Riya N. Hamid/20/NYC This is a space for fictional & nonfictional brain spillage in the form of poetry and the occasional appreciation for film. All writing belongs to me, unless specified otherwise instagram: rustandskin Creative Commons Licence
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Dr. Pepper & Twix Bars (Part II)

I collect strands of my hair from 
the shower drain & wonder how it is that
I dragged my limbs to your funeral, but
never buried you.

Remember when you trimmed my hair over
your bathroom sink & the way the floor
greeted the falling black & wore it like
a rug? Even the way you rested on your
knees & brushed your lanky fingers
against the tiles like a broom to
collect it smelled like
love— felt like the cozy
oversized sweater that I am always
reluctant to wash, because what if
its fiery orange begins to

Every time our eyes caught each other
from opposite sides of the sidewalk, it
felt like finally seeing
the headlights of the G train
approaching the platform after having
stamped the imprints of our soles
aggressively onto the

Every man I meet is a pillow
pressed like violence against
the face. You were the bones that held me
together, and I have been feeding
them to dogs ever

                                          — rh



at an unusual poetry reading
for comics while on a date with a boy
with hair that could ignite
rapunzel’s forehead with
envy i met
a girl who once fucked
a guy i once fucked and we
giggled like children
during recess while
talking about his
dick while her boyfriend
sat, fiddling
with his pinky
fingers in the corner, unsure
of whether to feign 
laughter or to be

after the final collective
applause, i drank 
cinnamon whiskey on a rooftop
from the mouth of the boy with
the hair and we pretended
to cup the moon with
our hands to eat
it, our bellies full
from laughter— but once i
began to feel 
his breaths fume against my 
face, his eyes sealed to
my clavicle, i excused myself— called
my bladder a

fucking nuisance
and stumbled
down to the bathroom, where
i phoned my last 
lover and asked immediately:

does she fuck you
better than me
he lingered for two
seconds before answering
she loves me
and i asked again, more
sternly this time
does she fuck you
better than me
and he answered, more
sternly this time
she loves me
and i reapplied
lipstick the color
of dry blood dormant
on a girl’s thigh and brushed my
skirt and went up to the
rooftop and slid
my tongue into the mouth
of the boy with
the hair


romantic comedy

it isn’t your fault; it’s
the countless dvds in your
youth flailing “love” around like
a bone as you salivated— a
dog waddling its tail
against the staircase
and now

you lay under
his weight in fetal position,
recalling freudian theories and
the way you cradled him
in the bathtub while
washing his hair an hour

the cars swoosh
by against rainwater and the
obese old woman
marches across the
ceiling towards the fridge, her
personal war

you wonder why
underneath all of his weight and
warmth you feel like an orphan
toddler wailing
alone at nighttime
on a cold, cold beach as the
waves race each other
to reach his toes but fail
to comfort

the man whose weight
you are under
words that taste like
orange juice against a
soaring throat and you
curse all of those
heroes who glared at
the camera and swore
to kill for their

— rh

mosquito bites

her eyelashes flutter
against a crease on the pillow &
make the sound of small boots 
pressing small steps
into a fresh spread 
of snow; her ear is married to
the thumps of his heartbeat & 
she lingers on the
between his last breath
and his next; dumbfounded, realizing
that he is not an extension of
herself, but an 
entirely separate entity who
breathes and bleeds
from the core, too— a

her head is 
a squeaky trampoline, she 
is dying to ask, “are you
keeping me, or are you
trying me on?” but her
mouth is the mojave
desert & water
will taste like cacao
against her

she thinks of the way
toddlers draw—
clutching loosely
onto a crayon with the dire
help of all five fingers,
along the paper wherever the
passengers in their
eye-sockets carry
them. she remembers
an asian woman 
back & forth on the 
halsey platform, the way
the sun made her jet black
hair seem as though it was 
outlined by an angelic
shade of golden

the ball of his 
ankle greets her leg & the
thought of toddlers
suddenly re-surfaces on the
trampoline. she wants to
every single drawing of
every single toddler
in this city & stuff
them into her
heart. her mother,
a woman whose fingertips
found only the pages
of the quran to be
holy, could never

and as his breathing
surrenders to sleep & his
fingers start to
let loose, she
scavenges his face for 
signs of being
kept—  her
tongue beginning
to crack like old play-
doh underneath
the sun

try me on,
try me on

— rh


"if it happens again…"

your eyes were 
needles, you screamed
how many times?
how many times?!
the witch that steals
voices made herself
comfortable around the
curve of my throat and i
whispered twice
just twice i peered
at the fading eggplant colored
floral pattern on the kitchen
curtains i’m sorry
you fucking slut
and then i listened as
you spilled your
guts into the
bathroom sink, leaving
the water on to muffle
sounds that came
from the pit of
your body, and i peered
at the fading floral
pattern some




marry me in
your childhood 
backyard with vines
across the wooden fence like
cancer of the aggressive
kind. on a wednesday
morning, turn over & taste
tuesday from the nape
of my neck & whisper, “we’ll
need more sugar 
today.” grab my wrist
as though it were
the sole 
item remaining 
on the holiday sales rack
that miraculously fits your
disappearing limbs &
comforts the eye. pull me
out of a bathtub
with the type of
blood that is
invisible. place me
in front of a dusty
mirror as i
the chipped navy
lingering on
my toenails & 
make me
look at



i eat a meal and promptly apologize to myself. i watch the dust particles float in between the crimson curtains and the wooden armrest, pretending as though they are stars falling gently like glittering snow onto the earth. i want to collect rainwater from the dents of pavements and throw fistfuls at my face like a religious ritual until i learn how to stop sleeping while smiling at men from across tables. i glare as the wrinkles on my mother’s forehead become living things while she scoops rice and potatoes from a plate with her hands. she used these same hands to feed me, to clothe me, to beat me. i dip my limbs into a bathtub and recall the way a lover used to rinse the shampoo from my hair in a way that did not make my eyes burn. how he would use my thighs as pillows and sleep during every train ride and how i would use this opportunity to squint at him as though he were a stranger who had never seen the beauty mark below my breast or the way my eyes resemble a burning city when i am neck-deep in panic. thunder runs down lexington avenue like a wild animal and i realize suddenly that i have never purchased an umbrella. i walk through rain as though raindrops were confetti in a party and my heart is a candle that cannot be blown out. men glare at the way the moisture makes the back of my skirt cling to my ass while cheap, running mascara burns into my eyes like acid. courage climbs the steps of my ribcage and tugs at my collarbones— call him, it says. but i know better.



still here, still there

my spine feels weathered from obscene posture and napping in waiting rooms with my head nestled deep into my lap. my mother pushed me out of her body, but i gave birth to myself. i am a twenty-year-old with a twenty-year-old child—i comb knots from her hair and sweep them from the floor, i feed her when the very smell of toast forces her stomach to circle furiously like the vision of a young boy secretly chugging nyquil in his father’s garage, i cradle her in bed when a man turns her heart into something resembling a broken umbrella that can no longer open. my insides are a broken filter and the contents are hot and need to be spilt. a stranger’s chiffon slides by my knee; it feels nice. a crowd in the bar to the right cheers suddenly with enough enthusiasm to fill a stadium. america must’ve won—or i am surrounded by a cluster of traitors. i am not enthusiastic about sports, but i am appreciative of any event that allows people to tolerate each other with a smile in a large room. sometimes i wonder if god exists. if he does, he must simply be a bad parent who made up hell just to scare his children into doing the right thing, and no matter how much we lie or steal we will all be okay. i mock allah over beer in social situations and find myself crossing my fingers and speaking to him later in the evening when i am walking home alone in the rain in a dark alley.

i catch myself missing everyone and everything when i am sunk into moments like this—even if everyone and everything feels like sand in your shoes from an old trip to the beach. the smell of testosterone and sweat and dirty laundry in a hotel room. the humidity traversing paris’ metro and the impractically narrow gaps between seats. overpriced dinners with mediocre taste. using the wrong gendered definite article while ordering food.  the columbia ph.d student studying european history who was completely unable to talk about anything but european history. then, the nice things. flowers hanging from balconies like jewelry on a body made of cement. the sound of bicycles running free near dusk. tasting crème brulée on someone’s lips. the way the moon seemed as though it was speaking to me as I laid rosé-drunk on a field of grass. kissing you that last time on that last morning and realizing that my heart felt heavier than usual.

we snuck into the empty bathtub in the middle of the previous night after tiptoeing around snores. you cradled me as i laid unaware of how to handle your warmth while feeling overwhelmed with the desire to talk to you about the longing that ceaselessly lurks behind me like a possessive lover with bloodshot eyes and nothingness inside; how i crossed an entire ocean to escape from a pair of lungs that couldn’t handle new york city’s air only to realize that they just can’t handle air. instead, i said mostly nothing while hearing you whisper as you brushed against the scars on my left arm. i learned more about you in that hour than i learn about most people after knowing them for weeks and talking to them about television and the weather.

you spoke of the benefits of meditation; listening to you felt meditative. when the talking and the weeping was over there was no sound aside from your body slamming against my body, your lips searching for my lips. i let you leave the lights on this time. i let you watch in the mirror. the meat around my bones was fuller than usual and i was afraid to look at at it—but i mustered the courage to, anyway, and thought “this is me. this is also me. this is still me. ”

you finished on my face and then you kissed me, unafraid to taste what was yours. i found a dry part of you on a discreet corner of my scalp days later in the metro and smiled.

later that evening, i went home and still didn’t wash it off—what does this say about me?



the words fall
onto your lap like
crumbs from your favorite
cookie. you collect them off
of the denim, one by
one; you do your best to
stuff them back inside but
somehow they are no longer
so sweet & appetite is 
a prickly creature with pupils
like quicksand & long
nails that graze slowly against
the other side of your
it is summertime now & the
trees are no longer skeletons; they
feed off of the sun & have head-fulls of
hair that sway along with the
breeze, accompanied by the sound
the blue-haired boy makes
when his mouth touches
the holes on the
flute, but you 
are not fooled. the new leaves
exist only to keep you
from glaring into the
sun for hours &
hours until you forget
his eyes, how they swelled
with rivers while he laughed
so hard that he felt 
the urge to place his hands 
firmly on his rib-cage to 
make sure his guts
didn’t leave
his body

molly made me cry

it is friday morning, the watch
fidgets away from 2:32. you look at
every woman convinced that she is
his woman— the brunette half-heartedly
skimming through nietzsche, the blonde
twiddling with neon green headphones, the
one drifting off to sleep with the weight
of her skull tucked into her palm. her wrists
are tiny. you wonder if he wraps
his fists around them
with a glare that feels like
alcohol against a fresh paper
cut. is his tongue
still a machete? does he squeeze
her right hand on the verge of
orgasm as though he is on
the verge of falling from
a building? has she
met his mother? has she seen her
shoulders move like an earthquake  
while weeping silently on the
kitchen table? your eyes
are dry but your insides
are a burning city, a
window that does not open, 
a one-armed hug. you have
lists to write and people to
meet and dinners to eat

1. so what?
2. so what?
3. so what?