Epilogue (Part V)

Previous: Part IV


“The earth is on fire” used to be a metaphor.

Something to dramatize, to clarify, something to make things real in the way we understand realness. Now, it’s just truth. Now, the forests burn, the fields burn, the books burn, the waters boil and the plants die and the heat chokes up our perfect, invincible, powerful bodies and there’s no going back.

There’s no going back.

There’s slowing, and there’s adapting, if we care enough to do that. But the fire is here to stay.

“Metaphorically speaking,” you prompt hesitantly. And my first response is to laugh.

“You’re a writer,” I say. “So you tell me.”

Next: …

the things i still remember

“Wait for me,” he’d said that day…

I still remember his eyes. Amber-colored, soft and gentle. They lit up at the edges when he smiled, and then narrowed and seemed to draw forward when he was being intense, thoughtful, or serious. He’d gazed at me with those narrow eyes that day – the day he left, the day we both made promises we could not keep, knowing that he would not be coming back.

I remember his hair. Long, compared to most boys back then. Slightly ruffled, thick, and dyed in all the colors I never dared. I’d admired him for his hair, something that sounds stupid now. Sometimes, when I dream, strangers with unknown faces show up framed in his hair.

I remember the way he talked. When we talked about life and death, suffering and the universe, it was slow, thoughtful, heartfelt. When he talked about music it was different – open and passionate, and rising steadily in volume, although he wouldn’t notice it. He’d talked about music a lot, and I’d listened, letting him share this part of his heart.

These are the things I still remember. Now, after all these years, they are outnumbered by the things I do not.

For some time I thought I would just let this happen, this slow deterioration of memory. But today, for some reason, I want to fight it. And so I will start by writing these lists of the things I still remember. He had talked about writing a lot back then, whenever he’d talked about composing music. “You have to write it down,” he’d say. “Take what’s in your heart and what’s in your head, and find a way to articulate it on paper. Then later you can look at it and think about it and still remember.”

I wish I could find a way to articulate the things I now forget.

L/N: August 2-8, 2020

『because we will meet again』

Poetry Compilation・August 3, 2020・Full Text

I think this compilation is one of the more coherent pieces of my recent work. There isn’t anything new in it, since I felt that I had a lot to work with already. The key point in this compilation is the flow – the connections linking each poem to the next. The order was very deliberate, even the choice of placing the title piece at the end, and on the surface, figuring out an overarching theme isn’t hard. The message, maybe, is harder to place, but I’ll leave it up to interpretation. I really enjoyed putting this together and rereading it as a compiled work, and I might revisit it sometime in the future.

firelight in summer

Free Verse・August 4, 2020・Full Text

As noted at the end of the original post, I wrote this piece for a friend’s birthday. It doesn’t immediately read as a stand-alone birthday message, since it’s less a celebration and more a reflection – a recognition that “there won’t ever be another time like this.” The spacing and visual flow are key points, and there are several important, unidentified metaphors – the fire, the bridge, the music, immortality. In a way, you can read it as less a birthday message and more a message of mourning.


Tanka・August 5, 2020・Full Text

Why a message about a new year in the middle of summer? Time is highly subjective and socially constructed, I’ve talked about it before in pieces like 『Anniversary』. The sense that another year has passed can happen for different people at different times of our social year, and for a variety of reasons. How do we mark our own time? Is it our own birthdays, or the birthdays of people we’ve lost? Or is it something else altogether?

smoke screens

Tanka・August 6, 2020・Full Text

Sometimes I feel that as barren and unforgiving as our human cities are, some beautiful pattern of life, some non-human fragments of nature, can still be seen under the surface. It depends on where you are, how you live, and whether or not you pay attention. To me, our cities are a mask – and not necessarily the good, effective kind. The question becomes, what exactly are they masking, and why? And what’s with ‘smoke screens’?


Tanka・August 7, 2020・Full Text

There is a deadline coming up for me, and strangely enough, I can’t tell if it’s a deadline I’ve already met, or one I won’t be able to meet. There doesn’t seem to be any other option – either I’ve already done it, or I won’t be able to. Why can’t I tell the difference? Why don’t I have another choice? Everything is self-imposed and self-interpreted – and everything is in flux.

cloud cover

Tanka・August 8, 2020・Full Text

It’s rarely so simple as ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’. You can have clouds without storms, and rain without sadness. Someone might ask you how your day is, or how you’ve been, and it shouldn’t be unacceptable to say “just alright” or “I don’t know”. If unpredictable weather is hard to navigate, how are we supposed to put these unpredictable moments and feelings into two or three short words?

firelight in summer

     the days are getting longer now,
and I can hear the burning roar;
eating away at the boards beneath us,
     the flames turn strange colors in the night –
and your shadow in the firelight is blinding.
     whoever said we won’t live forever?
even spirits have nightmares now and then;
you shade your eyes against the falling stars,
     and watching you, I realize –
there won’t ever be another time like this.
     this bridge we stand hovers over a chasm of nothing,
an empty void mistaken for hell;
but my memories of that place still end in warmth,
     and the music behind us is unstoppable –
so when we fall, how bad can it be?
     the heat around us grows in tandem
and the stars, they start to dance;
flickering with what-ifs and what-could-have-beens,
     your eyes reflect my past and future selves
and our nightly tragedy becomes another chance –
     another chance to bravely fall,
another chance to die;
     another chance to become immortal,
another chance to rise.

For my friend, E. Happy birthday.