you’ll understand when you’re older.

mommy, what does happy feel like?

“it’s like when you smile and everything is nice.”

mommy, what does sad feel like?

“it’s like when your grandma died. it makes you frown, and sometimes you cry.”

mommy, what does being mad feel like?

“it’s like when you want to hit something really hard to stop the fire in your middle.”

mommy, what is being scared like?

“it’s when you don’t want something to happen, but instead of fire in your middle everything is ice.”

mommy, what does hope feel like?

“it’s when you really want something to happen, and you’re almost scared about it but you smile instead of frown.”

mommy, what does love feel like?

“you’ll understand when you’re older.”

mommy, what does happy feel like?

[it’s the glow in her eyes but not her face as she looks at you oddly, tired – bent but not broken but even her smile is strained now]

mommy, what does sad feel like?

[it’s the way she sobs when she doesn’t think you’re near enough to hear with no abandon, unlike the everything that abandoned her, and it’s the gaunt look to her face, the haunted eyes that seem never to escape the mysterious burdens they drag with them]

mommy, what does being mad feel like?

[it’s the screaming at the sky, the blood-chilling sounds wrenched from her, demanding at no one why they would do this to her, why her, anyone but her, and it’s the dented wall no one talks about]

mommy, what is being scared like?

[it’s the ‘i-love-you’s that stick because of the desperation buried beneath the simple words, and it’s the fact that she’s convinced she’ll never be able to convey the entirety of her meaning, but she’ll try her hardest, anyway, because what could invoke more fear than regret?]

mommy, what does hope feel like?

“mommy doesn’t know sweetie, go ask someone else.”

mommy, what does love feel like? (i’m older now, you know)

“shouldn’t you know the answer by now?”

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never forget the little things.

“I met a man once. Even from several feet away, I could almost smell his stories, they were that tangible. It was like one could reach out and snag me at any moment, like a hook. (See what I did there?) He wore his silver (not grey, mind you) hair free and he carried himself like the physical embodiment of the phrase ‘tried and true’, and nothing short of a tsunami could’ve shaken him. Tattoos lined his arms like the tanned, leathery wrinkles tracing his face.

I approached him cautiously, like I might a ghost. Curious, but very, very careful — that was the key, being careful. You can’t expect the unexpected, but you can prepare for as much as you possibly could. He squinted at me sidelong, and without a word started talking.

I thought he would describe grand adventures in rich detail. Tales of trouble with pirates, (for he was surely of the sea,) and treasure, and treason. I thought he would recount rough tales of badly-kept secrets and beguiling women.

Instead, he spoke fondly of his love across the sea (I was right on that count, at least). He told me of friendships, speaking of the deep pain of betrayal like he wasn’t desensitized yet, like it stung even more now, likely at least a few years later, than it did then. He recounted stories of his kid (kids?) when they were younger.

I sat, enraptured. I had never heard someone so rough-looking speak so gently, so obviously caring about whomever was the subject at hand. It fascinated me, for a reason I couldn’t name.

Such a soft man in a rough world. Despite appearances, of course. I was called away before he ran out of tales, but I promised I’d be back. When I got home, I told my two children – Evie and Ren, my pride and joy – all about the man. I owe him, to this day, for lessons irreplaceable.

I came back, same time the next day. He wasn’t there. I never saw him again, but I never forgot about the kind man in the cruel world.”

my favorite constellation of them all

it’s the song i can’t stop singing
it’s the tune always unfailing
it’s the bittersweet goodbyes
of things not yet given up
it’s the happy parts of slowly-fading scars
the parts of not-yet-laden hearts
that have against all odds – not yet given up

it’s the stars that brightly shine
contrasted beauty so divine
they are never quite as pretty
without the sky to back them up
its the saddening parts of slowly healing hearts
talk of bitter, the scars scabbed over

(into a marred constellation
traced against the night’s backdrop)

it’s the depth of your eyes and smile
too honest to think of guile
no one even comes close
to the way you are a sun(flower)
it’s the maddening love
an occupational hazard—

if i am the stars
then, oh, you are my night sky, darling
part of the art, part of my heart
and not only just a backdrop

the Ambiguity of One Group with Two Names

hello, world. it’s nice to meet you again, but how many times must we go through this?
do you not grasp by now that something is very amiss?
can none of you see, that to keep on meeting, first we must forget you?
“to forget reality, such impossibility!” pray tell, how is this true?

i suppose that you don’t realize

even from day one, we are taught to expect that structural integrity is incredibly adept
at hiding holes and cracks behind Their well-clothed backs, and grinning
normal is picture-perfect snapshots, nothing less; nothing but tailored truths we’re trained to accept
nothing but the lies, Their personalized enterprise — story-spinning
weave intricate tales of our dependency on Them – mindset so ingrained that we are sewn at the hem
none of the holes or cracks aside, blatant lied are magnified
we are slowly winning

but is not self-awareness akin to damnation of one’s mind?
is not realization the cause of one’s unwind?

are we not Them, then?

rambles from school, pt 1

Love is not an easy concept to grasp, because it’s not just a concept – everyone defines it a little different. It’s an emotion, or an action, or physical pleasure. Something I didn’t even consider until recently is that love is not capable of being confined to just one definition. To some people, it is one thing, while to others, it is totally different.

As a child, all I knew was familial love; there was also “parents’ love” – subtly romantic, longsuffering, and steady – but that was for adults. I did not dwell on the qualities love, much less on how I would define them. Growing older, however, as I start to revise and realize my own outlooks on various subjects, love is much more elusive than I originally thought. It is not straightforward anymore; rather, it’s like the color black. Some people say it qualifies as a color, some claim it does not. Some think that it’s all one color and anything else is grey that borders on black, but does not count as “real” black; some see different shades to bright colors combined. There is no one, universally-agreed-upon definition, because too many people see too many things.

Growing up, I have witnessed too many things to maintain one definition. Divorce, when two people who used to claim to love each other separate permanently. Immaturity, when one or more parties involved do not understand that loving each other, in any way, supposedly means that the people involved should care enough to work out their differences despite the disagreement. Martyrdom, even the sort that does not refer to death – one person lets another, or more than one, stomp over them because if that’s what the second party wants, the first should oblige, right?

Love cannot be contained by one human. It is too nuanced, too variable, to stand by just one definition. It is not just familial or just romantic. The least we can do is understand that.

who taught us to love?

no one ever taught us to care. it’s instinct, right? carved into intangible humanity, sitting like rain water in a barrel; leaking through even against our all-important wishes.
we care so much that our so-called hearts bleed until they wither into dust. we care until veins burst but arteries clench closed; till we spit venom and cures at random, with no care for the path we subconsciously tread. peripheral vision – that’s all we retain, staring anywhere but right in front of us, eyes boring holes into everything but the truth. the truth: we care until paradoxes overwhelm our lives, throwing us back into reality with nothing but a vague notion of recent events.
hazy, disjointed life. automatic, uncontrollable life. that’s all we retain.
we care, but we don’t focus on it; that would hurt too much.
we care, not because we would die of agony if we fully felt the effects–
but because we would live in perpetual fear of the what-ifs.
we care without a care in the world, simply because it’s instinct.

(mianhae)

by the way
a brief respite would be nice
a rest from the self-redeeming eyes
in the mirror
could it be any clearer?
it’s not what you expected to see
you expected the me that i pretended to be
by the way
a brief respite coincides
with alone-but-not-lonely and
reassurance
(is that so hard?)
and by the way
a lack of this is what i miss
so dearly

aching, aching, in my gut
i doubt you remember what
my issues are
i hope you remember
nothing about me
breaking, breaking, in my soul
what’s in there’s beyond my control
it’s cracking! can you hear it?
it’s lacking! can you tell?

what’s it lack? i wish that i
could give no answer and pass by
curse you for being persistent!
(at least, you used to be.)
what happened? i wish i knew
reasons many and fixes few
i’m cracking! can you see me?
i’m lacking!

(like you care.)