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.”

“saranghae; jal-ja.”

truth is? i love you a lot
i love you too much to watch you rot
little drastic-sounding? is that what you think?
what you think, what you think — it doesn’t matter what I think
what i think, is that you should leave me alone
before my hurt becomes yours

truth is? i hate you sometimes

(…truth is? i can’t think of a solid reason to hate you.)

truth is? your care is sickening
but your affection is quickening, blood goes steady to thickening
at your love, at your leave
ah yes, and that is the entire reason we are here.

truth is? i feel weak thinking
of a life devoid of you, totally lacking
in your specific way of cracking open the packaging
in this cursed little lock-box of mine.

truth is? my heart is so full
and nothing can dull the inescapable
relationships are hard when you give them your all
(and your all is always all you give)

truth is? i try so hard not to care
whether you go or you dare
to make us some sort of pair
of dysfunctional minds coincide here

truth is? i care more than you’ll ever know
promises will be the death of me, but
at least they give me a reason to talk to you
(once in a while)

sometimes
prying the box open, carving out its insides
cutting its contents open until they bleed out
and eventually wither away
carefully gathering all the ash, and making it special again
in the way only you can do
sometimes, this is all you can do
sometimes, this is all you need to do
the care you take is disgusting in its quantity
but i can never actually begrudge it

truth is? i love you in a way
that dies just a little whenever you walk away
little drastic-sounding? is that what you think?
well, let me tell you what i think

i think that you should stay
i think that you should stay
i think that you should stay

but what i think most, is that you should leave me alone
before my hurt becomes yours

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?

(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.)

scared of a time when I’m not me

sneaking into the night
the darkness is a comfort of mine
says the one whose definition of comfort
needs an amendment, instead of just “hurt”
feeling absolutely nothing
no pain, no gain, is that why I stand so still?
I hope that if I mimic a statue enough
I will
vanish

but still i scream into the wind
wondering exactly what makes a friend
care so much (so little)
so, so much
repelling’s instinctive, it is what I do best
aside from putting them through every test
and I scream into the empty air–
what about me makes people care
so, so much?

crawling back from a fight
you can’t win against your own cursed self
says the one whose definition of win
sums up to not committing a vile sin
feeling everything
all pain, no gain, is this why I ache with feelings?
I hope that if I sleep often
I will
vanish from this world

time, time, is what I shriek to you
you have no idea what I really do
I steal your dreams and replace them with only me
and what am I but not good enough?
this is what I feel so I rub it in your face
time, time, is passing
and you use it, waste it on me
you foolish, foolish child

screaming,
I am a thief subtly bringing you closer to me
stealing rags and riches intangible
I am an ineffective excuse for a weaver of dreams and falsities
have you not noticed, already?
have i not stolen enough from you?

bleak

have you ever gone through an hour, or maybe a day, or a week, where it felt like you were living out a video? everything is a hollow allegory for something held dear. time is fluid, you are fluid. you survive, but you do not live.
echoes of ‘real’ life? well, this is real life. this is the reality you face every day. it’s like you’re living in a dream except that you can read the license plate of the car in front of you as you drive to work, or school, or just back home. you feel each meaningless breath rack your body, but you don’t breathe. ‘going through the motions’ is a way of life now. ‘fine’ is a perpetual state of being.
and what’s better, this, or emotion that sucks away the things you see but don’t focus on, the things you hear but don’t register? always ringing in your ears, or maybe a buzzing – it distracts you, until you’re not paying attention and someone else pays the cost.

have you ever experienced this?
i ask, because i can no longer breathe.