Even in my nightmares I had a home,
I had the warmth of my own
love-yearning heart whose selfish haunting
was more powerful than the sorrow
of the world itself.
Even when the night came
and killed the song of every bird.
Even when god abandoned my shadow,
even as I dreamt the eyes I loved
drowning in blood, floating towards my end.
I could live,
I could still write poems
under the light of my pain.
The evening melts into my drink.
“I must burn something of myself here.
I must burn to remember this, to remember her.”,
I keep repeating this to myself as I stand beside the dying fire.
Suddenly my teeth ache for something cold to sink into.
I remember the orange color that used to spread on my tongue
as I drowned myself in the glass bottles of artificial citrus,
running away from the summer that I had waited for.
I walk away from the fireplace,
putting a bit more distance
from the monster that ruled the mantle,
relived to have found something simple to talk about.
I sit beside her and speak in my human voice.
I tell her of this small thought,
this small honest flaw of mine she can play with.
She asks “was that how your childhood was like?”
I could have answered “that’s how my life is and will be”,
but it was more easy to ask “what color was your tongue then?”
She recites from memory a poem.
A poem on the beauty of transparent things,
on the cruelty of everything
that own you without leaving stains,
without giving you a chance to scrub them out of your soul.
She smiled and thus handed me something
that I can consider hers for a while.
When I think of you in an indefinite future
when I think of the past, this glowing mixture
of wax and webs, sticking to my eyes,
to my uncertain touch,
to my every new dream and hope for love;
when I cry, when I laugh, when I say even my own name
the mountains of stories, send me back your voice.
They say you will be cited as the reason
for my every my recklessness and my every holding back.
True to the prophesies of love
my skin wilts and dies and eats itself up.
My heart cries and cries and makes jokes about crying.
Nothing makes sense and yet everything is just as it should be.
And now I can call you my everything and
nothing in the same breath
and still know that even if I let your shadow swallows me whole
I can’t ever call all this love.
I won’t ever feel “love” for you again.
Yet only sad poems spring from my mouth,
when I think of you.
And when asked if my words could be relied on,
if what I wrote was true.
I answered, “My life doesn’t know truth
as much as it knows love.
But when it comes to love, my words fails me,
I fail myself, before anyone else.
Failing is nothing to be proud of
and failing in love is like filling oneself
with doubts and faults that never existed before.
I can never be myself again.
My standing up or my lying defeated
may make a difference to the world,
my truth might matter to the everyone else
but not to me.
To me, what matters is already lost.
Now I just get to live a life of pretense –
play house, play life, play hearts
with people who seek truth in wrong places- in me.
If I asked if you can be relied on,
if you know the meaning of words you speak.
You might answer yes to keep my heart, to be better at love.
You might answer no and I will know it to be true even as I smile.
But nothing you say actually matters
the world will end and we will end long before that
and I will end before you-
because of you
or in spite of you.
You might turn out to be my last true love
or you might be the last nail in my heart.
But if I write a poem on eternal love
of someone whose shadows roughly look like ours,
know it is a lie we will never live up to,
but also know it is what I saw in us
even if it cannot be called truth,
even if it won’t be us.
I look out of windows of places that I want to escape
and only after 24 hours, only after 12 years
in a poem about crows, in an essay about public school,
in a story, in a ruin not mine
do I find the space to figure out, to sketch
what I would have thought of, if I allowed myself to think.
If I allowed myself to feel, what I would have loved,
what I would have gladly run away from.
The lives that I couldn’t start, the roles I couldn’t end
they leave my skin and become the masks they always were.
I carefully place these masks
on the words that have nothing to do with me
they only hold the mould
that were too painful for me to confirm to or accept.
On a staircase of stars
I sit with a cold drink clenched within my shivering hand
and nod back to the goodbye of another stranger.
I don’t remember him
but I know the lies I might have told him about me,
and the truth that he might have got to know eventually.
“What do you think? What would he remember me for?”, I say,
“But anyway someone knows me,
is this enough to prove that I am present in my life”.
“Is it lonely there?”, someone asks from within me.
I think it is probably you.
And because it is you, I need not answer.
I don’t want to seek you in the skies.
So I sit staring at the world that starts across the street,
where I pretend you are. Where I pretend you will always be now.
I sit outside a palace of brokenness that is not mine.
My sorrows are not so glorious.
It all belongs to a guy who will soon be my friend of some sort.
Unlike me he is happy now,
but he cannot bring to dismatle this grandest part of his life.
He wants a sad lover in front of the corpse of his love. Even if it can’t be him.
In the silence of his beautiful grave,
everyone gathered again and listened to the poem that no longer moves his heart
and we cried in his place.
It was a poem on tides and moons,
on something no one wanted to call love
but something they still couldn’t stop talking about.
It was something like thinking about you.
It was something like being asked “is it lonely there?” by your ghost.
It was like wanting to answer “does it even matter to you?”
It was like wanting to answer “It is a pain you won’t have to ever know.”
Outside my body, outside myself
I can be the the girl
who walks to a stranger, smiles and asks his name,
who keeps her name in her mouth,
and doesn’t throw it away
along with the chewing gum in the nearest trash can.
Would she hold his hand?
I think she would.
But even then
would she be reminded of the the poem she wrote in seventh grade
“the ugliness of people dripping from their hands
at nights, holding my breath,
crushing my 27 teeth under an unwanted kiss,
promising to kill me next time“.
That poem doesn’t exist in this world,
let’s keep reminding ourselves that.
So yes, she holds this stranger
a bit more closer than she would have deemed wise
if she saw it how I would
and she would make promises- the kind lovers makes
before they know what love is.
He will ask about her life
and she will have no sad story to tell.
So she would talk about the recent window shopping-
the things she can’t have and things she can’t get
and she will not be talking in metaphors for once.
For once the one she wants to love
wouldn’t be obsessed with the wounds on her skin
to love, to treasure, to poke, to mock, to dig down further,
to own and to burn.
He will probably say something sweet about her smile
or maybe something boring about his work
and she would smile a bit more in either case.
Because she can smile here, in this world, in front of him,
without having to think about what his each word might hide,
what she is over-looking, what will be the tiny details
that will come back to hurt her, what will be the undoing of her heart.
She will smile cause she won’t have learned to be hate people beforehand,
she wouldn’t have learned to love a bit too late.
She would tell him that he is lovely,
and the blush in his cheeks will make her heart skip
and she would love him for loving him
and not because she is looking for an easy fix to her faltering mind.
you are made of sunshines that are too hard to hide
you are made of all the forgotten beautiful memories of every human ever
you are made of the prayers no one says out loud
you are made of everything that i have removed from myself
obviously i love you
obviously we were not meant to cross paths
perhaps i won’t ruin you by this thing called love
perhaps i will ruin you by keeping my feelings hidden
i am not sure what is worse
i am not sure what i have set my heart upon
while looking at the empty bird cage hanging from the ceiling
he also thinks
is not the birdcage more perfect
when the bird is not present
– by room of the philistine (속물의 방), Shim Bo-Sun
It snowed all night.
All night I created stars for your eyes.
I bore the weight of the roof
as you slept, cried, ate,
smiled, memorized dial tones,
stared at me like you stare at screens with static,
paused expectantly as you told me the story
about your friend who is filled to brim with sugar
and seems bit odd
when he tries to smile a little bit more always,
filled me with a momentary fear of
whether you saw the corners of my lips tearing up everyday.
I felt again the illusion of love breaking,
its crack trying to find my spine.
Again you ran to me, trying to hold me,
trying to look over all the parts of me
that you don’t understand.
I slept and felt the snow of years settling on me.
I felt your wings fluttering around in my head.
I held the hands of god in my tiny fingers and said with a smile,
“make me a flower, if you can”
“make me something that is beautiful in her eyes”
“give me another sorrow, something simple,
something that can be understood and loved by her”
“let me look at her, without feeling the breaking in my heart”.