May 20

Waiting for Inspiration

I sit down at my desk,
on the floor,
at a table.
Open my laptop,
my notebook,
try to clear my mind.
I tell myself, 
just write.

But some days
I feel like I’ve forgotten the only language I am fluent in,
unable to narrate my own life story.
My writing 
riddled with holes,
my ideas 
stolen from an author I don’t remember,
stuck to the back of my mind
like forgotten memories
tacked to a corkboard,
all of this
just recycled words.

I trip over paragraphs,
knees scraped on stanzas,
tangled by my metaphors,
landing in a pile of fractured words
and graphite dust.

I get distracted
by water droplets on the window
and 
snippets of yesterday,
feeling that what I’m supposed to say
is on the tip of my tongue,
but I can’t 
quite 
taste it.

Some days, I have nothing to say,
and I walk away,
Apr 23

Hali and the Bear

     In a small village at the foot of the hills, bordered by a snaking river to one side and a deep forest to the other, there lived a boy named Hali. He was the son of Tahi and Naia, a farmer and a healer, and he was a quiet, unusual child. He didn’t like to play with other children. He wasn’t loud or disruptive. As he grew, other villagers began to whisper about Tahi and Naia’s strange son. “What is wrong with him?” they would say. “Why doesn’t he run? Why doesn’t he dance? What sort of child has nothing to say?”
     But Naia understood her son far better than anyone else did. “He has plenty of things to say," she told the villagers. "He just doesn’t have the tools he needs to say them. Give him time.”
     The villagers continued to mutter, skeptical, but sure enough, as the years passed, Hali found his tools. He began to sing, to play the flute. He spoke in music.
Apr 14

Immortality

    A story? Yes, I have a story I could tell, if you will listen. I first heard it on a night much like this one, a cold, quiet night, sitting by a bright fire. Now let me think, how should I begin? Hm. Ah, yes. I think I know.
    Many years ago, I met a traveller on the road. It was bitter autumn. The ground was strewn with fallen leaf-corpses, the branches of the trees laid bare by an icy wind. It was after a long day of walking on weary feet that I came upon this stranger’s fire, and I was lured in by its bright warmth. It was not until I drew near that I saw the figure, hooded and cloaked, a shadow just beyond the flames.
    The stranger bade me come forward and join him by the fire. He removed his hood and greeted me kindly, telling me that he was glad to see another soul on this long and lonely road. I agreed to join him, also eager for companionship, and as night closed in around us, we ate by the fire and talked.
Apr 13

The King's People

    Once, there was a king who hated everyone who wasn’t like himself.
    He was a rich man, from a long line of rich men, going back further than even he knew. He had everything he had ever wished for; silk robes, a jeweled crown, and a kingdom of people overwhich to reign. Servants to cook his meals, soldiers to fight his wars. A council of Elders to advise him on every subject. 
    It is all very well, he thought, having advisors. They are wise, it is true. But they are too trusted amongst my people. They cannot be tolerated.
    So the king went to his most trusted servant, a reliable man of noble heritage, and instructed him to burn down one of the temples. The servant did so, knowing better than to ask for an explanation.
Apr 06

A Poem for the Boys in My Life

You don’t have to hide inside yourself,
origami emotions,
delicate paper folded into a vanishing point.
You don’t need to wear the mask of a superhero,
or walk in the lead-heavy shoes
you have been told make you a man.
They will say that ‘boys don’t cry’ — 
no, they will imply it — 
through the stories that infect the television screens,
and the questions they ask you,
but I have watched the pressure build in a cork-stopped bottle,
know the way a smile can feel like an obligation.
You don’t need to be ashamed
of voicing your vulnerability;
there is only so much your lungs can hold.
A golden exterior
can be cracked on the inside,
shining armor
is a cage,
but they will only say:
collect that emotion in a jar.
Bury it somewhere you won’t remember,
and if it breaks,
those shards will be your daggers;
better to draw blood than let them see you bleed.
Apr 04

Photos 1

Mar 31

Countdown

     Ten.
     Somewhere, somehow, it has already begun. But there will be a pause before it all really goes to hell, a breath before the plunge. Grocery store shelves are fully stocked with sanitizer, toilet paper, chocolate chips. The subway is full; people bumping, jostling, sticky fingers touching the same ATM screens, hands gripping the same train car poles. The hospitals, the schools, the galleries are unlocked, the restaurants and theaters full of life. The airport is not yet filled with fear.
     Undetected, it has already begun to spread.

     Nine.
     Wuhan, China. A student sits on her bed, cocooned in a blanket, watching the news. She hasn’t left the apartment today, didn’t leave it yesterday either. She only goes out when she has to, a short trip to the downstairs cafeteria, and every time she wonders what she will bring back with her.
Mar 29

One More Day (song)

Don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to open your eyes.
Maybe if you wait it’ll all disappear.
Your heart’s feeling empty, you forgot how to cry.
It would be easier if you could just lay here.

Just one more day, I swear
that’s all it’s gonna take, you’re almost there.
One more day,
just one more day.

I know you’re tired, know that everything hurts,
but I know you can stand, take a moment to breathe.
Braid back your hair, put on your favorite shirt,
you’ve done this before, I promise, you’ll see.

Just one more day, I swear,
that’s all you gotta bear, I swear just
one more day,
just one more day.

So run, girl, run, like you’ve got hell on your heels,
your feet are on fire and your lungs can’t breathe.
And dance, girl, dance, you know how good it feels,
it’s just you and the drums and their beautiful beat.

Take a moment, look around.
Mar 21

Yes, You Can Hold My Hand

Yes, you can hold my hand,
but only if you understand that this isn’t just another step in your game,
aiming to reach something more,
because holding my hand doesn’t oblige me to give you anything else.
If you take my hand,
remember all the incredible things my hands can do;
the way they weave words from my tangled thoughts,
and bleed beauty out of colored pencils.
The way they have learned to dance across piano keys,
the melodies in my muscles,
no longer needing a mind to guide them.
Remember that my hands do not need your protection,
that I am proud of these calluses,
of the armor my fingers have spent a lifetime earning.
Remember that my hands were not made to be held.

And yes, you can kiss me,
but only if you like the shape of my smile more than the shape of my lips,
only if you know that saying yes once, twice, a hundred times, 
doesn’t mean I’ll say it again.
Mar 02

Envy

Your mind weaves you a blanket of lies,
whispers the secrets you expected to hear.
Scenes painted on your envious eyes,
illustrations of the story you’ve written for yourself,
brushstrokes of a crumbled imagination.
You gorge yourself on possibilities you know are poison,
but you feel so empty, so hollow,
and you can’t stop swallowing.
You try to remember the sound of reason,
but all you can hear is the beating of your greedy heart.
You push away the hunger,
the hostility crawling into your lungs,
but you cannot hold back this wanting.
You beg yourself to stop, but you can’t tear your eyes away,
your mind a display of picture-perfect jealousy.
You reach out for a last bit of sanity,
but your hands have become claws, 
and they slip.
You look in the mirror.
Someone else looks back.

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