I will wake them when they are ready to be heard


The morning off, but first coffee

The right words
Nokyoung Xayasane

For the last three weeks,
it’s been hard for me to find
the right words.

I think the night was ‘resurrected’ for me.
‘Redeemed,’ you say,
and you are right.
Yes, the night was ‘redeemed’ by the last poet.
Her stories flowed from another time.
I could feel the history of it.
Its magnitude.
Like I said, there seems to be the right words,
but they’ve been eluding me lately.
Where do they go
when I’m not using them?

I hold up a thin candle;
its faint flame illuminating
very little.
The word is just outside the circle of light,
hiding serenely in the darkness, safe.
I move towards it,
and it moves too,
beyond my reach.

I don’t see how she can …
‘Reconcile,’ you offer,
and you are right.
I don’t see how she can ‘reconcile’ her independence
with moving across the country for someone.
Abandon everything for someone.
Is that what love is?
I wish I could find the right word to express
how I feel about that.
‘Bewildered,’ perhaps.
‘Incredulous,’ maybe.

I take a break from the words
and sit on my balcony, in the sun.

The words sleep quietly in the dark.
I will wake them
when they are ready to be heard.

(November 2015)

language would never be a barrier for her

Thailand, 1984

Thailand, 1984

the things she carried
Nokyoung Xayasane

I remember what my mother told me
when I was eight years old.
One day, we decided to exchange
a Super Nintendo console for the
one that came with the Donkey Kong game.

In the Zellers parking lot,
she gave me the box to carry.
I walked with that box in my tiny hands —
my mother by my side.
The box grew heavier with each step.
And the closer we got to the electronics section,
the heavier it became.

Meh, I said,
(‘Meh’ is Lao for mom)
Meh, I said, can you carry it for me?
I gave her my most helpless look.
She looked at me then and said,
(‘Da deep’ means ‘little eyes’)
you’re just afraid.

And yes, I suppose I was.
We walked up to the Zellers employee —
a shaggy-haired fella
who stood behind the counter
organizing double A batteries.

My mother stood by my side, wordless.
She didn’t speak English that well,
but even at eight, I knew that language
would never be a barrier for her.
I want to get the one with Donkey Kong, I whispered.

Afterwards, we walked outside to the car.
The sky was this purple and pink colour —
the same sky I’d paint in my art class years later.
I held the new system in my hands —
this one included the game.
I played Donkey Kong all summer long,
and if you were wondering,
I can lift that console quite easily now.

(June 2015)

I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City

Photo credit: @nokyoungxayasane / Instagram

Photo credit: Original by Taylor Jackson Photography; Edited by nokxayasane/Instagram

I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City
Jessica Greenbaum

The day turned into the city
and the city turned into the mind
and the moving trucks trumbled along
like loud worries speaking over
the bicycle’s idea
which wove between
the more armored vehicles of expression
and over planks left by the construction workers
on a holiday morning when no work was being done
because no matter the day, we tend towards
remaking parts of it—what we said
or did, or how we looked—
and the buildings were like faces
lining the banks of a parade
obstructing and highlighting each other
defining height and width for each other
offsetting grace and function
like Audrey Hepburn from
Jesse Owens, and the hearty pigeons collaborate
with wrought iron fences
and become recurring choruses of memory
reassembling around benches
we sat in once, while seagulls wheel
like immigrating thoughts, and never-leaving
chickadees hop bared hedges and low trees
like commas and semicolons, landing
where needed, separating
subjects from adjectives, stringing along
the long ideas, showing how the cage
has no door, and the lights changed
so the tide of sound ebbed and returned
like our own breath
and when I knew everything
was going to look the same as the mind
I stopped at a lively corner
where the signs themselves were like
perpendicular dialects in conversation and
I put both my feet on the ground
took the bag from the basket
so pleased it had not been crushed
by the mightiness of all else
that goes on and gave you the sentence inside.

Read more about this poem and poet on the Poetry Foundation website: http://bit.ly/T5U2sC.