shave head or make banana bread

By Zhi Yi Cham

29 April, 2020

Zhi Yi Cham is Running Dog’s poet in residence for April and May.

Each month, a poet produces new work, which is distributed via Running Dog’s monthly newsletter—Stray. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter.

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in my defence
the language
of my solitude
has proven to be
~ longstanding
fantasies ~
that have
encircled like
red thread
wrapping slowly
tightening until
its mark is made
known to skin
i gave myself
bangs but argue
it is not an impulsive act
i am making
focaccia and again
not impulsive
is of impulse
is merely dreamed
over and over dampening
until it is strained 
spent two hours
this morn researching
focaccia and developing
feelings for the recipe
wanted to make one
since samin nosrat
did in salt fat acid heat
the man who teaches her
says to her
don’t be afraid
this command reappears
in the recipe she
transcribes to the net
and in another
repurposed by a blogger
then on my notepad
for my personal devotion
when i wrote it
i was sure i wasn’t
gonna be afraid when
the time came
to brine the dimples
but i wrote it down anyway
just in case
i don’t think i was gonna be
afraid, only so excited
i wasn’t gonna be sure
what to do with myself
and maybe
don’t be afraid
sounds also like
just do it, beloved
you got this
the city becomes
as abstract a
concept as i
i wish to be outside
wish to smile at someone
and for it to be returned
wish to be held wish
for another’s skin
to define my
alone in my
home in gungahlin
i impart scissors
to length of hair to know
i could still break
in my hands
i break apart hot
focaccia steam
folding into
skin here
you are warmed
here you are
real, beloved
don’t be afraid