Somewhere I Couldn’t Be

Is there anything left to be said
that hasn’t been said before
that could change you
or change me

Does it even matter anymore?
Nothing is the same
as it was in September
watching sunsets disappear
from one ocean of blue
into another, burning red
and now we’re blinded

Can I find you on the same roads
in the place you once called home
the walls are caving in
the walls are caving in
around me
leave it all behind
leave it all behind

I asked myself last night
who I was, and who I’ve been
is there such a thing as me
can I leave behind this identity
have I been myself all along
slow your breathing
just slow it down before
you slip away
before it all slips through
your fingers

Can I find you on the same roads
in the place you once called home
the walls are caving in
the walls are caving in
around me
leave it all behind
leave it all behind

I wish you’d wait
I wish you’d stay
I wish you’d wait
I wish you’d stay
with me
nothing is real
nothing was real
after all

Can I find you on the same roads
in the place you once called home
the walls are caving in
the walls are caving in
around me
leave it all behind
leave it all behind

When I close my eyes

I see a galaxy of light
a surging mass of yellows
and purples
and greens
and blues

I see you, your hue
at least, moving closer
then further away
the more I think of you
the outline of your hair
falling across your face
more color
shifting, simmering
around the changing

I know that all of this
the flashing, bursting
lights and color
are nothing more
than my mind’s eye
playing the projector
on soft flesh
yet I like to pretend
that even in the dark
the self-imposed dark
I can see you

my very own
my galaxy of light

There’s a hum in the air,

hanging over me like a low-hanging branch
swinging, softly enough, in the autumn breeze.
If I listened close enough, it sounded almost like
the earth breathing beneath me,
waiting for someone to ask it the right question—
the perennial question that nobody knew,
of course. Nobody will ever know,
but we can hear it all the same.

We hear it
in the rustling of leaves blowing about
busy walkways, in the scraping of feet
dragging themselves along,
in the varied whooshes of cars
spinning along, darting in and out
of each other like a confused flock
of geese, unsure of where to go to next.

We hear it, alright. We listen. Closely.
We’re always listening.
It might be the only thing we listen to
our entire lives without a single moment
of wavering uncertainty. It is always
certain. And so we breathe,
and so we listen.


The ram. The first of the Zodiac.
The god of war.
Yes, war. That was what it felt like,
going to war. I don’t know
of another way to put it, really.
I felt like I was tumbling headlong
into a row of shields with spears protruding
between chiseled Spartan warriors,
their helmets gleaming in the moonlight.

Yes, war is what it felt like
when I lay my head to rest at night,
wondering if I would make it through
the next day, or the day after,
hoping that along the way I could find
a way to break through to you—
through that phalanx of bronze
and sinewed muscle.
I wanted to make you understand
that a Scorpio like me wouldn’t sting
with foul intent, wouldn’t fear
the thought of being crushed
by the ram’s horns, or under the boot
of the flaming god.

When I look up at the stars, at Aries,
I don’t see the ram, or imagine war.
Not at first, anyway. Nobody does.
Everything looks so still, so fragile
from this distance. Yet, I knew that
if I was among those same stars,
the ones I’ve looked upon so much
when I thought they might yield answers—
they would be at war, too. At war
with the universe, with each other.
With themselves.
Waiting to explode.

That is the Aries I imagine now.
That is the war I am fighting—
a war not against a single foe,
but one against the very fabric
of myself, the very thing that makes
us shine, us radiate forth a terrible
power that we gaze upon with awe,
waiting for the moment when
it will all be over—when we are
nothing more than a silent memory
in the blackness.

I have never prayed before.
But even still, I whispered
what could only have been
a near-silent prayer to nobody
at all, to the blackness itself,
hoping that I never live to see
our light become a memory.

Nothing has changed.

I repeat that to you, again and again,
and yet I feel my words are falling upon
ears that don’t want to believe
that don’t want to imagine
the possibility that the truth
is hanging in the air,
waiting to be snatched at
and begging to be understood.

I imaging it hanging there
like a spider dangling from a thread
he spun from within himself,
the silk shining in just the right slant
of light, just right to be blinding—
but, even still, the spider continues
to spin, weaving himself an intricate pattern,
on and on, suspended,
like it’s the only thing
he knows. Because it is.

I am that spider. I have always been afraid
of them, and I am realizing now
more than ever before
how afraid I am of myself
and the web I spin for myself,
repeating the same things over and over
hoping to be understood,
suspended in the shining light
of the sun, that whomever may chance upon
my web will think twice before
destroying me altogether.

It felt something like a sunset

but, perhaps, more like a sunrise in reverse,
where the night is the beginning
and the light of day was the past leaving
through crimson and gold hues of fire
screaming through the sky, setting ablaze
an azure sea, above and below.

It was only two days before when we looked
over the city from above, miles of lights
in front of us, flickering ceaselessly.
It looked like a night sky, I thought,
never-ending beneath where we stood.

And so it was the night that brought us together.
And so it was, you and I. And so we were,
and will be, light a night sky reflected
and a sunset to mark the start of something new.


I watched a mother humpback whale and her calf
swim along the shoreline of Thousand Steps Beach.
They breached the surface of the water
three times, maybe, pushing their bodies into the light
of the world above everything they knew.

How beautiful and ancient, I thought.
Ancient, despite their relative newness to the world.
Ancient, like the ragged rock formation I sat upon
as the frigid maritime air whipped across it.
Even the ancients are shaped, I thought.

The mother and child were gone, eventually,
taking that last breath of air before diving
into the blue-black of their world once again.

Your world was the same blue-black for you, now.
There was no sun on the other side of the earth,
and, for now, I hated that old place across the Atlantic
where we met. Funny, the things oceans can change.

I shifted my weight, and a small stone tumbled
from beneath me, bouncing along
before plunging into the water beneath.
I thought of those blue-black worlds I was not a part of.
I thought of you in yours, out of sight. Out of reach.
And, more than anything,
I thought of how many steps you might take
before thinking of me, sitting atop a rock
on the wrong side of a lonely earth.

Dry summer, part two

“Historic West Adams,” the sign read.

I was driving on the 10 East, watching the sunrise through a burnt haze. The fog of lingering smoke from a fire over not-so-distant hills penetrated the horizon. I thought of how I wanted to burn all the letters and cards you had written me; not out of spite, or malice, but because it wouldn’t have felt right to just throw them away, I suppose. I had been putting it off. I told myself it was because I didn’t own a lighter.

A different sign, now. “Historic Filipinotown.”

Historic, I thought.

Yes, that’s what those letters felt like as I read them on the edge of my bed, dropping them one by one—like I was spying on two lovers from an age past, with our same names.


It’s curious, the things I remember about you. I saw a girl in the hallway with your salmon-colored sweatshirt, the off-the-shoulder kind that reminded me of the ’80s. The girl smiled at me as we passed each other. I smiled back. We don’t know each other’s names, but that’s how things are. I remembered your shoulders and how you used to complain about them. Too broad, you would say. But I liked them; I always liked them. I tried to remember your face, smiling at me, but I couldn’t.

All I could remember were your sweaters and your shoulders,
and how you couldn’t stand them.
Sometimes, sweaters will show off your shoulders.
And maybe you liked that, after all.