody


Like how the world is just your stage

And somewhere along the line

I found myself playing the role of your stagehand


It hasn’t been easy for me to give up the limelight.
















It would be you.


Letters home


Dearly beloved,

This morning I woke up

In the stale cold of mid-Autumn

Crisp air entered my nostrils

And made them bleed

Common sense leaked out my nasal cavity

My father pointed to telekinesis

I pointed to Kronos’ bathroom break

Either way, I need to buy a new tissue box

Meet me outside the Woolworths

Where you first brushed your lips against mine.


Dearly beloved,

Last night you left my bed

My eyes fluttered in a haze of half-dreamt glory

Hypnos lost his grip and let me fly up to the top of the circus tent

Now there are rope burns on my hands

Scarring over


Whatever you left me for

On the way home can you drop by the pharmacy

And get some soothing cream

Aloe vera and kiss-it-better

Your nose tickles the back of my hand

And caffeinated glee bubbles up through my lips.


Dearly beloved,

It’s been three months since they found your severed hand in the freezer aisle

Fractals spread across the silver of your engagement ring

The diamond burns with frost

It cuts into my fleshy exterior

Twelve weeks of unsanctioned bed rest

I made my way down to Hades

Through Orpheus’ back entrance


I need to buy a new tissue box

Meet me outside the Woolworths

Where you first brushed your lips against mine.

Alex Rich is an eighteen-year-old writer and theatre maker based in Brisbane. They are currently studying creative writing and drama at QUT. Alex often finds themselves exploring themes of identity, gender, queerness, neurodivergency, existentialism and the human condition.