Apr 18, 2018

Before You Go

A question of import before you go
if you do judge yourself up to the task:
are things all right? Sometimes the answer's no.

There's those that tell me pain can help you grow
but in the moment I dare barely ask
a question of import before you go.

What reason have you? Surely you must know
my melancholy mood in which I bask.
Are things all right? Sometimes the answer's no.

You must have muffled it, stowed it below
stairs, in your cellar, hidden in the cask
a question of import before you go.

Why so afraid? Release truth, let it show
its face and hide no more behind a mask.
Are things all right? Sometimes the answer's no.

We cannot right some wrongs by willing so
and so reflect, gulped from life's bitter flask,
a question of import before you go:
are things all right? Sometimes the answer's no.

Apr 9, 2018

You Too

I'm not all men, just this man
standing in front of a woman
asking for a date or a dance
c'mon it's late, gimme a chance.
You can't say no once I turn on my charm
now wait! Don't go - what's the possible harm
in talking? So let's talk. Is it warm
here or is it just me? Hey come to my dorm
ugh, why you gotta be such a
girl, I'm trying my best, much of which
is better than most of the other guys here.
Sure, they may be stronger or look better on the beach but I have something
they'll never have because I'm nice, do you hear me? I do things right -
I treat my woman right - do not walk away
I'M TALKING. So let's talk. Is it hot here today
or is it just you?

Oct 3, 2017


I wonder how the moment
what it felt like at the start
as finger to the trigger
he pulled life itself apart.

I wonder if it thrilled him
(we agree it was a he, right?)
if he shivered at the sight
not from cold but flames within

or maybe was his heart stilled
mouth a-twist in mixed emotion
holding destruction distillation
forever splitting killers and the killed?

There was not yet any context, no perceptions to reverse.
No Tarantino movies, Columbines, or Call of Duties.
Just a single man and his gun, only one, the very first
and I wonder if he thought he'd made a gift
or made a curse.

Jul 4, 2017

Culture Fit

What's the secret sauce in the family recipe?
I wake up angry like the Hulk but Chinese
These fists are forged from Chan and Lee
kung fu movies I was too young to see

Time to rise up, can't throw away my shot
America! United! Where I'm white until I'm not
but cut me there's yellow bubbling at the seam
What are we but a generation accused of being coddled?
Part of a minority on which others are modeled?
Don't complain because I'm living the Asian American dream

This home of the brave, this land of the free
The freedom to hear "go back home!" shouted at me
Erasing the accent helps me pass on the phone
No mystery on my history - I'm a "good one"
followed the rules, came in the front door
no desperate fool washed up on the shores.
So it's cool, I'm cool, we're cool til we're not
The mood is high but no solid offer
I can stand my ground but I can't take my slants off
like you can take your pants off (Rimshot. Laughter.)

<Exit, pursued by an eagle.>


says my dad the way he does.
how do you get to the fair?
"Practice, practice, practice," I joke
like he did, when as a child I asked,
How do you get ahead?
I think you take 680
or 580
or both
to which he responds,
There are too many 80s around here.

The plan is to have an All-American day
with my alt-American dad
wearing my Captain America hat
him in an old shirt with The Clash
(I'm not sure he's ever heard The Clash)
wearing this season's Immigrant Hipster
hoping we pass for patriotic.

This is summer - for me, at least.
Fairs and farmyards
piglets and pickles filled with bacon and Nutella
but for my father I wonder
if farmwork reminds him of revolution
of working with his hands
of Work Visas and sponsors
of a family separated by a sea.

Now here we are, a moment away
from monster truck racing
as the speakers tell us to stand and stay
standing for America and America
and America.

Mar 12, 2017

Dear Mark

For here we gather on this solemn day
in dapper shades of black we cloak our tears
'gainst grief or quick relief we ache, we pray
hands off the handlebars as Jesus steers.
In life, you seized the chance to get hands-on
with everything those magic hands could reach
and hands to hearts to steering wheels and gone
beyond the moon with so much more to teach.
What lies out there? Be sure to let us know.
As you were such a single soul who could
construct a line from heaven to below,
your expertise with wires, will, and wood.
Some say you've passed but I think it untrue
for in my childrens' eyes, I'll e'er see you.

Mar 9, 2017

Guess Who

It's just knock-knock
a quick two taps then silence.
My feet pause on the landing, count
one, two, three
under my breath
my solicitor buffer
before my hand's on the doorknob
and the door is open
and regret floods in.

It's a delivery, I thought
Amazon Prime
Blue Apron
some problematic company
I mean have you listened to the podcasts
read the exposés
the working conditions
the freezing warehouses
but we still buy
because what else are we going to do

except it's not a delivery.
No, it's Grief, standing on our porch
cocksure grin
knowing eyes
and he's brought his damn acoustic
brought his friend Tragedy too.

I invite him in
before I know what I'm doing
(or maybe I know exactly what I'm doing)
because he's so handsome, just so put together
like an American Justin Trudeau.
He gets to work, goes to work
chatting up my girl
while Tragedy offers me a beer
(from where? Did he bring those?)
tells me a story.

The story is sad and surprising
filled with twists and terror
overflowing with pathos and panic
and I'm nodding nodding
wanting more, more, more.
Behind me, the strings are out
and Grief is singing Wonderwall.

I want to hate him
for the intrusion
for the stupid song
for his fucking flawless hair
but I can't
his voice is golden
like an American Michael Bublé.

And before I know it
we're asking if they can stay
share our spinach & mozzarella gnocchi
because our Blue Apron serves four
and what else are we going to do.