Chasing Life With You (Chapter 11)

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When the sun set that day, events seemed to take a full one hundred eighty degree turn. In other words, things seemed to go back to normal. Katsumi and Tadashi came downstairs together at around five to start prepping dinner, and they both were acting completely like their usual selves – as if the dream, the wild awakening that morning, hadn’t happened at all. They said nothing about it. I watched as the two of them fluidly moved about the kitchen, bantering and laughing, Katsumi with no trace of the prophecy on his mind and no sign on his face that he had cried. Their abrupt reversion to normalcy was in itself strange, but I accepted it without complaint. Forget my confusion; I was just glad that the earlier tension in the house had disappeared.

I turned on a music program on the TV and lounged on the couch. After exploring the contents of the fridge, Katsumi went out to the garden to pick some vegetables for dinner, and he came back with a feast. Tadashi was obviously delighted. He tied his hair back and the two of them set to work, and I relaxed for the next half hour as delicious aromas began to fill the house.

At some point in the midst of this calm atmosphere, I heard Tadashi suddenly call out my name.

I fumbled for the remote and paused the show. “What?”

“Come here,” he said. “You’re gonna learn how to cook something.”

I yelped. “No!”

“This is easy, promise. Just come here!”

“I’m going to ruin it,” I vowed.

“There’s no way to ruin this,” Tadashi laughed. “Get over here.”

I turned off the TV and reluctantly plodded into the kitchen. Katsumi was busy cutting corn and squash in wildly impressive ways; I looked over at him, wide-eyed, wondering how he managed to not cut his fingers off.

Tadashi pulled me over to the stove and gave me a pot. “Put water in it,” he said. “From the sink. Fill it a little over halfway.”

“Okay.”

I filled it up and brought it back over to him.

“Put it on the stove,” he said. “Make sure to center it, okay?”

It turned out that all he wanted me to do was boil some green beans. He’d already cleaned and cut them; he just had me boil them, and that was all. Still, I’d never done it before, and I stood over the pot embarrassed and fuming as I tried to figure out whether or not they were cooked yet. Tadashi stood next to me the whole time, giving basic advice, all the while smiling gently and trying not to laugh.

“See, Chas,” he said when I’d finished, “easy, right?”

“Maybe, but anything harder than this and I’ll ruin it,” I replied adamantly.

Tadashi shook his head. “That’s what everybody thinks about everything they don’t yet know. See, you’re letting me teach you guitar, you’re letting me teach you how to cook – doesn’t it feel good to learn something new? A couple weeks from now you’ll be laughing at how much you underestimated yourself.”

“Boiling green beans isn’t cooking,” I said. “Holding a guitar isn’t playing it.”

“There’s a first time for everyone and everything in this world,” he replied.

I scratched my head. “Maybe, but…”

Katsumi came up from behind and threw his arm around my shoulder, startling me. He looked at the plate of green beans I’d just boiled, and then he looked at Tadashi and threw his head back and laughed.

“You made Chas do it,” Katsumi grinned. “That’s so funny.”

“It’s not funny!” I objected. “Gross, your hands have corn juice all over them, don’t touch my shirt!”

Katsumi ignored me. “You look nice with your hair tied back,” he said to Tadashi.

Tadashi blushed a little. “Thanks.”

“Ahem,” I interrupted, “can I go back to my show now?”

I managed to escape back to the living room, but before long, it was dinner time. As usual, we all moved out to the porch to enjoy the meal. Tadashi loaded my plate with the green beans I’d cooked, accompanied by a dipping sauce he had made, and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

“Aren’t you proud you made something that tastes good?” Tadashi prodded me from across the table.

“A little,” I admitted. “But it’s mostly your sauce that’s good.”

“It needs more salt,” Katsumi cut in.

I laughed at hearing his typical complaint. Yes, I thought, he’s gone back to normal.

After we finished dinner, Tadashi surprisingly brought out a couple of cases of beer.

“We bought it at the market the other day,” he explained. “Do you drink?”

“Not really. I’ll just have a little.”

He poured me some, and then filled a glass for himself and sat back down.

“None for you?” I asked Katsumi.

He shook his head slowly. “No.”

“Katsu drinks alone,” Tadashi explained to me.

He leaned back and started to drink, and the three of us sat around the table in a soft companionable silence, watching the sun dissolve over the trees.

I’d never gone drinking with Tadashi before, so I had no idea how he might react to alcohol. Everyone reacts differently, I knew – some people get crazy, some people fall asleep, and so on. It turned out that Tadashi was a silent but very happy drunk. As the evening wore on and he kept pouring himself more glasses, he spoke less and less, but he couldn’t hide the flushed smile on his face. I watched him a bit warily out of the corner of my eye, surprised at this new side of him that I hadn’t seen before. The feeling of normalcy surrounding dinner had left me.

At some point, as the world around us fell into a deep, glowing darkness, Katsumi struck up a conversation.

“He gets a bit wild sometimes,” he said to me, nodding at Tadashi sitting between us. The person in question didn’t seem to hear a word he’d said, still just smiling absently off into the night.

“Drinking?” I asked.

“Yeah. He doesn’t drink often, but when he does, he drinks a lot. And he gets ridiculously happy. He does it to get happy, I think. To momentarily push away the sadness.”

I nodded. “A lot of people do that.”

“It’s no good,” Katsumi said. “But we all need something like this once in a while.”

“Are you going to let him just keep drinking?”

He shook his head. “At some point, he’ll get really crazy happy and start acting up. After that he’ll throw up and pass out. Happens every time.”

It didn’t take much longer to reach that peak. While I was talking with Katsumi about something or other, Tadashi suddenly started trying to kiss him. Katsumi laughed and pushed him away a few times, but after a minute or so he gave in, leaned over, and kissed him back. I blushed and looked away in amusement. Not long after, true to Katsumi’s word, Tadashi looked like he was starting to get nauseous.

“Take him upstairs, would you?” Katsumi asked me. “I want to stay out here a bit longer.”

“Sure.”

I helped my ridiculously drunken friend to the second floor bathroom, cleaned him up, and got him to bed.

Afterwards, I thought I might go out to the porch again, but as I entered the kitchen I saw outside Katsumi’s lone figure and something inside me paused. I stared at Katsumi’s back and bit my lip, wondering. He was, for the first time all night, partaking in the beer Tadashi had left out on the table. I watched him drink for a moment, nodded silently to myself, and turned around.

After everything that had happened that day, it was no surprise he wanted to be alone.


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Chasing Life With You (Chapter 10)

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Tadashi whipped up some breakfast sandwiches, and the two of us sat down to eat on the porch, trying to enjoy the beautiful post-sunrise atmosphere. Before long, Katsumi came downstairs and joined us at the table. He looked at neither of us and said nothing. He was wearing a loose, comfortable-looking gray shirt and khakis, and his black hair was still wet from the shower. He dug into the meal in silence. I watched him warily out of the corner of my eye. I was trying to figure out what he was feeling, but that was really an impossible task. Considering the way he had woken up this morning, he seemed preternaturally calm… the sea before a storm, I thought. Or is it after?

“Chas,” Tadashi said after a while, “any plans for today?”

“Mmm, I think I’m going to listen to your album,” I replied.

“Cool. Let me know your thoughts, okay? Anything else?”

“Not really.”

“Want to give guitar a try?”

“Oh, sure!”

“Let’s do that this morning. You can listen to the album after lunch. How’s that?”

There was something of a point to his words, some kind of hidden motive, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.

I nodded. “Fine by me. Thanks for breakfast. This sandwich is really good.”

Tadashi smiled. “I’m glad you like it.”

I glanced at Katsumi, part of me expecting him to butt in with one of his typical banterous rebukes, but he gave no indication he’d even heard our conversation. Tadashi followed my gaze, frowned, and focused back on devouring his food.

In the midst of this uncomfortable silent tension, the three of us finished our breakfast and cleaned up. Tadashi beckoned me up the stairs; Katsumi followed us up but then whisked by and vanished into his room. Tadashi looked after him for a moment, quiet and unreadable. Then he met my gaze, set his jaw a little, and led me into the studio.

“Sit down here,” he said casually, pulling out a chair.

I plopped down obediently and watched as my friend crossed the room and picked out one of his acoustic guitars from the rack.

“Let’s go with this,” he said, turning back to me. “I like this one. It should be easier for you to play.”

He pulled over another chair, sat down, and rested the guitar on his leg for a moment to demonstrate how to hold it before handing it to me. I took it, slightly surprised by its weight and size. As I experimented with getting accustomed to this new item, Tadashi began to talk about music, about the differences and similarities between various instruments, about how a guitar actually works, about the sounds a guitar can make. I tried hard to understand what he said and commit it to memory.

For the entirety of the morning hours we spent in the studio, I did not actually learn any chords or try strumming or anything. I simply sat there with the guitar in my lap, listening to Tadashi’s impromptu lecture, asking questions whenever I had them. Tadashi brought over another one of his guitars so that he could demonstrate various things to me as he talked about them, and I paid as much attention as I could. It was a somewhat strange experience for me. I hadn’t learned anything new in a long time, at least nothing as new as this, and I didn’t know how I should feel about it. But some part of me was very tangibly thrilled.

Sometime around ten or ten-thirty, Katsumi walked in. Tadashi was in the middle of playing part of a complex guitar solo in front of me; he stopped midway and stared as Katsumi entered. The black-haired musician ignored us, walking to the back of the room and picking up a left-handed bright yellow electric guitar. He sat down in the corner, set up quickly, and started to play something very fast and very loud.

Tadashi looked back at me. Rather than being annoyed at the interruption, his expression seemed slightly triumphant.

“Thanks, Chas,” my friend said, leaning in close so I could hear. “Let’s stop for now, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks for the lesson.”

I gave him back the guitar and left the two of them in the studio together. Unsure of what to do next, I wandered downstairs and loitered aimlessly around the kitchen for a while, listening to the chaotic music raining from the floor above.

I wonder what he thanked me for… That was kind of weird.

Slightly unsettled, I poured myself a glass of cold water and sat down in the living room. Outside, birds vibrantly chirped about, and upstairs, Katsumi’s solo playing went on and on. As I gazed out the window I thought about the various events of the morning, beginning with that horrifying scream. It was definitely a change of pace from how rhythmically relaxing the past few days had been. Suddenly remembering, I opened up my laptop to jot down my impressions of my first guitar lesson.

Just as I was finishing up my notes, I heard Katsumi upstairs cut himself off. I cocked my head towards the abrupt silence, wondering what might be going on. A few minutes passed, and then Katsumi started playing again, on acoustic this time. He launched directly into a song, and before long Tadashi joined him. The melody was strangely familiar…

The two of them began to sing, and then it struck me.

That’s right, I thought. It’s the song they played for me that first night. What was it called again…

“Unsuitable.”

I sat quietly and listened to the song for the second time all the way through. It was just as beautiful as it had been a week ago. I wondered why Katsumi had chosen to play it – why this song, and why now. I don’t normally try to psychoanalyze people, but his strange behavior the whole morning had been a mystery to me and I wanted to understand it. More than anything, I wanted to know what his prophetic dream had been about – but fat chance of finding out, I knew. If he wasn’t telling Tadashi, there was no way he’d tell me.

Unsuitable…

As the song came to a close, I silently agreed with the conclusion I’d come to after first hearing it: strange name, and strange lyrics, for a love song.

Katsumi didn’t play anything more after that. Without a partner to play with, Tadashi came downstairs to start making lunch, and I sank into the couch to get some work done, trying to put the jumbled events of the morning out of my mind. But it wasn’t happening. I was already swept up within that strange seventh day, and it wasn’t ending anytime soon.

Lunch came and went; Katsumi didn’t come down for it. I helped Tadashi clean up the kitchen, then lay down on the sofa and put my headphones in to listen to their album. “Unsuitable” was the twelfth and final track. I ran through the whole album first, to get an overall feel of it, and then the second time around I opened my computer and wrote down my impressions for each individual song. The style was diverse and captivating, and the technique and quality were on point, as I’d come to expect from the two. Taking in the album as a whole left me breathless with awe at the power these musicians had to convey and control emotions, to inspire and impress, to leave somebody in tears of joy and sorrow simultaneously. And with that morning’s guitar lesson, I couldn’t help being hopeful and excited at the idea that I could be that powerful someday.

I headed upstairs to find Tadashi, bursting to talk to him about it. He wasn’t in the studio or in the workout room, and the door to his and Katsumi’s bedroom was closed. I went to knock on it – but as I leaned in I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.

I couldn’t tell what it was for a moment, but then I suddenly knew: Katsumi was crying.

I stood outside their room in shocked silence, swallowed my excitement, and and fled back down the stairs. My thoughts on the album could wait.


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Chasing Life With You (Chapter 9)

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Several days passed with nothing in particular of note. I ate, slept, walked around the garden, and went on my phone and computer; Tadashi and Katsumi cooked, cleaned, and played music. I relaxed into this lifestyle in a pretty passive way. It was slow and leisurely, like a dream retirement. But of course, it couldn’t always be that way. On my seventh day at Katsumi’s family home, several things happened that would almost entirely change the course of that whole summer.

I woke up that morning to the sound of Katsumi’s screams. They weren’t the crazed, shocked, hysterical type of scream – his voice was full-throated, terrified, and, for lack of a better word, tragic. If I could make up some kind of story about it, it was like he had just come across a serial killer standing over the body of his one true love, bloody knife still in hand. Katsumi turned and ran, and the serial killer chased him. It was that kind of scream.

I bolted out of bed, my heart pounding, and ran into the hallway. The other bedroom door was still closed; I banged on it worriedly. “Katsumi?” I yelled. “Tadashi? What’s going on?”

Nobody answered. I tried the door and found it locked, and resigned myself to shifting back-and-forth in front of it, agitated. What could be happening in there? My storyteller’s imagination went wild, and I choked on my own thoughts. Katsumi went on and on; Tadashi started yelling over him, his words entirely incomprehensible. Nearly a full minute later, the screams and shouts finally abated, and the house was plunged into a deafening silence.

“Hello?” I asked hesitantly.

A few moments passed, and then Tadashi came to the door. He opened it just a crack and looked out at me. His eyes were charged, his expression unreadable; he was shirtless – both of us obviously just out of bed, though I had slept in thin pajamas – and his long blond hair ran messily down his shoulders. For a moment he just met my gaze, his mouth slightly open, struggling to find words. He glanced over his shoulder, defeated, then turned to me again.

“Sorry,” he said. “Everyone’s fine. Hold on and I’ll tell you about it later. Just… go downstairs or something.”

Then he pulled back and closed the door, basically in my face, without saying another word. I was shocked. I swallowed the response I hadn’t finished forming, mechanically went to wash up in the bathroom, and then plodded down the stairs, stunned into obedience. I crashed on the couch, checked the time on my phone – just barely 6:30 – and closed my eyes.

Tadashi came down some fifteen minutes later. He had washed his face, brushed his hair, and changed into a navy blue short-sleeve button-up and chino shorts. He glanced at me almost absently, poured himself a tall glass of water, and chugged it. Then he came over and sat next to me.

“Morning,” he said casually.

“Morning,” I replied, my own voice still slow and tense.

“Woke you up?”

“Yeah.”

“Scared you?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry about that.”

I shook my head. “What happened?”

“Um… Well, first of all, Katsu had a bad dream.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. But… it wasn’t just a normal nightmare.”

I blinked, surprised. “What do you mean?”

Tadashi was calm and serious. “Chas, you can believe me or not, I’m just going to tell you things as they are, okay?”

“Okay…”

“Sometimes,” he said, “sometimes Katsumi has prophetic dreams.”

I thought about that for a minute. “You mean, like, he sees the future?”

“Yeah, well, not exactly. His dreams are usually of events that are going to happen in the future, but when he wakes up, he rarely remembers them. He just hangs on to bits and pieces, so it’s like a preview, like a movie trailer or something. And later when the event actually happens, the whole dream comes back to him.”

“Uh-huh… So you’re saying Katsumi had a prophetic nightmare this morning?”

Tadashi nodded. “I think so.”

“What was it about?”

“That’s the thing… he won’t tell me.”

I frowned. “Does he normally?”

“Yeah. That’s why I believe that sometimes his dreams are prophetic, because usually when he wakes up he’ll immediately tell me what he remembers, and then later on we’ll both experience the real thing. But today, for some reason, he isn’t telling me what his dream was about, and that worries me.”

He paused and studied my face. “Do you believe me, Chas?”

“That Katsumi has prophetic dreams? Sure.”

“Really?”

I shrugged. “It’s not that crazy. Stories about people who are like that are pretty common. And you aren’t the kind of person who would just go around saying things without having really thought about and analyzed them – so if you believe it, I believe it.”

“Okay,” he said, sounding relieved.

“Is he okay now? Katsumi? His screaming was really something.”

Tadashi nodded. “I haven’t heard him scream like that in a long time… when he woke up he just kind of sat on the bed for a while, not looking at me, not talking. I went to wash up in the bathroom, and when I came back he stood up and went into the bathroom after me. He’s taking a shower right now. I think he’ll be okay, but I have no idea how he’s gonna behave today, especially with you, so…”

“I’ll keep my distance unless you’re there,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“I wish he would tell me what that dream was about…” he murmured with a quiet sigh. “Anyway, are you hungry? I’ll make something.”

He got up without waiting for my answer and wandered into the kitchen. I stared after him wonderingly, then sank back into the couch and closed my eyes again.

It’s too early for this, I thought. But I guess it’s too late to go back to sleep.

And so it was that we got a headstart on that fateful seventh day.


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Last Night ~2019~

on this final moonlit night
we look back and ask ourselves:
where are we?
who have we become?
and now, where are we going?

dozens of years have come and gone,
and here we are at the edge of dawn
with what?
can you see?
having locked our memories in chests full of blood,
we can no longer hear our own children’s screams –
how stupid can we be!
thinking we can put a face to tragedy –
as if humans ever understood humanity.
to what we have done, no thing can compare,
and we continue to do it on a childish dare,
putting up fronts of sincerity and sadness,
spray painting over our internal madness.
this world…
a cold desert with no horizons,
no longer a place of life –
it’s a meaningless battleground!
but, after all,
darkness is not something
unknown to man.
you always knew this…
I love you all, but it’s beyond my control –
humanity is determined to rip apart my soul.

day after day, I watch
waiting for the world
to transform into a rose –
perhaps, a rainbow…
tracing your outline over and over again,
my tears become the gentle rain.
you always knew what I didn’t…
we’re burning in the light of day,
living our lives without a say,
still struggling to find the way,
and I know I don’t belong here –
but I’m forced to share this dream.

the world I tried to find
never existed in my time…
so condemned for eternity,
I forever watch this path.
still, chasing the horizon
that will never end for me,
I will close my eyes and say,
“I will not give up hope today.”
your parting words grace my lips
there’ll be no war today, I think –
it’s our love after all.

can we believe in an impossible world?
I can’t live without it…
but tonight I understand that it’s only a dream –
one we can’t reach, one still too extreme.
her whispered words
“you won’t live to see that day”
so I walked without a future…
well, to sprout and bloom and die,
maybe this too is our life.
just like you before me
I know that I’m not here to stay,
but at least I can say I’ve tried –
now, I’m searching for a place to die
just waiting for the right time.

but in that single instant I –
I can only think of you…
I call out for a love that
was never mine to cherish,
reaching out for the days we shared
and the tomorrows we left behind.
promising “one day, someday, some time…”
in the future one of us lacked.
if only they would let us live…
so you said –
can you feel it?
time is slowing down for you
so that you can smile again…
what words!
humanity wasn’t fair to you,
and unfortunately you were human too –
and yet you see that I love you
because our hearts just grew and grew
together, we bend their definitions
expanding what it means to be alive.
was this all not worth it in the end?

someday, the world will understand me
and we can live as we were meant to be –
but right now, in our shared dream,
we are still struggling,
searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.
at least, for today
we look into each other’s eyes
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”
we say, on this day of endless dawn,
the sun will rise again.
this goodbye is not forever…
we will meet again.


Happy New Year, everyone. Lots of love to our one global humanity. Let’s make a good 2020, together.

KT

Best of ~2019~

Hi everyone, Kohaku again! As promised, today’s post is a top-ten best-of compilation of my published work from 2019. It was really difficult to narrow it down to ten. I tried to gather from across my various styles and genres as well as from throughout the whole year, and I also wanted to not have any repeats (so any work within an already-featured compilation was automatically out of the running for anything else). Without any more of my blabbering, here are my top-ten picks from my work this past year. In no particular order:

  1. Songs Without End [Short Story]
  2. lost in time [Poetry, Poem-Song]
  3. 「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」 [Poetry Compilation]
  4. Another Year Has Gone… [Poetry, General]
  5. 永遠の歌 [Poetry, Tanka]
  6. Photography in Canada [Photography]
  7. Life = Suffering + Love [Zuihitsu Collection]
  8. Entry #4 – Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, and Art as a Tool for Activism [Journal Entry]
  9. Prologue, To Walk in the Footsteps of Angels [Serial Writing]
  10. Mental Health and the Failure of Our Education System [Uncategorized Writing]

What about you all? What were your favorites from my work this year? I’d like to know, because I really do reflect on my writing and artwork a lot.

Everyone take care. See you tomorrow for my year-end message.

KT.

Chasing Life With You (Chapter 8)

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Previous: Chapter 7

Next: Chapter 9


Lunch came and went, and in the early afternoon I settled back down onto the living room couch, browsing aimlessly on my computer. Nothing in particular aroused my interest – I was just wasting time. I do that a lot. Meanwhile, Tadashi and Katsumi cleaned up the kitchen and then vanished up the stairs one after another. I checked out the blogs and social media feeds of a few celebrities I like, and then spent half an hour on a pointless online word game.

Just as I was finishing that up and wondering what I should do next, the sound of electric guitars came blaring from the studio upstairs. I closed my browser, raised my head slightly, and listened to Tadashi’s swift, skilled tuning. First he did one guitar all on its own, and then he picked up the second one and tuned it to the first. I found out a while later that he has perfect pitch – no surprise there. Even without that trait, he’s always had exceptionally good hearing. Relaxed on the couch, I closed my eyes and waited for the two guitarists to start playing something.

As the days went by I’d learn to differentiate the sounds and styles of the guitars and figure out who was playing what, but for the time being I just accepted the music as it was, with no names attached. They warmed up for a few minutes, one of them running through some scales, the other playing an exceptionally fast, complicated melody. Katsumi tested out his voice, too. After this was a short pause; then they launched freely into a song. For this piece, there was some prerecorded drumming going on in the background, and Tadashi contributed no backing vocals. I listened with intense curiosity. The pace was faster than the song I’d heard last night, and the rhythm was far more complex; the guitar solos were spaced well apart with some kind of interlude between them, and in a lot of places the two guitarists were playing entirely different rhythms laid on top of each other. Last night’s piece had certainly impressed me, but this one captured my attention in a very different way.

And what about the lyrics? Even though he was all miked up and belting soulfully, I didn’t really catch Katsumi’s voice all that well, so I couldn’t really tell what the song was about. But, guessing just from the tone and melodies, it was certainly on the rougher side. The song they’d played the night before had been more of a soft, introspective, heart-wrenching ballad; this one, on the other hand, made me want to get up and take action, to get in a fight with someone over something I found worth fighting for – at least that’s how I imagined it.

Suddenly inspired, I opened up a new document on my laptop and wrote down my impressions of the song. Maybe, I thought, writing about music wouldn’t be so bad after all. I just had to learn the terminology, get to know the artists, listen to the songs more, and it would be just like any other article… right? And if the music was like this, like what Tadashi and Katsumi had just played, I might even be able to enjoy it.

Before they could start on their next song, I bolted upstairs and poked my head into the studio. There was an intimidating mess of instruments and equipment everywhere. Katsumi, who was adjusting his headset and monitors, saw me and gave Tadashi a surprised, somewhat perplexed look; my friend glanced over his shoulder, met my gaze, and smiled.

“Hey,” he said, turning to face me. He muted his guitar with one hand while brushing back his hair with the other. “You been listening?”

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said embarrassedly.

“That’s okay. What’s up?”

“You said you release your music digitally, right? Is there like a website or something? I have no idea how that kind of thing works…”

Tadashi grinned. “I’ll set you up with it after dinner, okay? Just remind me, in case I forget.”

“Okay, thanks. Also… can I stay and watch?”

He looked at Katsumi; the black-haired musician shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

“We’re just running through some of our old songs right now,” Tadashi explained to me, “so it’s probably a good time for you to listen in, too.”

“Is it okay if I bring my computer and write down my impressions of the songs?” I asked.

Katsumi scratched his head. “Yeah, whatever, but probably best if you don’t publish it – especially not for a real article.”

“Better if you talk to our manager first for stuff like that,” Tadashi clarified. “Otherwise she’s going to give you some trouble for it.”

“Okay, I won’t,” I promised.

I brought up my computer, crashed on the floor in a corner of the studio, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching, listening, and writing.

The two played on for hours without paying much attention to me, a behavior which I appreciated. I wanted to observe everything as it was, without interfering or changing it. The notes I made were nothing special – there was nothing you could describe as technical, no professional evaluation or criticism. I just jotted down how each song made me feel, and that was about it. But I would later come to believe that this kind of emotional, surface-level writing was just as important, and in some ways just as valuable, as the real thing you might find in a music magazine.

While listening, I observed their instruments and the equipment they used, trying to learn as much as possible. Having had no background in music, especially not of this kind, I was basically starting from scratch. It was like catching a glimpse of what life was like in a different universe. Tadashi would eventually explain everything to me properly, but for the time being I just tried to soak everything in.

I wasn’t at all sure why I was suddenly interested in their music. Maybe it was because it was my old school friend making it. Maybe it was because I was living in the same house with them. Maybe there was something special about their songs. I really hadn’t a clue. But whatever the reason, I knew in my heart that this was what I’d been searching for when I had started asking around for a summer place in the countryside – I needed cleansing, emotional and physical; I needed to jumpstart my stagnant life; and I needed writing inspiration. And here it all was.

The guitars, the lake, the people – everything was perfect.

After a few hours of on-and-off playing, Tadashi left to start prepping dinner. Katsumi fell back onto a chair and rested. He was breathing a little hard, but it seemed like he’d had a good time. His voice had come out well, I thought. I made no attempt to strike up a conversation, wondering how hard it must be to sing.

After a few quiet minutes he faced me and asked, “How was it?”

“Great,” I replied.

“Yeah?”

To be honest, I was still slightly wary of being alone with Katsumi. Sometimes he would be casual, sometimes he’d be just as friendly as Tadashi, and other times he’d be too friendly – as I mentioned, wild. But I was slowly getting used to these changes in his mood. I imagined the surface of the ocean, sprawling from horizon to horizon; sometimes it would be stormy and surging, sometimes the shifting waves would be of an average, expected size and shape, and other times the sea would be calm and still. Right now, tired as he was, and having loosened up with an afternoon of music, he seemed pretty relaxed. So I wasn’t too worried about having a conversation alone with him like this.

The worst times to catch him, I’d eventually learn, were either late at night or, in the event he hadn’t slept well, early in the morning. During the day, especially when he was with Tadashi, he was generally pretty tame.

“So you like our music?” he asked.

“I like it a lot,” I admitted. “More than I thought I would.”

“Anything in particular about it that you like?”

I thought about it. “Your vocals… when the two of you sing together. Two human voices singing together, that sound is really powerful, I feel. And you make good use of it. Also, just your personalities, the way they come out in your guitar playing… and the variety of style. The way you sometimes use recorded backing tracks, and other times play alone, that kind of thing. It keeps it really interesting. Each song is different and incredibly unique… that’s new to me. Most of the stuff I hear on the radio or in stores just all sounds the same. So I like the creative, artistic drive behind your music, it’s refreshing.”

“As expected of a writer,” Katsumi said. “You think carefully and speak meaningfully. I like it.”

I flushed. “What’s that?”

“Most people will just say ‘the melody is really catchy’ or ‘your voice sounds good.’ I like the way you think about it and really detail what you like and why it matters.”

“Oh… well…”

“That’s one of the reasons why I like artists,” he said. “They’re sensitive to this kind of thing, and they care about it.”

Artists…

I learned a lot that summer. About Tadashi, about music, about life – but also about myself.


Table of Contents

Previous: Chapter 7

Next: Chapter 9

「Anniversary ~2019~ 」

Preface

When I say “anniversary,” what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s a wedding anniversary. Maybe, it’s a dear friend’s birthday. Or maybe, it’s the anniversary of the day your loved one died.

The different ways humans understand and categorize time are highly arbitrary, if you think about it. Some of us follow the cycle of the moon, and others follow the cycle of the sun. For some people, their daily clock starts at midnight, and for others, their clock starts ticking at sunrise. Some nations follow daylight savings, and others don’t. And for some cultures, the flow of time is itself nonlinear.

Most of us generally sort time into increments like days, months, and years that repeat endlessly, but the way we do so differs depending on our language, culture, and location. What if your “year” was thirty days long instead of three hundred and sixty-five? How many birthdays would you have had until now? How “old” would you be?

Because the way we understand time is so arbitrary, we depend on anniversaries to keep us grounded. We hold on to birthdays, death days, wedding days, days of historical events, and so on because we’d get lost in the flow of time otherwise. Anniversaries are thus incredibly important to our survival and our sanity.

This book is a compilation of poems I’ve written this year to commemorate anniversaries of all kinds, starting from when I first began to blog. It’s good to wrap up the year by looking back, but it’s also important that we use the final moments of 2019 to think about the relation of time to ourselves, the things we care about, and the people whom we love.

So, what did 2019 mean to you?

What anniversaries did you celebrate?


Another Year Has Gone…

August 3 (◯◯’s Birthday)

Over the mountains and under the sea,
A thunderous world stares back at me;
Threads of time slip by unnoticed,
And pass through my fingers to yours.

Today, you are seventeen,
A beautiful soul just beginning to dream;
But what now, what next,
Who is it you’ll become?

Because the life you live has only just begun.

With intent you look ahead,
Searching with unease and dread;
The glowing horizon remains ever impartial
And what there lies in wait?

But whispering gently in your ear,
The autumn wind tries to ease your fear:
On this day of endless dawn,
The sun will rise again.

The sun will rise, and we’ll see what happens then.

The trials that come may give you pause,
You may feel despair completely without cause;
But on such days you must remember:
You are not alone.

No matter what it is you face,
No matter what dreams you choose to chase,
Those who love you will be here by your side.
And this too, please don’t forget —

So little time has passed since then,
But I’m so glad we met.


Seventy-Four to One

August 6 (Atomic Bombing on Hiroshima)

The ocean breeze flows easily,
I close my eyes to try to see
The branches of the tree of time
Still reaching out to you and me.

I take them in my hands and sigh,
You look away and start to cry;
“We’ll be okay,” I try to say
But to you I could never lie.

The world folds in like a paper crane,
A freeway collapses into a single lane –
Seventy-four years condense to one day
And the fires are still burning in the autumn rain.

A jam-packed calendar of tragedy –
This is no longer inhumanity!
What have we done, what have we learned?
Just killing ourselves in plain insanity.

Hundreds of thousands swamp the river of death,
Worlds torn apart by a species’ breath –
Nothing has changed, if anything, it’s worse!
Yet we still try to live – only ignorant and cursed.

We’ll go again to such extremes,
You’ve seen it in prophetic dreams;
Having locked our memories in chests full of blood,
We can no longer hear our own children’s screams.

Seventy-four years and I still can’t see
The peaceful life you begged from me;
Longer and longer the branches grow,
As we lose sight of what once could be.


許してください

August 7 (Week of Atomic Bombings)

As thick gray petals rained down from the skies,
I begged of you to close your eyes –
But we both knew we could not unsee
The flames that would soon set us free.

“I will not forget you to the end of my days;
I will not rest until we have changed our ways;
What happened to you will not happen twice,
For such tragedy is really worth no price.”

Forgive me.
Even to the dying, I can do nothing but lie.

All of the souls now wandering at night
Reach out their hands to the dying of the light;
I make as if to hurl them a safety line –
Knowing they will never again see the sun shine.

“A moment of silence, we will hold for the dead,
To honor the blood and tears that they shed;
And we will do more, I promise to you:
The laws will change, and our hearts will too.”

Forgive me.
Even to the dead, I can do nothing but lie.

Making our livings manufacturing death
Selling off ways to silence one’s breath
Forgetting the promises we once cared to make
Failing to learn from our worldwide mistake.

Pointing fingers, as if that matters now
Debating ethics, as if history will change somehow
Putting up fronts of sincerity and sadness
Spray painting over our internal madness.

Forgive me.
I should not be alive…
For so many of the living can do nothing but lie.


Even

August 8 (Week of Atomic Bombings)

Even when the last leaf falls from the tree,
Even when the last creature drowns in the sea,
I will take you by the hand and say,
“I’m glad I am alive today.”

There’s so much that we do not know,
So much the gods have yet to show,
But if our time here must now end,
I’ll go freely, so that our world can mend.

Our era was brief, but brief is just a word;
All I see now are the smoking feathers of a bird.
It’s trying to rise, but only spreading the flames,
Killing itself with its ignorant aims.

Even at the flash of a nuclear bomb,
Even at the end of the final calm,
I will throw out both my arms and say,
“I still believe in peace today.”

To what we have done, no thing can compare,
And we continue to do it on a childish dare,
As if life and balance are toys to be played,
Then tossed in the trash once we move up a grade.

Beautiful creatures now incapable of love,
We’ve chased away our single white dove.
It returns despite abuse to fly over our heads –
But by the end of the day, we have torn it to shreds.

Even as an assault rifle lets loose its roar,
Even as the schoolchildren dive to the floor,
I will close my eyes and say,
“I will not give up hope today.”


A Single Star-Filled Sky

August 9 (Atomic Bombing on Nagasaki)

As the darkness sets in I gaze up at the sky,
Wishing I had the ability to fly –
But I don’t even know where it is that you are,
So where would I head, for how long and how far?
The light is fading, and without you I’m stuck here,
But strangely tonight this produces no fear;
Just counting the bombs like I would count passing cars,
Knowing that you and I are now seeing the same stars.

On the other side of the horizon line,
You live in a world that’s no better than mine,
Full of clumsy creatures who act without thinking,
Who commit acts of destruction without even blinking.
They say that two minuses are supposed to make a plus,
So should we let two countries war without making a fuss?
I love you all, but it’s beyond my control –
Humanity is determined to rip apart my soul.

Dozens of years have come and gone,
And here we are at the edge of dawn,
Repeating ourselves like a song on replay,
Crawling desperately toward the end of the day.
The ground cracks open beneath my feet,
You wrap your child in a bloodstained sheet,
They whisper “I’m sorry” and pretend to care,
While celebrating nothing but death and despair.

Gazing at the same sea of stars, you and I,
We wonder how quickly our time will fly,
Praying we’ll live long enough to see
A world where love will be finally set free.
But tonight I understand that it’s only a dream –
One we can’t reach, one still too extreme.
I hoped we would meet in the future some day –
But tonight I am dying, so alone we will stay.


黙祷

August 10 (Week of Atomic Bombings)

As the time approaches I close my eyes;
The world fills with our empty sighs;
I want to pray, but the words won’t come –
And deep inside, my heart is numb.

How can I go on living?

For all those who were there, I cried –
For those who lived, and those who died;
But the rain today refuses to fall,
And all I feel is incredibly small.

It’s not the time that has dried my tears –
Though the days have quickly turned into years;
It’s the incredible failure of humanity to move,
To learn from the past and force itself to improve.

I don’t know how much longer here I can stay,
From this silent prayer to the end of the day;
This legacy is too much of a burden to bear,
Made worse by the refusal of thousands to care.

Our history is tangible in this moment of time,
In all of its glories and its war-filled crime,
And as it cements into our future and past,
I pray for the dead and for those who still last.


On the Edge of Another World

August 14 (◯◯’s Birthday)

Waiting in the shadows for a new world to be born,
We look back at the promises we’d once sworn;
Still holding the thoughts that we chose then to confide,
We watch the years pass and grow older side-by-side.

The memories we shared, the dreams we chased,
And all of the challenges that we each faced –
Today, on your birthday, they are tangible and strong,
As we turn towards a future where we both belong.

As the waves crawl in to a Malaysian shore,
We strain in silence for something more –
Seeking a happiness that was taken away,
Hoping that together we’ll reach it someday.

And if you must burn bridges for the life that you need,
That I will stand by you is still guaranteed –
For although human beings must live their lives alone,
Those we call “family” together face the unknown.


手紙

August 18 (◯◯’s Birthday)

Dear ◯◯、

If you are reading this, can you tell me?

If you’re alive, will you send me a sign?

Today is your birthday

Again, this year

I have passed many of your birthdays

Without you.

I will play music for you, today

Will you please listen?

From wherever you are

Whoever you are

I hope the sounds of the piano will reach you

And maybe the sound of my voice

Or yours

Are you still sick?

Are you happy?

You made me happy

When I was feeling depressed

And couldn’t name it

I wish you had someone

Who could make you happy too

All I can do now

Is play music

And remember you

How long has it been?

Every year I feel regret

Around this time

You have taught me

Not to make such regrets

Have I grown since then?

If you have returned to the stars

Or not

Do you still remember me?

It doesn’t matter so much

I’m still alive, after all

I just want you to be happy

At least today

On your birthday

Can you feel it?

Time is slowing down for you

So that you can smile again

Today

Someday.

From 〇〇

August 2019


on this eternal morning I

September 11 (9/11)

on this eternal morning I
listen to you breathe and cry
“it’s okay, it’s time now to let go…”
these whispered words are all I know
and yet…

and yet you see that I love you
because our hearts just grew and grew
together in this empty, dying world
we won’t show our flags unfurled
there’ll be no war today

blind to each other’s bodies we
shared our souls ‘till we could see
the meanings of “now you and I”
the hallowed ground where you now lie
it’s beauty, after all

fading slowly back into the light
the moon protests our global fight
“night and day both give no place…”
I’ll follow now the dream you chased
it’s precious, after all

still reaching for the sunrise I
will close your eyes and gently sigh
a tinge of burning passion felt
maybe revenge would my heart melt
and yet…

and yet you see that I love you
because our hearts just grew and grew
together in this empty, dying world
we won’t show our flags unfurled
there’ll be no war today

there’ll be no war today, I think
it’s our love after all


Last Dawn

November 5 (◯◯’s Birthday)

at the edge of eternal night,
at the end of a sparrow’s flight,
I’ll be waiting, waiting for you.
playing
        chasing
                talking
wading
we’re burning in the light of day,
living our lives without a say,
still struggling to find the way
        but at the edge of “come what may,”
I’ll be waiting, waiting for you. 
        as if we could understand our own reflections
        our own shadows beneath our feet
        our bodies laying in the street
well they never, never saw us.
and if they never saw us,
what could we have done?
        turning towards a future we cannot grasp,
        putting our destinies on silent timelapse,
        we chase the dreams we never had –
and when we wake up and open our eyes,
there I’ll be waiting, waiting for you.

Nocturne of a Dreamer

December 6 (◯◯’s Birthday)

sitting at the edge of dawn,
waiting for who knows how long
the first bird shares her siren song
     and we –
in this intangible moment we
     go off into infinity
stepping into the unknown that is our life.

as though we could have stopped them,
     and made this place our own
as though we could have met them,
     and bent our fates anew
we chase each dawn from night to day,
each following our own loving way –
     then searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.

reaching into open arms, we gaze
     at these reflections of our own blind eyes
     at our opposite horizon lines
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”

because here, the sun is rising –
     hear, the sun is rising –
and today
with nothing else to do
     and no other path to take
we follow it into eternity.

Taiga (Chapter 6)

Table of Contents

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Next:


Now, don’t get me wrong here. It’s not like Taiga gave me this magical speech and immediately I became a good person. Something about his words tugged at me, that’s all, and I decided to go to one of my classes that afternoon for no other reason than I suddenly felt like it. I didn’t think all that much about Taiga’s lecture, I didn’t start contemplating morals or ethics or the sad state of my life at that moment. I just went.

It was a history class that I had signed up for, as I mentioned earlier, just to meet the minimum unit requirement to stay enrolled. You might be wondering why I even bothered to apply to college in the first place. I didn’t have much idea about that, either. But from the beginning, I’d been told that going to college after high school was just the thing to do, so I just went and did it. This has been a pretty common pattern in my life: I just go and do things, without really thinking about them.

Anyway, this particular class turned out to be a sweeping overview of world history – go figure – and on this day that I attended, the professor was talking about imperialism. I arrived to the lecture hall a bit late and sat in an empty seat in the back row near the door. All the students around me were taking notes; I didn’t even have a pencil to write with, let alone paper to write on, so I just watched and listened.

Did I know anything about imperialism prior to this lecture? No, not really. And I didn’t care to hear about it. But I was there, and the professor’s voice was loud, so I couldn’t help anything. She went on and on about imperialism and capitalism and their definitions and their impacts on human history, and somehow, for some reason, I actually paid attention. Maybe the alcohol had jacked up my brain.

After the class, as I was slowly making my way back to the dorm, I spotted one of the guys from the train gang – not the leader, just some other dude – walking toward me. I don’t think he actually saw me, since he was staring down at his phone the whole time, but just to be safe I ducked into the closest building and took an incredibly roundabout way home. I didn’t want to talk about that whole incident with anyone, let alone one of the guys who had almost killed me.

I arrived at our suite some thirty minutes later and found it empty. Taiga and Isabella had cooked, eaten, and left without me, as usual – not because they didn’t want to spend time with me, but because I never wanted to spend time with them. Anyway, I was glad they were gone. I took off my jacket, threw it on a chair in the kitchen, and checked the fridge to see if there was anything I could eat. There was a new bowl of curry rice, still slightly warm; I glanced at the dish rack and saw two similar bowls, empty. I heated up the curry some more in the microwave and settled down for a delicious lunch.

Isabella didn’t always cook for me. Most days I’d eat out somewhere or just have something stupid like cup noodles, or else I wouldn’t eat at all. But occasionally, she or Taiga would leave some leftovers in the fridge, and I’d just take it without asking. They never said a word. Sometimes, I suspected, they purposely left food for me – like when the leftovers would sit in the fridge untouched for a few days, or if there were a lot of leftovers for a meal that really shouldn’t have been a problem to just make two portions. I couldn’t comprehend for the life of me why they’d do that, but I didn’t think about it too much. I just took the food and ate it.

Taiga came back home before I’d finished eating. He saw me at the table, smiled, and went into our room without saying a word. I went on eating and watching pointless videos on my phone. After a few minutes he came back out to the kitchen wearing his work clothes.

“How’s the curry?” he asked.

“Um,” I said. “It’s good.”

“Not too spicy?”

“No.”

“Do you prefer your curry spicy or sweet?”

Slightly dumbfounded, I replied, “I don’t really care…”

Taiga nodded. “Isabella and I both like it pretty spicy, that’s why I was asking.”

I couldn’t fathom why he was making small talk with me. I just kind of nodded and mumbled along. He talked about curry for a little while longer, and then he said goodbye and headed off to work.

It occurred to me then that I had no idea what his internship even was. I’d never thought to ask. When it came down to it, I realized, I didn’t really know very much about him, or Isabella either. Back then, I didn’t know much about anyone at all – not even myself.

I finished my lunch, dumped the dishes in the sink, and almost instantly passed out on my bed. I figured there wasn’t anything better to do, anyway. I didn’t feel like searching for a party or hitting the streets, and it’s not like I was about to start my three weeks’ and four classes’ worth of homework. I napped for a few hours, woke up, went on my phone, and then rolled over and fell asleep again. By the time I finally pulled myself out of bed, it was nine o’clock at night. The world outside our window was dark and unforgivingly silent.

For a few minutes I leisurely paced around the room, waking myself up and trying to remember what I had been dreaming about. It had been a bad dream, that I knew, but I didn’t remember any single detail of it. And I hated that. That’s saying something, really. I didn’t have strong feelings about very many things, but I hated not remembering my nightmares with a gut-wrenching passion, and I still do. Something about it bothers me.

Eventually I gave up on my memory and went outside. Isabella was puttering around in the kitchen; she looked over at me, nodded without smiling, and went back to cleaning and washing dishes. Taiga was sitting at the table with his computer in front of him, an online textbook on one half of the screen and a note-taking application open on the other. He had early on taken up Isabella’s policy of not using paper unless absolutely necessary. He turned around in his seat to look at me, gave a slow, soft smile, and waited for me to say something.

“Hey,” I said awkwardly.

“Hey,” he replied.

“… I, uh, fell asleep…”

“Are you hungry?” he asked. “There’s some soup in the fridge.”

“Oh.”

“You can just cook some noodles to go with it.”

“Okay.”

He nodded, turned around, and resumed studying, and I went up next to Isabella and put a pot of water on the stove to boil. None of us said another word.


Table of Contents

Previous: Chapter 5

Next:

「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」

Last Dawn

at the edge of eternal night,
at the end of a sparrow’s flight,
I’ll be waiting, waiting for you.
playing
        chasing
                talking
wading
we’re burning in the light of day,
living our lives without a say,
still struggling to find the way
        but at the edge of “come what may,”
I’ll be waiting, waiting for you.
        as if we could understand our own reflections
        our own shadows beneath our feet
        our bodies laying in the street
well they never, never saw us.
and if they never saw us,
what could we have done?
        turning towards a future we cannot grasp,
        putting our destinies on silent timelapse,
        we chase the dreams we never had –
and when we wake up and open our eyes,
there I’ll be waiting, waiting for you.

and you looked into my eyes

bracing autumn winds —
as if we were, I smiled,
trying not to cry;
and you looked into my eyes
and you told me to let go.

ride the barrier with me ~one day, freedom~

gazing at you through the veil of my laughter,
I can’t help but think that you’re beautiful…
I wish you could see and believe it, too
spending time with you, I’m so happy
I’m so glad I’m alive
if I have the power to make you happy, even a little,
isn’t it more than responsibility?
just tell me, who says we can’t love each other?
riding the barrier to freedom, we are
we’re not hurting anyone but ourselves
this doesn’t concern anyone else
and they can’t control love, can they?
spending time with you, I’m so happy
I’m so glad I’m alive
if I have the power to make you happy, even a little,
isn’t it more than responsibility?
I love you…
but what a stupid word that is!
four letters to contain all of the feelings in the world,
it’s absolutely laughable
maybe in another language I wouldn’t hate it so much
but we’re all humans after all
so I guess I shouldn’t ramp up my expectations?
spending time with you, I’m so happy
I’m so glad I’m alive
if I have the power to make you happy, even a little,
isn’t it more than responsibility?
I love you…
someday, the world will understand me
I want to embrace you and hold your hand,
please believe it
how beautiful you are to me
anyone who says you’re worthless or ugly or stupid
just doesn’t have the strength to see,
the imagination to feel,
the will to give you love
spending time with you, I’m so happy
I’m so glad I’m alive
if I have the power to make you happy, even a little,
isn’t it more than responsibility?
I love you…
someday, the world will understand me
and we can live as we were meant to be.

A Night Song

if I could hear your voice again
if I could see your face
if I could gaze into your eyes
who knows what I would do for you
the days when I could take your hand
and hold it gently in mine
if only I could still remember
the feeling of your embrace, this time
there’s a world out there that I can see
just beyond your sunrise song
it’s waiting now for you and me, but
but you’ve left that path behind, and I
I could never blame you now
I want to chase, you, down
show you the promise of tomorrow
share all my love with all of yours
‘till I’ve nothing left to give
if only they would let us live
I couldn’t reach you if I wanted to
and they knew how much I wanted to
but dreams will be dreams, and after all
I didn’t dare wake up from mine
I wasn’t as brave as you, you see
and I wasn’t as damaged, maybe
I just held on faithfully
guess I was too blind to flee
and still,
and still
there’s a world out there that I can see
just beyond your sunrise song
it’s waiting now for you and me, but
but you’ve left that path behind, and I
I could never blame you now
I want to chase, you, down
show you the promise of tomorrow
share all my love with all of yours
‘till I’ve nothing left to give
if only they would let us live
so you said

As If “You And I”

like the shifting sand
the time blurs into my eyes —
as if “you and I”…
chasing our reality,
in this world we make our own.

Prison Break ~one human happiness~

falling just like a single strand of hair
      in this world
where horizon lines are like prison bars
where we cannot help but see the same stars
together, we bend their definitions
expanding what it means to be alive
      we heard them say
She would not force his judgments onto you
So we promised to start living what’s true
And slipping into this borderless dream
I had a taste of joy in fantasy
      from day one I kept
Reaching for your hand though you could not take it
Well, without a band I could not shake it
I saw the universe without boundaries
As it was still reflected in your eyes
      and in the end I knew
that even if the world still hated you
we would get the payment that we were due
exchanged in one human happiness, this
time, we’d have all that we needed again
      so one day in the near future
you can be who and what you want to be
and you won’t have to look far to find me
I know that right now it’s far-fetched, but I

dimensions of love

dimensions of love –
side-by-side to sleep or wake,
we gaze at our skies;
like incandescent feathers,
your heart-shattering presence.

Falling For You

dreaming
         reaching
this was never meant to be
calling
         falling
if it’s just you and me
I can’t see
the world I tried to find
never existed in my time
         so just breathe
              I’ll leave
‘cause once you chased me down the shore
I knew I couldn’t ask for more
no, I couldn’t ask for more
if you knew that I was falling for you
and if that meant anything to you
well, on this day, if I may
         I guess I’ll say it, I
I’ll keep it to myself this time
dreaming
         reaching
this was never meant to be
calling
         falling
if it’s just you and me
if it’s just you and me,
you’ll see
but I’ll keep it to myself this time

non-existence

waiting for the song
to tell me what’s in my heart —
whisper from the wind;
I call out for a love that
was never mine to cherish.

Nocturne of a Dreamer

sitting at the edge of dawn,
waiting for who knows how long
the first bird shares her siren song
         and we –
in this intangible moment we
         go off into infinity
stepping into the unknown that is our life.
as though we could have stopped them,
         and made this place our own
as though we could have met them,
         and bent our fates anew
we chase each dawn from night to day,
each following our own loving way –
         then searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.
reaching into open arms, we gaze
         at these reflections of our own blind eyes
         at our opposite horizon lines
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”
because here, the sun is rising –
         hear, the sun is rising –
and today
with nothing else to do
         and no other path to take
we follow it into eternity.

Taiga (Chapter 5)

Table of Contents

Previous: Chapter 4

Next: Chapter 6


When Taiga came back from his class, he found me on my feet, pacing around, struggling to outsmart Isabella while dealing with a throbbing headache. She wouldn’t let me out of the room – Taiga’s orders, but also her own – and I’d attempted practically everything short of violence in my wild desperation to leave. I didn’t want to face Taiga so soon, but it seemed Isabella would make sure of it.

He opened the door, looked at Isabella, looked at me, and smiled. That’s right – he looked at me and smiled. Ever graceful, he closed the door quietly behind him, took off his backpack, and set it on his chair. Then he took off his navy blue windbreaker and hung it up in his closet. I stared at him, waiting, wondering what he was going to say. Isabella vigilantly continued blocking my path to the door.

Taiga brushed back his hair with one hand, then nodded at Isabella. “Thank you, Issa.”

“My pleasure,” she replied.

They both stared at me. I was itching to leave – I couldn’t stand this strange tension, the air feeling like it would right before a great storm or earthquake, something unnatural getting ready to be released. Of course, it was all in my head, but that didn’t make it any less real to me. I just felt an overwhelming urge to run.

An animal – trapped in a cage, or cornered and on its way. That’s what I thought I was. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Taiga spoke softly at me. “How are you?”

There was no edge to his voice, no sense of anger or even disappointment. I shook my head slightly, confused at the question, but answered anyway.

“My head hurts.”

He nodded. “That’s how it is,” he replied simply.

“Why’d you come?” I asked.

“Why’d you go?” he countered.

I frowned. Taiga swept on before I could say anything else.

“It’s not any of my business what you do with your life,” he said. “You want to join a gang, spend your nights drunk and high and committing crimes, throw away any possibility of you being happy and content in the future, well, go ahead. That’s your prerogative.”

I nodded along with his words, growing more confused by the second. When I didn’t respond, he leaned toward me slightly, a gentle smile crossing his face.

“That’s what you think, right?” Taiga said.

I blinked. “Um. Yes?”

“That’s the problem,” he replied. “I think you’re wrong there. It is my business what you do with your life. And it’s your business what I do with mine. You’re human, aren’t you? And we all know humans are social animals. See, whatever you choose to do with your life affects me, and Isabella, and everyone else around you – even the family you claim to hate, the family you claim hates you in return. What do you think will happen if you get yourself killed? You think the world will just keep spinning, time will just keep flowing, all these people will just keep living as if nothing ever happened? Because if you do, you’re wrong. Human life doesn’t work that way.”

I tried to cut in, but he raised a hand and continued on.

“And what if you, in one of your criminal sprees or drunken antics, end up killing someone else? Accidental or not, you stole someone’s life away. You think the universe isn’t going to care? Listen, I’m not going on about karma or anything religious – these are basic fundamentals of human existence. We all have a responsibility towards each other, can’t you see?”

I stared at him. After a moment he sighed and looked away.

“You can go now,” Taiga said. “I just wanted to talk to you. Just think about that, okay?”

He turned to Isabella, his speech apparently over, his tone lightening. “What’s for lunch?”

“Oh, I was thinking some kind of stew or curry,” she replied. “Let me go see what we have in the fridge.”

“Sounds good. I’ll help. I don’t have work until three.” He glanced at me, smiled, and then followed Isabella out to the kitchen.

Alone in the room, I found my urge to run away had vanished. I sat back on my bed, tired, drained. My head hurt for more reasons than one. I drank some more water and then laid back and closed my eyes. Gazing into the internal blackness, I thought about nothing – I just breathed. In, out; in, out. Some kind of weird meditation, I guess. It actually relaxed me a lot. But I didn’t go to sleep.

Instead, a half an hour later, I got up and went to class.


Table of Contents

Previous: Chapter 4

Next: Chapter 6