and we will know no pain


you and I
Nokyoung Xayasane

If I had been
I would’ve fallen
in love
with you
straight away.

The wrecked boy
with a
tender heart.
He is lost
in this
big ole world.
His bark is
than his
bite, as they say.

And the girl,
she was
always in love.
She was
always in love
with love.

She looked for love
in libraries
and in bookstores.
She lies in the grass
in the park,
a little bit
Her skin eats
up the sun
and the air.

She tries to recall
a time
when she wasn’t always
saying goodbye
to the things and
to the people
she loved.
But she can’t
remember that time,
not at all.

It was a story
someone told her once
from long ago.
That love mattered.
Love lasted.
People never changed,
people never disappointed.
Those are fairy tales
she stopped believing
when she turned
years old.

So, you see,
it was inevitable
and I.

Let’s sit on
a patio like
it’s the
first time and
the very last time.
Come with me, he’ll say.
And she will say,
I will follow you.

Where should
we go, I wonder.
Anywhere, you say.
Everywhere, I say.
Okay, take my hand,
and I’ll take yours.
We’ll be fine,
just fine.

We’ll be like
the city lights,
bright and sleepless.
We’ll be like
the groggy
summer days,
a cold beer
in the park.
I’ll meet you
after your shift
as evening sky
seeps into morning,
and the drunks
make their way
home, battle worn
and weary.

We’ll walk the streets,
ragged and broken
young and reckless.
I’ll bend over
to tie my laces
and you’ll look
at the curve of
my body.
You’ll brush your
callused hands
along my face
and we will know
no pain.

We’ll be
and I.
Just you wait
and see.

The morning sky
will open up
at last,
bright and clear
and endless
and true.
We’ll forget
that we were
ever lost
and that we
were ever broken.
Our laughter will
ring out in the sun.
I will hold your hand
in mine
and we will know
no pain.

You will look lit from within, and lit from without

My not-so-secret garden

My not-so-secret garden

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dear Ava,

I’ve been thinking about you lately. I remember sitting across from you at the diner, and you were full of questions for me. You were confused. You were unsure of what to do next. You didn’t know if you should stay with him or if you should leave. You looked at me with your large, lost, wide eyes. I could see an earnestness in you. You wanted to do the right thing, but you didn’t know where to start; you didn’t know where to begin.

Here’s what I want to tell you.

If you decide to take this path, to leave him, and to go out into the world on your own, it will be very, very difficult.

But the thing you will learn is that the difficult part is not making the change or of ending things. The difficult part is what happens afterwards. I’m not going to lie to you. It will be painful. Excruciatingly so. You will have memories of how you used to be together, like how he ate his pasta, or how he sometimes cocked his head to the side when he listened to you speak. You’ll remember those unassuming moments when you stood in front of the bathroom mirror and he placed his hand on the small of your back. There will come a time when you stand in front of that same mirror and you’ll remember the touch of his hand and you’ll feel the absence of it, and it will batter you open; it will batter you wide open. But it will not destroy you.

I want you to remember this.

You have friends and family who you can talk to you. They’ll take you out for dinner, laugh and cry with you; you will feel loved. Sometimes people will do the smallest thing like save you the last bit of honey for your tea, and you will feel your heart fill. Sometimes it will be almost more than you can possibly bear. But you will bear it. Just those pure simple acts of kindness from people — it will batter you open.

And sometimes when you go for walks, the sky will light up with a light so harsh at times and so beautiful, and the wind will pick up, people will walk by laughing and talking and you will be so far away from them but so close to them at the same, you will feel as if you are part of everything. It will be painful. It will hurt so much. Your heart will ache and ache.

Maybe you’ll see a small sign at the edge of a park that reads “nature trail.” You’ll walk past it, and the entrance will dip into an almost surreal world. You will walk these intertwining paths almost every day. Perhaps there will be a babbling stream, shallow water and rocks, a wooden bridge, and endless leaves of yellows and reds will pirouette from the sky. Perhaps the ground will be blanketed with autumn leaves and foliage that crunch beneath your boots. It will be your not-so-secret garden.

You may even look out over an expanse of trees, or you may be sheltered within a canopy and the light, the light, will come streaming down, and you will feel breathless, alive; you will feel time moving; you will feel the movement of time and how random and passing and fleeting and beautiful it all is; and your heart will ache; it will just ache and ache.

But then gradually, without you noticing it, the pain will lessen. The memory of his hand on the small of your back will not rip you open. The song that played while you cooked pasta together will not make you ripe with pain; it will not double you over. You’ll remember how sometimes he would say your name aloud and the sound would make you stop short. You’ll remember the look he gave you of reprimand and of kindness. His compassion would have floored you. That memory, that look, that single word — your name spoken aloud by someone who loved you — it will no longer batter you open.

Soon you will feel a lightness. The memories will reoccur less often. The dreams will wane. You will wake less often in the night; you will stop seeking solace in other people. You will not drink so much. One day, you will feel fine. Just fine. And the initial lightness will stretch; it will stretch into hours. Then into days, then into weeks. Then months, then years. And when you’ve finally learned to be alone, when you finally enjoy your own company and you wouldn’t have it any other way, you’ll meet someone new. And that person will make you laugh again. He will make you laugh until you cry. He will make your skin feel as if it were made of tissue paper. Transparent and open and light. Whatever was hiding deep inside of you will rise to the surface. You will look lit from within, and lit from without. That’s what love will do to you; it will transform you. You will be beauty intensified.

And all that has passed will seem like an apparition; it all will seem like a story you concocted, a story you told yourself to help you fall asleep. And you will be happy, you will be so utterly happy.

I send you all my love as always. And all my hope.

Your friend,

I am not beautiful


With you nothing is simple yet nothing is simpler
(Lines Depicting Simple Happiness, Peter Gizz)

I am not beautiful
Nokyoung Xayasane

When you told me
you were fucking her,
I felt nothing.

Not much has changed
since you left.
I still wake up in the morning
and make my coffee.
I still laugh with friends in cafes.
I still find beauty in the pink light
punching out from between
condos and high rises.
I flick the light switches
on and off
to watch the shadows
emerge and disappear.
On New Year’s Eve I kissed a girl,
and it was fine.
All weekend, I fucked a stranger.
I drank all night
and threw up in my wastebasket.
I feel nothing.
I feel everything.

Sometimes when the loneliness
presses hard
against my chest,
I lie my head on
my own splayed arm
and with my other arm,
I cradle myself.
When my head feels hot,
I lie my face against the vanity
to feel its coolness.
I hope it will
enter me
and I will be refreshed,
someone different
from myself.

I stood on the corner
of Broadway and Yonge
and watched the snow
carefully descending,
pirouetting from the sky,
and the darkness
a backdrop
for a city living.

I felt alcohol and weed surge
through my blood as I made
my way to the subway
with condoms and fresh panties
in my pockets.
Semper paratus,
as they say.

I fuck strangers
and wake from the sleep of them.
I am weak, I know,
and vengeful. I am not beautiful.

(January 2016)