Monday, April 17, 2017

Fuck, I'm Doing "Word Count Wednesday" Before Wednesday.. Monday

The Library

  • When Heaven and Earth Changed Places - Le Ly Hayslip


I've been trying to get more in touch with my heritage, and I guess reading about the Vietnam War is my way of doing that. I finally finished The Sympathizer which really fucked me up, and I've always been a sucker for war literature. "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed is one of my favorite poems. I have family that survived the war. I'm here because of the war. So it hits home.

The Process


Go to readings. Go to readings. Go to readings. Meet artists. Meet writers. Bounce ideas. I discovered this open mic in DTLA in the back of a warehouse hosted by one of my poet role models, Beau Sia. He's fucking dope. They have a very unique way of running things. The first round consists of readers doing their thing. However, the second round is where the magic is. They have the readers do their thing again, but this time, slightly modified. It's unique for everyone. I had my poem read back to me by Beau Sia, and I was quite honestly very starstruck. Another instance: this girl did a very self deprecating poem that just kinda tore herself apart. They had her go again, with four other people on stage. However, this time, she was doing the poem line by line, to individual people. As in she would speak a line to a person, and the next to the next person and so on and so forth. Each time a person received a line from her, they had to sing it back to her. By the end, she had broken down in tears on stage. It was glorious. Not her pain, but the release of it. Shit was lit. And then everyone went to a bar afterwards and got rekt. It was cool.

The Work in Progress

I'm working on the individual parts of Crisis, a series regarding the refugee crisis, which I'll be turning in for the second narrative assignment. The first part is in the post prior to this. I'm reading When Heaven and Earth Changed Places to learn more about the situations surrounding the Vietnam War. I'm reading into military protocol regarding civilian casualties. Man, America is fucked up. That's not really news to anyone.

crisis pt. i

father cannot unhear the explosion
of hell and earth changing places
he cannot unhold the weight
of his daughter’s body
coated in blood and rubble
he is as empty as the shell casings
that litter the street he lived on

when his walls have been reduced to dust
and his child to a corpse
we are told that God’s will is done
we are told that it is the terrorists
who hurt but it is not always their bones
that our bombs are breaking

I do not know how to tell him
that America still considers
herself humane when his flesh
is considered collateral damage
that the lives of his family
are worth less than that of a
misguided man with a rifle
situated on the roof above
that all of their breaths
must be extinguished to keep
our boys in boots breathing

we are told that this is
liberation by artillery
they forget to tell us the
price of freedom is the
skull of his infant daughter

I do not know how America
considers herself humane when
I do not know if she holds
within her closed white hands
a heart or a grenade

I only know
that her bones are forged
in the flames of the twin towers
that trauma has entered her
crude oi nitroglycerin bloodstream
she has closed her gates because
she is afraid of the hurt

the immigration officer
remembers his years
in the army and the shrapnel
still nestled in between
his vertebrae like the grains
of sand that will forever remain
in between his toes

he still remembers the ambush
where he inherited that shard of shrapnel
how it left his brother so holy 
and bloodless and closer to God

he cannot unhear the sobs of his widow
how it sounded like hell and
earth had changed places
he cannot unhold the weight of the casket
draped in that blood-red flag
that they had sworn to defend

when the shell-shocked immigration officer
stares into the eyes of the childless father
without a home he struggles to see a soul
he only sees the brown skin
of the bullets that had rained upon him

he looks over his shoulder at America
so pristine and virtuous

she shakes her head solemnly

I do not know what he is defending anymore

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fuck, I Almost Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" Wednesday

The Library

The slush pile of the Moorpark Review. 

The Process

I'm horrible at committing to things but I've been trying to write in the mornings before my routine of waking up and so on and so forth. That hasn't led to much writing of any worth, however.

I also got a new job.


The Work in Progress

Nothing as of late.

Monday, March 6, 2017

another dead dad poem

rosewood guitar in a stolen case
on the back of a boy on a bicycle
riding through the shell shocked
streets of Saigon, Vietnam
coated with Agent Orange
soaked in tears that come with
a brother of the Boat People
I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a refugee
stories you never told
simply mentioned
how you went to Cambodia
when you were seven
and the fighting was getting bad
Da Lat was
a rainforest that wept blood
clouds that cried the tears of widows
dreams executed by the Viet Cong
and villages torn apart by soldiers
friendly or foe, you’re still not so sure
I’ve always wondered how you came out so calm
your steady grip on reality, held onto
with the finesse of a guitarist
I know the arts saved you from the war
and I am searching for my salvation in
the flawed beauty of humanity
but my youthful hands are still tender
and not yet calloused by the years of change
the seconds fall through the cracks like
sand through clenched fists
there are times where it gets in my eyes
and all I can see is the past
it is so difficult to look up when
the rungs on the ladder break
and the panic kicks in
and we are no closer to heaven
I have been searching for a god
I have been searching for a savior
to fill the space you left behind
there is only whiskey and disappointment
would you have understood?
how did you deal with the loss of the sister
we don’t ever mention?
there are stories I will never hear
there are days I will never get back
the ones marked by the hospital badges
still sticking to my wall
to remind me of the last weeks I sat by your side
we don’t go there anymore
too painful, too fluorescent, too loud
white coats with clipboards
blue scrubs with bedpans
medication and good news
test results and bad news
orange vials peppering the kitchen countertop
like stars burning through cloud cover
your blank face on morphine
it burns so much to remember the day
when I pressed the button that would reduce you to ash
stepped in front of your brothers to assume the responsibility
I felt my knees snap with the weight of the cement
needed to build that hospital
I would have given anything for you
to see your garden one last time
the night you died I left every light
in the house on with the hope
that would you find your way home
the week you died
the roses had wilted
petals shriveled next
to decaying leaves
I had not watered them since the news
the month you died
my bed was a prison
and I had no desire for freedom
and if I lit a candle in
every cathedral I passed
the flames would still not be enough
off the dark that was settling in after you left

Fuck, I Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" for Two Weeks... Monday

The Process

I bought a typewriter this week. Sort of. I donated $100 to a Veteran's Fund, and they gave me a Smith Corona Skywriter that is fully functioning. I had to buy ribbon and clean it, but for the most part it works well. I'm still figuring out the nuances. Her name is Francesca Lucille. Frances for short.

Also, I've gotten in touch with one of my original inspirations- she was the girl that essentially got me to start writing back in high school. It's been an interesting few nights.

The Library

I haven't read anything of interest as of late. Someone gave me a collection of TS Elliot poems, but I haven't gotten around to it.

The Work in Progress


Currently, I've got a few ideas for pieces in the works. I just need to sit down and word vomit them out. Ideas:
  • What's the problem with poets?
  • What have I learned from owning a typewriter?
  • How the fuck am I gonna get through this week?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

landmines in a living room

the ashtrays make their presence known

a hand clutches the neck of a wine bottle

a man screams as he makes love to a broken-string guitar

balance is lost after one glass too many

bones settle into their place, complete

with their aches and pains

and rain slams into glass with

the guilt of a hurricane

that has torn apart towns

we remember the drought

we remember when the roots

of the grapevine broke free

they were so strangled by the soil

that they forgot how to breathe

old ground was broken here

in the way that relics are unearthed

where least expected


but always, there are holes

Fuck, I Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" Saturday

The Process

I don't place much stock in writer's workshops because it tends to be a room full of people jerking each other off over their writing. There are so many moments where I want to say, "That poem isn't as great as you think it is!" but I won't because I have no idea how I would improve that piece and my own work probably sucks too, so me saying that just wouldn't be constructive. 

With that being considered, I did take a workshop from poet Brendan Constantine, a writer who I very much admire and have seen perform multiple times. He had us do a few exercises: create a list of unmentionable things (not necessarily because they were offensive or taboo, just things that were difficult to put words to), a list of sensory experiences within the last 24 hours, and 2 imagined sensory experiences.

With these, I wrote "Landmines in a Living Room".

The Library

"Part of Eve's Discussion" - Marie Howe

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem t still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

The Work in Progress


  1. Narrative piece
  2. Alyssa's poem
  3. Detoxing