if i can

they call me a poet

in my backwards hat

i usually dont make it to class nor get up in the a.m.

i eat a lot at once and fight the food coma with a frappuccino

 

i work on line breaks while watching basketball

i get drunk on thursdays cause i like my weekends long

and cause my best friend leaves me every friday to go see his girlfriend

im way too asian and pretty white at the same time

 

when i was enthralled by the romantic idea of not going to college and becoming a starving artist

my father convinced me to go

saying that

the people you meet are the real treasures in your life

hes a smart man and this stands true

but sometimes it feels like the real treasure in life is

actually like real money

some of that would be kinda nice

or a lot

maybe

 

they call me a poet

i watch many shows for “stimulation”

when im sad i eat mac and cheese and watch sex and the city

family guy gives me comfort

south park makes me feel like a rebel

and rick and morty makes me cynical

for like a day

 

some days i listen to bob dylan and live life like a rolling stone

other times biggie hypnotizes me and i earnestly yearn for the day i can say

mo money mo problems

but most of the time my disney playlist is on so that i can paint with all the colors of the wind and let it all go

and look for the bare necessities in life

 

i go to coffee shops and try to look sophisticated

sitting next to the window with coffee thats far from black and a blank word document

i have a sweet spot for tattooed girls

im scared of guys who wear their shirts way too tight

i take romantic drives at night and call them “artistic breaks”

which usually end with a triple meat whataburger meal

which i call my baby and buckle her tight cause

just hold on, we’re going home

 

they call me a poet

cause im too lazy to write in sentences

i dont use punctuation

i dont have to explain myself

i think its what im good at

and its how i think

i do spend hours fixated on a syllable

i have days where i feel like Shakespeare

and days i feel like i took the road that was never supposed to fucking be like taken at all

then i write about them and feel better

 

they call me a poet

then why not you

父のいない坂

母校に着くまでには冬の日でも汗だくになるほど過酷な上り坂がある。あるというよりも駅からの道のりが全て坂である。毎日そこを、母校の男子校に着く為に汗臭い中高生がじゃれ合いながら、時には教科書を片手に、あるいはダッシュで上っていく。これが何十年も続いていて、ある種伝統と呼んでいいのかもしれない。

その坂には、特に名前はない。しかし、その上をすり減った革靴で歩いていった中高生は家族を持ち、その名を受け継ぐ息子がまた同じ道を辿っていく。私が通っていた頃も、父親が卒業生だ、という同級生は少なくなかった。そういうコネが強い社会には少々嫌気がさすが、今では少し名残惜しい。でも私の父は、その坂を毎日歩く経験はしていない。母の強い願いがあって、坂の上の私立校に入れてもらったわけであり、同じ道を辿るというより、父が私の前に延びる道を切り開いてくれた。

今では私はアメリカの大学に通っている。田舎のイメージが強い地域にある学校ではあるが、私自身は気に入っているし、東京に負けないほど面白く、革新的な街である。大学もエネルギーと教養を兼ね備えた人材が揃っていて、毎日刺激を受けられる、作家志望の私にはありがたい環境である。そのキャンパス内にもやはり、坂がある。坂というよりも、キャンパスのシンボルである図書館を中心に、そこから全体的に下り坂になっている。なので、私の住んでいる学舎から授業のある建物までは、また上り坂である。そこは母校までの坂程長くはないが、大学生活の疲れを含めると、それなりの過酷さがある。その坂は、前者とは違い、一人で歩いている感覚がある。同じ大学に通う生徒が何人も通り、未だに通っている道ではあるが、皆が皆自分の将来への可能性に賭けた投資に必死である。この私も、その一人である。一人で暮らして初めて親のありがたみが分かると言うが、この坂を上る時にたまに父のことを考える。もちろん、大学に通えることを含め、アメリカでの暮らしを全面的に支援してくれているのは主に父である。しかしこんな私がアメリカで文学を学び、将来幸せになるためにここまでしてくれる父のことを思うと、寝不足であっても、熱が出ていても、足首をひねっていても、三日酔いでも、授業に向かう一歩一歩をしっかり踏まないわけにはいかない。

大学生活の半分を終えて帰ってくる日本もまた違った味があっていい。見慣れた級友もそれぞれの道を歩み、それを見て自分のやる気に繋がるいい夏休みである。自分の成長を感じるとともに、親が年齢を重ねている、という実感もわいてくる。一年ぶりに会った父は、覚えていたよりも白髪が増え、背中が丸かった。思い返せば、これまで私が辿って来た軌跡は、全て上り坂であった。高い私立校に行き、純日本人として海外の大学に行き、作家という不安定な職に就こうとしている。それもこれも自由に、そして他のことに気を取られずに集中してできたのは、父がずっと背中を押してきてくれたからだ。今はまだ坂のてっぺんは見えないが、後ろから押してくれる手がなくても、自分で上っていけるようになる日はそう遠くない。

『ちゃかし(仮)』からの抜粋

賢二は居間のソファに座り、背もたれに足を乗せて窓の外を見ていた。こうして何気なく時間を過ごしていると、大体決まって中学時代を思い出す。なぜか左のもみあげを剃って、長いかみを右に流していた賢二は、女子曰く、「少しキモイ」男子生徒であった。髪を剃った理由は特には覚えてないが、多分衝動的だったのだろう。賢二としては別に気取っているわけでも、なりたい自分があったわけでもない。とりあえずやることもなかったので、試してみたまでだった。それが高校を卒業するまで彼の学生時代に傷をつける可能性など微塵も考えていなかった。イメージというのは怖いものだ。

そんな賢二にも恋愛のチャンスは何度かめぐってきた。

「おーい、切り込み隊長―。」

呼ばれるたびに胸が少し痛くなるあだ名を満面の笑みで呼びかける弘明はとてつもなく。。。

「なんだ、デブ。」

「おう!この後暇か?」

答えがわかっている癖に毎回聞いてくるこの質問には嫌気がさしたが、弘明からはこれっぽっちの悪意も感じ取ることはできなかった。

「あぁ。」

「茶道部いこうぜ。レッツらティータイムでしょ。」

特に予定も反発する気力もなかった賢二は一時間後には茶道室の畳の上で正座をしてばかうけを食べていた。小さな四角いちゃぶ台を囲むのは自分と弘明のほかに、紫の眼鏡をかけた、異様にスタイルのいい佐藤美月。この部の経理らしい。そのとなりには青い眼鏡の仮屋崎あずさ副部長。そしてノー眼鏡の茶道部部長、綾坂奏。美月は背筋を伸ばしながら弘明と賢二を比較するように素早く目線を交互に動かしていた。その隣ではあずさがお茶をすすりながら男二人に鋭い視線を浴びせていた。奏は崩さぬ笑顔で、胡坐をかいて部屋中を輝いた瞳で見舞わす弘明と、とりあえずばかうけを食べる賢二を見ていた。

「あ、」

美月は床を見ながら口を開いた。

「よくわからないのですが、見学という形で合ってるんでしょうか。茶道部はあまり見学者がくるところではないので、あまり慣れてなくて。。。」

「それよりさー」

あずさはおもむろに髪を触り、窓の外を見ながら口を開いた。最近割いたのだろうか、ボブというよりはふわりと浮かせてウェーブをかけたセミロングになっていた。

「なんでって話だよね。おかしいじゃん。茶道とか興味なさそうだし。よくわからないな。別に変な奴らじゃなさそうだけどどんな魂胆なのよ。」

「うーん、惜しいな。」

人差し指を顎に当て、少し考えるふりをしてから奏は言った。

「もうちょっと黙ってれば可愛かったのにな。いいじゃない、人が来たんだから茶道で迎えたんじゃない。それが茶道部のいきがいと言ってもいいはずよ。」

そういって天然のウェーブがかかった茶色い髪を輝かせながら奏は賢二を向くと、

「ねえ?」と言った。

そこには緊迫した空気が流れるはずだったが、隣のデブがすべてぶち壊した。

「いやー、なんというかいきなり来ちゃってすみません。なんか暇だなーって思って、茶道部って面白い人たちがいたなって思って、あ、お茶とお菓子も食べれるし、って思って来たら美女が三人も出迎えてくれたのでちょっと舞い上がってます、はい。なんかもう居心地が良すぎてくつろいじゃってるんですけど、この部屋すごいですね。」

そういうとデブあきは立ち上がって部屋に飾られてある障子や花瓶を近くまで行って見物しだした。ずっと弘明を見ていた目を戻すと、奏はまだ賢二のことを見ていた。

「いや、はい。友達を作る過程でここに来るということに、はい。どちらかというと経験の一部として来ました。気分を害したなら謝ります。」

「ほら、あずさ。謝らせるんだから。そういう態度だから彼氏出来ないんだよ?」

「ちょ、それはちがっ」

「気にすることないですよ。美月が言ったようにうちの部にはあまり来客はないので、二人とも対応に困ってるだけです。私は部長として来客を歓迎します。賑やかなほうがいいし。」

そういうと奏は首を少し傾げて微笑んだ。その笑顔はその部屋にいた全員を和ませ、緊張感はどこかへ消えてしまった。その笑みが計算されたものだとしても、賢二はどうでもよかった。

「でも来たからにはお二人方のことをもっとよく知るまで帰らせるわけにはいきません。大きい方の方は校舎のほうでよく見かけますが、あなたは覚えている限り今回が初見ですよね?」

賢二は「大きい方の方」という表現に笑みを隠せないまま頷いた。奏が指摘したように、大体の部に友達が数人いる弘明とは違い、賢二はどちらかというと自分の殻にこもり、周りを観察する毎日を送っていた。特に寂しくはなかったが、まあつまらないやつだと言われればそうなのだろう。

「ま」

「とりあえず、」

喋りかけた賢二の肩に腕を回し、弘明が一人ツアーから戻ってきた。

「部長さんが言ったように俺は友達を作って、人といろいろやるのが好きなので、その一環として来ましたー。でまあこいつと仲いいので誘ったら快く了解してくれたのでこういう形になったんっすよ。」

「ま」ってなんだよ。賢二は心の中で自分が何を言おうとしていたのか探ってみたが、その深い谷からは当然のようにやまびこは聞こえてこなかった。

「そうですか、それはまた尊敬します。そこまで執着して友達を作れる人ってあんまりいないですからねー。」

奏は笑顔を崩さずに会話を続けたが、その優しい口調で発せられる言葉には独特のトゲがあるように思えた。思い違いか。

「まー」

少し機嫌を直した様子のあずさが姿勢を正しながら口を開いた。

「あれじゃん。とりあえず悪いやつらじゃなさそうだし。」

「悪いです。」

賢二は口を開いた瞬間に後悔した。部屋中の視線が自分に集まっている。何か言わねば。

「俺たち。。。めっちゃ悪いです。」

一瞬の沈黙の後、一人だけ腹を抱えて笑い出した。

Excerpt from “Soliloquy” (Temporary Title)

Meryl finished the last sentence for her blurb for English class, and took another bite from her veggie sandwich. She looked at the seat across her and imagined her mother looking out the window, repeatedly tapping her feet, while she held a cigarette between her ring finger and pinky finger. Whenever Meryl asked why, she told her that it “kept the thumb and index fingers open for a good time and the middle for expression.” As a routine, every time they were at a restaurant for dinner, they sat across from each other. It was not planned or anything, but it just seemed like the natural thing to do: her mother would just take the menu and order food for both of them, while Meryl imagined a world where salt and pepper did not have to fight for where they wanted to be placed on the table. Meryl specifically remembered eating her egg Benedict while smoking second hand smoke from her mother’s Camel. It was a cold winter night and her mother was slouched, looking outside to the darkness with her foggy, green eyes.

Wings

im flooding

lack and white coming at me in frames

romantic triplets

you are my coke dealer and im okay with that

fruits of life
stepping, stepping

and you light it up with passion

squeezing

a cute imagery

halos flying over you

its still when I look in your eyes

and wonder about what you dont dream about

 

twin tales

green at the ends

flying towards curiosity

and what you deem as poetry

with your soft laugh

fitting like the notes you play

listening to your talking about love

and waves

and empty eyes filled with emotion

i wish, i wish

your arms seem longer than mine

 

one letter and you will be what I want you to be

funny hierarchy of tense tartness

i sense you

one step at a time

making sure everything is okay and looking the part

partially

flying to Chicago seems easier than taking that lean in

45 degree hug upwards

i counted, tried not to look at you

 

side eyes

a beautiful day is also a beautiful night

from any angle

i dont know why but its there

a notion of irresponsible matureness

sharing common vice

losing its objective

caught in impulse for you and what pulls me towards destruction

its okay

really, its okay

 

once, twice,

but not three times

push and pull game of quarters hitting you on both sides of the cheek

keeping things in check

out of the lines you sold me

just for social purposes

Scare Me, I Dare You

laughter is a scare

a loud resonance in a quiet room filled with cultural discontent

when the butterfly effect is waved away with the slightest wind of indifference

an appropriate culture of cultural appropriation

puritans

foreign comfort in the eyes of your mothers efforts for suffering-jets

a raging effort to imprison in 1919

two years after a drunken revolution

a northern hemisphere crossing two continents

a suite

divide up a lake and call it a border

comforting sights of disregard for human rights

an eye looking out for everyone

through an authorized source of technology

think about it

black face white face

appropriate frat parties

alcohol poisoning synonymous as joy

political correctness as a norm

rush PC

a hereditary privilege without color

a gorgeous woman with a lesser gender identity

phallic discrimination

a hall full of white colors

mental institutions with writing workshops

a college campus without freedom of speech

catholic schools vetoing homophobia awareness

religious restrictions of sexual activity

your mom jokes that are kind of okay

a site dedicated to hurt your feelings

and Grinch the green out of you

reality is too hard but the noble lie is not noble at all

and you think its okay when its done to other people

and your Halloween costume appropriates other races

inhibiting libertarians appeasing socialists and killing originality

Spokane spoke for you

the real horror you cant see

no, not the darkness and the unknown

but the known which is familiar

suddenly defamiliarized

take a step back and embrace your uncomfortness

your comfort zone is as far out as you make it

dear white people and you especially

and shame on you for shaming me

body shaming a six pack

you should embrace your blackness

or maybe that line sounded racist

you decide

im not scared to say shit and maybe that’s scary

or am I scared that I cant follow the rules properly

I really don’t know

but rather than looking behind your back for a horror story

why don’t we start by opening your eyes

you can make that an Asian joke an ill laugh with you

and some will find that uncomfortable

a white society offended by a black intention

cultural repression known as appropriation and appreciation

an in and out from consciousnesses

deeply rooted in your jeans

just do it

but what?

a republican committee trying to build a wall between me and you

and mexico

40% of illegal immigrants cross the border legally on a plane

and then overstay

while the half of you don’t get my poetry

of those half most of you might be afraid to say so

homerian works talking about courage in a way you scoff at and also admire too but

even Achilles died too, didn’t he?

a motivational speaker often tells you to look at the person next to you

and a wise man once said that horror is perceived through the eye

and I agree

an eye for an I

Dichotomy

In life we face choices

to kneel or to pray

to peel or to spray

words of hate on your heart or out on the streets under the bridges

burn them down, I don’t care

just make sure you don’t come crying back and diving for your soul

we preach and teach them not to impeach

because love is all we got and money is all you need

terrorism is bad but too much love is out of the question

a good businessman is not the altruistic one

service is self serving and charity is just a good name for a girl

sisters, unite and brothers start a fight because gender norms are supposed to be broken

homosexuality is a choice and you can choose your parents too

planned adulthood, they say and they criticize you for earning money

defenestrating your dream

words you don’t know should make you reach for the dictionary

but then again, don’t show signs of weakness

don’t let them know that you don’t know

pretend

authentically

methodically

preaching, teaching

see, churches and schools have much in common when it comes to

saying one thing and doing another

 

sometimes I don’t understand what I don’t understand

because

I do something right and somehow its wrong in the rightest way

and heir with minute loans

spend a life time paying back your loans and then tell your son to

chase his dreams

just like you did

you yourself only started yesterday

 

so don’t tell me which road to take

don’t tell me to take the time to smell your flowers or stop by the woods

and then rush me into making lifetime decisions I might regret

but you shall regret nothing and

there is only do or don’t, no try

but trying too hard gets you in trouble

theres just no way out

 

yeah I can take the one less travelled by, sure

but I don’t want to sigh at the end

I want to know I did the right thing

the one that feels good in my heart

no one elses

because at the end its my life

but its still jesus’s life and I owe it to my mom and dad and my best friend from childhood

and my girlfriend or my wife

and also to my grandparents who made it possible for me and for their legacy

or thats what all the basketball superstars say when theyve made it

and its true

the people who have been supporting me the whole way is the real mvp

see, id always rather get the most improved player than the most valuable because

that to me is better

being the best is awesome but

im always chasing something, man

its hard, though

its hard to chase after something when you don’t know where to go

or how fast

should you slightly jog or hold onto the horn of the saddle and trot

a full-on sprint is never full-on until you’re being chased by something

but you also need to be chasing something to be running in the first place

 

im decisive

I dont know what I want

dont tell me what to do

help me figure things out on my own

im an adult now

ill hear what you have to say

and ill build on your critiques for my next revision of this blank script

but I really don’t know

 

cause as long as theres food on the table that’s okay

at least we have a table, my friend once said

caring too much makes me hurt she says and weeps because she doesn’t fit in

so tell me

why does she have to cry

I thought we were supposed to care about the small things and think about things in a bigger perspective and

maybe theres more to the fact that shes a vegetarian than the double zero prom dress tucked neatly in her closet

but I suppose we don’t have enough time for that or

any other choice

Price Tag

It was a bright, Sunday afternoon when Dan was sitting at the corner of Olson’s, a local coffee shop that was slightly less disappointing than when Monica Lewinsky wasn’t as attractive as she was expected to be. As he took another bite from his sugar crusted honey almond bagel that he got every other Tuesday after his long meeting with Jenna, his boss who probably took part in no shave November, the usual flood of people came in through the two gold framed glass doors for the lunchtime rush. A couple wearing similar scarves with a fall color scheme, and elderly gentleman with a slick, dark navy fedora, an irritated career woman with a Hublot glimmering in the sun, and a teenager with a white shoulder bag with a button badge on it that said, “Sleep Less, Read More”.

There were more people behind in the line but Dan was not in the mood to intently study the irrelevant people lining up in line for some cup of diabetes with a side of high blood pressure. Not that he wasn’t guilty of it as well. It just doesn’t make sense to observe and watch people when he was off work. That was all he ever did ever since he was an intern at Jordan & Hobbes. People think that international marketing is all about being personable and being a good business person, managing time efficiently but a lot of the job lies in observing what goes on around you, the world, and most importantly the people you are dealing with. A great business can be crushed without the right personnel. But it gets stolen if you work with people who are too good.

Dan let out a sigh and looked down at his iPad. He had chosen the wrong one. His selected reading for the evening featured an adopted teenage girl who goes through a gender transformation surgery because of a traumatic event in which she saw her father getting raped by another man. The premise sounds like the most interesting thing ever, but the story is written like another young adult novel, with the focus on the emotional processions of the teenage girl who will most likely regret her decision to undergo the surgery.

As he was picking up the sugar bits spilled onto the paper napkin on top of the tray, he looked up for no particular reason. It wasn’t anything, really. Just another woman lining up in the coffee line, now a bit past the lunchtime rush but hard enough to find a seat just for yourself. However, Dan found himself unable to look away from her. She had almond brown hair, with a semi-wave all the way down with a curl at the end, her slender shoulders still did not prevent to compliment her physique epitomized by her midsection which was hidden behind her frilled white blouse, but it was still easy to tell. Her round hips lead all the way to her smooth legs that was slender even in her flat Oxford shoes. While all her body parts and the way they came together to form this beauty of a being that was seductive in every motion, it also brought onto her a sense of elegance and almost arrogance as she stood there waiting, holding her golden purse in her hand, pouting her lips at something she saw on her phone screen.

Ellie. Dan decided that was the name that suited her.