It’s been a time for living, some days I could even venture to say I’ve been living poetry. A good excuse for not keeping up my writing practice, which is not to say that the impression of these days should not be written down. A list poem, at least, which might include the words
ten and two
Biting on the gritty dust kicked up by hundreds of lightning bolts striking a purple sky.
Filling up the gas tank one more damn time.
In the past two weeks I have left, I have arrived, I have finished, I have started, I have reunited, I have jumped in, I have come home, I have returned, I have rarely been alone.
I am just catching up with the part that writes, that reflects, that tries to make meaning out of putting words together. I’m in no hurry. I don’t hurry very well.
The first thing I wrote after I returned, in front of the ocean, was a prayer.
Right before I left, when I was landlocked, before my love arrived, when I was often alone, I also wrote prayers. This was one.
Give thanks for prayer
when it’s the only thing
I have to slip into
the cracks of my cold,
tight heart. Give thanks
for clichés, though they
are the very things I warn
my students against using.
Clichés may be dead language
but we say these things over
and over for a reason, don’t we?
Sometimes things just need
to be said without a care
if it’s been said before.
The dead still need remembering.
Give thanks for warm nights
that let me stand out on my deck
in tsinelas and stare at the stars
Give thanks for the waxing moon
that is not yet half way full
because when I have nothing
to hold I imagine my own hands
hanging on to the bright edges,
dipping my fingertips into the dark
parts though I know the moon is always
round and full. It’s just a matter
of waiting for the light to shine.
Give thanks for all forms of transportation
the planes that carry my loved ones in the sky
and the car that will carry me away from this place.
Give thanks for the ability to take care of myself
even when it looks like having one more drink
even when it looks like smoke in my lungs.
Give thanks for the ability to run
and feel my muscles moving
even if my main motivation
to move is to release
my body from longing.
Each time you open
the door after looking
through the peephole
I leap across the threshold
into your steady arms.
My love if this apartment
is too small we can break
the lease and find a home
with more room for your
You and I are
in the kitchen
I have a sweet tooth
when you are craving salt.
Sometimes we are missing
an ingredient (and if you cannot
beg me to the store in my pajamas)
then we improvise to make it
tasty. But whoever cooks
does not have to clean
and we never go to bed hungry.
of your neck
is hiding precious
jewels. Rubies, diamonds,
emeralds, mother of pearl.
Don’t bother trying to cash
them in. I made a deal with
the crook of your neck
to stash them there just for me.
Don’t worry, you will forget
they are there once I bury
my face in them.
if i had to describe my heart at the moment it would be carole king‘s voice, full and flat watching rain outside the window, AM sound from an old transistor radio, yellow light like all the photos from the 70s. all inside my heart. maybe it’s because my girlfriend just got on a plane heading towards Guahan (commonly known as Guam) and a thirteen-hour time difference for the next month. it’s so strange how my mind calculates distance. we were already three time zones away from each other, but this added distance means something.
it means she is day while i am night. it means our relationship is more of the mind and heart than it is the body. it means i hear her voice in my head throughout the day keeping me company, drawing comfort and longing at the same time. at its best this is a good tension. it keeps me from becoming lazy in my thoughts of her. we imagine each other’s doings throughout the day and night and get pangs of destiny when we compare and realize we imagined right. it makes the sky, the sun, the moon an integral part of our love, the elements we share in our separation. i can watch the september moon waxing and know it watches her though she cannot see it in the day that she moves through. the winds become carrier pigeons of prayers and kisses that i send off from the palm of my hands.
and the best thing, i suppose, is that when we are apart like so much of the year, we each grow, we each fail and we each experience victory. not together. but not apart either. what kind of love can flourish in this separation you ask? solidarity. i can tell you that solidarity, the purest form of love i have only known before in flashes, i have learned to practice daily in this relationship, through this distance. there is no place to hide in this love, no shelter or retreat from growing. there is no dependency to tangle ourselves up in and forget our goals of self-determination. there is not a moment of luxury to take each other for granted. there is far-sighted vision to count each and every surrounding blessing, there is a dual mind and heart’s worth of imagining and bearing witness. there is a commitment to never forget each other, our homelands, our people. to always know when we will see each other again.
this is a strategy for the ache of distance, of missing and of struggle. to plot and scheme to always have something to look forward to. a constant light at the end of the tunnel. and so after two and a half years, over a year of which has been long distance, we are still in love.
An incomplete list…
I live next door to a boy who drinks red stripe and writes haiku.
My professor closes his eyes and smiles like i do on the dancefloor.
I am reading a book called the Karma of Brown Folk.
I got two beautiful handwritten letters in the mail from SF on the same day.
Bloomington knows how to do Korean BBQ and lemon custard ice cream.
My love is coming to visit in ten days.
I can give my new friends rides home at night.
I can cry when I need to and it keeps my heart open.
I just sold one of my short films to a college library.
I go to a school with running creeks and gingko trees on campus.
I am almost 33.
I can still imagine the ocean in my mind.