A name with affection

9 08 2014

At work at the library today, there was a little Chinese kid running around in the kids’ section, his father nearby. I didn’t pay much attention as I was shelving until I heard the dad call out “Yeew, yeew.” I turned to look: it was part of my Chinese name, what my mom occasionally calls me. But I just saw this little kid waddling towards his dad, and it made me happy and sad in that moment: sad because I realized I don’t have any memories of my father calling my name in an affectionate, loving way when I was growing up. But happy because at least there was one father now who seemed to be doing that here, and that hopefully that kid would grow up and remember it.

Sleeping with a Stranger

12 01 2011

Sleeping with a Stranger

Perhaps when I was around 7, 8 or possibly 9 years old, for reasons I do not recall, my family was not in the house for a few days.  They must have gone on a mini-vacation or something and I was either sick or didn’t want to go.  Whatever the reason, I found myself alone.  Except there was a stranger in the house as well: my father.

I had never been close to my father and currently have very few memories of him and I together, even fewer of them are good memories.  When my mother and my sisters left, because I would be sleeping alone, he told me that on the last day, I could come upstairs and spend the night with him in bed.  Naturally, I thought this to be a strange idea; I had never slept with my dad (or at least had no recollection of it) and he didn’t seem particularly lonely.  I didn’t even know if he was serious or not. I don’t even remember if my parents were, at the time, still sleeping in the same bed, but I doubt it.

For a few days, we minded our own business.  I probably didn’t see much of him, as usual, and the house must have been oddly quiet.  On the last day, I wandered up to his room with my pillow.  After a few minutes of getting ourselves ready for bed, I climbed in first, feeling awkward.  He turned off the light and crawled in next to me.

And for a while, neither of us moved.  I lay staring at the ceiling before closing my eyes but I couldn’t sleep on my back.  But as much as I wanted to move, I found myself paralyzed.  What if my dad didn’t like that?  What if he got annoyed at my moving?  Wouldn’t I be bothering him trying to sleep?  Eventually, I froze in that position for a long time, on the edge of the bed, until I willed myself to move quickly on my side when I sensed him moving at the same time, so that I wouldn’t be disturbing him.

I would repeat this maneouver several times that night, being extra careful not to wake the stranger sleeping next to me.

choking on normal

11 08 2010

choking on normal

they all tell me to be normal
but really what “normal” is i don’t know like
they say “normal” is acting like a man
but i heard somewhere that i should be
myself they say “normal” is doing work but i heard
not to take everything so
seriously the say “normal” is acting
your age but i saw people growing up too fast
they say “normal” is going to school after high
school but that’s not what i want for me they
say “normal” is falling in love with someone of the opposite
gender but im already in love with a boy that ive
around they say “normal” is being happy and
living my life but its too hard when i was depressed and
thinking about not breathing again they say “normal”
is acknowledging your parents but how can i if she is constantly
screaming at me and he isnt there to protect me they say “normal” is
devoting yourself to a religion but i dont want to be part of
something that preaches hate
they all tell me to be “normal”

10 Defining Moments of My Life (so far) — #9: F*** you, dad

12 05 2010

9.  After receiving an e-mail from my dad mentioning how he thought I had too much free time in my life, which lead to daydreaming and ultimately fantasizing about sex (among other things), I sent him back a long, angry and honest e-mail, basically telling him things I couldn’t muster the strength to tell him.  I told him about how I’ve never once said anything bad to him; how he didn’t have the right to judge who I was when he had never been there in my life; how if all I was to him was someone to pass on the family name (and because I’m gay, I can’t) then I was glad that I wouldn’t be passing on a name representing bigotry, hypocrisy, and ignorance.  I wrote a lot of things in that e-mail, and I don’t regret any sentence, word or letter.  I responded in a rage, my fingers furiously hacking at the keys like there was no tomorrow.  My mom told me the next day that my dad, already slightly ill, was even sicker because of me, because of that e-mail, and she told me to apologize to him.  She told me, her 18 year old son, that I shouldn’t be swearing, even though I only swore 3 times in that e-mail and it wasn’t insultingly (ie. Fuck you!) but adjectively (ie. I won’t be a fucking doormat!).  I just felt glad to not be harbouring my thoughts any longer.

Secret Life (original version)

17 02 2010

A few years ago when I first wrote this song, it was about 6 minutes long (I’ve shortened it since then).  I remember when I performed it at the now defunct Myles of Beans cafe in Burnaby, I was so nervous about how people would respond.  When I finished, the crowd slowly clapped, then continued clapping for about a minute while I thanked them over and over again for being so kind.

I’ll always remember how a man in the audience came up to me and shook my hand, thanking me for playing that song.  It’s reactions and people relating to my songs that really keep me pushing to perform. 

Secret Life

What do all these feelings mean?
Is it a phase, or simply just me?
And I wonder if there’s a word to describe
Who I am, or what’s inside.

Is there any way to explain
Why I’m the only one on this island?
Don’t know who to trust, to confide in
How long will I be hiding?


Will you tell me to change?
Will we become estranged?
Are you ashamed of who I am?
Will you love me less?
It’s the ultimate test
To confess my secret life.

So I finally admit
That I might be just a little different
It’s so heavy carrying this burden
A facade I must perpetuate

And I can’t swallow how some people
Walk the day with such infuriated faces.
And when they start to spew words of hate,
You all laugh along or look away.



I believe in my heart and soul this is how God created me
I believe if I don’t breathe a word that no fist or slur will ever make me bleed
I believe with no doubt that there isn’t anyone else I would rather be

So now we’re sitting face to face
The words I say, I say with pride and strength
Tears sliding down our cheeks
And through it all, I’m surprised to find relief


Please don’t tell me to change
I hope we don’t become estranged
Don’t disown me for who I am
Please don’t love me less
It’s the ultimate test
To confess…. my life.

You Will Never Know These Words (lyrics)

24 01 2010

After writing the poem, I decided to translate at least some of the words and lines into a song with a melody that I had had for a while now and I came up with this.  *video at the bottom*

You Will Never Know These Words

I’m finding out,
It’s blinding now,
The truth coming from your eyes.
And now these rusted words,
Have come too late.
They wilt away,
Lost in the sand.

But nothing holds true,
And time slips away.
I can’t buy my childhood back,
‘Cause you sold it all,
For ten a piece,
And now I’m hollowed out of memories.

I know you by an empty seat
And though you’re not here I’m on my knees.

I’m a troubadour,
Far and wide
For someone to hear my song.
But all I come across
Is only loss.
It’s all I’ve got,
It seems that’s where I belong.

These trenches run deep,
Vast in their size,
Scraping ‘cross the land.
How can you abandon
The canyon
And all you left in me?

I know you by an empty seat,
And still, you don’t hear you just believe,
If all of my flaws are smoothed out,
I’ll be the perfect man.

Oh you’ll never see,
What I can be.
So take another step away
Into the opposite
Of you and me.
Let’s leave this all behind.

We’re on two different trains,
The rest of our lives.
But just tell me this:
How did you abandon
the canyon
You cut into my life?

I know you by an empty seat,
Your hands in your ears so tightly.
The thing that really hurts the most is
You will never know these words.

You will never know these words
You will never know these words
You will never know these words
You will never know these words

I’m finding out,
It’s blinding now.
But your rusted words
Have come too late…

You Will Never Know These Words (original poem)

23 01 2010

A poem I wrote during Style class at Vancouver Film School.  Take a guess who it’s about.

You Will Never Know These Words

You will never know these words.

I know you by an empty seat.

I seem to have misplaced any memory of us,
Or perhaps they were carelessly bleached out.
When your shadow creeps over me,
I feel a familiar fear settling in.
I learn not to question because then I doubt,
And people don’t like to be doubted.
If something is not right, there is always room under the ever-growing, black rug.
You’ve always expected the perfect life,
And when that doesn’t come about, you say it goes against tradition,
That people are stamped with “sick”
If they aren’t measured right down to the dot.
You’ve laid out the tracks for me,
Expecting me to chug along without the slightest of a whistle.
I would rather derail and flush into a fury of fire.

I am told that wounds heal,
But these raw scars run deeper than the deepest of trenches.
Your rusted words have come too late
And it only adds a tangled knot to your string.
Your face still sags when you see me walking your way,
And though you try to hide it, your eyes whisper,
“You disappoint me.”

I may share your blood but you still find a way to hate me.


You will never know these words.

Allegro Con Fuoco

18 01 2010

Something I very quickly formed in a day for my Creative Writing Poetry class.  There’s a screencap of the original scrap of paper I scribbled on since I don’t even have a camera to take a picture of it.  (Seriously.)  This is only the first draft so if you don’t understand it all, don’t worry — it’s not that you’re stupid.  At least not this time.


First draft of Allegro con Fuoco poem

Allegro Con Fuoco

Fast with fire,
his hands are matches,
striking the wooden keys, trying to set them ablaze.
Though his father speaks of final preaching,
there always suddenly, subito, seems to be a repeat sign and it begins all over again,
a leitmotif no one wants to listen to.
Smooth slurred words, striking the hammers in his son.
The young man wishes his own speech tumbled out as he played,
as legato and articulated as the sixteenth notes,
that if only his father’s words were as flat as the key signature and as quiet as pianississimo.

His father, a permanent face over his shoulder,
Shaking his head in disappointment with every mistake.
Always pushing, never listening.
Sforzando! Marcato, marcato!
His fingers stretch to meet the octaves, banging on the delicate keys,
like a strongman game–
except the prize is his dignity and pride.

Every one of his words has been sotto voce,
mumblings underneath his breath while his father spews on like a cadenza, uninterrupted.
But with his music, his fingers agitated,
the notes are no longer just staccato, guillotined.
Purposely and furiously jabbing each note tenuto;
his music and words played to their merited length at last.

Back hunched and hands pressed firmly on keys,
the last enraged chord shouts out,
while his father only plays indefinite bars of rest.