In this eccentrically-titled poem, author Doc Luben presents 14 bullet points of varying lengths that– as expected– could be from love letters or suicide notes. He tells two vaguely parallel stories with the exact same words. While a lot of the lines are dramatic one-liners, there are 4 places where the narrator recalls long, specific parts of their past in order to explain the present that people tend to overlook.
Here, the first anecdote begins as the narrator states that they had come home to find chairs stacked in their kitchen, and cannot remember doing so themselves. The explicit connotation is obvious– they had hung themselves and this is them accessing their last memory, watching from the sideline as if even when they were alive, they never really felt that their body belonged to them. As romantic of a person as the narrator is– the kind of person who would want the receiver of their suicide note to read it at an ocean cliffside– a death staged so mundanely is quite out-of-character, and this illustrates the helplessness they must’ve been living with in the end. This idea is strengthened by the narrator comparing themself to a ghost haunting the apartment.
On the other hand, if this were interpreted as a love letter, the haunting could be seen as the narrator not feeling like themselves while caught up in love. They have loved the other person so much that the world in their head begins to overtake reality, giving the illusion that their apartment, their kitchen, and their body are not their own. The chairs in the kitchen could be a metaphor for either the narrator putting the other person on a pedestal, or that there is no need for excess chairs in the apartment because from now on it would only be the two of them. Being in the kitchen instead of other, more “romantic” rooms gives off the idea that the relationship is more than thrilling rushes– it will be long and sustaining. Kitchens in poetry are often connected to the idea that love is nothing more than wanting the other person to eat well and rest well, and the contrast of out-of-place chains with the kitchen indicates that the love between them could be in any form, anything that the other person wants it to be.
The previous bullet-point ends quite abruptly, as the narrator jumps from a recent memory to one that has been with them since they were 5. In this story, the narrator’s grandmother has asked them to check if an iron is hot, causing them to burn themselves because they didn’t know how to know without touching, and their grandmother would still apologize for it years later. In other words, the only way to know something about anything is to be. The only way to understand pain is to feel it. The only way to understand death is to do it. Perhaps to comprehend life and death was all the narrator had wanted. Perhaps they did it because they felt too much, or perhaps because they felt nothing at all. Another way of seeing this is from their personality– if they would press their hand against an iron to check if it’s hot, imagine all the other types of pain they would voluntarily endure for any sort of end result. It’s like they wanted to be burnt.
This leads to the love-letter analysis. The other person could be symbolized by either the grandmother or the iron, one who got the narrator to hurt themselves but realized too late, and the other was the thing that they wanted to touch, without knowing that it would burn. Either way, this scene depicts how the narrator loves the other person completely, not in a flamboyant way, but gently, quietly, and intensely. The idea of “how could we forgive ourselves for all the things we didn't say until it was too late” is a double-edged sword: if we were to forgive ourselves, we’d be left with regrets with no one to blame, nothing to project on, and that regret would eventually eat us up; if we were to forgive and stop regretting, then were we ever really too late? How could we define time if we don’t wish something to be sooner? If we weren’t too late, then what was all regretting and forgiving for in the first place?
The 2am writer that lives in the mind of sixteen-year-old Yun-Fei Wang has been taking over her sanity for a few years now, tearing her lifeline down, yet building up an escapism in the same breath. Find her in the evanescence of black-inked words, or at @rainofelsewhere on Instagram.