unfamiliar Deja vu 

reverbs like a wraith boomerang

surfacing from untapped depths 

i haven’t been here before

this time 

this place

this person

so why does recognition lurk

hesitantly by blurred borders?

why do i feel 

i have made this choice 


exiled within my own skin 

i exist like an 

unstrung Rumpelstiltskin

cursed with memory loss

certain there is something

i must recognize

to reclaim my essence



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lines drip bald-faced

down a seemingly empty page

after a daring jailbreak

from an unfiltered unconscious

angels & angles

demons & dreams


while memories insidiously

waltz their way

around the edges

masquerading as mothballs

dipping & clinging

to paper particles

how can an incurious vowel


a crooning consonant curve


possibly hope to convey the bottomless

endless spectacles everywhere unfurling

/a riot of humanity throughout history/

what scribe or scholar

could tame the beast

with the sideline stroke of a pen?

not i, said the fly.


what better way

to grasp for the moon?


To my friends, for always listening & freeing me a little more each day

I don’t often speak about being mentally abused, but this is about more than just me. For all those who have suffered in skin or in spirit, no matter what shape your scars take: you are a survivor, I am touched every day by all that you are, and you are never, ever alone.


consonants cause traffic jams

in the rush

for release


their white ridged confines

elbowing aside luckless scowling vowels

& artificially flavored filters

while whispering syllables

hatch an escape plan

over by bitter and sweet

i feel them tumbling around my tongue

an emotional recipe for uncertainty

mixed with the heady brew

of pain/trust/fear


trailing meteor tail memories

the words spill out into the

suddenly frozen air

and i find myself




towers, forts, pillars

we took refuge in our

symbols of strength

money and might

two of our favorite keys

draped across the mantle of the world

until the day came

when lives slipped away

like too-fine sand

our symbols stripped bare

and burned from the inside

grief-spilled faces

could only watch in disbelief

a planet stutter-stops


fear & hate

are met with honor & love

and yet

the horror remains

a subdued scar

scraping at the surface of civility

reminding us all

that nothing is invulnerable

so everything should be cherished

Image Credit: Culture Travel Reflections http://nicoletteorlemans.com/2012/09/

Dedicated to all heroes, humans and hearts

so gracelessly ripped away

on this most tragic of days

Never forget



although you may have been

taken too soon

by the master of mortality

who ultimately unites us all

with our loss comes a blessing

we can still keep close

a million memories of you

the unvarnished grace

of your survivor smile

the infectious bubble

of your laughter spilling over

to splash + charm everyone nearby

the dancing fingers sketching

thrilling cursive loops of

your latest dreams onto the sky

the haunting gaze of your

mama bear mother’s eyes

the unique, charisma-churning drive

that propelled you to endless new heights

love wasn’t just in your name

it was in everything you gave

it was all of you

Dedicated to Lisa Love, RIP












untethered leaves


with all the shades of sunset

dance across the breeze,

not caring about yesterday

or tomorrow.

frictionless fluttering messengers

winking me closer

with effortless freedom

+ the heady haunting beauty

of their gloriously doomed flight,

swinging each other around

in nature’s oldest waltz

whirling + curling close

to whisper slip

a shivering copper taste of change

onto our tongues,

signaling another season

of life + death

love + tragedy

remembrance + renewal

 fragile newborn questions with

ochre spotted stems

lazily twirl fingers

through my hair

will i take the

ripe cycle challenge

our earth offers,

let myself go

close my eyes

+ wander in the wind?

I am Mulan


I’m content to just sit here, watching memories roam through me, mingling and chattering with the present. After walking through a Hunanese marketplace full of smiling, watchful faces, and braving the Indy 500-meets Wild West-meets Grand Theft Auto landscape of motorized travel, I end up on my fenced-in balcony in the teacher’s dormitory.

I’ve just been given my Chinese name by the family of teachers who’ve adopted me and the others in our nest of foreigners. It is a genuine honor, as their names aren’t just pretty syllables but carry meanings, messages and the wisdom of their unparalleled history.

Some of my friends got stuck with pretty floral names but I got an unexpected gift nestled in with the pigs feet and thousand-year-old eggs: the name of Mulan. She has always been one of my favorite against-all-odds heroes, and is the epitome of my personal motto lauding rebirth and second chances.

The air is somehow rich, although the kiss of pollution sifts through the breeze. Local flavors as pungent as they are raucous clamor for attention, wafting shreds of bing long with mantou and melting garbage. Car horns honking dismayed greetings layer with strains of Xiangtanhua and imperfect tools of construction.

With all these yammering children intruding on my solitary reverie, I should be irritated. But I’m not. Somehow, its balanced by the moments of stilted, overripe quiet and random natterings of chickens wandering freely alongside endless seas of people.

Somehow, its weirdly perfect.  A completely illogical, surreal peace amongst chaos. Actually, a more honest image would be peace, chaos, hospitality, community & lawlessness dancing a drunken offbeat tango while order slinks sullenly off to a corner.

It doesn’t make a dumpling of sense, and I couldn’t be happier.


Words do not flow freely from uneager mouths. Mine, at least, stumble and tumult from doubting fingertips, spiraling half-remembered stories. Churning brain cells work to rewind and unsnarl the growling, tangled reels. One step ahead of the executioner, knife skipping from one edge to another, from one country to the next.

Wandering happily with an undercurrent of longing. Memories and obligations demand entry on sleepless nights, leaving sheets as knotty and cracked as ancient skin.

Sloppy kisses from adoring younger sisters. Out-of-breath cackling from telling my mom a joke to erase a look in her eyes I didn’t understand. Tatter stained childish wonderment at the unfairness of life, the rare snatches of bliss before ears trained to listen twitched and grabbed the fire extinguisher of self-preservation.

The savaged dreams, guardian-kissed escapes and unquenchable scars unbind from patterned whorls delicately etching the passage of time. They wrap around a pen and march across my keyboard, determined soldiers who will carry out the mission even if they don’t really know the goal.

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