There will come a time

There will come a time
Nokyoung Xayasane

There will come a time
when you won’t have to relive
everything that you’ve lost.
There will be a moment,
a moment
of blinding pain
when everything is so clear
and shining,
so vivid and magnified —
the sun breaking
through the clouds,
through the overhanging leaves
where you laid as a child.

Everything will be magnified
as it truly is,
people will be revealed
in their most beautiful
and in their most despicable light,
and the weight of their sorrows
and the strain on their anguished faces
will no longer hang upon you.
You will be so light
so light as a bird,
and you will be so free
so free as anything.

But before that, wait for it,
— the sorrow —
it will come.
It will hit you
like a wave —
blasé and expressionless.
And when that time comes,
you’ll recall all those days
when you were happy.

There was a gesture of someone’s hand
as it moved through the air,
waving to you from across the street.
There were those wind chimes
in the early morning light,
and that infectious laughter on the dancefloor
weaving its way through the crowd
to make it back to you,
and the music that played,
the sound
deep inside your chest.

There will be that bowl of congee
your mother made for you on your “sick days,”
and that bright red kimchi
and that apple green curry sauce.
There will be your dreams
of Laos, its demure and stunning beauty,
and those desert mountaintops of Ghana
and those rainforests in Brazil and Peru
alive with birdsong and the soft pattering
of raindrops falling.
There will be the purr of the cat
and the touch of the dog
and the look of the friend
who has been where you’ve been
and has seen her way to the end.

There will be that caress of someone’s hand
that means I understand
and I know
and it won’t last,
and you’ll remember
that this life keeps going
whether you’re laying in bed,
or soaking in the tub
with your head under water,
the sound of the faucet like
some distant rumbling thunder,
or you’re looking up at the stars,
and your eyes are filling
and your heart is bursting
with something you cannot name,
you’ll know this world keeps moving
and your pain is but a pinprick,
but a star among millions
blinking away into the night sky.

everything about them, all at once

the city
Nokyoung Xayasane

Every day and every moment,
she felt the movement of time
clearly, distinctly.
Everywhere hungry clocks were ticking,
alarms were sounding.
Every second counting down
and starting all over again.
People rushed by her
in a hurry to get somewhere.
She felt herself buoyed up
in the wave of bodies.

In their homes, she saw them
wringing their hands,
preparing a meal for the next day.
She saw them learning Spanish
and taking their driving test for the third time.
She saw everything about them,
all at once,
like floodlights in the darkness.

The music resounded in the corridor
of the subway and no one turned to look.
A body lay on a subway grate,
the heat billowing up from the depths of
steel and movement,
and no one noticed.
She could feel her brow furrow and
she watched as a blind woman
made her way across the street,
walking into traffic.

There were all these people,
all these lives,
trying one way or another
to survive.
She felt herself moving along
in the wake of them, and disappearing
into them.

There was a cold wind blowing.
She had lost her umbrella at a gala,
and the rain fell, a light mist.
She looked out across the city.
The streets seemed deserted
at this hour.
She walked along, looking down
at the ground and looking up
at the night sky.
She felt the rain along her
lower lash line,
but there was no rain,
only a light mist.
She blinked and blinked and blinked
until the rain disappeared.

The wind picked up
and she hurried to the subway.
There was the spot
where she had looked down
on a person sleeping
on a subway grate.
No one was there,
but the heat wafted up from below
and warmed her briefly.
She entered the subway, tired,
ready to lay down in the stairwell
when she heard the music
coming from below,
but there was no musician
and there was no guitar case
to place her change, and yet still
she kept walking, for some reason,
she kept walking.

I’m supposed to be a poet

I’m supposed to be a poet
Nokyoung Xayasane

I should probably write something.
I’m supposed to be a poet.
What should I use to conjure up
these emotions, these images?
Past betrayals?
Yesterday’s grievances?
No one wants a poem
about sunshine and rainbows.
They want a narrative,
a struggle,
they want to vicariously
live in your pain and in your triumph.
That’s the human condition:
to have your lives mirrored
back to you,
to elevate the mundane and the boring
to a place of dignity,
dignity of the despicable.

But all I have now
are my daily routines.
I go out to brunch
and no woman stands
hidden in the background
just out of view,
ready to throw a drink
in my face.

I go out for coffee
and no one reveals to me
how they’ve been having an affair
with my now former friend.
Were we really friends anyways?
I always disliked her
and now I have a good reason.
Sometimes I get upset
when I hear about
tragedies and wars overseas,
but I know I’m pushing it.

I’ll return back to my book of poems
to a past rife with grief
and drunken nights
running around the city
seeking something I had lost.
I’ll return back to those images
of crying on the kitchen floor
with the ceiling fan turning
in slow motion overhead,
but even I know
as I sit with my tea
in the early morning sunshine,
that material is now rather old.

the things I want

The things I want
Nokyoung Xayasane

There are sunsets
that I want to see,
the morning light
over the Mekong river.

There are sounds
that I want to hear,
the chanting of
Buddhist monks
kneeling and praying.

There are textures
that I would like to feel,
the giving in of flesh,
the weakening of skin.

Yet what I hear
is the rush of the ocean,
the water entering,
calm and serene.

I know I’m drawn
to weakness
and to defect.
It makes me feel stronger,
like someone I’m not.

And I want to write
these words to you
so that you may turn away
from the brink of sorrow
and make your way
back to me.

But I’ve lost the map
and there are no
visible landmarks
as a guide for
you and me.

There is only the light
from the Mekong river,
and the hushed prayers
of Buddhist monks,

the giving in of flesh
and the weakening of skin
when I lie next to you,
and you lie next to me.

giving in slowly

On Sunday
Nokyoung Xayasane

On Sunday, we wake up early.
I’ll make coffee from the beans
from that hipster café
near my apartment.
We’ll make our way
to the closest diner
for brunch.
You walk at a snail’s pace
and I slow down threefold
to keep abreast with you.
Spring seems to be
giving in slowly
letting in the light
without that bitter chill.
It’s no longer playing pretend.
We both order omelettes
and talk about Socrates and Plato
and Aristotle.
Who was it who pointed up
and who was it that pointed down?
Who taught who
and who was the student?
We try and think of a mnemonic
to help us remember.
Strawberry pancake agenda.
That will be the name of our album,
you say.
What will be the name of the band then?
We won’t have a name.
Nameless, I say.
Nameless, you say.
We finish our meal
and I stand to pay
with you behind me.
You kiss the top of my head
near my temple
as if you’ve done this
a million times before,
as if you’ll do this
a million times after,
as if this is not the first time
and perhaps
it won’t be the last.

this concrete jungle

concrete jungle
Nokyoung Xayasane

Every day the sun
hits the trees
in this concrete jungle.
The birds
fly into the sky
into the blue
stretching out
along panes of glass
and rafters of steel.
Cranes loom
overhead,
their metallic calls,
a flapping of winged
newspapers flutter along
the sidewalk.

The city,
it pulses with
the sound of electric guitar
and voices singing
in the subway.
The fields of gold part,
the long stalks separate
and I am walking through
and the subway doors.

I am in the middle
of a stream somewhere,
the sky above me
and two people pressed up
against me in the subway car.
I have made my way
into the middle of the stream
where a flat boulder lies
in defiance of the current.
I lie my body down
on its cool surface
and I lie my head back
against the subway seat.

I watch as
the blur of colour and light
outside the doors
erupt into sky,
bird calls,
waters foaming.
I am in the stream
of my childhood
looking for something
elusive in the sky.
I am waiting,
ever so patiently,
in this concrete jungle.

manic pixie dream girl

queen_of_disaster

young and cold
Nokyoung Xayasane

I met a boy once
who traveled across
the states of Virginia and Alabama
to get back to me.
He drank coffee by
morning light
and by the glow of the night.
He drove for hours
on end,
fourteen or fifteen hours nonstop
to get back to me.

I hid my heart in a map
and asked him to find me.
And yet, I had all but forgotten
about him.
That’s what it’s like
to be young and cold.

When he got back to me
he embraced me
like a buoy in the water,
clinging for dear life.
Those actions he performed,
they were outside of me.

I could’ve been anyone,
anything he needed
because he needed me that badly.
These lost boys
all they search for is
their manic pixie dream girl.
I’ll play the character
as long as you give me the material.
Yeah, those days
when I was young and cold.