Planetarium dreams

The other night I stood beneath the awakening moonlight
The sky folded in pale pink blankets where eyes could see
Soft shapes and shadows strewn across the night
Impending dark hugged me close, but let me be.

Like the planetarium visits of childhood
The sky’s dome hemmed me in
If I could go back to those memories, I would
But jumbled they become amidst the din

Of prosaic distractions and quotidian routines
That I was told would be good for me because I’m getting older
But age never was supposed to be a damper for dreams
It wasn’t supposed to only make my fear bolder.

So I find myself lost in nostalgia often
Gazing at pastel skies of dusk and dawn
Longing for simplicity yet meaning in tandem
Not knowing how possibly the time is all gone.

It all seems so close, yet so far away
Mental quiet, planetariums, unknowing of chagrin
Dress-up, dreams and all I always had to say
Bell-bottoms, flashcards, that smug little grin.

Who would have thought that South Pasadena dusk had this pull?
That skies could transport me to an alternate place
A home of meaning, memory, loneliness, lull
Nostalgia, quietude, an infinitely large space.

The sky felt close though, somehow it felt smaller
In that moment it caved around me, gave me a buffer
Between the joy and the shame that has come with growing taller
Between the memory and the regret of dreams that suffered.

Why do we so desire what we cannot have again?
It seems a characteristic of our nature, love, our dreams
Why we so pine for experiences or people that have been
When so much hovers above and before us, it seems.


The mourning dove.

Found myself at 3 am driving somewhere new
Cigarette smoke and clinking glasses, not a hospital room
Or quiet airport, a breeze through security
Checked in and at my gate before the fatigue hits me  

A different thing it is to look out a 6th story window
To see cars passing by, stoplights and billboards
Kids leaving school with dad, teens riding scooters
And know the child in front of you is breathing through tubes  

Standing on the corner of Sunset and Santa Monica
I hear your sound
Feel your voice
A tiny bird calls me
To remember my childhood  

Of summers riding my bike around the block
Stinky pear blossoms, flashcards, staring at the clock
Waiting for dad to come home and we could go to the pool
Reading and talking and the playground at school  

Had to google you because I didn’t know your name
Knew that sound but not from where you came
Harkened back to a time much simpler than this
Memories and feelings of love, joy, lightness and bliss  

Standing on the corner of Sunset and Santa Monica
I hear your sound
Feel your voice
A tiny bird calls me
To remember my childhood  

And there you were, little tiny bird with a whoo
A sound of innocence, of sadness, of youth
The cars in front of me rush by and I wonder
How such deep things a bird could make me ponder  

A season of mourning perhaps I’m now in
Standing with strangers and waiting for trains
Questions and loneliness and no one to ask
What meaning there is in the memories I grasp  

Shanghai.

The old woman’s wrinkles cradled secrets and stories
tucked within the folds of her worn linen shirt and dumpling basket
 
Her ebony, beady eyes hold years of pride and mystery
her small, dainty feet have pedaled all the crevices of the city
 
The noodle soup man stands at his stall every morning through evening
he makes the best Muslim noodles in my neighborhood
 
Is that even right to call them Muslim noodles? 
His food welcomes natives and foreigners while he himself was displaced
 
Sometimes we need to take a pause, the sounds are overwhelming
but our lungs are gripped by heavy smog, we cannot find pure oxygen
 
Picturesque, vintage scenes like from a postcard
where does the value in things lie? Is it all being commodified?
 
It’s early morning and everyone is moving,
why don’t people pause to rest, to sip their morning coffee?
 
To continue quietly in the comfort of their own image,
to take peace and satisfaction in all they have truly accomplished
 
Do they take moments for themselves like I do?
do they take pride in who they are?
 
How I wish I could know their hopes, loves and dreams
what was their dream job, their favorite memory as a child?
 
What gives them energy, what do they love the most?
How do they have strength to continue moving at this pace?
 
When whiteness is the highest standard, 
blonde hair and blue eyes worshipped,
than who tells the stories of the old, wrinkled woman,
the noodle man,
the ones who hold so much in their faces,
and in their grasps?
 
The ones whose stories I long to know, 
I cannot be the one to tell them, I am the foreigner.

My mystery.

Still in the middle of my mystery
I feel anything but secure
it’s a story, it’s a history
I always wish I could’ve said more.

Mornings of serenity and frost
wilderness and rural churches
why there did I feel so lost
three years the lakes I searched.

Searched nature and world over
for answers to my questions
found myself without even one cover
yielding a story with my mention.

Because world over it didn’t exist
never could I hope to carry myself right
despite having stories to impress
deep down my heart lurked in its night.

We all looked the same
but more different we couldn’t be
falling asleep sad and frustrated
people looked but they couldn’t see me.

I find myself now in the city of angels
pursued a degree because I had the same questions
see myself in more peoples’ faces yet still it’s a challenge
how do I make money and do something relevant?

So see, they continue but they take different forms
the mysteries of our lives
if we live into them, if we give them respect
maybe we will find

friends to guide us
a church to harbor us
a family to love us
a stronger self to carry us through.

Because the mystery is ours to write and solve
we always ask our own questions
we decide around what or who we revolve
and how we resolve our tensions.

Who we will turn to in our sadness and joy
who is with us in our darkness.
who we will show the side that’s smooth and coy
or who with we’re our authentic and full selves.

As I forge the story myself
I still feel less than relevant
but I think less and less that’s what it’s about
making ourselves feel important.

Truthfully,
we have always been immensely important,
valued beyond belief.
So the real question is:
how do we realize that,
how do we live into our worth?
it’s a relief to not worry:
is my mystery valuable enough to be seen?

But, to think about instead,
filling our stories with more meaning.
Meaning, not being worldly clout
but our strongest, truest sense of being.

Of freedom.

Caught in between
Worlds, cultures and faces,
where do I find myself?
but lost,
within a notion of who I have been
conditioned to believe
that I should be.
 
Shapes, colors, details, bone structures,
have torn the world apart,
have told us who we are,
have told me I cannot decide for myself.
 
But when I do decide,
what do I say?
what am I to know now who I want to become?
My face is not my culture,
It is not who I am.
 
But when I am free,
to act on something deeper than my tiny
nose, almond eyes and black hair,
am I ready?
 
Do I know what my freedom means or
what it can do?
How do I find something that has always 
been missing?
 
I need to construct, to redefine, to revert
and subvert that which has been
constructed for me.
 
Freedom is in this power to discover and create,
Can we look beyond?
Can we look within?
 
To discover that we are a human race,
never meant to be defined by borders,
shapes, colors, frameworks, details, or faces,
but by qualities,
 
Of love,
of creativity,
of compassion,
of discovery,
 
of freedom.

My small things.

They sit on a street corner at the edge of my heart,
vying for your attention.
But they’re drowned out,
because I’m too afraid,
that your dreams will engulf them.

Not because my small things are
            not as strong,
                        not as good,
                                    not as worthy,
but because they’re not only on a street corner,
on the fringe of your periphery,
but they’re in a box.

Only passersby, 
people driving, 
pedestrians, 
a young mom pushing her stroller, 
an elderly man walking his dog,
can see them,
if they’re at a certain angle,
if they’re paying attention.

My small things, they just sit in their box and wait,
because I’m too afraid,
to shove them in peoples’ faces,
to have them tell me, no I don’t
want to see those things,
hear those things,
            I want to listen to my car stereo instead,
                        I have to pay attention to my baby,
                                    to my dog.

I have too much to worry about,
too many dreams vying for my attention,
to spare a moment for your
small box of things.

Fully engulfed in the exhaust of other peoples’ dreams,
I wonder were they
            not as strong,
                        not as good,
                                    not as worthy,
or maybe the street corner just wasn’t a safe place for my small things.

Maybe they were never needed to vy for your attention,
maybe mine was enough,
maybe I was enough,
but because I was too afraid,
I never told you how small my things felt,
how my small things felt,
vying for your attention.

They’re
            just as strong,
                        just as good,
                                    just as worthy,
to be noticed by passersby,
to be held safely,
to demand attention.   

Kentucky.

The screen door swings open by itself,
and memories come out to haunt,
I don’t quite know why,
I’m remembering the summer of the fireflies,

of the smell of freshly cut grass,
Daddy just mowed the lawn,
the sweat upon my brow and lip,
because of the just-set, hot summer sun.

Why is it a place with a straw field that I always remember?
A looming house, a boy I don’t really know,
memories that may not be my memories,
I’m running across the field with a stranger.

But that’s kind of how Kentucky feels,
in my memory it doesn’t feel like my own,
it was someone else’s story my mind set out to steal,
and it’s only now I’m making that known.

But the memories take me back,
to a brick, one story house
nestled on Coltneck Lane,
how could I forget?
This really may be my story,
that place once held my name.

I learned how to ride a bike,
on the gentle decline of a church parking lot,
Daddy’s encouragement and grasp, my guide,
As I tentatively moved down that slope.

Momma dressed us up for Easter in matching dresses,
the tulips beamed too in the front yard photos,
we went to a neighbor’s house for supper,
and I ate at least two dozen dumplings.

I wore my dress-up clothes around the house,
I read around a racetrack,
I didn’t have a care in the world,
I definitely rocked that bowl cut,

This was me almost 20 years ago,
happy and carefree,
I had a little southern drawl,
I went to Trinity Academy.

And then the screen door slams shut,
the fireflies disappear,
it’s getting late,
and the heat feels too much to bear,

I wake up in another chapter,
a cold yet familiar place,
the sweat has dried upon my brow,
my memories erased.