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In lieu of ornamental fire

By Fieni Aprilia

Editor's note: Due to formatting, this poem is best viewed on a desktop browser.

For Ego Heriyanto

In the absence of haze, you exist in multitudes of timelines.

The broken 24-Hour sign bathes your face with blue-green hues as you

pull over and scroll away from digital takes and nonsensical thoughts.

Tears on your shoulder, canned soda stain all over your dirty laundry,

your palms no longer bleed fire. You excuse yourself to the warmth of a corner

shop cat, How can I help you?, static hums, cigarette burns, is that smoke under your shoes?

Our bodies were supposed to generate heat, strong enough to cause a wildfire. Destruction and national news, burning forests, and drowning oceans. All at once in the midst of childish hexes thrown at us.

Shut the fuck up. So I shut up, and you flipped, and somehow they think they’ve turned themselves into the core of the earth. And we’re just some fucking space trash orbiting their nonsense alternate uniVERSE.

And next time they gather round they would huddle into balls

and slowly bring themselves to burst into manmade satellites. Human-sized sputniks

transmitting around their collective thoughts — withering their bleached-white saviour tongues. Feminism but make it palatable. Capek gak? Gak.*

That colonial project screwed themselves like lemon sour on a spicy toothpaste. Or maybe a cheap whiskey bought at an off licence near 73.


But isn’t this some kind of heavenly fire?, you ask yourself quietly in the stillness of December, chugging two bottles of cough syrup to shut your blossoming eyes. Departing silently to your eternal winter at the back of old laundromats. You sing yourself at night, loud enough to turn their intestines upside down — knowing that you still have years to abolish them. And in a distance, I light the street with real matches, in lieu of ornamental fire that we used to carry beneath our skin

*Aren’t you tired? Nope


Fieni Aprilia is a documentary photographer, artist, and cultural studies researcher from Jakarta, Indonesia. They took MA Cultural Studies in SOAS, London, focusing on South East Asian films, popular culture, and literature. Amongst other things, they’re interested in the topic of horror and hauntings as a means of social control. They recently published a photobook titled “Isn’t This Home?” that scrutinises the concept of home and sense of belonging as a diaspora in The UK.


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