poetic justice

middle_distance

The Leprechaun
Nokyoung Xayasane

you cut your hair
short
and all respectable like,
you decided to go
to the doctor
for the first time
in years

and you felt the need
no
the perverse desire
no
the wide-eyed yearning
to mention her name
to me
in passing
out of the blue
without any context
all nonchalant
all casual like

you didn’t come home
one night,
and I didn’t see your face
for another few days

then you began
maneuvering
around my body
as if it were
an ill-placed
bureau
as if it were
an unwanted guest
who had called
on the wrong day

I hope you’ve learned
after all of this
that I’m not
an idiot

I hope we can be friends,
you say
I hope you find
your lucky charms,
you
little
Leprechaun

it’s the end
that sets the tone
for all
that has come
and gone

I hope
you’ve learned this,
you Leprechaun

if only
you weren’t
so foolish,
I said once

that cut you,
didn’t it?
that cut you
deep
right to the bone
now I wonder
who was the real fool

perhaps you and her
can chat it out
work it out
at the end
that is

my apologies
perhaps she can direct
your every thought
your every move
your every whim
because we both know
it takes someone
of character
to direct their own life

and yes, we all know
there’s nothing
she enjoys more
than the sound
of her own voice
authoritative, blunt,
and exhausting

she is shiny and bright,
is she not?
you’ll both stand
on your separate stages
and watch each other
from afar
waiting for the applause
of a thousand hands clapping
waiting for the sound
of a thousand voices praising

oh
and when she finally
breaks your heart
or you hers,
I’ll have
just two tiny words
for you

poetic justice

you
little
Leprechaun

lost and never found

middle_distance

my library
Nokyoung Xayasane

I can name all the men
on my one hand
who’ve given me books
as gifts
and then
there’s you
you lost
the one book
I lent to you
my favourite book
I don’t think we’ll
ever find it

some things
are like this
lost
and never found

when I asked you
to pick me up
after my surgery
you told me
you would be busy
that day

when I needed help
building a large
wardrobe
to house my clothing
because all of your shit
took up our tiny closet
you abandoned me
to go play with your friends

you came home that night
drunk
at 4 in the morning
and you woke up
at 2pm
a few hours before
my book launch
I had to drive
both of us
an hour and a half
out of the city
while you held a
plastic bag
filled
with your own vomit

as I stood
in front of the crowd
of people
my friends
my family
who were there
to hear me read
you
had sequestered yourself
in our car

as I read aloud
I looked at the door
waiting for you
waiting for you
waiting for you
to show up
for me
to be there
for me
as I
have always
shown up
for you
as I
have always
been there
for you
but I stood up there
alone
and I am still standing there today

I really hope
I get that book back
but we both know
there will be more men
who will fill
my new library
I just hope
you haven’t given
that book to someone else
but we both know
you probably
definitely
have

some things
are like this
lost
and gratefully
left behind

and I can see your light

and_I_can_see_your_light

Heal
Nokyoung Xayasane

when I was younger I clung to you
the roots of a tree gripping the riverbank
shifting waters could not move us
enveloped by mosquito netting and protected
while balmy breezes blew within a decrepit shanty
the cracks would not let in the pain

shards of light reflecting mirror side up
bruised forearm, broken finger
I cannot find you in your dark
hidden by your rage, I search for you

the splashing, laughing pool
flipping through the pages of a torn photo album
you call out to me from your hiding place
a quiet voice beneath the fists
loving pain, gentle brutality
comforting violence

sometimes, glimpses of you emerge
falling rain, glimmering laughter
and I hope for your light

my image in your eyes
my movements in your stance
quiet rage
shifting below
whispering madness seeps into light
mosquito netting, broken finger
morning grass, afternoon tag
and I remember you
as you were, as you are now

soft folds of a blanket
and the radio hums within the hut
hammock swaying
cradled in the softness, protected in the netting

soothing cooling
ointment glides on the burn
healing tissue replacing cut
a soft scar in the shadow of forgiveness
and I can see your light

(2009)

She wonders about people like this.

middle_distance

The play
Nokyoung Xayasane

Here I am
again
in heartache.
I tried to write
a poem of anger
and betrayal,
but it just
came out
trite.

Here goes anyways.

Boy meets girl,
girl is unsure.
She goes against
every doubt,
every instinct,
and she gives
boy a chance.
They say,
love grows
where pity lives.

Now let’s pan
to almost
four years later
and her doubts
have become
real problems.
I mean,
real issues.

I don’t think
about the future
,
he says to her.
That’s the problem,
she replies.
I don’t want to have
children
now and maybe
never.
That’s the problem
,
she replies.

But wait,
just wait for it.

So the breakup was hard,
but amicable.
The girl was sad
but she was
dealing with it.

Then one day …

Are you listening?

Boy
texts her for coffee.
Sure, she responds.
She knows
the news will
be bad.
Actually,
she knows
exactly
what he will say.
She’s known it
for quite some time.
She’s known it
before he could
even admit
to himself.

It’s not good news, he says,
you’re not going to like it.
I don’t want this to mar
what we had
.

See what I mean?
Cliché.

It’s all been written before.

Oh well, here goes.

I’ve been seeing someone.
Not a stranger.
But someone you know,
someone you trusted
and admired.
I’m with her now.

I know, girl replies,
I’ve known it all along.

And the look
of shock
on his face
makes her
want
to
spit.

All this has been lived before,
she knows.

They spoke together
in calmness
in that coffeeshop
on that street
in that city.
She left for her home
while he made
his way back to her.

But then
the hours went by
and the days went on,
and
she
began
to
unravel.

She began
to revisit
every moment
every look
every word.
She remembers
the night
it all changed,
the night when
he didn’t come home.
The minutes ticked by,
the hours passed along,
and
still
he had
not
come home.
She read aloud
to herself,
to comfort
herself.
And as she read
the darkness outside
changed to light,
the sun rose on a new day,
and still
he had
not
come
home.

In truth,
it was over between them.
She’ll give him that.
It had been over
for weeks,
but they still
shared the same bed,
they still
kissed each other goodbye,
they still lived
with a dying, ruined love.

After that night,
he avoided
touching her,
and she pretended
not to notice.

In truth,
she was not
altogether sure.
Was she going mad?
But he was so
excruciatingly
obvious.

It was painful.

And when
he sat across
from her
with his tissue,
sniffling
because of a cold,
excusing himself
to use the bathroom
while bringing his
phone, she sat in
silence
and stared at
nothing.
She imagined him
texting a friend,
maybe texting her,
for moral support
so he could say
what he came to say.

Let’s get this over with,
she thought.

And when he returned,
he said all
the things
people feel
they need
to say.

In a nutshell:
What we had was great,
but now I’m fucking
one of your friends.
Thanks for everything.
My conscience
is newly relieved.
Now I leave you
to deal with that.
Also, I’m happy.
I’ve moved on.
It’s been three months,
but she’s met
my sister.
Maybe we’ll get a dog.

When did it start, she asks.
He says
they waited
until he had moved out.
How respectable of them.

What about that night
you didn’t come home?
I was with her.
Of course.
We didn’t sleep together. We talked all night.
All right.

She wonders about people
like this.

A musician and an actress
begin a sordid affair
before the end of the musician’s
relationship to the poet.
It could not be more
pedestrian.

She remembers
how the musician
and the actress met.
The chemistry
was palpable.
They could’ve showed
some kindness
some restraint.
But they are not
kind people.
She watched it unfold
like a play
and when the actor
spoke his confession aloud,
she was neither
jolted nor hysterical.
But the look of shock
on his face
as she stared out at him
with calm placidity,
that was
priceless.

She thinks,
perhaps his new girl
is a better actor
than him.
But she has seen
the actress perform,
and this is not the case.
There is a
desperation in the new girl
to be lauded and admired.
Perhaps
this new girl feels
a sense of
triumph,
but it won’t last.
This girl is fickle.
This play is
poorly written.
The characters
are placeholders
for ideas of
what it means to be
human.
They’re flat
and
played out.

He is out of her life
except when she wakes
in the middle of the night
and reaches out
for nothing, but a
dull ache
and the sweat and shivering
of a poor player
who’s forgotten
her lines, and she
shudders to know
that she could have
loved someone
so weak.

Sorry,
I apologize.
I wanted to write
a poem about
anger and betrayal,
but it just came out
trite.

(January 2016)