if you were a little bit older

middle_distance

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
afterwards.

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.

and we will know no pain

evening_train

you and I
Nokyoung Xayasane

If I had been
25
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
worse
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
drunk.
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
6
years old.

So, you see,
it was inevitable
her
and
him,
you
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,
Okay,
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
and
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
beautiful
together
you
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.

but we kept dancing anyways

I_am_not_beautiful

This will always last for us,
Nokyoung Xayasane

So much
was happening.
Did we even know?
We did.
But we kept dancing
anyways.
We just kept
dancing anyways.

And I thought,
we will never be
this young
and this beautiful
and this free
again.

So we just kept
dancing.
We just kept
dancing
anyways.

This will
always last for us,
I said
but
I didn’t believe it.

Nothing lasts.

So I just kept
dancing.
I just kept
dancing
anyways.

The music,
it stopped.
I ran
to catch
the 1:30 train,
and I thought,
This will
always last for us,
but
I didn’t believe it.

Nothing lasts.

So I just kept
dancing.
I just kept
dancing
anyways.

And I remembered
you were dancing
you were dancing, too.

You too
were
courageous.

And we kept
dancing.
We just kept
dancing anyways.

We shone just as we were

Indio, California (19 April 2012)

Indio, California (19 April 2012)

California
Nokyoung Xayasane

Do you remember
our car ride
through California?
The sun and wind,
those ten days.
All of it.

No road
could hold us.
I didn’t care
for roadmaps,
and neither
did you.
We existed
in this
closed box,
headed on
a journey
of no return.
The wind
and air
and sky
all around us.

We shone
just as we were,
didn’t we?
You saw me
just as I was.
I loved you,
boy,
I loved you,
didn’t I?

We drove along
the streets
of Los Angeles
in our rented car.
Remember,
I didn’t want
a roadmap
and you never
cared for them.
We rented a hotel room
in West Hollywood.
The room was lit
by a single
bare bulb,
the sheets
were thin
and itched,
the carpet
was threadbare
and worn.
We threw
the sheets up,
and hurried
beneath them.
We were
never so close.

At night,
we met a man at a bar
who told us
we must go
to Venice beach.
We did.
We shared fish tacos
on the boardwalk.
We ran
along the beach,
the seagulls
glittering in the sky,
the sand endless,
our laughter
effortless and wide and clear.
We shone
just as we were.

Later,
the deserts of Indio
opened up for us.
You in your rolled up jeans,
me alongside
in high-waisted shorts
and an oversized hat.
There were
endless throngs
of beautiful people
in sunglasses,
white fringe,
expounding on cleanses,
contemplating yoga stances,
bare-breasted women
and musicians
tongue kissing on stage.

The music
began,
the stages
flooded
with lights.
You looked at me
and I felt
the world
beginning
and beginning
again and again.

The sun scorched our
bodies brown,
we glistened
with the midday
heat,
the music
never ends.
It never stops.
We danced
and danced
and danced.
We smoked
with strangers,
we laughed
until we cried,
we kissed
until we were sore.

When night fell
our second wind rose.
I heard
the music
pick up again.
I was
who I always
wanted to be,
there with you.
You were rain
drenching
the cracked desert
earth.
We were
who we
always
hoped to be.

I love you,
I said.
I’m glad you exist,
you said.
And the world
kept beginning.

(1 March 2016)

whatever it is we remember, we’ll remember this

The last lights of summer (Little Italy, Toronto, August, 2015)

The last lights of summer
(Little Italy, Toronto, August, 2015)

whatever it is we remember, we’ll remember this
Nokyoung Xayasane

whatever it is we remember
we’ll remember this
that once we were happy
and we held on to some sort of belief
in something beyond our bedroom walls
we once strained against the glass
that looked out onto the world
and we hoped for magical nights
when the air was warm but the wind was cool
when we gathered with friends underneath Christmas lights
that sparkled
even though it wasn’t Christmas

whatever it is we remember
we’ll remember a time
when we were young and beautiful
the world bowed to us
everything was possible, attainable
everything could be measured by the span of our hands
we held the world in our palms and
swung high into the air

the stars pushed out above
the songs from our childhood
our singing was no longer a form of helplessness
we remembered that once we knew nothing
and we still don’t
at least, at least
we are no longer afraid
at least we are full of wonder still
and the lights that glittered on that patio
that night
in that city we called home

we remember we loved and were loved
and all of it meant something
if only for a little while
if only for a brief moment
and we’ll remember nights
when time was within our grasp
but we lost it all the same
we spoke in fake British accents
in 24-hour phở restaurants
we held on to some kind of freedom
that was fleeting but we held on nonetheless

what we know now is this:
we’ll always be okay
we are sometimes surprised when
we hear our voices lifted above the tumult of noises
the traffic careening down streets that led to places
we thought we would never see
but stepping out into the street the wind lifts
our hair sticks to our lips
our bodies are nothing more than
air and dust and bone and breath

what we are we know
this will always last for us
what we know is time will stand still for us
but we wander nonetheless
we wander nonetheless

(August 2015)