10 Seconds

For Lucy & Cory

Lucy & Cors Wedding 2

I met you in a strange land

Full of fireworks, bing long and awed faces

Thrown together, our sanctuary grew

An island of foreigners in a sea of locals

We could easily have become friends

Conveniently losing touch when we returned

To our western reality

Instead, we chose to become family

Playing Phase 10 on your porch

— Not at all competitively, of course —

While peeking through laundry to people watch

Singing 1950s ballads with befriended gangsters

Crying, laughing, cheering, hurting, hoping

Occasionally choking on the smell of stinky tofu

I remember sitting on your bed

One lazy afternoon

Watching you sort through your collection

Of definitely-legal DVDs

While also sweeping the floor

You exchanged glances briefly

Then went back to your respective duties

You weren’t even near each other

But the love expressed in that 10 seconds

Was more palpable,

More potent

Than anything from legend or the silver screen

In such a quiet moment

I witnessed soulmates



IMG_1751 2

i can’t stop spending

the mishmash currency of

coin-cast moments

stacked neatly on

an unevenly varnished

mental shelf.

such cautious sentries,

canaries trumpeting their warning of

the tides of change

that spiral kitten soft

licking & mewling at corners.

i reach & reach

grabbing dog-eared delusions

frozen amber frenzies,

unspooled choices &

pearled nostalgia,

for my first annual

Freudian tag sale


I am not something you can unwrap like a guilty present. Usually, words come easily to me. I mold them, shape them, and release them to do my bidding. Now, I’m struggling. Clumsily wrangling them into mocking submission. A pied piper whose flute is suddenly damp and off-key.

It’s no mystery. This is my life, my story, not some yarn I spun to entertain hyperactive children or fulfill some English lit assignment. I can’t even really call it a story, as that implies a concrete beginning, middle and end. My muse has been robbed, and I am left with uncertainty.

I do know a few things for sure. I’m not entirely a victim. I am an outsider. I’m not as jaded as I should be. I’m terrified of going back to who I was. I’m not repeatedly hitting the self-destruct button anymore. I am damaged.

Sometimes, I don’t know what scares me more: the past or the present.

Sometimes, I want to be a voice for those like me. Those whose lives may not make headlines but should not be rendered insignificant.

Sometimes, I think I must have been a tyrannical sociopath in my past life to deserve all that’s happened in this one.

Sometimes, I wonder if anyone can ever help me see all that I am.

I begin to unravel, and I don’t know if I’ll make it to the other side. Fragments slip like silk through the sieve of my memory. Bits rise to the surface, angrily rattling their displeasure at going unacknowledged. It’s time to face all the ugliness, some of it my own doing.

Before you put on your mask of judge, jury and executioner, know this: I am a survivor. As I close my eyes and try to remember, I don’t know anymore if this is for you or for me. I do know that I have never been this exposed. In this literary striptease, not even a G-string of privacy will be left.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, you’ll come to understand just how relentlessly painful it is to unravel. And the next time you see a stranger, instead of judging them, you’ll try to peel away the layers.

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