Destiny Blues

Anh-Khoi Nguyen


Fingers flying
dripping with ink drops
she fills the blank
the long and cold and empty
letter by line by page
with paper dreams
with pauper’s weddings
to years of joy and heartbreak
a universe of smiles
from other people’s lives -
though the tears are her own
and hers alone.

Back bent over the pile of pen stroke
monochrome polaroid pictures
of her longing
she keeps on spinning
her pen keeps singing
to the sound of another night
of nobody wanting to know
what her day was like.

In the flicker of her desk lamp
the faint and fickle shimmer
of that late-night sun
you could almost see how she moves
hips to shoulders to fingertips
hands and eyes
a barefoot tango
with the space in the shape of someone
who could be there.

Softly swaying with her
kissing the nape of her neck
cradling her hunched back
whispering sticky sweetnesses
stands her ever-faithful
her first and oldest and only lover.

The void
the hour of the wolf
a scratched record
of a lifetime’s worth of lifelong regrets
every misjudged yes and no and maybe
every what if and every road she did not travel by.

Between her ribs she feels the cold
of her old companion’s touch
but will not turn around
cannot turn away
from the web of might-have-beens
she has woven word by word
a world of woe and wonder.

Though the most fantastic tale
she twists for herself
is that writing other people’s stories
fills the hole
fulfils the role of her own
it should be no surprise
that they all end so badly
so sadly and so soon.

Illustration by Lilly Hamon

Illustration by Lilly Hamon

Previously published in the UKCCWS Illustrated Anthology Vol. 4 (2017) with the accompanying illustration.


Khoi is a linguistics graduate from Munich and currently lives in Manchester. Aside from writing poetry, he also co-hosts a social science podcast called The Defamiliars. You can reach him by emailing