外人 (Gaijin)

A slightly different forgotten poem. This one is from December 2014. I found this one while organizing my office and included a horrendous drawing I found with it. Written while in San Francisco, it’s not anything I would submit for publication. I can’t provide insight into the title I gave it, but I’m open to any interpretations others may have.


外人

Ten floors above Mission
Car horns and clanging
Parking garage lights
Dabbling in polluting the sky:
Here I am standing on the ledge
Contemplating perspective –

Fires are not born; they are given
With the perpetuated myths of spontaneous
Combustion
In the depths of our primitive we wait:
Struck by lightning
Or by flint

We reach back into
Darkness of our memories
Pollute the idealized or traumatic sky
With knowledge

Where past: Plato’s Cave
And I: emerging into the light –

We are our own outsider
Reclaiming life
As we know it – our identity

Fighting the inner demons in darkness
Before we can escape into the light


Thank you for taking the time to read these today! Have you ever found any of your old writing? What did you think of it? What do you think of this one? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If you’d like to see more of my forgotten poetry, please like, comment, and/or share this post. It helps me know what content my readers are most interested in seeing, so I can better know what to share here.

An Examination of Death – A Poem

Here is the next of this series of forgotten poems from 2000 – 2005. I used to use a lot more structure in my poetry and didn’t actually start experimenting with avant garde/free verse until I was in college.

At the end of the poem I decided to add a final stanza to provide closure to the narrative and try to make sense of the story being told.



An Examination Of Death

Marybeth died at 65
Too bad her children aren’t still alive
No one was there to plant the tree
On top of her mound to set her free

Harold passed at only 7
Told his mama he was going to heaven
Didn’t hear the fights night and day
Or the shot fired when Mama got in the way

Tommy was gone in ’44
Never had been to war before
When his bride received the news
Next they found her in a noose

Kristy was only 18 years old
When her poor mama was told
She took her life one sunny day
Leapt from the building – cross the way

Daisy was a carefree girl
Loved her Johnny’s special lure
Watched him die before her eyes
At the hands of paradise

All the world can find its fate
Then associate and relate
With every death comes less time
All to end this awful rhyme

Daisy stands by Marybeth’s stone
Knowing they both were together alone
She kneels down to plant a seed
So finally her soul, from pain, is freed


Thank you for taking the time to read these today! Have you ever found any of your old writing? What did you think of it? What do you think of this one? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If you’d like to see more of my forgotten poetry, please like, comment, and/or share this post. It helps me know what content my readers are most interested in seeing, so I can better know what to share here.


Medication Delays – A Poem

Content Warning: This poem addresses the current situations resulting from USPS delays on medication deliveries.

My spouse and I are okay; we stand in solidarity with those currently struggling and fighting to obtain their life sustaining medications.

We are a household that requires medication for daily survival. Without it at least one member of our household will not survive. While we are able to pick up our life-sustaining medications at a drive through pharmacy in town, many people do not have that option. This may be because they are in a rural area, or because their insurance only covers medications from a mail-order pharmacy, such as in the case of the VA. In the state of Montana, the United States Postal Service is the primary resource for delivering critical medications to rural communities that make up the majority of our state.

United States citizens are dying due to USPS delivery delays.

USPS is a critical service and is in serious trouble. There are too many sources available for me to cite them all here; that means you can find them yourself easily. I’m worried that this time, buying stamps is not enough.

Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash

Medication Delays

I spent the weekend cleaning
To keep our fears at bay
As tracking notifications continued
With each ping – a new delay
As ICUs are filling; filled
Don’t call 911–
Nowhere you can go
Homebound isolation burial
As medications fail to show
So many insurance companies
Require mail-order specialty
90 day supplies
[Won’t pay otherwise]
But ours only does 30 day
And the postman might not show:
How many people are going to die?
I don’t have tracking notifications–
No pings, nor badges
For human suffering.
I’ll focus on cleaning;
What I can control:
A clean and comfortable coffin
In which to hold each other
Before we go.


If this poem inspires you to get involved, what you can do is call your representatives and let them know the situation with USPS is critical.

A tool I like using is https://resist.bot/ – through a text based prompt it helps you generate a formal letter that is sent to all of your state representatives in Washington, DC. Here are their terms and privacy policy.

No Me Gusta Col Rizada – A Short Story

Content Warning: This story contains mention of suicide. Reader discretion is advised. This is a work of fiction.

Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

In a little Italian neighborhood near the Coit Tower, a swath of green space invites families to sit on park benches with aesthetic spikes, keeping them empty. Some stray travelers use their time to read real books or eReaders; many play on their phones.  The locked public toilets hide behind green and gold painted metal – inaccessible monuments to the city ordinances against the homeless. On a light pole near the Washington Park toilets, hangs an Italian flag – acceptable ethnic pride in a city so focused on Pride.

Two large dogs – larger than their owners – try to distract each other by initiating play. The Bay’s blue water shimmers through the trees as Union Street heads downhill. Against a clear blue sky, the world maintains an invisible boundary: the city on one side, me on the other.

This boundary follows my neighbors when we enter stores, or avoids us on trains. It turns heads when I speak Spanish to those that speak it to me. It garners looks in even the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods, depending on the street. Fuiste de mi vecina. Hablé el idioma de mi vecina. Planning outings, I hear people say they’re “just not comfortable taking public transit because of the people using it.” By “the people,” they mean anyone too poor to use Uber or Lyft – my neighbors, as they’re priced out of their homes. Anyone forced into homelessness by landlords taking advantage of the influx of affluent young people coming to the city, anyone hurt by those supporting and choosing to be part of the problem.

San Francisco culture obsesses over hustle and definitions of achievement, creating blinders for “focus.” I watch my coworkers and the people I thought I knew focus to the point of denying that anything bad ever happens here. They shun or punish those that dare try to draw their attention to something outside their minds. In our company’s Human Resources department, I watch as they “solve” problems by silencing employees that raise concerns rather than admitting any harassment incidents occur. The company wins workplace culture awards from a third party reviewer based on an employee survey none of us ever see.

My friends seek out cults of social acceptance on the weekends. Each event they attend promises their problems will go away and solve themselves with enough positivity (and denial). I hear them talk about the latest seminar over a group dinner. Mental illnesses are a mindset problem. Anxiety, depression, or anything else can only be solved by seeking out “your higher power” – the goals you wish to achieve rather than fall for this weakness. They discourage each other from seeking medical help. 

One friend throws himself in front of the commuter train. I imagine him, so positive that the only escape from the pain he felt powerless against was to throw himself in front of that train he shut down for four hours. His mother sobs over thousands of crackling miles of static and telephone lines. His mother lives in Vietnam. I meet her at SFO and pay for the Lyft to her hotel. We sit in silence in the back seat, and she reaches for my hand. “Sean was a good boy,” she whispers to me. I squeeze her hand, feeling the lump in my throat grow and choke out tears. She flies out two days later after collecting his remains and making arrangements for his belongings. I never hear about a funeral.

But the mantras continue for the others: yoga and kale cure everything, including major depressive episodes. Your higher power is what you wish to achieve. That causes people to throw themselves in front of trains. They tell me that I don’t understand. They tell me I’m not eating enough kale. I’m not doing enough yoga. In San Francisco, every conversation leads back to Yoga and Kale. No me gusta col rizada.

From the top of Twin Peaks, I gaze out at the sun reflecting off The Bay and compose my resignation letter. My brain can’t choose to ignore what I see. Closing my eyes, I imagine Sean with his mother – a pair I never saw in life. His beautiful mother, a refugee in America, now, a returned Việt Kiều, lives on without her son. Would my own parents return to the land that they fled? How far does this invisible boundary between water and sky extend? ¿Hasta dónde llegaría para echar agua en el mar?


If this story brought up any difficult feelings for you regarding suicide, please reach out to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-8255 (USA). They are also available to chat 24/7/365

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story today. If you enjoyed this story, please like, comment, and/or share it. This helps me know which posts my readers enjoy the most and can help me cater content.

If there is anything you see in this story that needs correction, please let me know! I am happy to work on aspects of this story to improve it for my audience.