Monday, November 6, 2023

Guest Post: Thoughts on a Poem and a Past Relationship by Jess Chua

I’m grateful that my poem, “I Should’ve Known,” was published here on The Five-Two back in 2021!

It was my one and only crime poem then.

The span of time between 2018 to 2022 was somewhat like wilderness years for me, where I didn’t have a strong direction of what I wanted to do writing-wise.

In the late summer of 2023, my debut poetry chapbook on heartbreak, let it rip, was published by Bottlecap Press. The chapbook includes a lightly edited version of “I Should’ve Known.”

I changed one line as the original sentence may have been a bit too long on the print page. Breaking it up into two lines would have affected the text’s flow and form.

I thought I’d share some thoughts on what inspired this poem.

The main idea came about from a Valentine’s bouquet my boyfriend had brought back. While the flowers were gorgeous, they were unceremoniously tossed out into the backyard when they started dying.

It was a dramatic visual, seeing those flowers “wilt so tragically” under the heat of the Florida sun. I also thought it made a great metaphor for a romance that had run its course.

Writing a crime poem seemed like a natural thing to do as I’ve always had a keen interest in crime shows and documentaries. Some of my favorites include Midsomer Murders, Forensic Files, and Sex, Lies & Murder. Traversing through the dark depths of human psychology keeps me returning to crime and horror content.

Astrologically speaking, I have a Venus in Scorpio conjunct Pluto. It has flavored my love life with dark aspects like obsession, trauma, a heavy intensity, and a touch of what I’d describe as madness.

Some of the poems in my chapbook were written in my late teens, involving one of my first loves, whom I had a tumultuously and ill-defined relationship that spanned a lengthy number of years.

Things never seemed to go right in that relationship, but it was one of the most intense connections I’d ever made with anyone. While a lot of things didn’t transpire tangibly, there was a lot of mental and emotional turbulence.

There were times when my levels of anger and rage would be through the roof. I’d feel my blood boiling and I couldn’t see straight amid tension headaches and other physical signs of distress.

Many times, I believed that the emotional rollercoaster would have escalated into some type of physical violence if I’d actually embarked on a committed, long-term relationship with that person.

The memory of what he—or we—used to be still sometimes lingers in my mind as dark inspiration for creative writing.

A couple of lines from my poem—“the charade finally ended / with petals dipped in blood”—signify how I envisioned this first intense connection would have evolved and ended. We both brought out toxic qualities in each other for some strange, arcane reason, which I’m glad to have left behind.

I’ve always been fascinated by tales and documentaries about crimes of passion. Absolute craziness can be unleased in a fit of rage when themes like betrayal or disrespect run deep.

As for myself, I sometimes wonder how far I may have gone if I stayed long enough in my situation to be pushed over the edge.

Perhaps “I should’ve known” better than to fall for someone who I felt was dangerous.

Jess Chua is a writer / poet / escapist with a bit of a book hoarding problem. Her debut chapbook let it rip is available via Bottlecap Press. Learn more about her at

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