Happy National Poetry Month!
To celebrate, I decided to travel through time and read my very old poems. Poems I wrote in high school when I was a writing machine. In 2001, I wrote 45 poems. 45! Are they any good now? Who knows. Probably not. It doesn’t really matter if they’re any good or will not stand the test of time. What I’m taking away from looking at old work is that I kept writing. And writing consistently. I wasn’t afraid of what ended up on the page. That’s a feeling worth reclaiming.
I was incredibly emo at the time, but then, who wasn’t at that age? Many of the poems are about crushes (one-sided), not feeling seen, defying expectations of beauty and femininity, and wanting to claim my life for myself. Themes that, looking back now, at times still permeate my recent and current work.
So come on this journey with me, as I dig deep and try to remember what inspired some of the pieces below.
Driving down I-95
Windows rolled down
Stereo volume at its zenith
Trees blur as we speed down I-95.
You play our favorite CD
Sound waves penetrate the silence.
The lyrics roar from my mouth
And you bang your head
Words form on your lips.
Cars drive past, glances linger
Two young women sputtering nonsense
We laugh at how they gawk
And turn the volume knob clockwise.
I grip the wheel, reluctant to let go
And you don’t dare touch the door handle.
How we both desperately wish
We could drive forever
With the wind rumbling
The volume near the point of deafness
The trees smearing past
As far away from home
To escape suffocation
From a life not our own.
To this day I remember the moment that inspired this poem. I was in the car with my sister, windows rolled down, both of us wishing we could drive forever instead of going home.
Grace foreign to my body
Her hair swings past her eyes
Gliding across her face
As if the wind gently lifted the strands
And kissed her forehead.
I, walking beside her
Am tumbled down by the fierce wind
Stomped upon by the grace
Foreign to my body.
Her miniscule feet never really touch the ground
My gargantuan toes crack the floor I step.
A magnet, attracting metal
A net capturing friends
My magnet is split in half
There are holes in my net.
She speaks lyrics
I roar slogans.
Trifle with her
She will smile.
Trifle with me
And I will crush you.
Did you ever have that friend who reminded you of all the things you wanted to be but weren’t? Yea, this one right here. I learned a lot from that failed friendship.
This last one is a precursor to my spoken word career. It was inspired by a book of the same title I picked up at the bookstore. It was bright green and I was yearning for an explanation as to why I felt different from others, growing up in a predominantly white county.
Do I look Chinese to you?
My miniscule almond eyes
Dominating the take-out industry
With lo mein and fried rice.
Or maybe I’m Korean
Adopted like all the rest
Fresh off the boat, twinkie
Americanization at its best.
Do I look like Japanese?
Sakura, Hiroshima, Tamagotchi
Animation freak, techno geek
Devouring shark, seaweed, sushi.
Do you know where I come from?
Or do you automatically assume
I originate from another third world country
Where mail-order brides bloom.
Have you witnessed Pinoy power
Defiant frail bodies against an armored truck
The pride of a nation never faltering
Never sinking in the muck.
Its people engulfed by the sea
On a map can you spot it?
You will, once the world is done with me.
These poems will never be published (aside from this blog right here). They are not monumental, life-changing, award-worthy pieces. But they are precious to me. They are my own time capsule. Proof that writing has always been there for me, even when I abandoned it at times.