Brand New Day

I took the yellow brick road, clicked my heels, and went back home. But I returned to a much changed world. I felt like a foreigner, needing a passport to cross state lines. I’m not even sure if I’m still in the same country. A Stranger in a Strange Land. There’s too much light and my eyelids hurt, burning with every blink. My shoulders are stiff, my head is heavy. My pen keeps writing even when I don’t know what to say. I feel stronger when I don’t speak, conserving words, saving water in a drought. I speak only when I need strength. Burrowing into my skin, shine under the sky like a sunflower. If/when I go home, who will have changed? Two years gone, the prodigal daughter, welcomed with open arms to a brand new day.

The Glass Bottle

Murky sound, traveling under water
Mellow yellow light fills my eyes
Clarity of expression through my fingertips
Urban attack, swank bank between my thighs
Stay woke, fam.
Independent study of the lines on your face
Fellowship of the Pen, Return of the Queen
Capsule learning, getting to know you
Adrenaline to expel about
The disease that
Binds me to this Life.
Day job ’til I die,
Money/power/respect
Compartmentalize the details
That separate me from this dream
The scritch of this pen
Echoes because of the excellent acoustics
Images of three, short phrases precede your emojis
Pithy blurbs of immaculate sex and fashion shows
Wearing the lingerie you bought me
In the heat of the moment
Feather light against your skin
I really have to refresh
Sniffling in front of the cameras
It’s not coke, no
I only drink it from glass bottles
Ten cents off the side of the road,
Afflictions of historical accuracy.

lady of the lies we tell her selves

You’re too friendly;
You’re not friendly enough.
You shouldn’t wear that;
Flaunt it if you’ve got it.
You’ve got big hands, really tall,
you play ball?
Why did you do that?
Why didn’t you say that?
You deserved it;
You let him do it;
You didn’t stop him.
If it was me, I wouldn’t;
If I were you, it would be done.
I love you;
I hate you;
There is never an in-between.
You’re too skinny;
You’ve gained weight.
You’re too brown;
You’re too light-skinned.
You wear glasses;
What about contacts?
You look young;
How old are you?
Your body belong to U.S.;
Your thoughts controlled by Big Brother;
Don’t ever stop the pen,
Because no one else will sing your song.

Loving is Leaving and Coming Back Around Again

I’ve never been in love.
Not like how the poets scribble, the musicians sing,
we storytellers write bestselling novels about.
Infatuated, yes; blind, justice; obsessed, hungry.

I thought I loved my birthplace.
Rose coloured glasses and all that.
I left like a thief in the night,
Only it was day (that much I recall) –
An inauspicious Fourth of July,
Carrying passion that I thought was love in a bucket of water,
With a big fucking hole in the bottom.

In my youth, I saw all the signs.
I ignored them this time around,
Believing I was immune to it.
Immunity seems like a horrible way to explain it
And maybe there isn’t some sentimental way to define
Something that doesn’t deserve to be sentimental at all.

I am prepared to leave, two years older
Certainly not wiser because nobody is,
No amount of lying will comfort you
As this poem ends.

Loving is leaving a place you knew
A place where you shed tears
for the very atoms of your existence
As it beat your corporeal spirit into corn meal
Giving you a hide as durable as durian
– And maybe my insides smell like them too –
To be eaten by the birds tomorrow.

There will always be a tomorrow.

Pomegranate Juice in Three Parts

Sweet and sour, puckered tongues, and stained fingertips
I had a great line here, but I deleted it in revision
I tend to ramble and I drop in images from the things I’ve learned
And I’ve learned a lot.
So much crime in the world today, makes me wanna hide under the covers
But you can’t stay there because you have shit to do
You brutalized the umami on my taste buds
I’m sucking down hydrogen monoxide to restore my sanity
Turned out, dropped in, this state I’m in (California)
He sighs loudly from his lips and the halitosis is intense
I’m glad this doesn’t apply to me because I’d be freaking out right now
How much gas did I use to get here?
And how do I get back?
I’ll never know when it ends until the next door splinters
in the hallway of my belligerent head

All I could think of the moment I moved in
Is that I came full circle to my childhood.
Front lawns with no grass, only broken cars;
Margarita salt was a common candy on the playground.
We didn’t know any better.
And margarita salt is pretty good on its own.
McMansions filled my eyes for over a decade,
but I feel safer buried in its conformity.
A funny observation because I never felt like that before.
Scrawny, tall for an American-born Asian,
the only Filipino in every class I was in.
I never culturally fit in with the Mexicans, blacks,
and eventual white flight from the Southside.
The dread of what I left behind so long ago returned.
My car got broken into at Denny’s.
Stared at. Silently judged. Dismissed.
I’m ready to go. I know what home is. I think.

Cool guys walk away from explosions.
Not me.
I stare into the fire, drawn to the heat,
like the spiders at the Door to Hell.
I must be the only academic who hates statistics.
Numbers bore me.
Money is quantified by numbers, and I never have any.
I’ve come full circle in two years.
Where do I go from here?
Writing poems looks like I’m taking notes.
No shame.
They don’t know me.
I’d give anything to sleep right now.
I haven’t had a day off in over three weeks.
I thrive on Red Bulls, and prayers.
I sleep when I can get it.
With my dog at my feet.
He wakes up too easily.
Bouncing like a butiki to rob me of my dreams.
The Sandman works twice as hard when we snuggle.
Twisted dreams peppered with Wilhelm screams.

The Transitory Nature of Self

It seems as though I am in a constant state of transition.
People come, people go, but nothing ever really changes.
Perpetual motion until a greater force propels me in another direction.
I ache to find stability in earthquake friendly regions.

Why do I open myself to such heartache?
I must’ve been a masochist in another time, another place
Doomed to repeat the biological imperative of limbo
My karmic punishment for some unknown wrong

So I’ll continue to feel hopeful for something else.

I Don’t Like September

Wynn waterfall at night

I do not like September.
With its cooling breeze and covered knees,
Lyrically imprisoned in someone else’s dreams.
It’s back to school, march one, two, three.

I do not like September.
Three steps closer to the end of the year.
Which begs the question: where did it go?
One happy little walk off a very short pier.

I do not like September.
Lest we forget the eleventh.
Two came down, off went your cloak of naivete
Just to put on another.

I do not like September.
The only time of year you grieve
Playing the celluloid of his life bereft in your head
Reminds you he’s not here and still dead.

I do not like September.
Mostly because of the eighteenth
You’re one year older
Last year is the same as this one.

One more hill you have to climb
One more story left to write
One more song to shake it to
One more freeway to drive on

Three hundred sixty-five days
Until the next one shows its ugly face.