5:53am

I don’t think there’s a mosquito in the room

But the back of my right shoulder and

The side of my left pinky

Have somehow been itched bloody.

I lift my forearm to face the fan

My toes are much too warm

For me to fall back asleep

And I’ve never craved a juicy, sugary watermelon

As much as I do now.

I think I hear someone’s ankle cracking,

Creaking the floor outside my bedroom.

My toes are still uncomfortably warm,

Too warm for me to sleep

Is this what really woke me up?

What terrible, pointless reality.

But I can’t figure out the best position

To get the fan to blow right at my feet

So I let it pointlessly whir.

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A little longer

It feels like I’m hiding in fear. In fearful anticipation.

For the months that I began to feel better, mornings after bad nights felt merely like hangovers. After a night of intoxicating sadness or anxiety, I’d wake up feeling weak and tired. But this would fade as the day went on.

After a bad last night, I still feel it. I feel exhausted more than tired, my digging nails leave purple dents in my white palms. I pull out all the manuals in my backpack: go out in the sun, be where people are– don’t be alone, focus on work if you can, stay hydrated, do breathing exercises, tense and release. But after crossing all these off, after sitting at a Starbucks with progress on my laptop and a refreshing lemonade beside me, I can’t help but endure a constant, throbbing pain. It makes my ears ring. My eyes well. Makes every potentially fatal action inviting.

But it’ll pass. Just wait it out. I’ll wait. Wait in fearful anticipation.

Taipei, Taiwan

Stinky tofu
I used to wrinkle my nose
turn away with a blechh
now a scent I crave
like a sweet, rancid treat

A haze hovering over asphalt
the streets an organized catastrophe for
cars, motorists, pedestrians
messy orchestra of honking
windows rolled down, people
yelling in dialects of Chinese
motor engines fuming

The air is motionless,
humidity heavy like wet ceramic
sweat-clad skin
I wipe away the sweat on my forehead
a streak of it, from wrist to elbow,
smearing down my arm hairs

Youtiao for breakfast
Niu Rou Mian for dinner under a small,
whirring fan and sticky fly traps
towering city buildings, looking taller than
the mountain silhouettes in the background
of many hues of purple

Taipei, Taiwan
a 12 hour flight,
a home, family members
only 15 hours ahead of me
into the future

nervous

goop in my intestines
collecting at the base of
my rectum
dense, heavy
nervousness

a fat man
languidly sinking
into my bladder
bloated with
nervousness

twitchy fingers
clammy palms
sweat pooling between
my fingerprints
slick with
nervousness

stuttering,
dry, cracked lips
n-n-n-
nerv-v-
v-vous
nervous

heart in a grip
rapidly ramming
against my ribs
hot blood, rushing
nervousness

the common fig

the common fig,
the ornamental plant,
rotund, and ripened to purple

the common fig just wanted
to be a figure skater–
envious of their
glittered bodies
gracefully gliding
powerful and nimble
elongated legs
the crowd in awe, and those
striking blades
etching elegance along the ice

but alas,
the fig is but a commoner
gourd-like and fat with
mush and seeds
what an insurmountable fantasy,
a futile, mere
figment of imagination.

it has always been this

do i want to be
it has always been this

do i desire
bones
the sharpness of my
collarbone
knee caps jutting
trace my ribs like
hills and trenches

do i desire flesh
muscle like tough meat
pulsing calves
proud and robust shoulders
clenched fists,
an iron grip

brittle bones trembling
beneath translucent skin

or thick, quick arms

blue toes and purple lips
sporadically beating heart

or mighty, strapping thighs
heart like war drums

hollowed cheeks
hair thinning, falling in clumps

or sweat and strength

shrunken breasts,

armored breast

ill and lovely,

steadfast and powerfully built

do i want to be
it has always been this