Are you happy?

it is like this with love_black and white

Are you happy?
Nokyoung Xayasane

I have these dreams still —
two years later.
You are pushing a pram,
inside
are four small babies,
stacked
one on top
of each other.

I wanted to know
if you were happy.
You seemed happy,
pushing that pram
along the roadside.
Where was he?
I wondered.

Are you happy, I asked him.
I’m happy, he said.

In another dream,
the two of you
were at a wedding.
You were laughing,
and he was brushing
a lock of hair
from your face.
All our friends were there.
Everyone was happy.
The only difference
was you and me.

Once, I stood there
in your place.
I was laughing
and he was brushing
the hair from my face.
Our friends
were all around us.
Everyone was happy.

Are you happy, I ask you.
You push the pram away
down the roadside.
In the distance,
I see him.
He is waiting for you.
I wait for you
to look back.
I am standing there,
waiting.

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

from the men who used to love me

mans_world

The actress
Nokyoung Xayasane

In a city of millions
you decided to date
my ex-boyfriend.
I guess
that’s to be expected
from an actress,
criminal lawyer,
playwright.

So you caught the
Leprechaun and all his
lucky charms?
You started seeing
each other in
September?
He’s right on schedule.

He waited a solid
two weeks
before moving on?
He’s right on schedule.

You two weren’t
exclusive and official
until October?
He’s right on schedule.

You went on vacation
nine months later?
He’s right on schedule.

I hope you know
that before the
relationship
is over,
he’ll already have his eye
on someone new.
He doesn’t know
how to be alone.
His mistake.

Maybe I shouldn’t have
marketed
him so well.
My mistake, friend.
He’s good
but not great.
I’m sure you’ll
find that out
eventually
in your own time,
which I can only
assume will be
within the year.
Your mistake.

I’ll make sure I don’t
advertise my
next partner
so openly
just in case
you needed
more validation
from the men
who used
to love me.

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)