The Prayer Poem

“I’m your personal enemy. I want to drown you in a var of piss” –@hestmord

I.

In university my friend and I invented the phrase ‘var’. It meant a place you went to, got too comfortable and couldn’t leave.  Like a friend’s living room. The kind of friend’s house where you go to dinner for an hour and then find yourself leaving at 4AM. The kind of city where you go to for a few months and end up staying in for ten years, not necessarily because you like it but because its comfortable. There is a certain amount of privilege involved in this, I suppose.

II.

Today she is in Samos, Greece. It is not a var. She cooks for people arriving on boats from other places partly because she wants to, partly because isn’t sure what else to do this year. This morning she sent me a message saying “everything is shit”, saying she was terrified by how angry she was. It wasn’t just about where she was, it was knowing there were people out there who would never have any idea what was going on, defending the situation.  She asked me how to deal with unhealthy levels of rage with the world. I told her I generally blocked people on social media.  

III.

I send her a picture of a local small-clawed otter. When we were in university and filled despair or rage with the world we used to send each other pictures of otters to remember that somewhere in the ocean there was a family of sea otters holding hands so they wouldn’t float away.

IV.

The first time I experienced intense rage it felt like I was coming up on drugs. A mad rush of almost-euphoria. It was once after a protest.  People started kicking off and someone threw a beer bottle at my friend’s head and I started screaming at them uncontrollably. The last time I felt intense rage was in a bar in Australia. A drunk man sitting behind me was having a racist rant at a security guy and I ended up spitting in his general direction and throwing ice at his feet. He didn’t see this but someone else did and he thanked me. After that I kicked two of his friends at the backs of their knees and ran away as they were buying drinks.

V.

Back in my city, some days all it takes for me to feel this level of rage is to walk past a tourist bar at midnight. I don’t think I am a violent person but I think there is a certain simmering level of rage and disgust that comes with living here. My friend is not a violent person but the last time she came to visit a 40-something white man we had never met before insisted on buying her a glass of wine and she threw it on the ground at his feet. We have both agreed that my city will never be a var because I will never feel comfortable here.

– Stephanie Chan