of sirens—a short notice
call to brunch.
Know to be worried
because you know them enough
even when they know nothing
at all about the direction
the wind is blowing or the way
this car is going.
It's the distress
signal that matters.
The first aid response.
Then, going through the motions
of not speaking over eggs and Americanos:
we both know
there is no easy solution
but I'm here now so
maybe the caffeine helps
make the nerves feel better. Maybe
tomorrow will help your prospects look brighter.
and think: well, I’ve
done it this time.
Head down to the
pillow, maybe I don’t wake up
to an alien life tomorrow. Maybe
a gear clicks in place, and
these years feel mine.
Sinner, one of those
that’ll be excommunicated
if religion still did it: how can
God not bring you peace?
Maybe He gives
me an Atlas
piece of the world.
How else would a lover make you
see how much worry is worth?
And this idea of
plummeting into some other’s
here comes the fall
again, blame Eve
again, but this time she loses
everything: doesn’t get her
Adam and doesn’t get her
Eden. Just the naked shame.
If only it was that fundamental:
bite into all the ways I can
tell you I love you.
on my door and offer me a cocktail
sedative. Put me to sleep.
Heretics have more courage:
I still have everything to lose.
but cut throat
words blurted out when
they think you're out
so, let the scars gleam
white–here, asshole, have some
history: all the ones who don't put out are
college prudes, shriveled up
spinsters are fuckable but
too emotionally unavailable so
looper repeat it
over and over–this
body is not broken.
finally, standing up
for yourself isn't
so take it and plunge
the dagger deep down the breastbone.
reek of injustice:
I am not the
sinner, but I'm still the
one who bleeds.
There are people who are very much in touch with their emotions. They are able to gracefully navigate their feelings and express exactly what they felt and why they felt it. I applaud you, fantastic human, how do you do it?
I'm not one of you.
Instead of being a normal human being who understands what feelings are, a poem:
you’re breaking your heart again
the both of us. we know
how this ends: pick your poison—I know yours
is ethanol coursing down your hoarse throat, and
comfort in warm arms except the ones you long for.
to regroup, then
dive back in
to prickly cold water.
forget about them, these
red triangular sign posts.
they’re for fools and
we’re the exceptions
(or the illiterate).
the routes are
simple, but we
call it youth, or
not learning from
fumble through pockets, then
dial the phone number. sorry,
the line is busy, or dead
eight years in the making.
to resurrect Lazarus,
he isn’t coming back.
Or is it just because I’ve been
Breathing life into Galatea after the
Sun bows out and gives me my stage—here, I am
Loved the way I like:
I’m confident my lover likes me so
I don’t worry about the way my hair must seem:
Bird’s-nest soup, the memory of
A child again. I promise I’m not too far
Grown up yet.
We just exist
In negative space,
Absorbing the quiet.
Then, sun takes its turn and
Clocks in to run
His shift. We get along
Except in the moments before my
Eyelids pry open, and I wake
To a bed without my lover: it is all
Melted butter, running
Down the counter but let me
Watch it for a moment longer
Before swiping the remnants up,
Leaving no trace again.
I'm tired, and I feel bad about feeling tired–it's insanely messed up to think this statement through. Still, it's how the past few months have been going for me. The idea that I have no right to complain has popped into my head too often–it's what you hear people say: you don't have it as bad as we do. When did life become a competition of whose lot is worse?
Ah, well. A poem:
Name Me Ghost
Not quite alive, and
not quite dead—gone
through both, but the afterlife
is bullheaded, and
won’t accept it.
photo reel of all the Saturdays, the
laughter stored in our throat. Replay
loop all the stupid things I’ve said.
Migratory patterns leave
shadows for those left behind--
sometimes, it’s the fragrance
of missing me. Maybe they do.
Still, this is goodbye: it’s
the natural swing of things
to move along when the
cold begins to bite.
I've finally done it.
I've printed out my poems.
There is an order form.
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