Causes (An Jin)

Tram Accident

tram driver tells me I’m going to die
I think about being a mess they can’t get out of the tracks
I think about delays on the line
I think about literary revenge

tram driver tells me I’m going to die
I think about saying something
I think about saying nothing
I have never felt more alive

the bile in my throat reminding me of the liver
that struggles through each day without complaint

death by vehicular impact has no romance
common as dust, hurts the eye like high-vis vests

the trembling in my hand
each nerve fizzing in bare air, stripped of fleshy comfort

death: have you thought of it as cracks in the pavement
easy to step over; difficult to fall into

did you think about the colour of your hair
matching the lining of your coffin

every little girl fears being a murderer;
it is not murder but invitational cannibalism

tram driver tells me I’m going to die
next time, she said; as if there would be:
last time, it was a Mercedes
last time, it was a Holden

tram driver tells me I’m going to die
I’m going somewhere that’s for sure
I’m going somewhere and I’m late
I’m going somewhere

there are metal shards everywhere
death by iron and aluminium overdose, or heavy metal poisoning

blood, simple and total exsanguination
evacuation from natural disaster area bungled by human error

disaster relief efforts thwarted by neglect;
consistent failure to maintain protection measures and emergency protocol

clean-up efforts ongoing and costly
the responsibility of governments and bureaucratic process

why wasn’t prevention the key?
but she did say: next time you’re going to die

I’m going somewhere: in front of the tram
and then under it, and then in a flood back out to sea


the causes of suicidality in an adolescent
not really adolescent—but whisper, but shadow

you have slammed a door in my face
quite by accident: me, an invisible thing

you have given me extra change at the counter
but I only realised when I left, being an unthinking beast

you have given me a deadline for three weeks,
my breath is coming like a steam train, towards a wall

you have feedback for me—or pro forma rejections
I am anathema; I am excommunicated from the self

you have handed me a gift wrapped in newspaper
I rub and rub at the print so there’s a hole

you have spoken to me with needles in your teeth
I am unspun wool too heavy to pass through the eye

you have spoken to me with syrup on your lips
I am a despising fly un-wooed by honey or vinegar

you have stood up from your chair—your great height,
like a frightening zenith; I burrow down to caverns

Unfilled Script

here, your slip of paper grey and green
a signed name signifying your madness

took it to the chemist in a plastic sheath
as though it were shield enough

took it to the counter under a bored gaze
with the look of a boa constrictor

it had to be withdrawn of course
and it could not be paid for, anyway

the conversation cannot happen, not now;
before, I was warned of effects and side-effects

before, I was told of doses and procedures,
heavy with the hope that quantification would

compartmentalise pain in pill boxes
once swallowed, forever out of sight

I was in the hands of the pharmacist
I would go away right after this

I would go away full of milligrams and acronyms
sit in an office and think myself cured

I told my mother I did not believe in the morality
of suffering; in my heart I did not believe

now the play is planned
with players who do not know their parts

like improvisors in the dark
muddling towards applause


An Jin lives in Canberra. She is involved with a fledgling online literary journal focused on curious and unusual writing at She is also a recent university graduate and the co-host of a very irregular podcast.