There are days when I think of Arashiyama. The water was warm as I stepped in, toes slipping on mossy rocks. I waded deeper, dodging boulders, my blue shirt floating around me. The fog wrapped around the mountains, and tiny raindrops fell, invisible in the blackness, murmuring a soft tune over the water.

You took off your trunks and swam naked in the night river; Jack sat on the pebbled shore, our sandals and clothes scattered about him. A boatful of tourists floated our way, with Japanese men lighting torches and fish-swallowing birds performing tricks to loud, enthusiastic applause. Balls of fire illuminated the dark green water, and we hid in a bank canopied with willows.

And I remember the hill in Nara. We climbed fences and endless steps to the top, treading on deer dung, drenched in sweat.

“How much further, Chris?”

“Just be patient. And don’t look back.”

(I looked back when he wasn’t looking.)

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[This is a story that was straddling two languages: Korean and English. I’m still not sure which language suits it best, but the Korean translation is in progress. If you want to collaborate with me on it or have general feedback, please let me know.]

Little ant climbed to the top of the anthill. A grain of sand rolled down with her final footfall. Big ant sat waiting at the summit. Little ant panted, “You’re here.” Big ant smiled.

Big ant looked at little ant. He hadn’t seen her in a while. Just yesterday, he had been wondering how she was. Little ant dropped her satchel on the sand and plopped down next to him. He could hear her little breathing slow. Slow to a steady bloom. In, out. Puff, puff.

He stretched out his legs and let out a groan. “What took you so long? I got here an hour ago.”

“Sorry, I got distracted.”

“What was it this time?”

“There was a circle of pigeons.”

“And?”

“It was a circle. I was curious.”

“Well, was there something inside the circle? What were they looking at?”

“Nothing. They were just pecking at a scattering of crumbs.”

He looked at her. “Seriously? You know, you could’ve gotten hurt.”

“They looked friendly.”

“Of course. All right, so what have you got?”

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A fortune teller once told me,
“Stay silent and you’ll regret it.”
Except Fortune Teller didn’t know
that I don’t regret
that I don’t believe in mistakes

Fortune came
with a weird boy on New Year’s Eve
He was in black, I was in blue
He could feel me

In the company of old friends
Fortune came
bringing warm, sweaty cheer under its arms
a celebration of something or other
We didn’t understand

And on the drunken countdown
I lit his sparkler and mine
He held my drink, she smiled at us
I wished for what I wanted

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Some time ago, I was living in a blue, underwater kingdom of kings and queens and delightful creatures. It was quiet as long as citizens kept traffic to a minimum and restrained from using bubbles irresponsibly. It was civil, not because civility was enforced, but because no one had reason to act out.

The royal guards lined up to salute the king and queen. Trumpets were raised, and the queen, as graceful as ever, smiled at each and every one of her loyal guards. Her name was Geraldine, and I liked her. Queen Geraldine once told me, “Sarah, don’t let anyone tell you to doubt your feelings.”

“What feelings, Queen Geraldine?”

“Your feelings about anything.”

And I got a funny feeling one day that told me the kingdom was changing. I saw it in the blinking shadow of a jealous eye. I saw it in a little girl’s betrayal of her best friend. I saw it in a man’s refusal of all the things that made him uncomfortable.

——

A few months ago, I went to a doctor, knowing that I needed treatment for a worsening condition. He gave me a temporary diagnosis, informing me that it would take at least a few more visits for him to figure out exactly what’s going on.

Since that first visit, I’ve been going through two-week trials of various drugs prescribed to ease my symptoms. Some provide immediate relief and others require more of a commitment, taking at least a month’s use to start showing effects.

I don’t like the idea of waking up each morning and taking a pill, keeping other pills on hand during the day for emergencies, and taking yet another pill before going to bed. People have started calling me a pill popper, a label I can’t even protest because it’s true: I have become a pill popper.

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(modified from the Nov 2012 original published on another blog)

Why would I do that? she whispered to him.

He chuckled and said nothing.

She traced the prism patterns underneath them, triangle upon triangle, reds, plums, blues stitched together. The little flowers along the edges had faded and a long rip ran along the top, the part she always tugged on when she was cold. Safety pins held it together.

As she snuggled into his shoulder, a breath escaped his nostrils, landing in warmth on top of her head.

She giggled.

What?

The sun’s tickling me.

——

I got into Daddy’s car and drove on battery power. The sun had set but it was mostly smooth sailing; the road signs were clear enough. Even in my blind rage, instinct and well-honed driving skills got me through the local streets without a hitch.

Somewhere in gritty North Jersey, I took a jughandle left and a ramp onto I-95. About five miles down this baby, so familiar to me, the engine started sputtering. I didn’t wanna stall there of all places so I took an exit, parked not too far from Milltown, and got on my fold-out scooter.

Cars minded me for the most part but I couldn’t handle giant intersections, not with the lights changing as if they were a show, greens turning without warning to reds, turning to illogical arrows. I waited for my green arrow, every muscle in my body tensed, my right foot ready to kick off as hard I could. When it finally came, it didn’t stay long enough. Cars from two directions, four lanes, crisscrossed around my slow-moving body, headlights blinding me, as I dodged my way through the overlap of 16 lanes and tumbled headfirst into some dark corner.

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My childhood snow globe souvenir
a crack in its bottom-side
leaks drip, drip
drip
forgotten 19 years

A dome of air, plastic,
and dried-up glitter
imitation snow clumps clogging
miniature windows, the Eiffel Tower

I shake the glitter loose
—and glimpse your dusted eyes—
only to let it flop
lifeless and flat
on the blue plastic river.

——

f6.highres

This is how I prepare for summer:

  1. Clean out closet
  2. Shave legs
  3. Clean out freezer, stock with fruit
  4. Grow mint farm
  5. Make ice

photo-1

Now all I need is a good summer read to go with my mojitos. Too bad most of that will be the books I’ll be teaching for the next three months.

Currently writing:

  1. #66, a poem
  2. #67, undecided

——