『because we will meet again』


rainy season memories

alone on this night
rainy season memories
return to haunt me;
though we cannot see the stars,
their light shines through the downpour.


i see the light

i see the light
reflecting off a strand of silk that dances
but is still anchored, dances
but is still strong
and i close my eyes
afraid to look out the window at night because i don’t
know who will be there
waiting
or watching

i toss and i turn but it’s not the crickets that keep me
and your desperate words come and i call
and your voice
raw and breaking like i’ve never heard
painful and low because you didn’t know who else to talk to,
you’re sorry
but i’m not
i was never sorry

and i hit pause when you’re in the water
pause to stare at that stupid beautiful tattoo
branding it into my memory, it
means something to me
but i don’t know what
and we write and we write and we talk
until the last thing you write, those silent words
‘you mean the world to me’
and i have to swallow my heart again


anesthetized

shaking
to the point where i feel nothing
though others say it’s rolling like a boat, i
i just hear the demons
they’re banging on my bedroom door now
and i’m numb
hollow

part of me wants to invite them in, but i
can’t find my feet in the night
awake at 4am, my soul is wandering
ungrounded
homeless
i can’t feel pain and i’m not afraid
but this is when we are most vulnerable
you know

and in the end our souls alight
although the demons always visit twice
and you return me
to our shared dreamscape and we sleep
filling our voids with each other
and learning
to feel pain again


typhoon and aftermath

heat
as from a hair dryer,
filling the room
like steam I cannot see,
the warm cloud of your breath
expanding between us
enveloping
disguising
the morning fog rolls in around us
and your feet kick up the dust
and i follow
without seeing, i follow

the ocean throws up a mist
a salty spray that lingers on my tongue
and as it begins to rage, the fire comes
all sparks and embers and smoke-induced tears
and i think of you,
though no one would understand why

the stardust in the sea still glitters,
a reflection of the universe in your heart
and the flames lick at the shoreline and i,
i do not know what the waves are made of anymore
i do not know what i am made of anymore

i must be dreaming, i think
this scene is too fantastical
if i survive, it will become a nightmare
but you will be in it,
so i think i will not mind

i lay in my bed finding the empty space beside me
and the heat fills it, the waves wash in to fill it
unseeing
undreaming
phantom earthquakes tighten me like a screw
but at least they do not hurt, for the waves
the unknown waves soothe my scars
and reflect your eyes into mine

and i drift off to sleep, determined to dream
even if it will be another nightmare this time


Painting Dreams and Nightmares

dreaming unexpectedly,
her tears fall into the sand
thick ropes weave between our feet
as we walk into a foreign land

on fire, all of us and them
but together we still see
together we still see our dreams
and make them reality

she paints with the fibers of a noose
illustrating her nightmares from inside
and still we walk through the door to love her
so that we can say we tried

where we’re going, I won’t know
until I sleep tonight
but until I close my eyes this time
again I’ll hold you tight

until I close my eyes this time,
again I’ll hold you tight…


angels and demons, and goddesses

dripping just like blood,
the rain off her umbrella —
she speaks, and I dream;
if such a goddess exists,
why must she come to haunt me?


night visitors

sleep
like a night visitor,
a foreign stranger
who never planned to stay…

it was never meant to be this way.

i lay awake, trapped in dreams
and beside me you’re still feverish
you ask me if it’s night or day, and i say both
but it’s neither.
unsatisfied, you close your eyes
and something in me just can’t look away.

we spend our moments standing on a bridge
together wondering if we should burn it
“maybe this way we won’t have to choose…”
but the choice was already made for us
and we were too late to see it.

don’t tell me i’m naive.

if it must work out by the end i’ll make it work
but for now, we’re locked in separate dreams
hovering in the same space, our hands
just out of reach of our bodies
and our eyes
your eyes
glistening like stars in the night.


nothing else

with no other choice
I embrace your darkened form
in the strongest rain;
for you and for everyone,
there is nothing else but love.


black and blue

glowing black and blue, the quiet night
and a beaten man is sprawling on the floor
from his back he gazes at the stars
and we gaze back at him, silent and torn

there truly could have been another way

he dreams of you and I watch him
knowing how much it would mean to hear your voice
but on this night you cannot speak
and I cannot speak for you, though I cry

he reaches toward us with his open hand
and we know he wants to join us
but you can’t bear to pull him to his feet
and we watch as he stands up alone

and we watch as he stands up alone —

because he needs to live another day


because we will meet again

laying here beside you,
and afraid to say goodbye
the sun burns itself out,
reflected in my eyes
if only there could have been another time
the world revolves around us still
and everything just comes and goes
like waves crashing on the shore, we rise to die, and I
I’m not afraid
because if our universe returns to the beginning again,
then we are nothing more than immortal

your voice echoes in the night
compounded by your pain, but it’s alright
we both believe that it’s alright
even the fall of a great star is beautiful,
and gives life to those who see it
and the day must break again,
you call my name and bring tears to my eyes
summon me, wingless, to the sky
we knew our lives were a mockery, a chase played out in reverse
so we broke it like a mirror and made our own game out of glass
even the shattered fragments driven deep into our skin came alive
we did our best to live, that time

and now new times are coming,
they will always come
we put our foreheads together and close our eyes
and as the shooting stars sing their songs, we cry
out of fear but unafraid
because there was never anything to be afraid of but ourselves
so I whisper my farewells without regret
and you hold onto your reply, waiting
for our next chance to speak and hear, waiting
for our next chance to no longer be alone, waiting
for our next chance to rise.


L/N: July 27-August 1, 2020


night visitors

Free Verse・July 27, 2020・Full TextCompiled in 『because we will meet again』

This piece is more or less a meditation on the feelings that come to us within the night. At that time when everything around us takes on a fuzzy grey appearance, it is easier for us to realize that things are not so simple as we think. There are many lines that seem contradictory or paradoxical – “i lay awake, trapped in dreams,” “you ask if it’s night or day, and i say both / but it’s neither,” “our hands / just out of reach of our bodies”. But in the night, when we dream, when we lay beside each other and gaze up at the stars, lines like these become less poetry and more truth. And isn’t that something special, almost magical, something to be treasured and respected?


caught

Tanka・July 28, 2020・Full Text

Try to live without making regrets, I’ve learned – but the problem is that regrets only become regrets in hindsight. In many ways, regrets are unavoidable. There are steps we can take to limit them – by frequently telling our loved ones how much they mean to us, for example, and spending as much time with them as possible – but you can’t do that with everyone all the time and still come out alive. We simply do our best and try to keep moving forward, and that’s all we can ever do.


Epilogue (Part IV)

Prose-Poetry・July 29, 2020・Part IV

This piece revolves around environmental justice. Specifically, intergenerational justice – the fact that the consequences of what we the living do with our planet will rain down unfairly on generations to come, and the younger generations who are already here. Recently, the youth of the world have leapt into a movement to try to bring attention to this injustice. I think it is essential that even if you’re older, you at least try to understand how they must be feeling. “You are borrowing this world from us,” I once wrote – can you not look into the future and try to ensure that the world you leave behind is one in which your children will thrive and be happy?


angels and demons, and goddesses

Tanka・July 30, 2020・Full Text

“We all have our angels and our demons,” I wrote once. Well, I suppose we all have our resident spirits and goddesses too. This tanka is pretty ambiguous and open to interpretation, but I think that even if you don’t come to any definite conclusion as to its meaning, you can certainly still enjoy reading it.


wondering

Tanka・July 31, 2020・Full Text

Our increasingly digital, globalized world has made it possible for us to make connections and all kinds of relationships with people all over. And one aspect of these new relationships that isn’t often spoken about, is the uncertainty that comes with injury, illness, and death. If the person you often communicate with online suddenly stops responding – for months, for years – you don’t know what happened to them. Maybe for some reason they suddenly decided they don’t like you. Maybe they got into a severe car accident. Maybe they have been claimed by the pandemic. Or cancer. Or they were a victim in a mass shooting or random robbery-turned-murder. At heart, you don’t know if they’re alive or dead. And if that person meant a lot to you, if your relationship had gone on for a long time and had been truly meaningful, that uncertainty hurts. Some people might say they prefer the uncertainty, because then at least there is a chance that the other person is still alive and out there – but that uncertainty will dig away at your soul forever. Years from now, will you still be happily hanging on to not knowing?


anesthetized

Free Verse・August 1, 2020・Full TextCompiled in 『because we will meet again』

There was a decently strong earthquake the other day. I ended up writing this poem about it. I was awake when it happened, very, very early in the morning, and I was awake for one of the strong aftershocks a few hours later. But, it was only the aftershock that I felt. My only experience of the main event was hearing the abrupt, violent banging sounds of my closed door rattling back and forth in its frame. Having not felt the shaking, I thought for a moment that someone was banging on my door – but I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t get up or turn on the lights, I didn’t open the door or get my phone or call out to the people I live with. I just lay there, watching, waiting. Out of this experience came this poem, a meditation on moments in which we feel nothing, moments in which we are numb inside and anesthetized, and how we resolve that hollowness by interacting with each other and teaching each other to feel again.


anesthetized

shaking
to the point where i feel nothing
though others say it’s rolling like a boat, i
i just hear the demons
they’re banging on my bedroom door now
and i’m numb
hollow

part of me wants to invite them in, but i
can’t find my feet in the night
awake at 4am, my soul is wandering
ungrounded
homeless
i can’t feel pain and i’m not afraid
but this is when we are most vulnerable
you know

and in the end our souls alight
although the demons always visit twice
and you return me
to our shared dreamscape and we sleep
filling our voids with each other
and learning
to feel pain again

Epilogue (Part IV)

Previous: Part III


IV.

You want to tell your grandchildren that you did your best one day – well, have you? “It’s not about you, it’s about us…” This isn’t a relationship. It’s abuse.

You try, I know. But it’s hard for you to understand that simple fact, the simple state of things, because you’re the one in power. You get to choose what you see and don’t see, what you do and don’t do. You get to decide who lives and who dies. And we don’t. With one flick of a brush you unknowingly consign hundreds, thousands, to their deaths before they even lived, before they even got to view this insane, beautiful world with their own eyes, and meanwhile you can’t stop talking about how much you value human life as if the two questions are not the same, as if the answer is not the same. The courts of the world to come will lock you up for child abuse and murder, and you’ll still be as confused as ever. That’s not me, you say before your ancestors. I didn’t abuse my children. I didn’t kill anyone. But you already have.

We are all perpetrators. If I repeat myself ten years from now, will you then understand?

If the words spill out of the mouth of your beloved grandchild, will you then understand?


Next: Part V

night visitors

sleep
like a night visitor,
a foreign stranger
who never planned to stay…

it was never meant to be this way.

i lay awake, trapped in dreams
and beside me you’re still feverish
you ask me if it’s night or day, and i say both
but it’s neither.
unsatisfied, you close your eyes
and something in me just can’t look away.

we spend our moments standing on a bridge
together wondering if we should burn it
“maybe this way we won’t have to choose…”
but the choice was already made for us
and we were too late to see it.

don’t tell me i’m naive.

if it must work out by the end i’ll make it work
but for now, we’re locked in separate dreams
hovering in the same space, our hands
just out of reach of our bodies
and our eyes
your eyes
glistening like stars in the night.

L/N: July 20-25, 2020


singularities

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.


distance

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.


Tchaikovsky

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.