Monday, June 27, 2005

On Death

On Death part I

I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind—and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement.

Dr Peabody—As I Lay Dying

eldest son

Son, she’s dying…
mom’s dying.

I knew,
The Stillness:
cold, quiet;
There is nothing,
and I felt it.
Moments before,
it was clear.
(The pounding, crashing sound
rips me from it…)
I knew,


We’re going to beat this thing.
I don’t fail.
I cannot fail.
I’m not going to lose;
I can fix this thing.
You gotta be smarter than the…the…
[name of cancer]

eldest son

Months before
Weeks before
Days before
moments before
I knew.

youngest son

mom’s sick,
in bed
smells funny
(I don’t like her smell)
Does it hurt, mom?
No, sweetie, I’m just tired.
Go to sleep, mom.

eldest son

I fall to the ground,
my legs do not bend.
I crash
my head
slams me down;
I cannot move.
Weeping, weeping, weeping:
no tears will fall.
I can’t talk.
How long?
(The voice, sound
stabs me).
Six months…maybe less.
I’ll drive down.
I’ll see her.
I will stay with her.

On Death part II

It’s because I’m alone. If I could just feel it, it would be different, because I would not be alone.

Dewey Dell—As I Lay Dying

middle son

I hate you!
I fucking HATE you!
How can you do this to me?
You’ve always hated me;
now your dying?
Fuck no!
Hell no!
I don’t need you,
just go,
leave me alone.
Stupid bitch!
Goddamn you!
Goddamn it!
You never loved me,
liked me.
Just leave;
I don’t need you.


You don’t know; you fucking doctors
don’t know crap…how to fix this!
We’re going to beat this thing,
Don’t leave me
with these kids…
are my life.
This house is yours.
These kids are yours.
[name of cancer]
Mom’s gonna be just fine.
Don’t worry,
we’re going to beat this thing.
Don’t you damn doctors know
how to beat this thing?!

youngest son

mom’s breathing
the tubes are breathing
looks funny
(mom looks scary)
mom, can I go to play?
Sure you can.

eldest son

How’s she doing?
Ok…not good.
How long?
A month…maybe less.

middle son

I can’t do it
not going
hate hospitals
not going


I can’t do it
It’s a poison:
I can’t do it

eldest son

I got class:
I can drive away,
cross the line
no death
no cancer
I got class:
a test
I’ll drive down this weekend.

youngest son

her hands are cold:
like bones
mom, cover up with a blanket.
mom is wet,
her forehead is wet.
Here’s a towel, mom.

eldest son

I’m tired,
The painful lights
strike me down,
strike down my skin:
I’m tired,
I’ve got school tomorrow.
This must be hard,
for Ellen.
I’m sorry, honey.
I love you, Mom.
love you.


I’m so ugly
feel sick.
I’m tired
of being
not ready.

Ed, be a good father:
be around.
Stop working so much
and be a father.
I’ll take care of it,
my family is my life.
I’m sorry.

Eddie, you be a good boy
for your father, and
listen to your brothers,
especially Adrian.
Be a good boy
good boy
I love you:
take care of my son.
I love you,
you’re my number one son.

Be a good son, Tyson,
for your father.
Don’t cause trouble
(always in trouble
little shit).
Be a good son,
good son
I love you.
I love you, too, Mom.
(I hate you)
I love you, Tyson.

eldest son

The stillness
remains behind
after we have left,
she’s left
There is nothing.
I notice the badly-decorated walls,
so ugly.


I’m not ready yet, guys.
I can’t do it.
I just feel close to her.
I can’t.
It’s only been a year,
give me more time.
I can’t do it.
I’ll take care of it.

middle son

Dear Mom,

I didn’t want to
hate you.
Didn’t want.
I miss you.
I love you,
no matter
what was said,
you said.
I will love you.
I will miss you.


I just don’t feel anything
for women.
I’m just so depressed.
depression, depressed, depression.
I’m just so down.
I can’t imagine myself
with another woman.

On Death part III

I heard my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It’s not that I wouldn’t and will not it’s that it is too soon too soon too soon.

Dewey Dell, As I Lay Dying

middle son

I’m just so depressed.
I’m just so down.
I wanted to be close
to know
you liked me.
I never felt, knew
I know now.
I will love you.
I will miss you.


I miss your mother…so much.
I’ll take care of it.

eldest son

I knew,
I knew there would be
within these walls,
this room:
cold, quiet.
I feel it
moments before,
forever after.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I write of wishes on stars,
words floating upwards,
of birds pooping on my head, French sayings, goosebumps and
I sing of love, smiles, touch, beauty, sunsets and serenity.
I sing of the softness of every summer night,
and the spirit of our love;
of breezes in the afternoon, night breezes,
love, lust, sex and passion.
How the stillness of the night
affects my sleep.

I cry out Rediscovery! from my
surreal dreams, insanity, fear.
Of proposals not yet asked and
mindful colors, words spoken,
smells of childhood, regret, and the rising sun.
I put forth these onto paper.

Of sadness:
mom, death, cancer, disease, hate.
I lay down these tears so that you may comfort me,
Embracing the sun,
I celebrate birthdays, anniversaries,
poems, wants, desires, tingling snowflakes.
I focus on withdrawn questions, quiet,
time, darkness, stars, Dad
and a lackthereof fatherhood.
I travel through deep forests,
winter, Kindergarten, sorrow, depression,
mystery, memories;
my mind meanders through life.

I write of questions, vows, grass, warmth;
I imagine ebony skin, dew and crescent moons.
I sing of jazz, dancin', my itching body.
I remember blackness, tears, Laurel,
vanity, graffiti, flowers.
Of my muse, white skin, soft, delicate hands,
I flame with desire, heartbreak and awkwardness.

Running toward the blackened horizon,
I think of nostalgia, butterflies, music.
I fear explosions, tempests, insomnia, China.
I feel hot, dry winds
appreciating my face.
I laugh of crazy Aunts, human nature.
I regret weeping over ashes.

Of all these things,
I experience in the dimly lit
still of morning.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

in a bar (revised)

I stand
among hundreds of
onlookers not looking
at me.

I drink
to drown the quiet,
but my ears are

I wait
for her
to take my hand
and take me

Friday, June 17, 2005

modern love

I hate modern love!
how expensive and
how everything must
sparkle and shine
and be written in the sky.
Love is no longer private,
for it must be shared
to be true.
Written in Hallmark cards
and placed beneath flowers;
sung in rhymed crap
that describe anything,
to be true.

My love seems dead
as it lies inside,
too subtle for you.
I write it in poem
(not to be sung)
to document my life
that vanishes
in the sky
amongst the clouds, cards, flowers
without you.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Stop staring!
What are you looking at?
Am I really so different
from you!

You stare and smile and talk about me.
I can hear you, but
can't understand.
Is that it?
I don't understand!
I don't understand
your country,
your culture,
your language,
your customs.
I just don't understand!

I feel caged,
in a photograph
to be shown to who?
To you,
I must be dirty,
I am different!

I don't stare at you.
I smile
and say Ni hao!
You just stare
like I'm an animal;
a dirty,

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Hello's

Hello! Hello!
Please buy my crafts! They are antique!
Real Chinese antiques!
I have no money
and I need you to buy
Please buy! Please buy!

Hello! Hello!
Please buy my calligraphy!
It's real! It's Chinese!
I have no family!
My child is sick,
he's mentally ill.
I need money!
I'll sell you one, two, three!
Please buy! Please buy!

Hello! Hello!
You stupid foreigner!
You outsider!
This is real Chinese antique!
You have no idea,
do you?
You'd buy anything
if I smile and call out:
Hello! Hello!
Let me rip you off
before you rip me off.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

He is Shanghai,
with the space-like buildings,
the money,
the pace,
the abstract and concrete

He is business,
with the attitude,
the meetings,
the coldness.

He is everything fast
nothing emotional
(I miss my daddy).

Monday, June 13, 2005

in a bar

I stand
among hundreds of onlookers
not looking
at me.

I drink
to drown the quiet,
but my ears are numb
and hot.

I wait
for her to take my hand,
and take me home

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Underneath my defenses,
behind my mask(s),
I sit
cold and hungry.
The warmth of my heart
does not permeate
the depths of

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Beneath the stained T-shirt,
filled with holes
and body's odor;
beneath the sunken eyes,
and dirty cheeks,
bits of food clinging to his mouth,
lies a boy
with worn soles,
and sore feet
and dirty hands;
but his brain,
his mind!
is waiting,
wanting to be reached
and taught something new,
something real,
something beautiful.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I wonder if they remember...
as I zip up, button up coats,
tie shoelaces (double-knotted of course);
as I get on their level
because it is the only way for these small
beings to understand me;
as I distribute hugs evenly
for each student in class;
as I scold, discipline, manage,
but try to remain positive;
as I learn from them
(probably more than I can teach);
as I become their light,
and they become mine...

I wonder if they remember
the first day I arrived...
I wonder if they know
I was frightened,
striving for acceptance.
I wonder if they knew me
that way,
before I became someone to them,
and if they will remember me
in their lives.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Ten minutes
before my lesson,
my head is pounding its dulled drums,
deafening my ears,
piercing that spot behind my eyeballs.
All I can do to soothe the sound
of my brain beating itself against my skull,
is read some poetry--good poems--
and write my pain
in ink that is running from my pen
too quickly.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

to teach

To teach a calloused child,
one who does not desire learning
or knowledge or anything (it seems),
is like trying to sneak-up
behind a tree
and surprise its branches and leaves.

To teach a child,
any child,
you must sit in
the shade of this tree:
reading and writing,
drawing and coloring,
looking and asking,
until the tree
bends a branch towards you
and lets you climb and
understand and
believe in its leaves.

Monday, June 06, 2005


It's difficult to accept sometimes
that someone knows you better
than you know yourself,
trust yourself,
love yourself.

When I awaken,
there is no sound and
no darkness.
It is not early, for there is always someone else
already awake.
There is no darkness,
nor sadness,
for nothing has happened to make it so.
The moon still shines down on me,
but I talk to no one (not even myself).
It is an hour before I finally
or even utter a cough.
I sit in the quiet solitude
of the morning and
read some poetry.

Stealthily, I enter the lightened bedroom;
she can sense my sadness
without opening an eye.
I can't tell sometimes
if she speaks to me in her sleep,
or if her subconscious detects my pain.
I do not understand
how or what she knows
because I am me,
and it is difficult.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

my pen

This pen has been so good to me:
soft grip warming my fingertips.
Its smooth ink painting my poems,
adding my numbers.
You have stayed with me, but
no longer,
for your ink has run dry,
and will paint no more.
You are just a shell,
and I must replace you;
this new pen is awkward!
My W's just don't look right,
and I feel forced.
Your body still feels warm,
but I know you are empty.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

In the dimly lit still of the morning

In the dimly lit still of the morning
it is cool and wet.
Perhaps it is the fog or rain,
or just the dew-soaked grass
calling my name.
The morning has started for some,
but not for Nature,
for Her song birds have not begun their song.
The earth is beginning to yawn
and stretch out her arms to
embrace the morn.
I do not speak
in this inane
I barely breathe
for I can begin to faintly hear Her song
calling to me, I still love you, Boy.
I still think of you often.

Soon, the morning will pass,
the breeze will slow,
just grazing the winter's twigs.
The dew will dry, and
noise will begin to fill the sky,
polluting the air; no beginning or ending.
Day will mature into night.
The air will begin to clean,
ridding itself of the dirt.
The cool breezes begin
as we all slumber.

In the dimly lit still of the morning
it is cool and wet.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

cold, bitterest of colds

cold, bitterest of colds,
I stand outside the warmth of everyone
and wait.
Yawning, the cold ignites my gag reflex
and I cough wildly.
It looks as though I'm on fire
as the steam pours from my mouth.
I continue to wait.

cold, bitterest of colds,
January trees stand outside,
their branches shocked white
from the cold.
They look dead,
standing together
making this field (any field in January)
a cemetery,
a collection of the dead, white, branches.

We stand together,
the trees and I,
in this cold.
No longer alone,
I feel that we can face this element.
We can stand upon this frosted ground
and not let the cold overrun our bodies.
Together, we are immune from this disease,
and it will not spread
as long as we stick together.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Kindergarten cont'd

Kindergarten fills my body with hugs and love,
tears and pain, joy and laughter.
I feel it in the high-fives, and
the tantrums during library.
I hear it when Michelle questions and
Michael gasps, "Aha!" or "Oh!"
I see it in the use of colors,
in the infinite pictures and explanations.

Kindergarten lies in the heart of my students
within me.