patterns of succession

every day that goes up in flames
   is a star that falls too early,
a star that shines too late;
poetry is a metaphor for reality,
   but they don’t tell you what to do
   when old metaphors become new truths,
when ‘the earth is on fire’ becomes fact,
   and you’re faced with something –
something so expected, so comprehendible,
you can’t even begin to shed a tear.

every day that goes up in flames
   is a sliver shaved off of the end of my life,
another wood sliver hammered into your coffin;
we used to dance to the rhythm of the earth,
   to the rising, falling tides
   and the migration patterns of the birds,
and now we can’t even hold each other’s hands,
   we’re so torn apart by these borderlands,
and this choking smoke births only bitterness in our mouths,
hatred in the place of our hearts.

every day that goes up in flames
   is another soul being lost to our shame,
another soul surrendering to meaningless pain;
you think you’re so smart but you don’t understand,
   it was never about evolution
   or power or race,
it was about time and space,
   a home to heal in without leaving a trace –
but the trace you’ve left is a full-body burn scar
and the healing ice and cold water have melted away.

look into my eyes,
   and hear my voice on these nights,
because it doesn’t have to be this way.
every day we walk to save our children from the firelight,
   to turn reality back into metaphoric poetry,
   is a day of meaning,
an offer of hope and healing,
   because we can dance to the rhythm again –

and it wouldn’t be a miracle.

it would be nothing more, nothing less
than a simple act of love.

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.

『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.


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

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.

Tchaikovsky

the evening breeze flows in, through a window left ajar
and your whispered words still reach me;
like fragments of shattered glass in my scars,
I carry these pieces onward to finish the tragedy –
but they’re so few in number it’s laughable.
they’re all I have from our years together
and now, before my eyes,
they become meaningless.

Tchaikovsky, you answered;
the name is hollow in my heart.

these days, the music notes line themselves up on the staff,
in a way I’ve never seen;
numbers spill across the tabs like paint,
and part of me can’t wait to make them mean something –
but for some reason, tonight, they refuse to be played
and I can’t stop turning away.

I know I don’t have to send you these videos anymore
or these stories, or these poems.
the nightly winds will carry them between us,
like Akana Soemon racing to make good on his promise –
and my promise,
my old, eternal promise now renewed.

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.
your name leaves a bitter and salty taste,
but Tchaikovsky I can say;
and even though tonight I turn away,
the music still means more –

more than it did, on that very first day.

preface and afterword

A-side: typhoon and aftermath


the sky
electric, like your hair
in brilliant colors that i think should not exist
the clouds wash across us,
covering the canvas as if it were a mistake,
my mistake
and it was
when i let go of your hand tonight

she says she dreams in black-and-white
but my brain has been drowned in color
you never feared the flood that came, and now,
now i think i know why
they were safe for you, those colors
they were home
you saw yourself when i saw you
and i saw you then swimming away

now, i look up at the sky
and the electric shade is still there
i know i am the only one who can see it
my personal treasure, something
you left behind for me
everyone else looks out in the darkness to see stars
and takes solace in their light
but i look out in the darkness to see you
and these remnants of another time:

fragments of your hair, still falling in slow-motion
waiting to be caught
by none other
than me

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


B-side: preface and afterword

i see the darkness

A-side: i see the light


i see the darkness
swirling like spring current
coating the top of the sea, the space where
it is molten
not like chocolate
like glass
and it has to come from somewhere but i know
i know where it is coming from
and i do not want it to end

there is something
in the way i picture your face
in the way your voice is so familiar
when it is jammed through an audio receiver,
there is something
in the little jump my heart makes
when i see a new message,
and realize it’s not you
and i could almost laugh
like a man in exile, i laugh

some days i laugh at molten glass
and the bitter taste in my mouth when i worry
because the darkness is so bright it is blinding
and i think i am the only one
with eyes left to see it
it’s a comical tragedy, i know
stand-up at the end of the world
but i am so happy

i am just so happy

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


B-side: i see the darkness