Half-life

25 02 2012

Here’s one of the three new poems I read at last night’s thrilLITERATE reading.  The video of my reading it is at the bottom.

Half-life

When they say a heart breaks,
they speak as if it breaks once:

a glass,

floating in slow motion,

pulled down by the fingers of gravity.

Shards scatter,

run away on little feet, like repellent magnets.
And as the last screams die,
so begins the gluing back of parts.

But my heart is a half-life heart:

decaying and dividing again, and again.
It folds onto itself, like a supernova.

At every corner, lurks a ghost or demon,
snickering to themselves,
ready with daggers to slit the rubble upon glance.

Every time Shakira’s voice sounds out like a siren’s,
it easily undoes the sutures until I’m a leaky roof.
O cada vez oigo la lengua, pierdo la mia
y las palabras solia hablar, amargo en mi boca.

Walking in hallways becomes an inkblot test:

How many faces look like his?
Why must you turn and walk to a corner, gasping for oxygen at the sight of a stranger?

When I see a red sweater in the crowd,
or an imposter with the same wig,
the effect is the same:

following the earthquake, it’s all aftershocks–
from the epicentre of my chest, trembling me,
knocking me down time and time again when I’ve barely risen to my flesh-ripped knees.

I can never see the aquarium the same way without drowning a little.
Looking at a husky rewards me with enduring another paper-cut.

Can you blame me for always drinking from the half-empty cup?

You would rather be with someone halfway around the world,
giving you filtered, sour placebos by the teaspoons,
than I, fully here,
I, pouring out the purest of me in gallons,
I, whose tears dot the page like bullet holes,
I, who has pored over the pages of our histories,
devising stratagems and formulae from words,
mixing compounds and chemicals, needs and wants.
I, who have been a scientist,
not just searching for the cure to my half-life heart,
but to earn yours back.
I, losing the bold experiment to cold fact,
that you no longer desire dusty, expired goods,
while my heart continues to tick away.

I wish I could take back half the times I said, “I love you”,
so the other half shone brighter in your eyes and ears.

When they say a heart breaks,
they speak as if it breaks once.

Remember when I joked that you had no heart?

Well, the joke’s on me.





Back to Black

16 01 2012

I have a theory that for a few days a month, I have PMS– which is different than menstruation.  This theory is backed up by empirical evidence showing that I dwell upon my ex and have, at times, emotional episodes.  Side effects include unexplained crying, bawling, staring at the wall a little too long in deep thought, mood swings, and the need and want to stay in bed forever.  Research has shown that PMS occurs around the full moon period every month, which makes sense, since full moons are supposed to be the time when people go batshit.

Since I am finishing up my cycle for the month, I am still relatively vulnerable to emotions (read: can still easily burst into tears), I was set to play Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game” on the piano but flipped to “Back to Black” and started playing it just for fun.  Except it was not actually fun, but lead to a brief emotional period (read: teared up when playing it), one that I had never experienced when I heard the song before.  It’s one of those songs that only means something when you’ve heard it in a different context much later.  All the words finally make sense, are all relatable in some way. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad one.

 





Now do you understand?

11 01 2012

Eyes bloodshot, you were crying more than I could ever possibly imagine.  No, to imagine would be to have some ground of reality.  But this… required dreaming– a different plane of existence altogether.  Tears ran down your face as you stared at me with pained eyes.

“Now do you understand?  Now do you feel what I’ve felt?” I asked.  It was supposed to make me feel good, for you to experience the utter devastation and pain I went through only recently.  You turned away, blending with the silence around you, and it was then that I realized I didn’t feel good that you were feeling bad.  I felt sad for you.  I pitied you– that you had to go through this, to be haunted by the ghost of yesterday, to feel jabs every time you saw something that reminded me of you and how you lost me– I pitied you because I knew it was one of the worst things one could feel.

Your heart was breaking, and I watched it do so.  I watched it and mine broke for you.





The Scientist

30 12 2011

I finally understand the meaning of the title and this song.

A scientists tests hypotheses, analyzes data and evidence, and comes up with a conclusion.  I realize this may be redundant, as I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I’ve been poring over what happened with me and G. these last few months (It’s such a shame for us to part…), analyzing what happened, both our lives and what we wanted, in order to come up with a viable solution.  Even though we had decided to break up, I couldn’t just change my feelings for someone I had been with for more than 9 months. I genuinely felt that our situation was one that could be solved if we– or rather, I– spent enough time to figure things out (Questions of science/science and progress do not speak as loud as my heart).  That’s why I never felt completely terrible when we broke up and the following months because I still thought there might be hope.

It took me half a year to figure it out, to come to a conclusion and a possible solution (I had to find you/tell you I need you).  I think some people think that once a couple breaks up, it’s done forever.  But G. was someone special– obviously, since I was with him for so long (tell you I set you apart).  In addition to thinking about a solution, I also reminisced about all the times we spent together including the times we said “I love you” to each other, all the sweet things I’d do for him, and (last but definitely not least) all the times we had awesome sex.  Essentially, I made myself sad (tell me you love me/come back and haunt me).  A lot of the time, I wished we could try again, and I suggested it to him (Oh, let’s go back to the start…), but to no avail (running in circles/coming up tails/heads on a science apart)

When he told me he was seeing someone, any hope I had left was gone.  I’m not even going to attempt to describe how much it hurt, more than anything he’s claimed he ever done to hurt me (no one ever said it would be this hard). 

And now.  Now with my newfound science and knowledge, I’m forced to start again without him.

I’m going back to the start…

I am the scientist.





Waking up sick

21 12 2011

For the past few days, immediately when I wake up in the morning, my mind snaps to any and every thought and memory of G.  I’s sad, but it’s also frustrating because I’m doing my best not to think of him.  Maybe my subconscious is super strong or something.  I’ve also felt like throwing up a few times when I think of him with his new guy, and how it’s not me who is making him happy anymore.

It’s not me.

When I first read this quote, I was wide-eyed with sadness:

“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’”





I’m tired of fighting, fighting for a lost cause

20 12 2011

In regards to one of my recent posts about losing my romanticism, I’m tired of always being the one trying, trying to hold on and trying to fix things.  I end up making more a mess for myself.

So.  In the words of Beck, “I’m tired of fighting, fighting for a lost cause.”  It’s a lost cause for me and G., and I have to accept it.





I think I really do have PMS

9 12 2011

Not just when I’m awake but when I’m sleeping too, apparently.

Dream– Dec. 8th

There were multiple parts to the dream, but here’s the main part which I remember.  I was in a restaurant, dining alone and feeling pretty sad.  There was a table of three women sitting in front of me, having a great time, from what I could see, and that kind of made me sad too.  I got up and went to the bathroom.

Although I was sitting in a stall (I guess I didn’t need to pee?), I found I couldn’t properly close the stall door (which is a common thing in my dreams — being unable to close doors).  I heard some people’s voices and saw G. there, with someone else.  Not knowing what to do, I got up and went to meet them.  I said hi to G., and asked what he was doing there.  He said he was dining with his aunt.  His “friend” had one of those “Hi, my name is _____” sticker name tags and I saw that he was a volunteer or possibly a worker at a local gay organization.  G. explained they were friends but I could clearly see that they weren’t (ie. touching each other and being semi-romantic right in front of me).  I felt terrible and awkward so I left the bathroom and sat down at my table and started eating again.  I think I was eating a salad.  Anyway, I was absolutely miserable after that encounter and was trying my best not cry but I ended up bawling while I was eating.  When I looked up, the three women sitting in front of my having a good time were looking my way, and I wished one of them would come and sit with me so I wouldn’t feel so alone and bad.

None of them moved.

Now publicly humiliated, I ran out of the restaurant and back home, where I sprinted past my questioning mother and proceeded to bawl my eyes out on my bed, as she asked me again and again what happened.

That was basically it.  It makes me sad just thinking about it now.

Just a few more days before my PMS goes away and I stop thinking about him for another month.

 





Where you are.

4 12 2011

I imagine you at the aquarium, meeting some other volunteer who is way more passionate about biology and animals than I could ever be.  You’re both standing in front of the tortoise and the sharks, illuminated by the bluish light from inside the tank.  It makes his eyes even bluer.  He has a smile that turns heads and he’s charming, making you laugh with every other sentence, while I could only make you roll your eyes at my jokes.  His facial hair adds to his good looks, not detracts.  With him, you find that you can be your loud, boisterous self that I’ve seen is the real you.  He talks a lot and you talk a lot.  There is no shortage of words, no time for silence.   (I could never find all that many words to say.)  After some flirting which doesn’t feel forced, he confidently asks you out for drinks, and you agree, reminded of how I refused to drink, despite your nagging that it was polite and a social custom to do so.

He’s comfortable being in a bar.  Over drinks, you get to know each other better.  You’re both students, both studying biology, and both have exes who wanted more time in a relationship than what you were both willing to give.  What a relief, you think, to finally meet someone who feels the same way about relationships.  Before the end of the night, you still want to be around him– he’s only the third person you’ve ever met who you genuinely don’t feel like you could ever get tired of.  “Immune”, as you called it, as if he has evaded some sort of disease, one that I was unable to avoid.

You tell him you’re a vegetarian and he says he is too; he informs you he loves Shakira and going to the haunted houses at Fright Nights, and you tell him you do too.  Unlike me, he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish except for “hola” and “taco”, but you never liked speaking in Spanish anyway.  All the while, both of you can’t help looking into each others’ eyes.  He touches your hand, your arm, the way I used to, and it’s been a while since a guy has touched you.  It feels good, warm, and sends a tingle up your spine.  He’s subtle in the way he lets you know he’s into you, whereas I resorted to double-entendres and whispering in your ear of all the things I wanted to do to you.

When you leave, he offers to drive you home, and you accept.  He invites you over to his place, where he lives alone, not with his family.  He’ll invite you over many more times, and it’s convenient because, as you’ll both discover, he lives also lives in the same area where you can get to his place easily.

Neither of you still talk to your exes.  Alone with him at his place, he asks about your ex.  You tell him mostly good things: that he’s a writer and a filmmaker who was romantic.  Your first love.  Charmed you with slow-dancing to Chet Baker.  Supported you when you came out.  Sounds nice, he says, and you agree.  I couldn’t give him what he wanted, though, and he just didn’t get me, you realize.  Not like you, you add.

You’re more than content with seeing each other once or twice a week for a few hours because that’s all you both have time for.  It doesn’t bother you, and it doesn’t bother him.  Clearly, he isn’t insecure about your relationship.  This is a real relationship, you wonder to yourself.  This is what I want.  Him.

The last words your ex said to you are probably still in your facebook messages inbox somewhere: If you ever do decide you have time for a relationship again and want to start things again, I’m leaving it up to you. In the meantime, goodbye.  Goodbye.  It is easier to leave the story at goodbye, easier to say hello to someone new and start writing a new manuscript instead of saying hello again and re-writing a new chapter of a stale novel.  Easier to create new life than revive a cold season.  Easier and preferable.

You have the briefest of thoughts about what your ex could be doing at this moment, where he is.  Probably studying, or in class, or at home with his cat whom he constantly would talk about.  The thought disappears, however, as he kisses you.  You kiss him back, and are not surprised that you do not think of me.

Little do you know he’s sitting alone at home, coughing up words to clear the block in his throat.  Writing a fear.  Giving in to his insecure mind again.

Wondering where you are.





The World Behind Closed doors (part 8)

3 12 2011

A few days later, we met again to talk things out.  I told him everything on my mind – about how I felt like a friend to him, about how I felt like I was going back in the closet because of it.  Every other word from him was “sorry”, and I knew he really meant it, but words were only words.  We mutually decided to break up.  He tore his world away from the one we had created shut the door behind him.

The last I heard from Kem, he is still in the closet.  I truly hope one day I will look back at this essay and remember the time he wasn’t out and how he eventually found the courage to open the door.  I hope I will remember how his mother knew all along and accepted it, even after much difficulty.  I hope he won’t have to resort to being with a woman like he said he might.  I hope for both their sakes.

We all live in different worlds.  The world Kem and I constructed, though a flawed paradise, could not have survived.  Worlds should co-exist, not be hindered by each other.  They shouldn’t be restrained by hinges or doors.  Worlds should be open, ready and willing to be explored, and most importantly, boundless.  What good is a world – a life – if no one can see it?

The End

[I’m not super happy about how I wrote this ending but it’ll do for now.  Thanks to those to read the whole thing.]





The World Behind Closed Doors (part 7)

1 12 2011

This went on for weeks; I was introduced as a friend and saw Kem maybe a few hours a week if I was lucky.  When we were together I respected his boundaries and restrained myself from tearing off his clothes and mauling him.  I rationalized in my head that even though it made me feel shitty to be known as a friend in his circle and to not see him as much as I could, he was worth it for me.  He understood what it was like to be Chinese and gay (though not out, obviously) and strongly supported me in everything that I did.  But gradually, his world had been merging with mine, shrinking it, and pulling it into his.  I felt more and more like what he was introducing me as: merely a friend.

One night, Kem was over at my place again.  It was in the evening, and he was sitting at my desk, using my computer for homework.  My bedroom door was slightly open on his insistence again, and I was on my bed, reading a copy of Xtra West, the local LGBT newspaper.  I spotted an ad for the upcoming Pride Parade.

“Are you going to the Pride Parade this year?”  I thought this as a legitimate question.  His face said otherwise; it was a combination of “Are you seriously asking me this?” and “Uh… hell no.”  I tried my best to hide my disappointment but sighed.

“Okay,” I replied.  What else could I do?  I certainly wasn’t going to force him to come.  But his immediate dismissal repeatedly pounded on the door of my mind, not going away.  After about a minute, I reasoned, “Why not?  Lots of straight people go.  It doesn’t mean everyone there is automatically gay.”

But apparently that wasn’t safe enough.  In his mind, Kem believed that were he to tell his mother that he was going out that day, she would somehow figure out he was going to the Pride Parade (since, of course, there are zero other activities going on in the city at that time), would discover he was gay, and would then proceed to sharpen her butcher’s knife and wait for him to come home with mardi gras beads around his neck.

He went on to tell me about how his mom had given him everything in his life – support, shelter, love, etc.  If he were to come out to her, he believed he would be throwing it all back in her face, that he wasn’t respecting her – that he would truly be hurting her.  So by keeping this secret to himself, he was sparing her from the pain.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen if you went?”

He sat there, staring at the floor, unable to look at my eyes for several seconds.

“I don’t know.  I don’t have an answer for that.  I’m from a different background than you,” he said, “and my mom is too.  I don’t expect you to understand.”

“I want to understand!  You’re not giving me answers or explaining so I can’t.”

Then we both sat there and avoided each other’s gazes.  The idea behind the Pride Parade is, well, pride.  People are able to be themselves and be proud of it.  I can’t remember his exact words, but Kem told me that night that he wasn’t proud of being gay, of who he is.

“Wait, so you’re never going to come out?”  My eyes fixed upon him, waiting for a response.
“As long as I’m living in Vancouver, no, I’m not going to come out.”

Usually at this point in a story, some cliché phrase like “my world collapsed at that moment” would make its way onto the page.  And though I did feel some devastation, I felt a revelation.  All the pieces made sense.  I always thought he was worth it but to be known as a “friend” the rest of our relationship?  That didn’t make sense.  We couldn’t do this anymore.

(concluded in part 8…)