Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Poem: "Sometimes"

I recently wrote this poem for my writing seminar class at USC. 

It was half inspired by Odysseus's disillusionment with a peaceful life in Tennyson's "Ulysses," and half inspired by a comment I heard once about marriage being wildly exciting for the first few years... until you realize that your husband is the blank-staring man on the couch, eating cereal noisily, watching television, and looking nothing at all like Prince Charming.

I began to wonder what Penelope thought a few years after Odysseus returned. Was she disappointed with how his military instincts conflicted with peaceful kingship? Did she think that he was a failure as a father? Or... perhaps the worst... was she bored with him?

Without further ado, here's "Sometimes"- a tribute to all of those relationships that turned out to be less of a rosy color and more of a washed-out sepia. Yay new poetry, wheeee!


An entry in Penelope’s journal

I watch the young Telemachos,
The seedling king, the son of rock
Find a father— then, distraught,
Like a waking child
From a glowing dream,
Find that visions reworded in flesh
Are nothing like what they seemed.
Sometimes, when the dusty earth
His rosy intellect must learn
He seems to think that things were better
Before Odysseus returned.

I catch him staring at the man
Soak the mid-November gleam
Lopsided on the crooked throne,
Spotted flesh on crumbled stone,
Velvet in wrinkled clumps
On scraggy knees.

I watch him watch his father walk
In loose pajamas robes,
Trudging through the courtyard dirt
Still edged with soiled snow,
Considering a tired bird
Limp as though
Its wings were clipped
And its songs were never heard.

You don’t expect Odysseus
To nibble noisily,
To squander muscle
In soft degrees,
Instead of passing a Saturday
Poring over an ocean map,
Resting a hand on your toughened back—
Taking the afternoon nap.
You cannot hear “Odysseus”
(The name so long equated with
The hard-thrust spear,
The rugged ship,
The radiance
Of hero-myth,)
Wedged between the blunted prose
Of allergies and gaining pounds
And scratching an itching nose.
You don’t expect your fantasies
Of the long-expected one
To shrivel in the
Mundane sun.

I know the inequalities
Within that stillborn heart still burn,
And sometimes, that Telemachos
May dare to think, as our armor rusts,
Sprayed by the orange fern—
It used to be better,
Since Father returned.

I see him eye Odysseus;
The shirtsleeved hero shall defer
To the after-dinner stupor—
Penelope calls from the moldy steps,
And he cannot hear her.

I hear the rattling off-key thoughts,
Comparing now to the day forgot,
The hasty partnership in blood
To overthrow the suitors’ plot,

The day of brawling bronze,
The dual nods of heads
And clutch of sweating hands
Before they all fall dead—
The yearly dreamt-of king
Broke from clouded fantasy,
Rose to cry out, “I am he”—
That scarlet day
Appears so far away.

Although I’d like to play the game
And my affronted romance tame,
I hear the friction
In his wilting heart,
And I know that my heart
Aches the same.

You don’t expect the awkward pause
In lights-turned-out, past-midnight talks,
Or, in boredom, to let your hands
Pick at stems from the living tree
Still guarding the sagging bed.

You don’t expect the orchestra
Of the waiting universe
To play that unexpected song,
Or, perhaps
That thing that you
Should have known
All along.

You don’t expect Odysseus
To be so careless
While meaning well,
To govern farms
Like a prison cell,
To casually decree
Off with their heads,
While I nudge him, whispering
That some things are better
Left unsaid—
Or, with a helpless wave
Of his bold-veined hands
Let Telemachos sleep
With whomever he can.

Sometimes, I think the suitors’ yoke
(While the insults rude still linger,)
Or tearing threads on the weaving oak
With cracked and reddened fingers
While the dawn awoke with frigid thrills
Surpass today, since Odysseus then
Was hero still.

Today, like a child steering puppets
With fingers thick with lack of past
He steers the craggy, lonely land,
While his dark brown eyes
Still are warm
With ripe concern—
Sometimes I think
That things were better
Before he returned.



1. The change from marching iambs to a more erratic meter, and traditional rhyme to slant rhyme at times, marks the growing angst and honesty in Penelope's writing... all the way up till her final, intimate burst about Odysseus's failure as a father figure.

2. The living tree, I think, symbolizes the continuity of Odysseus and Penelope's marriage... it's usually a pretty romantic idea, but what does eternity mean when it is disappointing... or boring?

3. Unlike my last two poems... this is a serious poem.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Poem: Walking with That One Guy You Like And Then A Hot Girl Happens to Pass By

Hey friends! I haven't posted poetry in forever, and I'm guessing that most of my new college acquaintances have no idea that I even write poetry.

So I'm posting a poem I wrote a while back- I don't feel this insecure way about this particular person anymore, but I think that this is the sort of situation that everyone has been in. So I posted it. And you're going it read it. And here it is.

Walking With That One Guy You Like And Then A Hot Girl Happens To Pass By

The thrust of a heartstring
Is the shock of our paths meeting:
The best gesture of his brain
Is less than the mascara feathers
Of her eyelids’ flutter;

Suddenly, everything about
The sudden wrench of his head
To see if you had laughed
At the professor’s joke too,
And the gradual zenith of his arm
Closer to yours on the desk
And all of the twitches
Of cheek muscle
And raspberry curve of lower lip
That whispered I love
For the past two hours fracture
On the expectant floor.

You may not be sure
That he has even noticed her,
The golden girl,
The matte sun faintly gleaming,
But you can already sense
A drift from your side,
A buoy to its distant anchor,
Seeking the effulgent shore
In the parabola arch
Of her neck.

As you move past
Her shining,
A new thought occurs:
That Odysseus is
In spite of Kalypso. That
He is still walking
With you.



1. Yes, "the best gesture of his brain" part is a reference to e. e. cummings.
2. The contrast between the snarky, almost dumb-ish title and the rather verbose text was intended.
3. This is not a serious poem.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Heaven Will Not Be Boring

Sometimes I think about those random passages from the Anne of Green Gables series, where people timidly wonder if Heaven will be boring. Like one really long church service. I'm not saying that church services are boring. (Am I?)

And sometimes, I wonder if people- in real life- echo that sentiment.

I would like to challenge that sentiment.

I was recently reading The Last Battle from C. S. Lewis's Narnia series, and a certain passage struck me. Towards the end of the book, the Narnians and some people of this Earth realize that Heaven looks exactly like Narnia.

But Lucy says, " "[The geographies are] different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they're more... more... oh, I don't know..."

"More like the real thing," said Lord Digory softly. "

Heaven is going to be more like all of the pleasure and beauty and excitement and humor we've ever known on Earth.

After all, we are going to meet the Creator. The One who made beauty. All of the waterfalls and ruby sunsets and glittering stars and lush-velvet green groves we've ever known are only what we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12 KJV).

And we're going to meet the One who IS creativity. I was recently at the Long Beach Aquarium, and- amid the thundering of hundreds of small children underfoot- realized that an aquarium is basically an animated, 3-D art museum. So much creativity and complex thought went into these creatures that range from ethereal to monstrous, delicate to gargantuan, sandpapery to hammerhead-shark-soft. (Yes, I did get to pet a baby hammerhead shark, and that kind of made my day.)

And we're going to meet the One who made excitement. He knows how to make our stomachs lurch during a rollercoaster ride or a scary movie; why would that excitement and creation of excitement stop once we get to the real thing- when we ascend to a higher dimension?

It's going to be like a rectangle drawn on a piece of paper that suddenly comes to the realization of 3-D buildings, and geometric elephants with volume, and the 3-D convoluted-ness of a rose.

That said, I don't spend a whole lot of my time being the Christian I want to be.
I don't spend as much time as I should reading my Bible or talking to God.

I don't spend as much time as I should thinking about Heaven.

But when I do, I find it hard to believe that it will be boring.



1.  Why won't Heaven be boring? Four words: The Book of Revelation

2. The final words of dying people- people who were on the cusp of The Other Side- have made it hard for me to believe that Heaven will be boring.

When Thomas Edison was dying, he supposedly said "It's very beautiful over there."

"Let us cross over the river, and rest in the shade of the trees." -Stonewall Jackson

Emily Dickinson- and this is so perfect- said, "I must go in, the fog is rising."

And of course, although this wasn't his last word, John's reaction to Jesus- the One that we'll be spending quite a while with in Heaven- in Revelation makes it hard to believe that Heaven will be boring.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NEW POEM + Colorful Bottles!!

This is a love poem. It's about how we often think that we can categorize people, or their various ways of loving us- but also about how that way of thinking fails to appreciate the complexity of human beings, and the gorgeous, torturous convoluted-ness of relationships in general.

Sometimes I like to think about things in genres, like a table of elements. This person's character is volatile like carbonite. That person's nature is neon. But really, my little brain is constantly surprised by how layered people are. How they transcend stereotype, or weld stereotypes together. There is no algorithm for figuring people out, no calculus for determining their true nature. Or at least that's what I've learned this past year. And that's the point of Pride and Prejudice.

So without further ado, here is 'Love Is A Table of Elements.' Written in the style of Emily Dickinson.

Love Is a Table of Elements

Love is a Table of Elements
That every group derives
From privy Temperaments—
From rose to viridian.

One has chloride Passion, and
The other chillest White—
One sulfate Envy, Neon Pain,
And Romeo carbonite.

The shelves of Aphrodite’s store
Gleam with globes of chemicals
Classified by hue or soul—
By solids or ephemerals.

When stirred together, loves may churn
Oceans, liquid insanity,
Or may precipitate a rigid mass
Of love stiff-kissed and brittle-kneed.

But when your love is studied through—
The boiling Sea,
The half-tame Beast,
The Ice of chill Extremities,
No Species suits it well—

No Calculus— remains.

So yeah.


I turned this written work into a visual poem... In other words, something you can see and physically interact with, which represents my poem. I actually reproduced the 'gleaming globes of chemicals' by buying a bunch of 99 cent bottles from Michael's and filling them with colored water. Then I labeled them according to the kinds of love they represent. Red was passion. Blue was 'losing you.' Green was envy. Etc.

But then, for the kind of love that can't be categorized, I filled an actual chemistry beaker with totally random stuff... Small bottles of chemicals, glitter, a guitar pick, dried up pens, paper clips. And I labeled that beaker 'Your love.'

 Those globes of chemicals...!                      

 "Neon Pain." "Missing You" in violet-blue.

 It's not shown here, but I did include a reaction plate, to symbolize those relationships that are a mixture of certain kinds of emotions. Have you ever felt both pain and a sense of loss towards the same person? Pain and passion? Envy and affection? 

 The wash bottle from my chemistry set... forgiving and                                forgetting crusted precipitation.

 Your love...                                                                         

 Have you ever met (or stumbled into love) with someone                             who was impossible to simplify? Someone who superseded your prejudices? Someone you were completely wrong about?

UPDATE: I've just watched a few scenes from Nick Willing's Alice miniseries, and I realize that these two works seem very much alike! At the time of this poem's creation, I had no idea that this miniseries existed... how constantly fascinating multiple discovery will always be. Although I'm guessing that the phenomenon was slightly less enjoyable for Newton and Leibniz in the case of calculus.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NEW POEM: "Shoes" (My Graduation Poem!)

I read this poem at my high school graduation three days ago. It's centered on the imagist device. Come to think of it, I really don't think that it needs more explanation... the only semi-obscured-in-symbolism parts would lose their beauty should I attempt to explain them, so I'll just stop talking and let you jump right in. As Robert Frost once said, poetry gets lost in translation.


You started out
with the smallest shoes—
tiny cups of leather
clinging to your
pattering feet, as you
clambered over the
suddenly flowering world.

Every treehouse
was Montecristo and
the house cat
was as large as you.

You forget where you put
those shoes sometimes,
just as you sometimes
forget you wanted to be Cinderella.

Your brother wanted
to be an astronaut—
his light-up shoes twinkled
down the drafty corridors
of the space museum,
plastic microgalaxies
against a marble exosphere.

Once in a while now, he will
put his business homework aside,
forget that he knows
what a funding ratio means,
pull those shoes from
the crooked bottom drawer,
slap them together,
and watch them sporadically glow
in the stale winter night—
faint lanterns half-lighting
the path to some alien dream.

After that were the tennis shoes,
with scars by baseball diamond dirt
and stomach-lurching slides,
like fork scratches on a birthday cake.
They were with you
the first day your coach
said he was proud (of you,) and
the stained, white frays
of weary shoelaces
bounced with your leaping heartstrings.

Next were the black heels,
for the first funeral you attended,
the first time you realized
how significant people are
when they are gone…

then, the red heels,
for the first formal,
as you nervously
blinked your eyeliner away
and your date stumbled
on his gargantuan loafers
and you blinked into the Now…
walking on stilts as the world
erupted with shivering fireworks.

Today, you have the leather shoes,
as black and python-thick
as some ultimate seal,
that look as though
they were made
for walking on bridges.
You will walk away
from the other shoes—
the baby shoes, the astronaut
shoes, the homerun shoes—
click your way to the diploma
like some solemn leather metronome,
some crumbs of time
leaking from your fingers like particles
from an opened salt shaker,
grind your heels into the soles
with resolute force,

and you will not look back.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NEW POEM: A California Fugue in E Major

Really couldn't wait to post this one... and it feels quite fitting, as the weather has been summer-sweltering these past few days. 

It 's in the style of a classical-musical fugue, with a braided entering voice, answer, slightly new theme, etc. If you're one of those kids whose Asian parents stuck them in some tedious inferno of a music theory class, you catch my drift.


A California Fugue in E Major

Come down to the water— you say, you say
Where the afternoon and summer sadness play
Where a pepper shaker of Venice Beach is honey light
                                    and cinnamon sand
While the evening is stretched across the sky
like a swimmer on land
Someone is plucking an unplugged guitar
And the strings drained of electricity vibrate over piers,
Shivering out to the furthest bar.

There are few souls by the beach tonight:
The sky is bleeding into canyon heights
And the waves are smoothing wet sand prints
                                    by autumn’s tangerine light.
Come down to the sea— you say, you say
Someone is shuffling stones
                                    over a murmuring tidal pool
Someone wants to flicker through slouching palm trees
                                    like her butterfly tattoo.
Come down to the water
Come down to the sea
Come down where life’s glorious agony
Is couched between fluorescent sunsets
And me.

You are a pulsing magnet crusted with brine
And I am pulled from my apron lines,
Stringy knots bursting
in the yawning breeze,
My hair unleashed
            to Neptune’s caprice,
My wandering feet unbound
in the foam of the sea.

Come down to the water— you say, you say
Under swaying lines of Redondo lights
                                    a jazz band plays,
And as the saxophone blows a slow bubble of sensucht
                                    in the sweet-smelling haze,
And barefoot couples inhale the beat,
It’s not hard to believe
That it’s almost mid-June, and the living is easy.
And you will say to me,
Come down to the water
Come down to the sea
Come down
Come down
Come down
To me. 



1. Yes, that was a reference to Porgy and Bess 

2. If you don't know what sensucht is, google C. S. Lewis's definition. That guy gets it. 

3. You can't wait for summer either, can you? Can't you just taste it when you glance at the calendar- that lemon-iced-brine-dripping-with-fireworks-of-nectar taste...? APs and finals are almost over, and we'll be pushed into sweet nothing like a curious boat into the wide, wide bay...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NEW POEM- "Remarks to A Dandelion"

So, the creative writing class prompt was to write about dandelions. I researched the religious, medical, historic, and literary connotations of dandelions and welded them into second person free verse.

But who am I kidding? You probably pay as much attention to these introductions as you do to iTunes terms and conditions. Dig in-

Remarks to A Dandelion

Small sun,
who drained
his secrets in the strata
of your mustard mane?
Who tried to blow
her muttering troubles
out to sea,
as far as forty drops
of wool would go?

Who sliced your verdant tube
as the November moon
swelled in sky;
a pearl
in a forgotten pool?
Who licked the bitter milk
and flicked aside
the peel,
as quick as cups
of wrath are emptied,
and stale desire heals?

Smiling beast,
the globe of inchoate wishes,
the translucent seeds
anchored to center,
with one exhale,
a mistral to shore,
a quavering bay
of sun-flamed strays,
a singular ROAR.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another Sad, Sad Tale in 50 Words.

                                                   After Valentine's

a stuffed bear peeks out from the lone trash can, white cotton candy fuzz flecked with refinery silt. it is NighT. his miserable bead eyes glint in the glow of a drooping street lamp, chubby arms still bearing a torn velvet heart that says in stitched italics I LOVE YOU


Funny how misplaced objects, a carefully phrased reaction, or a new addition to a schedule can tell you so much about what went down in a relationship. Or in the glorious agony of life in general.

Not that I spent Valentine's Day thinking about that. I spent Valentine's day with this guy!

He's not headed towards a trashcan any time soon.

In other writerly news, thirteen of my flash fiction pieces/ poems just won merit awards from the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards!! So grateful that God lets me be a part of His story in the literary world.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Another 65 Word Story... about a mermaid

Another short short short story for your entertainment.

And by the way, in the spirit of writerly news, five of my poems and one of my flash fiction pieces just won Gold Keys (state level, national medals will be decided later) in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards!!! If you know what that is, you probably understand how LUDICROUSLY EXCITED I AM.

But without further ado... another slice of magical realism, in 65 words.


Order Sirenia

There’s a mermaid in the aquarium. You can visit her tank and see where her white flesh meets aluminum-silver scales, a tail of filmy chevrons, long hair fanning the water like seaweed. Last week, the aquarium managers were too busy arguing about whether a tank is humane and the 3/5 Compromise to notice the little boy who jumped in the water to ask her opinion.


Sidenote: 1) Order Sirenia is actually a real biological order that mermaids are categorized in. Check out the second paragraph of this Wikipedia article... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mermaid

2) The 3/5 Compromise was a federal, pre-Civil War decision that only counted a slave as 3/5 of a person. I alluded to it to bring up the theme of dehumanization, the paradox of what human dignity means when you can't even interpret a being as human, and the way in which we treat slaves or those we unconsciously demean. Yeah. Everything's freakin political.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Magical Realism Tale in 65 Words

So the creative writing prompt was to write a 65-word story in the magical realism/ science-fiction genre. And here's what my weird brain came up with.

I may make this into a blog series, since I don't have time to create/continue my parody series :)


I work at the store that sells attachable faces and waists.  With employment benefits, I don’t just wish for a Grecian nose. Last night, I attached an Emma Stone mask to proper pressure points overnight and voila, I was beautiful! Kim Kardashian hips are in this week— we’ve gotten 200 orders already. The only complaint we’ve gotten is that eventually, everyone will look the same.