top of page

"Sugar" by Denzel Joyson A J.

CW: Sexual relationship between adult and minor


Two nights ago, I dreamt of hot cocoa. The kind that’s a little too sweet because it’s made with cheap drinking chocolate. The kind that has one too many marshmallows in it but not enough whipped cream. My molars groan a little as they alternate between crashing into each other and breaking away (for only seconds at a time) because they haven’t fully perfected the art of letting go just yet. The mouth cannot let go because a bag of marshmallows is cheaper than a can of D’Lecta. Like dead waves floating on top of some sluggish ocean, the whipped cream settles on top of my drink. It is as still as a rock, only moving when I blow at it, hoping that my nicotine-stained breath will break through its foamy barrier and cool my cocoa down. Patience is a virtue that I do not possess, but fear has made me cautious. I do not wish to burn my tongue again so I will hold it until someone tells me that it is safe to drink out of this cup.

Steam is deceptive and porcelain can heat up too quickly sometimes.


My grandmother used to tell me that eating too many sweets would make my teeth rot. When she’d go to bed at night and fall asleep almost immediately, breathing heavily with her mouth open, sometimes I would imagine roses growing out of her throat. I’d imagine a thorny stalk shooting up from her lungs and making its way through her ribcage until it finally saw light through her open mouth.

I used to wonder if my grandmother liked the taste of roses. I used to hope that the thorns weren’t the reason she’d spit out mucus that was tinted red on some nights when the roses growing out of her made her cough the way I do now. A year later, I worked up the courage to ask her if she liked the way the roses felt in her throat. I asked her if she liked roses because she’d always told me her favourite flowers were tulips. I didn’t know what tulips looked like but I knew she was lying to me. I’d never seen her coughing up petals that didn’t look like they came from a rose. I asked her if she liked the roses I’d brought for her, but she stayed quiet. We buried her deep in the woods, far away from the tulips, with only roses left in her throat.


The first man I ever loved never told me he loved me. When I think of him now, sometimes I find myself terrified at the fact that I don’t remember what his voice sounded like at all. When he’d get off of me, he’d offer me coffee and I’d drink it greedily because he drank it too. Drinking coffee felt like communion. Our bodies may have come together physically just moments ago but sharing shitty and overly sweet coffee made me feel like less of a secret and more like a lover he kept hidden. Mother cried out in terror when she heard of my love. Mother forbade me from ever seeing him again. Mother spent hundreds of nights awake, screaming at the sky hoping that some God would hide their face in shame and give her the answers she deserved. Mother knows no God is present, but it doesn’t hurt to try. “You are a child, he was supposed to be taking care of you.”

I don’t drink much coffee anymore.


Last night, I dreamt of solace. I dreamt of my hot cocoa being cool enough to drink. I dreamt of rose petals falling from the sky. I dreamt of tulips growing out of my throat so that I could cough them up on her grave. I dreamt of my teeth being able to bite through flesh. I dreamt of whipped cream that comes cheap. I dreamt of coffee without sugar. Last night, I dreamt of my mother talking to God. I saw her spit on the ground and make clay with her saliva. I heard God tell her that the blind would see only if they wanted to. I woke up this morning and sealed my eyes shut.

Denzel Joyson A J is a writer, student and problem child in chief living in the city of Bangalore in India. Sometimes he strings together random words and people who read these words call them poetry.

bottom of page