L/N: July 20-25, 2020


Tanka・July 20, 2020・Full Text

In the aftermath of a severe loss, sometimes even years after, we still find ourselves reminded about the event and brought to tears. It’s the little things, I think, that hurt the most. The sound of a name, the mention of a word or phrase that was once an inside joke, that held some special meaning only for us, and is now meaningless… It hurts, but this is how we live.


Tanka・July 21, 2020・Full Text

In a way, the pain of a severe loss becomes greater the more the event fades into the distance. We hang on to feelings, to emotions, but we lose our memories of specific things – particular words said, conversations held, things that we would love to remember but find ourselves forgetting. It’s simply the passage of time, and time is apathetic to our hurts.


Free Verse・July 22, 2020・Full Text

This poem still feels raw and unpolished in many ways; I struggled with the rhythm and the ending, and didn’t want to publish it. However, I think I’m working through a variety of feelings that I need to get out and in words first of all – and the careful, polished version will come naturally afterward. This poem is unpaired, but in my head it’s easy to think of it as a prequel or ‘rough draft’ to what I’m planning to do for a dear friend’s birthday, which is coming up in a few weeks.

Best lines? “how is it that you can still see? / if death truly means eternity; / I carry what I can and deliver to you what’s next, / and tomorrow I leave to the night.” These are important, and I’ll be carrying them forward for the birthday message.

Some references I will mention/clarify:

  • Tchaikovsky: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a 19th century Russian Romantic composer.
  • “the music notes line themselves up on the staff… numbers spill across the tabs like paint”: For those unfamiliar, the staff (or stave) and tab (tablature) are notations for writing and reading music. Here is an explanation of the grand staff (used especially for piano) and guitar tabs.
  • “like Akana Soemon racing to make good on his promise”: From Ueda Akinaris story collection, Tales of Moonlight and Rain (雨月物語) – specifically the second story, “The Chrysanthemum Pledge”. Akana Soemon is a fictional samurai who pledges to return to his dear friend (and arguably, lover) Hasebe Samon on the day of the Chrysanthemum Festival. When serious circumstances prevent him from delivering on his promise, Akana kills himself and flies to meet Samon as a spirit, before vanishing into the wind. For those interested, I think the translation and annotation by Anthony Chambers is excellent.

Epilogue (Part III)

Prose-Poetry・July 23, 2020・Part III

One of the big rising challenges to climate change work, I feel, is an increase in cynicism – especially in younger folks, but I see it in older people as well. It’s easy for people to feel that “climate change is happening, we aren’t fixing it fast enough, people aren’t doing anything about it, we’re all going to die, and so there’s nothing I can do to stop that”. And that’s fair. Sometimes I feel that way too. But it’s not enough. We can’t just give up. There is hope, there is action happening, and we all need to be ready to be a part of it.

soft reflections in the glass

Tanka・July 24, 2020・Full Text

When we look not at the real thing but at a reflection of that thing – whether it’s ourselves, someone else, or anything – it helps us gain a new perspective. We see ourselves reflected in our loved one’s eyes, and we reflect their image back to them. In this way, we can borrow the eyes of another person, and learn from the experience such that our worldview is transformed.

historical horizons

Tanka・July 25, 2020・Full Text

Our relationships with others, the things we’ve experienced in our pasts, shape and in some ways limit our experiences in the present and future. This is what is meant by ‘historical horizons’. When we look back at history, we recognize that “it could/have gone any other way” – and as such, who we are now is a product of not necessarily an infinite number of coincidences, but certainly an infinite number of actions, events, choices made, that all led down to one thing, which is our understanding of us at this particular moment. As individuals, we look back at our lived histories and wish that things had gone differently, that sadnesses and sufferings and separations had not happened, but those are precisely the things that shape who we are today. It is fair to say, “I wish you were still alive,” “I wish you were still here with me,” “I wish things had not changed,” and so on, but it’s also important to recognize that if those wishes were true, you would be a completely different person today.

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