What Brings Me


There are times when
I feel hollow of happiness,
but even then, at my darkest
hour, our bonds
bring me back,
and I take in you again,
filling up
full of the world,
our world,
and how much there is
to love.

Skeleton Man

I had a dream of drums,
red paint on the cave walls
of a man,
low chanting
of some foreign tongue.
I was trapped in my sleep,
my heart becoming hollow,
beating hard,
my body thinner,
shrinking fast,
my flesh becoming the flesh
of the painted man,
the skeleton man,
or perhaps,
it was his to mine.

I woke up scared,
woke up to whispers
from the dream.
You were there
beside me,
sleeping still,
unknown to the exchange
of my flesh to yours,
or was it, really,
yours to mine?

Drawing Lines

E____ had said at the shower
that as a child
I had been quite the artist –
a fact that I never gave
myself much credit for
as it was a skill
I had long stopped crafting.
Remembering why I stopped,
I believe it was because
my common fear is and was
that I regress, or at least
get stuck
in everything.

You could see it
in the lines I drew,
they were Van Gogh like
sketch marks,
without the dazzling artistry,
brief, broken diagonal steps.
I couldn’t draw a straight
for the life of me.
My pencil always
wavered with uncertainty
of the end point,
wavered with uncertainty
of committing to
narrow arrow progress.

The Loon

We are back in our old home,
your old home,
and once again, I wake up
to the cries
of the loon.
The sounds always make me
think of the story
you told my mother,
and who then told me,
that the loon
was lost,
and looking for its mother.
It matches the mornings
of this past week, really,
grey with a wariness
for the uncertainties
for forging out on
our own finally.
Even though we’ve returned
we are without


I remember when
I was two or three,
I had this habit
of simply chewing
my food,
until it lost its flavor,
and then not wanting
to swallow the empty taste.

I remember when
I was eating this burger
from McDonald’s,
and the savoriness of the meat
had already been lost.
You kept telling me to swallow,
you were patient, but unyielding
in your firm but gentle commands,
so that I eventually did
what you asked.

Growing up,
you always pushed me to
swallow the harder facts
of our family,
the expectations, the anger.
But one thing I could never
was your leaving us.
What I couldn’t swallow
was the emptiness
you had left.

In the Morning

In the morning
is when I miss you most.
Waking up to the noises
of your busy home life,
you talking on the phone
to your friends,
or watching Asian dubbed
soap operas,
pirated VHS collections
from the local Vietnamese
rental stores,
you chopping or frying
the foods we didn’t know we loved
until you had gone.
At the time,
the noises were an annoyance
I’m ashamed to say,
from sleep,
from schoolwork.
But now, the absence is
your absence is felt,
there is no noise because
there is no life in this house.
there is no life in this house,
because there is no longer

Staying with the Now

I do not know why I like to take pictures so much,
From the pelting-down rain on the shiny street,
To the deep wrinkles of the blue mountains,
Or the red sea where it blends into earth.
I look out the window at dusk,
When the days part, and the stars seem to be swimming in water.
I want to hold on to the bright light filling up my room,
When the lantern moon hangs over the tree top.

I want to capture your laughter if I could.
Or it could just be because I have no patience
For anything that could take more than a minute.
Nothing longer than just a swift of wind,
Like a soft memory caressing my face,
But not a long dreaded pain,
Or the never ending road ahead.

Nothing clinging, nothing wrenching.
Staying with the now,
The world safe in my heart.


The Bonsai

A friend gave you a bonsai tree
as a birthday present one year.
It took him 10 years to grow it.
You loved it, the miniature form
and wily bends.
But you almost destroyed the plant
in 10 days, or at least, that’s how it seemed.
You let the leaves grow out
untamed, natural, bigger than
its small form could contain,
so that the manicured, perfect bonsai
lost almost all its original leaves
for the bright, giant new life that now grew.
It was like it was mirroring the Fall,
your favorite season.
You always appreciated
the beauty of decline and death,
to pave the way for a fresh, wild birth.


I had lost a long time confidante,
and the loss dangled on me
like a swinging chain
choking at my throat,
alternating between
heaviness and numb upswings.
You knew this,
and knew me,
you knew exactly what to say
and do.
You called me up
while I was vacuuming,
I was doing anything at the time
to keep busy,
and you gave me hope
that I could touch.
You talked about
our first Christmas tree
in our first home,
Christmas with our families,
warm, spiced apple cider,
gifts for my mom.
You reminded me
that although at that time,
I felt lonely without a guide,
that I was not alone.

For the Frustrated One

When you were young,
you were angry,
or impatient, I should say,
with foolishness,
and b.s.
Growing up,
and even in my adult life,
I am still growing up,
you were and are still impatient
with me, more frequently back then,
than now, but still so at times,
you are impatient
for me
to see the bigger issues,
for me to face my fears,
from letting myself
hold me back.
Looking back,
I understand now
that you were just expecting
more of me,that you knew I
and the world were capable of
your ideals of us.
Your frustration
with me,
with others, was
you letting me know
you weren’t giving up
on helping me,
or the world,
but that you were tired
of us blocking our paths
to true growth
with foolishness,
and b.s.