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,

the adventurer


On Saturdays
Nokyoung Xayasane

are the hardest.
The weekend, in fact,
is difficult all around.

On Saturdays,
I would wake up early
and you would sleep in
until 10 or 11 or
whenever I would remember
to wake you.

We would go out for sushi
to the same place in
the same area,
Baldwin Village.
You always liked it there.
My adventurer
who went
to the same places to eat,
who would wave to me
from the window of my car
on his way home
every weekend,
on his way back
to the same city
to the same people
he’s always known.

What is it like
to live in the past?
Everything is laid out
like a delicate row
of maki, sashimi, nigiri.
The chopsticks
are neatly placed
at the side
of your small plate,
the soy sauce and
wasabi and ginger
within reach.

When it was over
between us
we made our way to the subway
and you asked me
if the subway was running.
I thought it was a curious
question but I realized
you were coming from
our old neighbourhood,
from her place,
near our old place.

I looked at you
and said,
You moved out
of that neighbourhood,
but you’re still going back.
My adventurer
on a Saturday afternoon
in Baldwin Village.

Now on Saturdays,
I go for a long walk
in the brightness
of the afternoon sun,
and somehow
I end up at
a sushi restaurant.
I eat my fill,
to fill my memory
of you and us.
The weekend
stretches out
in front of me
like a lifetime
of Saturdays
in Baldwin Village.

I would like to


childhood bedroom
Nokyoung Xayasane

I would like to enter
your childhood home
enter your old bedroom
and sit on your lap
with your mom in the other room
I tell you I’ll be quiet
but I lie
though not on purpose

I would like to lay
everything before you,
go on my knees
in front of you,
kneeling before you

I would like to straddle
that line
with you
walk that line
with you,
skip back and forth
on that line
for you
at your leisure

I would like to feel
the violence of you
the fast and hard
of you
the gripping flesh
of you

I would like to pitch
with you
into pitch night
with you
emerge in holy
morning light
with you

I would like
that nothingness
with you,
a deep rest
with you

I would like for you
to turn to me
and say nothing
to me,
absolutely nothing
to me

mostly though
I would like to lie
next to you
in your
childhood bedroom

I would like for you
to get up
at last,
and I will hear
the patter
of soft soles
and the clinking
of china in the kitchen

mostly though
I would like for you
to return to me
and maybe
you will bring for me
a tall glass
of water

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.

black coffee and cigarettes


black coffee and cigarettes
Nokyoung Xayasane

You like
your coffee
Now I do
You sleep
Now I do
I didn’t know
you used to
The day
you quit
was the day
before our
first date.
I didn’t know
until months later
that you removed
all your piercings
except for
that one.
I would forget
you don’t like
to read books
and you hated
Love wipes
our memory.
There is only
white light
and this bright
You became
someone I wanted.
I was always
who I was
except for that
black coffee thing
and the sleeping
naked thing.
And all those
punk shows
with you
on stage
with your guitar
and me
standing in
the audience
like a sleepy groupie.
Oh, and the drinking
of beers.
I never used to
touch the stuff.
That’s all you.
Now I wonder
if you’re smoking again.
Have you put
those piercings
back in?
Those are things
I wonder and
those are things
I would prefer
not to know

if you were a little bit older


if you were a little bit older
Nokyoung Xayasane

They say you can’t have it all.
Who are these people?
What are their credentials?

I would like to have sex
with you
and still talk to you

I would like to stay up
late one night
just talking to you
about the nature of evil
and of goodness.
The next day
is a rainy Sunday morning.
I would like to order two pizzas
with your normal quirky toppings.
You like to combine toppings
that make no sense.
We usually get six sodas
with this particular deal.
The sodas stay in the fridge
for months
because we don’t drink pop.

I would like to watch Netflix with you
and fall asleep on our couch
with our orange cat between us.
We’ll get very indignant or upset
about the state of American schools,
the commericialism of the world,
or whatever topic
in whichever documentary
we happen upon
that afternoon.
We’ll worry about it for
ten to fifteen minutes afterwards,
the sting of humanity still strong and raw.
But then you suggest we go out for pho
or maybe sushi, all-you-can-eat, of course.
You know I only like to leave the house
for food.
We go out to eat
and I take photos of the food,
overhead shots of course
like a pro food blogger.
I tell you to ‘act natural’
and sometimes your hands are
in the photos.

That’s all I have now
photos of disembodied hands
in sepia-toned images.
It proves it was real,
some part of it,
the Instagram-filtered part
where everything is beautiful
and clear and perfectly positioned,
perfectly experienced.

I put those pictures in a drawer
in my mind, of course,
no one prints photos anymore,
except for that one time
I wanted to be old-timey
and I printed 100 photos
because I wanted to know it was real.
That we were real.

Now those photos are all I have.
They show
what we were and what we could’ve been
if you were a little bit older
and I was a little bit wiser.

I would like to enter a time machine
and remember your pretty face
and electric soul, as Lana Del Rey would say.
Those late summer afternoons
when I turned to you and you turned to me
and we fell asleep
on our couch
in our tiny apartment.

Yes, I think I would like
to have it all,
in my opinion.

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

When we fall in love

it is like this with love_black and white

When we fall in love
Nokyoung Xayasane

When we fall in love
there is a part of us
that is historian.
We go back
in time,
and we recreate
that first moment.

I was 16
and working as a cashier.
You asked me
to go
to the work party.
I said,
I had other plans.
But then
I said,
Yes, I’d go with you.
When I was 24,
you asked me
to marry you.
I said,
but then I said, No.
I had other plans.

I was 24.
I had decided
to become
a writer.
I was already a poet,
I fell in love
with poetry,
and I fell in love
with you
by accident.
I told you
how I felt,
but you preferred
girls who listened
to Taylor Swift,
I remember
when we hugged,
you’d lift me
My head would spin
and the world
was full of light.

I was 27
and I was reeling
from three men.
I now
call them
and lust.
I told you
I wanted to learn
how to play the guitar.
I wanted to write songs.
You played me
your creations
and sat
a respectful
I never learned
how to play the guitar,
did I?
And we never wrote
those songs together,
did we?
we created
a life
until we realized
we could go
no further.

I’m 31
and I’m not sure
if I’m in love
with you.
I don’t know,
to be honest.
I never know
right away.
It always happens
to me
as if
by accident.

Maybe if you invite me
to your work party,
I’ll tell you
I have other plans.

Maybe if you invite me
over for tea,
I’ll go
and lie my head
on the sofa.

Maybe we’ll write
songs together,
but you’re not a musician.
No songs
will be written.

Maybe this,
maybe that.

They say,
there is a part of us
that is historian
when we fall in love.
Is this true?
Yes, I think
just maybe,
it is.

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.