“I know I am in love”

I know I am in love, for on rainy days

When the world is wrapped in sizzling gray

And flowers bow their heads to the thunder,

I still hum along to the sparrow’s song in the silence.

Written March 25th, 2019.

Hastily jotted down since I haven’t written anything in a while. Disclaimer: I don’t do this right now so I’m probably not in love.

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“Even when I thrust my ear to the seashell”

Even when I thrust my ear to the seashell

I did not hear your voice —

But the ocean’s yawn,

The seagull’s elegy,

And the cackling of the lapping waves upon the sand.

Written February 19, 2019.

Parameters: freeform, Emily Dickinson. Inspired by Barceloneta Beach.

They say you can hear the ocean when you stick a shell to your ear, but in reality you just hear empty space.

Valentine Reads: “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”

We all know Valentine’s Day is commercialized. We should be celebrating our loved ones every day, singles get the short end of the stick, most of us only care about the chocolate, etc. etc. Instead of drowning in despair over capitalistic hedonism, why not drown in the despair of Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair?” Ideal if you’re a secret hopeless romantic who is mad at your partner, you’re a pining single, and/or you’ve run out of quality fanfiction with your OTP.

These poems are beautiful, striking, and heart-wrenching. Neruda twists surreal imagery with truths of human connection. The result is a powerful narrative encapsulating the experience of being romantically involved. When I read these poems, I too almost felt like I was going through the motions – falling in love, futilely hoping, having my heart broken.

Read it in Spanish if you can, otherwise I recommend the version I linked above.

Some memorable lines:

Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain. / I love you still among these cold things.

– “Aquí te amo”

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

– “Puedo escribir”

The birds of night peck at the first stars / That flash like my soul when I love you.

– “Inclinado en las tardes”

Pablo Neruda and Edna St. Vincent Millay are my favorite poets and are big inspirations to my writing.

Check out more of Pablo’s work and maybe look up some of Millay’s poems to top off a perfect anti-capitalistic hedonism version of Valentine’s Day.

Changing the Road Signs: Adulthood, Women’s Roles, and Resilience in “You’re Aging Well”

Listen to this song on Youtube.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to always keep a batch of CD albums in the glove compartment of her Honda minivan. She’d play them on repeat whenever she drove us to playdates or appointments. Nearly every day, I’d hear “You’re Aging Well” by Dar Williams. At 7 years old, I didn’t quite grasp the meaning behind the lyrics. At 20 going on 21, I can now start to appreciate its message.

First released on her album The Honesty Room in 1993, this song deals with the process of maturing, especially for women, in a contradictory modern world. It also celebrates her relationship with mentor Joan Baez, who served as a primary source of encouragement in both her professional and personal life. The two recorded a duet version as well.

The song begins with a lament: “Why is that as we grow older and stronger the road signs point us adrift?” She declares that she will repaint the road signs, defying the paths society ushers us down if they are to leave us continually doubting – “You never can win. Watch your back. Where’s your husband?”

These lines encapsulate some of the contradictory issues that women face. We should be feminist, but can’t be too feminist for the sake of a relationship. Our friends might stab us in the back. We should have significant others, but we need to keep an eye on them. And if only our “lower calf, upper arm were half what they are.” Yet still we are tempted believe that these will lead to a “road of enchantment.”

These kinds of narratives rampant in our culture leave us “with a collection of sticks,” with which to “fight back the hundreds of voices.” We become cynical, absurd – well aware we can only eat “the poisonous apple… not a story we are meant to survive.”

But Williams offers us not just hope, but the promise of companionship in a world that seems indifferent. The refrain of the song is “I’m so glad you finally made it here. You thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell.” With age, we discover that with suffering comes empathy and understanding. Above all, while hardships can seem abnormal in a world where everyone is walking the road of enchantment, in fact, making it through to where we are today is a sign that we are maturing just as we should be.

It is the the final verses that I feel the most keenly. Sometimes, the “language that keeps us alive” that we’ve been searching for on this endless, misguided roadmap is given to us by someone unexpected or found in unexpected places. And when we’re lost, we’re frustrated. But some things can only be achieved through simply living life as it is, and the fact that we’re right where we are now is a sign that we are, indeed, aging well.

I’m so glad that you finally made it here

With the things you know now, that only time could tell

Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are

And oh, you’re aging, and I am aging.

Oh, aren’t we aging well?

The Taming of the Who?

A brief clarification: refuse to pursue those who aren’t worth it. In other words, those who don’t reciprocate the same level of openness and accountability for their actions when it comes to their relationships. Choose friends and companions who show they care.

I am constantly reminded of Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince and the notion of l’apprivoisement. L’apprivoisement is, in short, the deliberate action of making friends. It is singling out an individual one feels is worth knowing and deliberately taking action to further understand said individual. Unfortunately, while it accurately connotes the patience it takes to forge relationships, it doesn’t fully encapsulate all of the complexities that come with it.

Forging or maintaining a relationship is a reciprocal action. It is not simply a domesticator and a domesticated. There must be volition on both sides. It is not as simple as my declaring that I want to be your friend, persistently asking you questions to get to know you, and then happy end.

I find that expressing feelings through writing when rejection or disappointment occurs is cathartic. But it is just that – expression. It is not necessarily a basis for decision nor an attempt to apprivoiser through flowery words like Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane.

We need to stop mistaking feelings for finality and start choosing people who prioritize us as much as we do them. When it comes to the people we choose to stay in our circles, we express our feelings with writing. But we make our decisions with our brains.

“I remember you as you were”

I remember you as you were those months ago –

The budding marigold in the arms of the wind.

Time has spiked silence on our court and pinned

Our tangled nights to the bullseye, but even so

In my thoughts your gaze still volleys with mine;

We walk through the zoo of lights, aquarium of words,

Bump shoulders and fingers. Still, the birds we heard

In the cedar trees have long since flown. The train line

We rode to fields of rice has stopped for now.

But I’ll pick up the blossoms of days with you from the ground,

And put them in a pot of soil till we meet again, whenever

That may be. I’ll set them on the windowsill and vow

To leave and let bloom, till the day comes around –

We’ll meet, we’ll embrace, and embrace – a moment of forever.

Written January 17, 2019.

Parameters: Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s own “I remember you as you were” poem, very loose Petrarchan sonnet

Continue reading ““I remember you as you were””

“It’s been raining since”

It’s been raining since you were fifteen

And the men with closed fists stomped in the puddles

Rippling their rage into the present.

On rainy days, all you want is to read novels and poetry

And too much into the look of twilight reclining into my eyes,

Next to the window glossed with pearls.

But it’s falling down, a torrent breaks the pane and the weather men –

The ripples coil into waves and snake around you

In a suffocating embrace of seaweed and salt.

Isn’t it too dark to see in this storm?

If you wait a second, lightning snaps its fingers

And a comet tail of light bends over you for a breath

But even so, how can you follow the story

When it is dripping off the page

Back into the ocean? You exhale –

Flailing in the ink, wishing you knew how to swim.

Written January 14, 2019.

Parameters: freestyle, Pablo Neruda-esque juxtapositions, horror

Continue reading ““It’s been raining since””