my pretty name on your lips– dawn birdsong traversing my poem on the screen– a cockroach! dawnlight– two in the care home yelling together the poem’s ending also its beginning– enso circle living the dream– the suburban house cat squinting daydreaming in an attic room– think outside the box the bird who flew in last night dead by the coke machine a pink tree that's not sakura– only pinker Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.
Starfish and Coffee (inspired by Prince's Starfish and Coffee) I wake up to coffee I make, Nestle instant with green tea, powdered creamer, and a dash of Sweet and Low. It tastes crappy, but I love the feeling it brings. I cannot afford Starbucks, miss the whipped cream, the caramel swirls. Don't like maple syrup and jam, or ham, or tangerine, but orange marmalade with butter, on crusty biscuits from KFC. My mother clothed me in mildewed sweaters. I wouldn't be surprised, if she fed me starfish for breakfast. She'd pack it in a grimy tin box, for all my classmates to see, just like the song goes. Raspberry Parade: A Ghazal for Prince On my way home from the cabaret, I realize I've lost my beret. The street is an endless parade, raspberries on my float, not a beret. Vagabonds crowd the sidewalks, wrapped in colorful rags, but no beret. I wear a red dress my mother bought, with a crystal tiara, not a beret. She passed away in 1994, and the song isn't about me but a beret. Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.
Love Song of the Unloving
I know you love me, you say. How are you so sure, I wonder. I suppose I do, as I love nothing else. I don't love to write, don't love bird songs, the shards of sunlight that spill through the blinds all day. So it could be true, that I love you, relatively speaking, that compared to a dandelion, a sparrow, a tree, I like you a little more. This small preference, for the sight, the sound, the scent of you, accumulates daily, nightly, hourly, monthly, yearly, like drops of honey add up to syrupy love, which one tastes in one’s heart. Ah, love, you are sweeter than stardust, shinier than dew. Faded Let me know if you still love me, like I do you. If you do I shall take liberty to revisit our abandoned past, continue our story where we left off. I shall reserve an entire page to store your ever-burning smile. However, if you no longer love me, also let me know. I shall respectfully remove you from my heart, my dreams, like a picture in a frame. I shall discard memories of us like long expired roses inside a vase. I shall not flip back the pages, but will write a brand new story without you in it, but a different hero. I'm Not a Fair Weather Friend I love you not only when you're smiling the sun kissing your dimpled cheeks but when sorrow depresses your lips and the moon clouds your countenance I love you in gold and silk but won't think less of you if there are holes in your shirt For it is not in sweetness but in the salts of everyday life that I'm here for you Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.
Illustration of Sylvia Plath by Shannon Levin
Father's Day Father, father You peeled the smile off of my face and yellowed my soul with talks of your pain your struggles sugar coating everything and letting the venom seep in afterwards The twenty dollars you left on the ironing board every other week kept my mouth shut Like bandages they fell off leaving my wounds to bleed profusely It is easy to pretend not to know to be cold like snow But father, father the men I meet are a lot like you They melt my morals with the heat of lovemaking and I learned to say "yes" to go along with their every whim My pliant flesh bears all the misery you gave mother I get crushed damaged then recover only to begin all over again My Degree and Other Things You Don't Know About Me I am… a genie in a bottle drifting from sea to shore shrouded by a cloud no folded resume enclosed explains who I am a cardboard face like in those antidepressant ads two circles for eyes a curved line for a mouth a stick of a neck to hold an occupant between scraps of memories like a pressed rose in an old diary the stamp of honor on my diploma faded and forgotten Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.
You weave a web everywhere you go– who are you, spider girl but your one-and-only Facebook photo– a silver heart pendant a fake hometown a false alma mater Nothing I do is good enough for you— not even the sweat of my ink you claim as your own You say you’d be so cool without me– yet I know the truth you’ve flipped upside down Like a damselfly I spread my wings to disentangle myself from your web of lies The Neighbor You walk like a queen with your downgaze dictating my downfall– you'd like to place me in a pillory like a medieval prisoner I’ve committed the most unforgivable crime in your eyes– by being alive when you'd like to squash me like an insect under your sole I have every right to breathe the air you breathe to free myself from your collar of shame I'm no criminal and you're no monarch Remembering an Old Crush I've always wondered if you wrote poetry and if you did what it was about– the shiny new star-shaped rims you got for your tires all the girls you brought to your Downtown LA suite for cups of gourmet cappuccino and one-night stands whom you drove home the next day in your polished gray sports car? Do you need heartbreak to write good poems? Or do you, my prince have depths beyond your frat boy facade to transcribe into verses to touch the heart? Bravo I've longed to hear you say it all my life– only to be told the opposite. You've branded me mediocre, since I was old enough to know the meaning of the word– ordinary, unexceptional. I'd rather be a retard than that. I've had to discover for myself that I'm a genius, etch a star on my own chest, place a crown on my own head. Because to you, I will always be a commoner, a B that never makes it to A, an act that gets no applause. Creative Process My therapist asks me how I write the poems I write. I tell her it’s similar to painting cherry blossoms, like I do in art therapy. The words dab on the page gentle like a kitten’s prints. There are days when the cat becomes a tiger, and the pawsteps become stampedes. Then there are days when the cat falls asleep, and the words don’t come at all except perhaps in dreams– faint silhouettes whose shapes I can hardly decipher. A Poetry Showcase for Jackie Chou New Poems by Jackie Chou