raw and tender
Tanka・July 13, 2020・Full Text
Sometimes, it is the little things that make us feel the most. These things vary from person to person, of course, but that does not make them all any less significant. In the moments we pay attention to the small things that make us feel, we are sometimes brought to pain and tears – and to others this may seem strange, since the feeling does not reach them, but their opinions should not matter. Looking into the eyes of someone you are close to, someone you care about, someone you love, that intimacy reduces the world in all its beauty and hurt to only two.
i see the light
Looking back at our relationships with others, there are often particular moments, particular events or feelings, that stand out in our memories and make those relationships undefinable. We tend to overuse base words like “friend” or “best friend” and “love” and “care”, because our language is limited in this way; I find it more powerful, and more insightful, to describe relationships in terms of those particular moments or feelings that make them what they are. Labels such as “friend” can be useful, but a poem like this says so much more.
i see the darkness
As with its A-side, this poem seeks to describe a relationship between two people in a way that transcends generic terms like “friend” and “lover”. Because why stop there? What does it really mean to call someone your friend, or your lover, and then to repeat those words when talking about someone else? Your relationships are not the same; art, literary or otherwise, helps us clarify their differences in a way that is not comparative nor additive, but rather respective of simply what they are.
Tanka・July 16, 2020・Full Text
I don’t intend to preach, but I still think this particular message is important. When we get to know each other, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and let others see us in all our mistakes and faults and weaknesses, that is when compassion can begin. I think it is incredibly necessary for people to build on this compassion and keep it in their minds. For example, knowing that your friend is depressed, or an alcoholic, or is going through a particularly rough time, and then seeing them walk out and head off to walk and drink alone in the night, compassion can take the form of following them, watching over them from behind to make sure they come out the other side. Being aware of each other’s vulnerabilities, and taking the actions of remembering and caring – these qualities are very important if we want to build a world of peace and love and care, no matter the scope.
typhoon and aftermath
This piece is about meeting – the meeting of different natural disasters, different elements, and different feelings. Caught at the center of all this meeting, the human body seems very fragile and weak, but it is not powerless. Power in this case has to do with meaning, and the experiences, thoughts, feelings, and memories of a person caught up in chaos are highly meaningful. When the world around you seems both real and imaginary, when you can no longer tell, as the narrator says, ‘what the waves are made of anymore,’ you clarify the power found in meaning. Making a choice, deciding to accept death, deciding to accept a world that is not black-and-white in all the ways you thought it used to be, and taking solace in those you love – these kinds of actions are all imbued with meaning, and therefore, power. Importantly, it is not power over, not power in the traditional sense. It is power with and power within.
preface and afterword
When I sat down to write this piece, I thought about an image that had been on the news some time ago – the electric purple sky seen in Tokyo prior to the landfall of Typhoon Hagibis last year. (Here is a CBS news article citing several tweets with pictures of that scene). That image inspired me to begin this poem, building on the themes of its A-side.
What about the title? It’s not just a play on ‘typhoon and aftermath’. The preface and the afterword in a sense begin and end the main part of a book. So in this case, it is what we think before, and what we think after; what we see before, and what we see after. Events are not just limited to the moment in which they temporally occur – their meaning extends far beyond that.