I've finally done it.
I've printed out my poems.
There is an order form.
The collection even has a Facebook page!
I was told coming into my clinical year of medical school that I ought to find a way to keep myself human. So, I did. Over the past six months, I wrote these poems between surgeries, nap breaks, and seeing patients. I wrote about heartache, time, late mornings, fights, work. They are life poems(!) and they have become my lifeline. These poems are meant for the commute. the snack break. the morning coffee run. They are meant to read like a pick me up when don't have time.
I'm rambling. The point: there are days that do not feel like good days, and maybe writing these poems have helped me pull through. Reading them again, I am humbled at who I was a couple of months ago. It's a reminder not to take myself too seriously. And to keep writing.
another ping in the
pocket. then, a
pause. unseen message, or
when should we bother, or
be bothered about
becoming a bother? and
when should we
ivy branch reach out to
magnet attractive suns?
when do we get to call
strangers, and not think
about the way we might be
buzzing up their phones
these sort of things:
I turn to sleep on my
left side after a month
on the right. maybe the
uneasy chest feeling will
dislodge itself if I just
get through tonight.
I think of you
Here's a thought: there's an old riddle (arguably by George Berkeley) about a tree in the forest. If no one hears it fall, does it still make a sound? The short explanation: sound is, by definition, a perceived effect. If no one is around to perceive, then it doesn't matter if the tree objectively made noise. There is no sound. The argument seems ridiculous and too legalistic to take seriously, but I use it as a jumping point for my own tangential thought: we exist separately from how others see us, but we also exist to other people as certain versions of ourselves. Does that matter? Or is it, like the tree argument, something that sounds good legalistically, but doesn't do anyone any good in what we call "real life"?
I've been stuck on this poem by Jack Mueller for weeks–so, maybe it will stay with me for the rest of the year.
I resolve to update this blog a little more often. However often that may be!
It is the dawn of a new year and the end of my holiday. On my headboard, there are three poetry books lined up that I read in no particular order. Mueller, Doty and Ashbery are currently on rotation–my favorites, and my mentor's.
Two nights ago, I went out with some friends–it's an odd thing to catch up with people you've known for so long but whose current lives you know nothing about. It's meeting a stranger with a familiar face. Someone said that the older you are, the more people become shadows of other people you remember–sounds like someone else's voice, looks like someone else's ears, smells like someone else's cologne. Meeting someone after a long period of absence is something like that. You remember them as themselves, but have to piece together who you remember them as vis a vis who they presently are. It is a constant process.
A tangential thought to this: it's so easy to give up investing time into meeting up with people. Medical school is like a little circle in the Venn diagram that is convinced it doesn't need to intersect with anyone else's circle. It's so easy to be absorbed into this medical training bubble, and I think for the most part of my clerkship year, I've willingly participated in locking myself in the system. Then, I think of people I love and whether we'll have anything to talk about after years of me excusing myself from gatherings and parties. I think of how much compassion is necessary from those who love me in spite of my schedule.
at 74, Mueller bites it
no thanks to cancer.
at 65, Doty.
Some others, without
notice, no Wikipedia entry.
No consensus on
what became of them—some,
heaven, others, still here
watching over the stars as much
as we still do, just less communicating
(under the presumption that we
are still communicating.)
On that note:
I sit down, and
finally tune in-
to your favorite television series,
this pretense of connection
based on a common
I don’t enjoy it,
and fake interest because of
your interest. Would you call it
hypocritical, or would it
move you? would it
come to mind when I
bite it at the age of 62?
Breaths come in pairs, except at two times in our lives—the beginning and the end. At birth, we inhale for the first time; at death, we exhale for the last.
the beginning, and
in between the
end is a Shakespearean Act played
out—all the world is a stage, every
morning wake up
naked and out of character,
bare bones and back
breaking after a lifetime
so far of breaking
in these feet, and every morning,
dress our grins for the show, smile
lies at everyone we
meet—I am aware, there is
Venetian masquerade is not e
verybody, the way the worst
boys always quip “not all
men,” but we counter with: “enough
men to matter,” enough
piston weight pressure on slouching
shoulders for enough of us to
play the game anyway, count the
cards in our hand and bluff
all the way—jester, joker
smile though your heart is
breaking and you’re
tempted to take your
one last breath.
There’s a beginning, and there’s an
end; there are mornings you need a little
help seeing what waits around the
hope is an ocean inspired suitor, ebbing and
flowing, sometimes here, and when you need him:
disappearing. It is difficult
going through rain cloud seasons with feet
believing in prayers you
whisper when things were
going better. Understand: this
is what faith looks like—take a deep breath in,
and hold it steady. Everyone with me, exhale
slowly. Notice this
reflex arc handy: your lungs
take deep breaths again,
even when you anorexia starve it of
air, chest coup-de-tat fights you, doesn’t want this life to
end. And, maybe now is a semi-colon, a
pause in the story, see,
we all need a little
breather. We all get
hope will arrive
feet soaked through thick cotton
socks after all the pain and the
downpour rain, but meanwhile remember this
reflex: take a deep breath in and hold it
steady. Everyone with me, exhale
slowly. See, then
our lungs welcome the
sky again, we
breathe again, our sighs
out are reminders: this is not the end.
at ten years old, we
climbed skinny trees, and
scraped knobby knees, saw the city
bird’s eye, and listened to the rustling of
leaves, ten years later:
in place of trees,
we lego brick stack concrete
pancake layers: higher and
higher until we need elevators, and
then, maybe they fit the criteria for
skyscrapers. maybe, this time, we’ll find
what we’re looking for:
peer through the glass shoe
window on the top
floor, and won’t feel the need to axe
hack this cityscape down, won’t feel the
need to bring the sky closer to the
ground, to fill our hands with news
paper that says we’ve reached the clouds.
sixteen years ago, there were red winged
butterflies morning greeting
kisses before moving
onto someone else’s plant box—the
all organic liberal player, heart
breaker—we learn from their pollinating patterns
we are all thieves, mercilessly
taking nature’s nectar—let’s army knife carve out a space for
summer pavilions and
canopies, uproot these wide mango
trees and use them for
fire, their bodies are good for
keeping us warm, and this
Nara: sturdy for shelter, and it is human
nature, instinct to reach
peeking through the clouds, and we
soak it all up through bare
burn instead of tan. there are no
butterflies now, because there are no
an urban concrete lego-land on life support, the Pasig
river a clogged up IV line and we try to
scrape at the sides but don’t you
remember, we sent away the
guys who could do it
better on their last
payroll, now the land
rolls down the bank of the
river, where we put dams in place of
trees—as if we knew any better. and maybe I’m a
girl who wants to teach her future
daughter how to climb a tree. If I’m
lucky, she’ll learn to do ir better than me.
identified by drink more than by
name, and espresso caffeine isn’t the
only kind of morning
rush, it is saying my name like
brush strokes and getting
lost after swimming the wrong
stream, down, and no one ever expects to end
up in today’s version of
here, but here
you are: with a friend’s
dr pepper robitussin americano, and another’s
iced cappuccino, and still trying to coin
flip between two kinds of
beans, as if Jack really believed in all this
maybe it’s time we round our
backs, cat stretch
slouch, cave in-
I was sniper
centered on north pole
things. today is equator
different, all kinds of fireplace
warm and no blister
burns. and maybe
Jack was magic bean
right instead of asylum not right in other
places, and maybe it’s Apollo really
bright here, not just an Iris hallucination
lie. and, dr stranger mouths, “how
will you know if you never try”
-out, train for decathlon-like
death, it’s not caving
in if you’re expected to Pokemon
trainer put up a bloody good fight.
For some reason, medical school is when I develop frequent sore throats. I'll call it what it is: my health is very poor, and I haven't been taking care of myself for the sake of my academics. Here are the consequences.
A professor once said that at one point in your medical education, you tend to think you have one of the diseases being described in the textbook. We just saw a kid with a bad cold the other day, so I'm now wondering if I've got what he's got.
I probably don't, but it makes for fun poetry.
grape cluster tonsils in the
admit it: we only mouth the
words to sound like we understand what it
means, and that starfish doesn’t look
like anything. it is all
tentacles and no stars. and
marks are just squiggles
someone else drew. nothing
more than temporary
tattoos. you and I—we are
real. these words are just brush
strokes, but we think it over
again, and laugh at everything.
this particular hobby of mine isn't meant to age well, but it's heaps of fun while I'm young and reckless.
these days turn
to rheumatic hinged
hips, and fibrous hanging knee
caps, and hindsight spikes we don’t
hearts with it.
win us all over.
Happy 4th of July from here in the US of A!
My summer is nearly over, so my muse is once again restless. Thus, more poetry. Hurrah! Anyway, a word on the land of the free: America, to me, has always represented equity, and opportunity, and hard work, and freedom, and (extended) family. Despite the current political climate, I still believe that there can be hope and there can be peace–the thing people migrated to America for years and years ago. Spending the 4th of July here is interesting. It's made me believe in all the "naive" hopes and dreams I once had when I was seven.
Maybe that's a good thing?
4th of July: we are crazy
dancing, feet instinct
moving to live band
In the horizon the sky is
neuron synapsing: hand grazing mine
electric, cliff diving
lips pressed against mine.
One day. The hope of it.
lips curled up to your eyes.
There are film reels of me
dancing to jazzy
And the horizon: gentle
pixie dust fall—wonderful,
awestruck, believing in fairies
again. And forgiveness
again. And grace
You have become the
eyes underneath her
bed, the darkness in her
closet, the anxiety shaking her
bones, the way you always promised you
I watch your
horns prop up your
halo, and you’re still
mirrors, believing in your own
In e.e. cummings no capitalized letters style
A brief Truffles update: she is no longer all that small, but she forgets how long she's grown. She still tries to fit into pots meant for sproutlings and baby bunnies. I have no idea whether this hurts her feet, but she's a trooper.
A brief update on my life: I've got a month and a half before turning it in for the summer! Here's to one last sprint to reach this year's finish line. Send prayers my way because I'd really like to be promoted to third year medicine.
Anywho: onto the poem!
we are a pair of thieves, merciless
-ly taking—her from the leaves plants air out to
dry, and me from the female counterpart of father
time. she never seems to side-eye judge my
greed—and I twisting tongue justify hers.
there is serenity in communication
barriers: no words just the pounding of paws and
feet, no fear just exhale
confessions into pointed
me more than my
race understand how to be
human. it is an odd species i family-belong to, and
black-sheep wish i could understand you instead of ghosts of
men drowning insults in sweet nectar kisses—i can hear the innuendos in their
snake-smiles, can taste desire in their gaze, can feel heart pounding punchlines miles
primal. politics is
civil, so, we go on, one-night-stand
pretend it's no big deal and virgin shame
conservatives, and tiptoe around
feelings, utter cover up
confessions meant to feign
embarrassment while shutterbug taking
memories of what we really keep
my truth is not silent, and, therefore
i am primal—hair tossed in the
wind, right side shaved
short for the brevity of our time
together, for the
sweltering summer months i spent
out in the open road to
if i could steal the hands of
time, wind it back to twenty
fourteen, i’d steal leaves aired out to
dry instead of glances in your direction.
i’d steal star-crossed
dreams and words from
civilization, shake out excess
instinct and keep going.
i’d find her earlier, and
learn how to use paws instead of
hands. it is our handshake language:
i call her name, assume she listens, and she
puts her head in my palm, assumes my constant presence.
There were sea lions and whales here last summer... I taught my younger cousins to call them blubber nuggets.
One : Honey drenched lips, speak
my name in morse code
memories I can’t remember
Two : Rough hands scrape
shoulders, and I doe
flinch—even stags run from
Three : Echo familiar names, syllables
I once ballerina turned to. Now, I am
roundhouse kick solid
stance ready for a fight.
Three : Fairy dust fiction, and I still
Peter Pan believe
Four : Character arc un-
predictable: weather forecasts
sun, but it storms
beneath pale arched
eyebrows and long pitch black lashes.
Five : Make sense of these
lines I bridal veil hide
behind, pull me apart. God
knows you want to.