Meditations

because when my arms are drenched in blood down to my fingertips I feel alive
but that is the only thing I feel

broken dreams like falling stars, you chase beyond the horizon
catching although they cut like glass
you’re unable to trust anything but your own senses but even they will sometimes lie
the pain I’m supposed to feel, unfounded in your eyes

looking down and ready to jump
with the sidewalk stained with rain, the window streaked with blood
the clouds are crying the tears I cannot shed
and the song in your throat now is dying

because when my arms are drenched in blood down to my fingertips I feel alive
but that is the only thing I feel

you beat the drum to the rhythm of the hunt
when it’s the tiger within that is driving
coursing through your veins, the pain of your own life
and you’re caged and you’re burning alive

necklaces faded and shattered on the floor
amid the shadows of those you’ve left behind
the falling petals of today’s blossoming roses
take form to shackle the curtains of our hearts

because when my arms are drenched in blood down to my fingertips I feel alive
but that is the only thing I feel

turning from the starting line to let your arrows fly
but you can’t even see yourself
blind to dreams until it’s raining red, you climb
the walls that set you free

streaked with broken glass and hatred
you cross rivers without making a sound
numb to the suffering of your own body in the end, you leap
through our still flaming ring of time

because when my arms are drenched in blood down to my fingertips I feel alive

but that is the only thing I feel


This extended poem is paired with the A-side mini-compilation「Mo{ve}ment」: Read Here

The Eleventh Sun

Photo by Specna Arms on Pexels.com

An endless graveyard,
A sea of blood –
My dreams have been fulfilled –
I close my eyes, but I can’t unsee
Bodies sprawling across infinity –

When we are gone
We will only be known for death –

A universe, a planet, a species
Given life and so much promise –
A single second torn apart
By the birth of the human heart
Anger and greed collapse at our feet –
Nothing can save us now –

Beyond my window I see children,
Shattered by assault rifles
Pushed in front of trains
A world on fire –
Call yourself the savage!
What we have become…

On our way to the moon,
We shot down all ten suns
And here we are in endless night –
A cold desert with no horizons
No longer a place of life
It’s a meaningless battleground!

In front of an elementary school
Stands a man with a gun
Bleeding hatred and pain –
There is no way to stop him –
Today he is all of us
And the children too, after all…

Screaming into the void
I close my eyes
Begging, pleading, crying –
And the world whispers:
I’m so sorry for your loss…
We will never forget…

Breaking news, thirty-two people confirmed dead in a mass shooting in…

Stop the Killing

「俺は世の中を見捨てたくない

なげやりにもなっているわけじゃない

だけど解らない

気に入らない

“偉い人”は気づけない?」

– SUGIZO, “NO MORE MACHINE GUNS PLAY THE GUITAR”

Stop the killing,
Stop the hate.
Stop the burning,
Stop the rape.
Stop the firebombs,
And all the nukes –
Stop destroying,
Instead create.
I’m tired of your justifications.
Why do you go to war?
Why do you kill?
For money, for fame, for reputation or power,
Or because violence just feels good.
Because we must show them our strength,
Because they don’t live the way we do,
Because we fear the differences between us,
Because difference is bad.
Really? What’s so bad about it?
I ask you this –
Of all the things you have named and more,
Is anything more valuable than human life?
War only creates endless tragedy –
And all for what?
Is anything truly worth such suffering,
Brought about by our own hands?
Why is humanity so inhumane?
I look around me,
Trying to find a point of comparison.
But what other species is there
That is so hell-bent on destroying itself?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Migrant Children Are Human, Too

Photo by Felipe Vallin on Pexels.com

Imagine being locked up in a cage, surrounded by unfamiliar and threatening people who speak a different language, have different faces, act in different ways than you’re used to.

Imagine being forced to sleep on the floor in the extreme cold, with bright lights shining on you twenty-four hours a day.

Imagine having little to no access to bathroom and shower facilities, soap, and clean water.

Now imagine you’re seven years old. You’re locked up in here for reasons you can’t comprehend. When you ask for food, you’re given instant noodles. When you ask to see a doctor, your request is denied.

Some of the guards try to be nice to you. Others treat you like an animal. You’re seven years old, seven, and you’re not sure what you’ve done to warrant this treatment. All you know is that you’re fleeing home because your mother was killed in the war and your father promised you a better life, a safe life, in this place called America, this wealthy nation where your dreams of equality and fairness can come true, but you don’t even know where your father is anymore because the guards took him away and left you alone.

A guard thrusts an infant into your arms and tells you to take care of her. You have no idea how to deal with a crying, screaming child because in many ways you still are one yourself. You ask for advice. You ask for diapers and other childcare necessities. But the guard can’t – or won’t – help you. You wonder how your mother took care of you when you were this small. She’s dead now.

Within a week there’s a flu outbreak in the facility. There is no doctor, no medicine, no healthy food or water. A young child dies, and the guards take her away. It could be you next.

The next day another guard comes by and offers you a deal. He says he’ll give you extra food if you help keep the other children in line. You’re starving, so you accept – but now you’re socially isolated for the betrayal, for the unfairness. What little relationship you had with the rest of the children has now disintegrated. You gave it up in exchange for cup noodles and water.

You ask the guards how long you’ll be here, but they don’t know.

You ask where your father is. They don’t know.

You ask where you are.

“The United States of America,” they tell you.

America…


When I wake up and turn on my phone, articles like this one from the Associated Press and this one from ABC fill my newsfeed. I read one after another about the state of our immigration detention facilities. I read about the situation of hundreds of separated migrant families and how their children are being treated. And I’m appalled. Disgusted, even. But I’m not surprised.

I’m not surprised, because it’s still relatively easy to go out into the street and find someone seething with hatred and bigotry. It’s still easy to find someone who believes that “illegal aliens” are pouring into “our” country to commit crime and steal all of “our” jobs. It’s still easy to find someone who believes that immigrants deserve this kind of appalling treatment, or worse. It’s still easy to find someone who believes that the first thing to do is kill all of the Mexicans and all of the gays and all of the people who aren’t cishet WASP males, because then, only then, will America be truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I’m sick and tired of meaningless hatred. But I live in a country that feeds off of it every day.

さすが、アメリカ。

Drowning

I sit at the edge of the pool, letting my feet dangle in the cold water. I stare into the dark blue depths and feel alone. There’s a slight ringing in my ears, drowning out the sound of the wind and the birds and the traffic on the street below. I close my eyes and try to breathe.

You’re okay, I tell myself. It’s okay.

My chest hurts.

Before I know it I’m crying, silent and powerful sobs that shake my entire body. I want to stop but at the same time I don’t, I want to drown myself in tears. I want to wring a rope around my neck, I want to throw myself into the pool and hold my head underwater with my own shadowed hands. I want to escape this life of suffering and pain and hatred and humanity.

I close my eyes, choking on my tears. In the shadows I reach out to touch my memories but they shatter beneath my fingers, violent and sharp, jagged shards slicing across my wrists. I scream into the darkness, calling out for someone, anyone – no one.

Inside of me I know that I’ll wake up from this nightmare. But I’m not sure what side of life I’ll wake up on.

We Are All Human

Everyone is deserving of respect. And I mean literally everyone.

Don’t get me wrong — respect comes in different forms, and certainly I don’t think Hitler deserves the same level of respect as Nelson Mandela. But it’s hard, if not impossible, to quantify respect and the privileges that come with it, and that’s not what I’m trying to get at. All I’m saying is this — I believe that, at the end of the day, many of our societal problems arise from a simple failure to respect other people’s basic humanity.

When we start believing that other people don’t deserve any respect at all, we change how we treat them. We give them labels, labels like “illegal alien” — which suggests that they aren’t even human, that their very existence is a crime. We refuse to listen to them and find ways to silence their stories. We create laws and policies that take away their basic rights, making it possible to spy on them, lock them up, torture them, sometimes even kill them. Look back over human history and you’ll see we’ve done this many times over. African slavery, the Armenian Genocide, Japanese-American internment, the Patriot Act, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, the White Terror — just to name a few. While all of these were (and are) highly multifaceted, they couldn’t have happened unless one group of people decided that another group wasn’t worthy of their respect. You cannot make war, commit genocide, or oppress a population without leveraging the value of respect, without saying: she’s on the good side, so you should respect her and let her live, but she’s on the bad side, so you can go ahead and do whatever you want with her.

I believe a basic level of respect should apply to everyone — a respect that cannot be lost or taken away. If we decide to treat everyone with respect, we make a commitment to value their individual lives, to protect their basic human rights, to listen to what they have to say. And if we do that, it becomes very, very hard to hate, oppress, and murder our fellow human beings, no matter how we try to justify it.


A Short Story

It’s not always easy to respect everyone, but it’s something to work towards. In 11th grade I had a history teacher who was arguably racist, depending on your definition of the term. They said some very hateful things about non-WASP people, ridiculed many Asian countries, trampled over Native American terminology and cultures, and sugarcoated Japanese-American internment. As the days went by I became more and more critical of the little things they said, and I stopped taking notes and paying attention to their lectures. It was the first time in my life that I came close to actually hating another person – and when I started to feel that hatred, I knew it was time to put the brakes on and take a look at myself. And here’s what I realized: it’s dangerous to not have a solid, irrevocable foundation of respect in all of our relationships, because lack of basic respect breeds miscommunication, cruelty, hatred, and ultimately violence.

I could have talked to this teacher. I could have explained, I took issue with what you just said and here’s why. I could have had a respectful, open-minded dialogue, if I just went up to them and said, I want to know why you think Japanese-American internment was equatable to summer camp. Instead I sat in my chair and stewed until I felt hatred, until I felt capable of cruelty.

This story was about a simple two-person relationship. Replicate it on a grander scale, and I hope you can see how lack of basic respect can lead to systems of oppression, war, and genocide.


Do Children Deserve Respect?

At what age does someone become deserving of respect? I get that question sometimes. But if you ask me, it’s kind of a silly question. It’s not like you turn 18 and all of a sudden your life and voice matters. So my answer is this: if I say everyone is deserving of respect, I really do mean everyone, and that extends to children of all ages.

Once again, I’m talking about a very foundational level of respect, a respect for another person’s basic humanity. That six year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store is a fellow human being – so they’re deserving of respect, no matter how much you might dislike them right now, no matter how annoying they are. Respecting them means valuing their life, their rights, their voice, and everyone is deserving of at least that.

What about school? I always have a lot to say about our education system and how adults treat children there. Time and time again I’ve seen teachers, administrators, and staff disrespecting students, and that’s not okay. The same is often true in reverse, but in my experience, the failure of a student to show a teacher basic respect was often because they felt the teacher didn’t respect them in return. Especially in high school, a time when many students are beginning to hold jobs and external responsibilities, it’s not okay for adults to refuse to listen to them, to assume they were just lazy, to assume they just ditched class for no reason, to assume they’re self-righteous arrogant little pricks who need to be locked up and shown the meaning of discipline. When you don’t show a student of any age basic respect, you’re teaching them that humanity doesn’t automatically come with being human – instead it becomes something that you can freely give or take away. And that’s, in a word, dangerous.


The Bottom Line

Train yourself to treat everyone with respect. Value individual human lives. Listen to what people have to say, and be open-minded. Stand up for them when you see their rights being infringed upon.

This is how we fight against war, oppression, genocide, human rights violations, and simple day-to-day acts of cruelty.

Every human being matters.