Between These Lonely Walls

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Cluttered Thoughts

Colors of Light

In the midnight corners of my mind,

you are all the colors of light,

dancing upon my skin,

tantalizing my thoughts,

making every bit of me

want more and more of you

from every innocent touch.

I sit still and wait patiently

for daylight.


On a random ride to work, to school, to home,

the faces I see I imagine how they would look like

when they’re happy, when they see the face of

the person they love at the end of the day.

I imagine the wrinkle in the corners of their eyes,

the way their cheeks would glow when they smile,

the gentle arch of their brows---as if they were staring

at a reflection, an extension really, of themselves finally

come home.

I wonder if someday a face will ever look at me

the way I imagined a lover’s face would.

When I get home, I strip off the debris of the day hanging on my clothes and the dust on the crevices

of my face.

And I see myself in the mirror, my eyes weary,

my smile making my cheeks plumper, my brows

finally allowing the wrinkles on my forehead to rest.

And in my head I would say, I’m home.

I will always be home.

For When I Can’t Find Myself

In this life, you’ll lose yourself a little at a time,

every day, to daily minor traumas.

Almost getting run over by a car. Colleagues

losing patience at you. You losing it at them, too

Grime that won’t come off no matter how hard

you scrub. Men stressing power over you with

their words, their hands, their money.

Until you are no more than wisps of a human

being unable to shake the trauma off no matter

how hard you scrub.

No voice. No face. They have made you into nothing. These are little things really, and little things can

be good, too. Like the way you sleep at night tucked

safely in bed with the lights on and the blankets

up to your chin.

Things like the citrus smell of soap, the way bubbles

float while you scrub yourself clean—the kind of

clean that could have washed away even just a little

of the trauma.

And remember that little things build up over time, too. That if there are enough good little things, it can

fill the hole in your heart—make it overflow even.

Until finally, you find yourself again. Whole. Brand new.

And still familiar.


This is me, looking out the window

Blue skies are the backdrop

for birds hanging on electrical wires.

This is me in my new home

where I live alone,

the kitchen, living room,

dining room, and bedroom

squashed into this tiny flat.

This is me basking in independence,

basking in the dirt and grime

in the light of the empty refrigerator,

and in the emptiness of the dining table,

in the mailbox filled with red letters,

and in the sunlight streaming

through my windows.

in the extra white space

that I have always wished for.

I look out the window

from behind metal grills

and see only the blue sky

This is me reaching out

watching the birds fly

feeling exhausted and trapped

This is freedom.

See, Hear, Say, Feel

I tell myself to feel nothing when I touch

your arm ever so slightly, but I feel your skin

warm up when you say her name.

I tell myself to see nothing when I look into

your eyes and see the reflection of the girl

you would much rather want than me.

I tell myself to hear nothing when you lean

closer to her and your smile, your laugh isn’t

ringing with mine.

I tell myself to say nothing when you say you love her, when all I ever want is to say your name over and over again until I wear it out, until even the sound of your name conjures visions of me in your mind.

I tell myself not to feel anything that could break

my heart even more.

I tell myself not to feel at all.


Time heals all wounds

Scars fade over time

Love that’s true lasts

And you are golden

Look My Way

I see you in the morning, hanging out in

the hallway. You have the serious look on

your face again. You’re not thinking about work or family. It’s the look you have when

a thought is about to make you smile.

And I do see a glimmer of a smile begin

at one corner of your lips and the other corners follows.

You look up, and you catch me looking at you. I smile, feigning that that one second our eyes met didn’t just make my heart race. You smile back, and I can only hold my breath.

I pretend to walk past you, as if stopping myself from stopping in front you was a sin, because at that moment in time, stopping to look—to linger—at your face, your smile,

your eyes, is temptation made flesh. Even when it is the only act that made sense in the world.

As I trudged forward, I look back when

I know I am at a safe distance, and I hope

you look my way one more time.

Just one more time, before I try to catch

my breath.


I am here at the middle.

The sweet iridescent quiet here makes

me wonder if there is a step forward—

or worse, a step back—that I need to take

to make this last.

The past haunts me like a dark shadow lurking behind. Did I do everything right? Did I do something wrong?

Because this—your face smiling at me,

your hand holding mine, your eyes

wanting me, your kiss on my lips—

is all too good to be true.

I see the ending shrouded in fog or mist

or a spring shower or even fireflies.

I could make out shadows, your silhouette, and maybe that is me by your side—

or maybe someone else.

It’s hard to tell from here.

For now, I’ll live in the middle. In this.

And try to make it last.


Make a wish upon an eyelash,

upon a shooting star, upon a whispered prayer.

In life, I can work for everything that I want—

except you. You who are made of stardust

and whispers. You who keep slipping through

my fingers no matter how tightly I am holding on to you.

In love, I can only wish for you to say my name

when you blow away an eye lash, when you point

at the stars, when you close your eyes to dream.

Make a wish. Because that is all that I can do.

Because what is a wish really but whispered hope

when all hope is lost?

Open Book

There is something so romantic about making

a book yours. Your lipstick stains and coffee spots branding the very life and story of each page.

There is something so romantic about making

a story yours, the words trembling with every syllable

that comes out of your mouth.

I hang on to every word, hoping you would spare one

for me, for my name to live within the pages of your book.

I anticipate the stories you tell, waiting and hoping

that I find my name next to yours within parentheses

of love untold, caged feelings that are waiting to weave our two separate stories together.

I am careful as I leave my mark on the margins of your book, careful that I don’t leave too much that I scare you away by going beyond our margins, careful that I don’t leave enough and you don’t see my mark on your life at all, and careful that my pen doesn’t spill all over the one page that you have left for me.

When it’s your turn, I leave all my pages blank

for you to fill.

I am an open book.

Over Breakfast

Over breakfast, we talk, Mom, Dad, my siblings,

and I. Three hundred sixty-five days, we sit together

and eat and talk and listen to the AM radio

drone about yesterday.

Every year, I feel my age get ahead of me, and I eat breakfast fast everyday just so I can try to catch up

before the day runs out.

I feel my age, too, in the conversations, in our dwindling numbers, in our evolving talks about school, work, family, and love—from youth, to aging, to separation, to death.

In all of these, I’ve always forced myself to eat fast

and nod politely to move the conversation along.

I didn’t have the time in the day to wait.

Always rushing. Never lingering.

But today, the day I left home and I am staring at

an empty table over breakfast, I do not rush.

I don’t feel that need to rush.

I think, if I wait long enough,

they might join me here, too.


When you’re ready to pack it all up and find

a new home, decide which stories—the ones that

have ended or the ones that have yet to begin—

matter more and leave the clutter behind.

Clutter makes the heart stuffy. You need room

to breathe. You’ve been lightheaded for far too long. Besides not everything can fit in your new carryon.

Be excited for all the new space

you’re about to get in your new home.

Imagine all the extra room you’ll have

for your new stories.

Breathe it all in.

You’ve waited long enough

to let your heart breathe again.


I’ve always wanted to lose myself in my own darkness on the dance floor colored by flashing lights, on a beach under a starry night sky a million miles away, on an unfamiliar street where light barely touched the ground, on your bed, lying next to you in a haze of smoke and ambient light before you go to bed.

I’ve always wanted to lose myself in your touch as

my fingertips explored every part of your skin,

in your kiss as my lips try to comprehend the taste of yours, in your gaze as my eyes memorized the

valleys and mounds on your face.

In my own bed, I lose sight of myself, thinking about you, exploring my mind for memories of you today and for possibilities of being next to you perhaps in a quiet room out of earshot, on the dance floor drowning in music, on a beach away from our reality.

In my head, I recall how the light touched your skin today, how it explored the lines on your lips,

how it memorized the wrinkles in the corners of

your eyes when you smiled.

Between the trappings of my midnight thoughts,

I allowed your light to flood my mind.

For tonight, the only thing I’ll lose is sleep.

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