welcome to the struggle


welcome to the struggle,
Nokyoung Xayasane

This rooftop is too hot,
the men
are too “appreciative.”
I’ve broken the strap
on my sandal
and someone grabbed my wrist
in the stairwell.
I feel its sting
and my yelling ringing
in my ear.
I’m that person now
who yells at bouncers
and at cars driving into me
on the street.
I gesticulate and foam
at the mouth.
Remember when I baked pumpkin pies
and believed you
when you said
she was nothing special?

There is a fire inside the city,
burning blue
smoke everywhere.
I stand coughing my
two-lunged life away.

I want to leave
this place
but I’ve just arrived.
Why do we want to be
where we’re not?
I wait for happiness
to arrive
like some long-sought refuge,
but I alone
must craft this feeling
of rainbows and sunshine
from string and glue and
plastic wrappers.

All I can hear
is incessant laughter
ricocheting off high rises
and buildings made of
steel and glass
and the sun
it blazes
on this city rooftop
tar and spit and the vomit
of words, common syllables
and nothing is said ever
that hasn’t been said before.
The people here
they drink and revel
and call out
to each other
as if it meant something.

How come
I must make an effort
in all things?
I want to put my phone down
and look into another
human being’s face
and tell them
something they’ve never
heard before.

I want to string the words
together in a pattern
that glitters and cuts
that shakes them alive
that transplants them from
this smog-filled city
to a seaside town
and we are in the water
high to our knees
and there are these birds
that circle round and round
and the blue stretches out
beyond our understanding,
then you will
turn to me
and tell me
a harsh truth
about the human struggle,
and it will be filled with
longing and dreams
that fly away by night
and hide somewhere
dark and shining,
ready to be unearthed,
but instead
we turn away and
we glare at the sun.
I blink
and wait for the heat
to dissipate,
a blue fire
burning in the distance.

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