fly underground

five hundred and ninety: Before Our Radio Silence

Our first kiss was so sweet,
not even the strange aftermath
of our broken love
could take that away,
nor make the song I listened to on repeat
for that entire evening even an octave less perfect.

The irony of this poem
is the same irony as that song.
A man singing to a woman that she is less beautiful
than she thinks she is,
and a woman who preens knowingly,
because, well.
The irony is that song, of all songs,
is not a love song.
The irony is this poem, of all poems,
is not a love poem.

five hundred and eighty nine: The Not-Metaphor Metaphor

The wallpaper of my phone’s lock screen is something I happened upon on the internet. I wanted something that I wouldn’t mind seeing every time I checked my phone for the time, something that I could numb my brain to. It’s of a train in the evening, glowing traffic lights and shadows. It’s glossy and perfect, obviously not a picture I took. Tonight I deleted some photos from my phone. To be fair, I don’t keep many photos on my phone and the ones I do have are generally things I found on the internet, stuff I wanted to save because it felt important. Deleting these pictures felt very sad to me, like my heart was becoming small, shrinking my idea of love down from big aspirations to more contained goals. Less snow covered mountain tops, less nighttime forests, less busy European city streets. That picture of the train hurts me in a way that is the complete opposite of numbing. I remember the first time I saw it, how I couldn’t tell if it was driving away or driving closer, coming or going. I didn’t delete that picture, maybe because of this ambiguity, or maybe because I am not good at saying goodbye. For a long time, I thought that I lived in absolutes, but I don’t. I like my little hesitance, the way I can’t be sure of anything. Even now, I think, maybe one day I’ll get those pictures back. Maybe they’ll mean something to me again. Maybe it won’t matter if the train was leaving or arriving. But, and this is my saddest but, it does matter. I wanted to keep these things because I had a good reason. I don’t have a good reason anymore. I wish there was a better way to say I’ve given up, something that makes me sound more generous and less selfish. There isn’t. I’ve been reading a lot and watching television and something about that photo has changed irrevocably for me. It looks like the train is leaving. To be honest, it has looked that way for a long time.

“Standing there at the stage door to the rest of your life. Time to dip your toe into the deep end. Try things. Say hi already. Laugh a lot. Mess up. Apologize. Mess up again. Hug people. Take chances. Trust yourself. Lose things. Get over it. Hold your friends close. Gather your strength. Gain wisdom and beautiful stories. Be brave, and you’ll have the time of your life.”

not-too-famous words of advice from Taylor Swift, now part of my endless post-it project. yes, I was listening to “all too well,” this is my life.

Yesterday evening I went to the Asian American Arts Alliance Town Hall and Gala Kick-Off Party! It was a great night: I got a chance to make a pitch about my book, Until I Learned What It Meant, meet so many wonderfully talented artists in my community, and network! I also got to dress up and hang out with my bestie viiiv, and it almost didn’t matter that we are the queens of post-grad-unemployment land.

Thanks heaps to caimonoke for telling me about this organization and event! 

The point of all of this, darlings, is that there are lots groups and organizations willing and eager to support young artists. I have a purse-full of new contacts, some of whom wanted to help me, some of whom I wanted to help. So, get all dressed up, go out, and forget what your mother said: talk to strangers. 


I’m beginning to think that poetry (much like margaritas or cinnamon rolls) is something that is best enjoyed when devoured quickly and in large quantities. 

My book, Until I Learned What It Meant, is available for purchase through the Where Are You Press etsy shop!


I’m beginning to think that poetry (much like margaritas or cinnamon rolls) is something that is best enjoyed when devoured quickly and in large quantities. 

My book, Until I Learned What It Meant, is available for purchase through the Where Are You Press etsy shop!

five hundred and eighty eight: The Other Infinity

Of course I loved unfaithful men. Even my gods were unfaithful lovers. Yes Krishna and yes Ram and yes Shiva with his hotheaded anger. Yes my father who lied and my brother who can be cruel. Yes my best friend who used to love me and now is loving someone else. Yes the first man I loved and the second man I loved and the third man. Yes the women they kiss now and my pursed lips in selfies, not even a pout. Yes my forgiveness and my eagerness and my winding poems. Yes my gentle skin and how easy I can cry. Yes these months have been long. Yes I still pray for miracles. Yes I want God to give me the truth. Yes I want us to start again. Yes I don’t care which one of them comes back. Yes my open window on a winter night and sleeping in the world’s tightest fetal position. Yes I love my mother better than any man has ever loved her. Yes my mother also loved men who were unfaithful. Yes my aunts and my grandmothers and my goddesses. Yes my history and legacy. Of course I loved forever. Of course.


Happy July 4th everybody!

To celebrate, we are having a sale that lasts until Sunday, July 6th! Your entire order will be 20% off when you enter in our coupon code “NEW20" !

This sale also commemorates the new edition of Healing Old Wounds With New Stitches by Meggie Royer. It is now being re-released as a pocket-sized, perfect bound book instead of the saddle-stitched version.

And as always, we still have posters, stickers, and wonderful collections of poetry by Clementine von Radics, Kristina Haynes, Yena Sharma Purmasir, and Alex Dang!

Remember, to receive 20% off your purchase, insert the coupon code “NEW20" when finishing your order.

The sale ends on July 6th!

Stay safe today and as always, continue to stay lovely!
The Press

five hundred and eighty seven: Heart of a Patriot

A teacher once tried to describe the Civil War
as an attempted break-up in an otherwise serious relationship.
“Just because someone is trying to leave, doesn’t mean you should
let them go.” The Civil War was nothing like that,
how this pithy little analogy cheapened years of history
to a dramatic episode of any teen-oriented TV series.
So, the country almost broke up, but they got back together;
tune in next week for when the country lies to the forefathers
about seeing an R-rated movie.

I’m not cruel, even I know how bad a break-up can be.
I just didn’t want to learn that in history.

I got out of a relationship on Independence Day once,
and there’s about thirteen ways to make a really impressive connection
between the two,
but 13 is such an unlucky number, which is strangely fitting,
except we started from 13 colonies,
but this ended in 2013.
Maybe these are more coincidences than anything else,
not a clever way of making history accessible
to a room full of barely-there teenagers.

What do I know about independence? That it’s a better way
of being lonely? This isn’t at all what I imagined life would be like,
though it isn’t all darkness and drowning.
Sometimes, I’m almost proud of the way I have all these thoughts
I don’t have to share with anyone.

How come some wars keep people together and others break everything apart?
I guess it’s all a matter of which side we’re on.
I guess it’s probably just the same war living on, which would mean
that history isn’t teaching us so much as it is revealing
all the million different turns we could have taken,
why there are some graveyards that are celebrated and others full of angry ghosts?

“Just because someone is trying to leave, doesn’t mean you should
let them go.” Which is all good and fine in history class,
but when are you supposed to let people go?

Imagine you wanted to share your tiny apartment-heart
and now, as he is moving out, he gives you back the key.
How are you supposed to keep this memory without feeling like you have lost?
You change the locks. You listen to the fireworks bang from your living room.
This isn’t New Year’s Eve. It’s okay if you don’t have someone to kiss.

twenty four: honey, I'm over the moon for you.

Love don’t cost a thing, you tell me
each morning as we wake warmed
only by each other’s bodies. I don’t have any gold
or silver to my name but my man 
still watches me walk into a room. 

The recession hurts our pockets but we like
to think that our hearts are too high up 
from the ground to feel the difference. 
I stitch our clothes with patches from
our graduation robes. The smell of that you

lingers like old love letters. Even then,
I told you to save your money for a class ring
because you on my finger is nothing
like you by my side. We spent our time
professing our love on dark nights.

We do not live in a box
but you are the only valuable in this makeshift
home. Poverty is not a curse until you
leave in the morning and I am alone in the bedroom
that is our den that is our library that is our everything. 

Love don’t cost a thing, you promise
for the nights after we fight. We run more love in this
home than electricity, we leave love 
running from our faucet. We make love on a bed
that exists only because of our mingled breath.

five hundred and eighty six: Branches and Bunches

The first time I had to do a family tree assignment,
I was in the second grade. I tacked on every single one of the last names
that floated around our family, found on the backs of multi-stamped envelopes.
My father tried to explain to me why I didn’t have fourteen last names
and I remember grappling with my own confusion, because I didn’t get it at all.
I thought being related meant that: the connecting point,
my many names in someone else’s handwriting, and a way to still feel close
to branches and bunches of strangers.

I grew up with dozens of cousins, not one of them mine,
and aunts and uncles and big family weddings,
little inside jokes rushing through the reception hall
and I was strangely outside it all.

My seven-year-old indignation, my stack of birthday cards,
my twenty something cousins, just on one side,
and babies born and their growing aunt in New York City,
who promises, some day, she’ll come to visit.
I have a big family, I have a big family,
so big I never see them,
so big they have lived on without me:

dozens of cousins, all of them mine,
and aunts and uncles and big family weddings,
little inside jokes frozen in photo albums
and I don’t know them at all.

On Facebook now, I get messages from aunts and cousins
and annual reminders that one set of my grandparents are dead,
I never knew them,
and my only surviving grandmother, as much a stranger,
even if she’s still alive.
Not with malice, not with any real rift or dramatic Shakespeare-Lear story
unwinding familial love until it tasted like pure obligation,
or worse, resentment.

Which is funny, how Facebook works, this idea of requesting friendship
from people I will likely ever only see on a Skype screen,
and even then, if the Internet slows our faces to pixel-frozen screens,
a silence so heavy, nevermind the white noise of our separate homes.
You know how friends only become family after years
of proving not to be strangers?
It’s like that. Either we’re friends first or we’re friends now,
the point is my real family, sometimes tiny like a tulip
sometimes giant like an evergreen, sometimes sticky with blood,
sometimes full of too-different last names.
It doesn’t take years for family to become friends. It takes something else.

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