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,
are four small babies,
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,

you finally choose me


I am happy for you
Nokyoung Xayasane

I am fast asleep.
I try to wake up.

Someone knocks on my door.
No one’s home, I say.

I am half asleep,
thinking about you.

I have a dream
where I am happy for you.

In the dream, a miracle occurs:
you finally choose me.

I wake up without you.
You are still with her.

I am fast asleep.
We are together again.

no evidence of you


Nokyoung Xayasane

I’m getting ready
to do the laundry.
I’m washing
the sheets.
The sheets are
from Monday night
Tuesday morning.
There are these
relics around me.
There is a guitar
in the living room
that my ex gave me.
There is a lamp
on my bedside table
that a lover bought
for me once.
There are these
dried flowers
roses and white tulips
baby’s breath
hard twigs
and crispy leaves
tied with a white ribbon.
The tulips
were given to me
on a third date.
The roses
were handed to me
by a lovelorn man
on a street corner.
I tie them together
into a bundle
into a bow
on my little table
by my window
as if they are
one and the same.
They are.
They are
the relics of
hope and desire
and love and loss.
I look around
for relics of you.
There are no gifts
from you
no keepsakes
no evidence
no proof.
There once was
a bruise on my neck
on my chin
that I hid
with makeup.
I thought my date
at the time
would notice
but he did not.
He isn’t as
observant as you.
You are sharp
you pretend
to be dull.
You are wise
you pretend
to be foolish.
Why is there
no evidence of you?
I sit
in front of my mirror.
There you are.
You are unnoticed
and you are
I get up
and stuff
the comforter
back into its casing.
White fluff
twirls and dances
in the open air
by my window
in the sunlight.
No evidence.
No evidence
of you
at all.

a lover in every country


how love changes you
Nokyoung Xayasane

when I was 26
I said, I would like
to have a lover in every country

but that would involve
leaving the country
saving the money

I’m sure it’s not a very nice thing
to use people
for my own amusement
but I’m sure they use me too

I get asked out for dinner and coffee
all the time
I never put much thought into it
but they usually want more
from me than I can give them
they’ve been sold
on the idea of love
everlasting love
I pity them sometimes
like a mother
with her small child
they don’t know any better
but they will

I ask myself,
is it my responsibility
to teach them
I really don’t know sometimes
actually, I’d rather not

how come when someone
does something nice
that’s never all it is
I guess we are humans after all

this was a time
when I had concluded
the worst things about love

how it changes you
into someone fit
for someone else
but I’ve never been one
to fit into a square peg
I’m a round hole
after all

how come being in love
feels like falling asleep in the snow
during a blizzard
they tell you never
to do this
because you’ll wake up dead

I always end up falling
asleep in the snow
no matter how hard
I try
to stay awake
the warmth
and the giving in
the ending of who
I was
and who I had
always wanted to be

that’s love
to me

and then it’s over
it ends
as it always does
and I try to relocate
the substance of myself
I find it dormant
in the snow

I try to warm
it in my hands
I try to remember
I’m a round hole
after all
and you had always
been a square peg

but back to the dinner and coffee
can a guy ask a girl
for dinner and coffee
without that extra layer
of something else

in my experience,
this has never been the case
now this makes me
wonder about all your
coffee dates
and all my own
perhaps we were planning
our great escape
but we hadn’t admitted it
to ourselves, to each other
it makes me sad sometimes
to think about love
how transient it is
how fallible
how it changes
as we change

but anyways
the thing is
you’re the guy a girl
dates to get her parents upset
I’m the girl you marry
if I believed in marriage
I think that pretty much
says it all

I hope you find
what you’re looking for
I’m a round hole
after all

to love without question


to love without question
Nokyoung Xayasane

I was 26 years old
and my heart was

I visited Toronto
and took the subway
for the first time.
I met people
whose eyes
were filled with wonder,
whose minds
explored and questioned
and yearned to know,
to understand,
to educate,
to comfort.
And I thought, One day
I will live here
in this city.

Years later, I met you
and we moved here
to this city,
and we were happy.
I wanted
to keep writing,
and you wanted
to keep learning.

I took the metro again
as if I were a child
on a merry-go-round.

When we moved here,
it was wintertime,
and it was bitterly cold out.
One night, the ice hung
heavy on the eaves,
the roads were slick
and icicles decorated the trees
like early Christmas ornaments.
The power had gone out,
and we sat in the dark.
We lit candles and waited
and waited
and waited.
But nothing
for a very long time.
We decided to go to a friend’s house.
She still had some light.
She fed us vegan pad thai
and we were happy.

Some days,
when I was feeling blue
about work,
not finding work
or working too hard
at a few dead-end jobs,
you took me to the park.
We would sit under the trees,
or we threw a Frisbee
back and forth,
and I loved you
without question,
so sure of it all
at the time.

we would fall asleep
on the couch
with our cat on top of us.
The weekends were lazy
and filled with sushi dates
and pizza parties,
friends would come by at night,
and we would talk
and we could laugh,
and I would know
what it was like
to love someone
without question.
I knew what it was like
to love someone without
pride or hesitation.

At night, I would feel
your body against mine,
and I would fall
asleep this way,
your breathing beside me,
calm and long,
and I would know
what it was like
to be loved
without question.

Then one day,
you were gone,
and those things were gone,
those things we shared,
they were gone from me.
I know the park is still there,
the Frisbee is around here
and our cat still sits at my window,
but you,
you’re not here
and you won’t be.

I will speak your name aloud
before bedtime.
I will wish you a goodnight
wherever you are.
I will dream about you
and you will hold me again,
and we are back
in our old apartment.
You are adjusting
your shirt in the mirror,
and I am sitting
at my vanity doing my makeup.

We are so happy
and we are loving each other
without question.

one day, I was in love


one day
Nokyoung Xayasane

One day, I was in love.
And then I was not.
One day, I was living a life
that was at once familiar
and peaceful.
I remember
we made gnocchi
one early evening
while the music played
our one-bedroom apartment.
We stood in our tiny kitchen.
I remember the blue tiles,
the yellow paint, owl
teacups stared out at us.
Outside, the sky was slowly
turning pink.
The music played,
heart beats, slow and
filled with aching
and the pain of joy.
I knew the music
would stop eventually,
but I still looked at you,
and spoke words that would
vanish into thin air, into
the music’s heartbeat,
into the evening sky,
staining the concrete
with a blameless pink.
I’m glad you have good
taste in music, I said.
You have a nice smile, you said.
I laughed and the music played,
pure and tender.
One day, I was in love.
And then one day, I was not.
But the music
I can still hear it.
And it is still filled
with such sheer

(April 2016)