A city waking:
walking past a homeless man;
sky turns grey to pink;
a man and his son pass me;
coffee tempers lucid dreams.
Sometime after I graduated college, my Popo was trying to throw out a large, pink sheet. Upon it depicted a traditional Chinese dragon and phoenix. The dragon had bright orange scales and red spikes trailing along its curving body. The phoenix’s head and torso were a dark forest green, but its wings and tail feathers were brilliantly colored so that no feather looked the same. Both beings were enshrouded by wisps of many-colored clouds that made it appear as if they were actually approaching one another: the phoenix ascending from below, the dragon descending from above. The colors of these mystical creatures was emphasized by the soft pink satin that this scene it had been embroidered into.
My aunt, enamored by the image, wanted to keep it, for she said that it could be used for some craft and would be a waste to toss out such a fine piece. My Popo didn’t mind the proposition, but thought it appropriate to let her know that the image depicted a dragon in love with a phoenix, right before both creatures were about to make love to one another.
To my aunt, it didn’t sound believable, and she dismissed this tale, telling it to me when I saw her a week later.
At first, I too could not believe that copulation was the message. Myths and legends aside, these were two different creatures: how could they procreate, much less make love to each other? I’m not trying to be crude, but it’s impossible for me to imagine. Yet, the more I ponder this sheet’s story, (the sheet is now the cover for a large body pillow in my room), the more I understand why it never needed to make sense in the literal sense. No longer do I see bird or reptile, but lovers captivated with passion for the other. After all, is it not beautiful that these two rarities, both uniquely different, find equal standing in their shared love for their kingdom, the sky? Or perhaps I have put words into this image’s mouth —like my aunt and Popo— when I should let it speak for itself? Is it my job as the writer to give it a story and meaning, or simply to write how it is beautiful meaning nothing at all?
I am worth more;
I am worth more,
I am worth more
than the promises
that you make
This smashed butterfly—
a tapestry of colors:
feathers on cement.
We meet briefly in the crowded doorway
before being separated within.
Our own sadness,
& longing for a connection
are represented by all of these lights
that turn us into chameleons.
In the powder lines
we reintroduce ourselves as
together we dance to a song
we can barely decipher
before we collapse to the floor
confusing our dreams with desire.
To the man in front of the apartment complex
who told me so as I walked home
at 11 PM as a sophomore in high school.
I’m glad that you noticed,
I wonder what tipped you off first?
Was it the flaming claymore that I carry on my back?
Or was it my wings, the size of a small vehicle,
That stretch out behind me, still dusty with particles of heaven?
I hope you don’t say that it’s my eyes:
That’s what most people say.
They can see that they carry the weight of having seen God in his glory,
Having seen him enact his justice and mercy
Upon his creation.
Let me see, was it the halo that has sunken around my neck
Taking the form of a golden chain,
Or was it this blazing, pale complexion
That cuts through wherever darkness lies?
Perhaps it’s because you’ve never seen me before;
After all, you only see angels when they’re in disguise,
So since you're so knowledgeable, how have you seen through mine?
Look at what you've done,
I thought that you were the one.
Instead you've hurt me:
you laugh when you see me bleed—
You are a calamity.
You've always known my nature.
Don't act innocent;
heartbreaking has always been
my true personality.