and I can see your light


Nokyoung Xayasane

when I was younger I clung to you
the roots of a tree gripping the riverbank
shifting waters could not move us
enveloped by mosquito netting and protected
while balmy breezes blew within a decrepit shanty
the cracks would not let in the pain

shards of light reflecting mirror side up
bruised forearm, broken finger
I cannot find you in your dark
hidden by your rage, I search for you

the splashing, laughing pool
flipping through the pages of a torn photo album
you call out to me from your hiding place
a quiet voice beneath the fists
loving pain, gentle brutality
comforting violence

sometimes, glimpses of you emerge
falling rain, glimmering laughter
and I hope for your light

my image in your eyes
my movements in your stance
quiet rage
shifting below
whispering madness seeps into light
mosquito netting, broken finger
morning grass, afternoon tag
and I remember you
as you were, as you are now

soft folds of a blanket
and the radio hums within the hut
hammock swaying
cradled in the softness, protected in the netting

soothing cooling
ointment glides on the burn
healing tissue replacing cut
a soft scar in the shadow of forgiveness
and I can see your light


She wonders about people like this.


The play
Nokyoung Xayasane

Here I am
in heartache.
I tried to write
a poem of anger
and betrayal,
but it just
came out

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
now and maybe
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?

texts her for coffee.
Sure, she responds.
She knows
the news will
be bad.
she knows
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?

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

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,

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,
he had
come home.
She read aloud
to herself,
to comfort
And as she read
the darkness outside
changed to light,
the sun rose on a new day,
and still
he had

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

It was painful.

And when
he sat across
from her
with his tissue,
because of a cold,
excusing himself
to use the bathroom
while bringing his
phone, she sat in
and stared at
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

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

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.
this new girl feels
a sense of
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
They’re flat
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.

I apologize.
I wanted to write
a poem about
anger and betrayal,
but it just came out

(January 2016)