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more words [new form]

I’m reading a lot these days, many pieces with content and structure that influence my thoughts. From this, I guess, comes the following attempt to write in forms other than the one that comes the most easily (long winding prose with many a run-on sentence). It’s an experiment that makes me a little uncomfortable but…maybe that’s how it’s supposed to feel? I’m not sure.

New to this, I’m going to put them (for now) in reverse-chronological order. The ones marked drafts are…drafts. There are words I’m playing with, phrasing I’m still unsure of…but for one reason or another I’m including them here as semi-complete pieces. Sort of. Maybe.

DISTRACT ME

Look at me.

Look at me sitting in this apartment
with warm lighting and soft tones and comfortable furniture
sitting on the couch
sitting on the bed
standing in the kitchen
hoping for a lucky distraction from myself
a text message
an email
the Skype bleep

Look at me waiting for you
whichever one you are
it doesn’t matter
waiting for your attention
it makes me forget my sadness

I stare into space a lot
touch the buzzed side of my head
look in the mirror to decide
if my face looks thinner than before
or if it’s just hope
something about the word gaunt
appeals to me
as if I could make my body reflect my emotions

distract me
distract me from the emptiness
where there was once belief
where there was once excitement and possibility

your arms are strong and warm
I like your crooked smile and even with
the lead in my heart
I find myself smiling back

That smile isn’t a lie
it’s just sad without you noticing.

lobster memories [draft]

Picnic tables, umbrellas, cottages, barbeques
against a backdrop of beach grass somewhere on Cape Cod
Truro or North Truro maybe
two weeks of bicycle rides
of sunrises and sunsets in deck chairs kites
of freckles and sunscreen and
bathing suits sun-drying on fence posts

Our final night
crustaceans awaiting a boiling demise
rubber band handcuffs
that holding-cell
tray of tepid water
can’t have been much comfort

confusion – but they’re alive
they are alive in that tray
alive over the pot
alive when they touch the roiling boil
monitored by an aunt who
funnily enough is a judge in her real (non vacation) life
questions
and an off-hand explanation given by a relative
my horror noticed a second too late

instant tears by a five-year-old me
who now understood
humanity and maybe a bit
about death

an inconsolable evening
no buttery celebration for me or dad
only heartbreaking questions and a foreshadowing
of my vegetarian destiny

that road right there [draft]

gin, tonic, and lime
a combination designed by the God
who doesn’t exist for tropical climates
such as the one in which i find myself
the gin is cheap and
the limes are cheaper and
the tonic is expensive but
who wants everything to be perfect,
anyway?

my world is one of rice paddies
banana trees, palm trees, and tropical fruit
in colors and shapes that seem
entirely alien to someone
from where I’m from.

my world is one of empty country roads
where people tie their cows
to a 40km/hr sign by a rope long enough
to allow the cow to completely block traffic
they do this, inevitably – wouldn’t you?

my world is one of strong dark coffee
cut with sweet milk from a can
served on ice recently hacked
from a block the size of a microwave…
it came by motorbike

my world is one of radiating heat,
humidity that makes me feel
like there’s more water in the air than oxygen
appreciation for a good fan
is not something that I’ll ever lack

this is the place to sit in cafes and bars
the sort with tables on the sidewalk
patrons who spend the day chain smoking
scribbling in their notebooks
or laptops if they’re a less romantic type,
this is the place to decide some days
that sitting in this cafe on that street
isn’t much what you feel like,

crossing the Red River
on a French bridge from 1910
buying a bag of fruit for a dollar
and going straight north or straight south
or straight along that road right there,
stopping eventually to park the old bike
under an especially shady banana tree
pulling out a book, bought used
from some other expat who also
romanticized life but then lived it

instead I drive past these things
to get to my office
paid well for my ability
to make this place resemble the world
i left America to escape
I eat delivery salads and iced lattes
they’re quicker and easier than
stepping outside in business casual
there’s no time between the things
I don’t really want, to do the things I do

Laying and Staring

i remember laying on our bed
exhausted from arguing, my eyes swollen
from the tears, yours just empty.
Unable to move, side by side
on our stomachs, cheek to sheet,
looking at each other, each
wondering
how we got here again.

once i took a photograph of you in this moment,
and made you do the same,
wanting to remember that look
in your eyes and that feeling in my chest

many nights passed this way,
a gulf between us,
both of us not sure what to do, other than
eventually go to sleep and bank
on a better plan tomorrow.

There didn’t turn out to be one
and now if i lay on a bed on my stomach
with my head turned to the side
I imagine you
and miss even that sad moment

I can still see your empty eyes, your pain,
I can still feel my own pain and
mounting desperation for a return
to us in love, us on adventures, us
laughing and dancing and talking
animatedly about this book or
that small neighborhood in Rome that
you loved.

It’s silly, as I am still conscious of how
impossible everything felt, how broken.
But eventually one of us
would silently reach a hand across
the divide
and give a squeeze of hope.

Now there’s no reach, no squeeze,
no person on the other side of the gulf
whose hand somehow
makes me believe
that everything might be ok.

Turtle Tattoo

I haven’t thought about your turtle tattoo
possibly since we broke up
the one you got while we were in Bangkok
at the same time
and in the same style
as the design on my forearm
that men I go on dates with now, compliment.

I wonder if it reminds you of me
of our life,
of the hope we still had
when we spent an afternoon
in Mr. Tung’s shop under
that giant psychedelic portrait of the king

The turtle swimming across your forearm
a “metaphor for life” way more
than that lamppost in the park that time,
might just remind you
of the era spent in Asia
and not of the girl you spent it with.

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1 reply »

  1. OMG, how beautiful. How you put words in print. I swear I’ve had this same thought, the fact that you can write it is just so truthful and while sad, so true. We’ve all been there, there will be someone in the future, you must know this. I love you.

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And then on one of those long days when I'm tired and reallllllly not in the mood to go home and read 16 essays, I get a text reminder of why I love this job. .
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