FREEDOM OF IDEOLOGY WHERE DOES TRUTH LIE? THE DIE
Although I did not consciously become interested in politics until my college years, my poems have always included subject matters of oppression and social justice. I was seldom involved with school programs or student governments during my teens. But as far back as in the 11th grade, I wrote one piece using a die (singular for dice) as a metaphor for overworked and underpaid people in today’s labor population. “…And as those mahjong objects line up along the table like soldiers, The little die is dragged and rolled along the table like a crumbling boulder, Then it is pushed back into the corner where it can sit and rest until it molders, While those mahjong objects start to scatter, and I hear once again, those multiple clatters, Clatters that, unlike the die, never grow older…”
This could be interpreted as a peace poem, even though that was not necessarily the intention when I first wrote it back in the 10th grade. My first inspiration came from a short story I had read in class about a scared, young soldier marching with his platoon in the night. The Vietnam battle scene in Forrest Gump was another inspiration. I did not get into anti-war protesting or watching other Vietnam War films until a few years into college. “…And the blood sprouting from his chest pours like an outbreak, wrapping his shoulder. It spreads all over, and under he cowards for another minute into his dying hour, As he rests among the countless corpora whom have long decayed so sour. And tries not to smell, before the sweat-sizzling sun, his own rotting odor. There, the soldier tries, a sweating soldier…”
One of our early assignments back in 11th grade English was to write an original poem which nonetheless followed the format and style of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. My teacher also made the assignment a contest, and I won first place with “Raining Angels.” That contest and our study on Poe really accelerated my interest in writing. The fanatical butcher who narrates “Raining Angels” came out of my fascination with the paranoid schizophrenics in Poe’s work. “…Insanity, evil sought to behold a bane-pouring rain that would change me from being sane, And on that afternoon, when the moon’s gloom was contained, A devil’s servant tried to gain me, get the best of me, but failed to, For even a second, change me…”
“Hurry up and take the damn picture!
I can’t fake this smile much longer!”
There was a brief time during the late 1990s when I forgot about the true purpose of art & writing. Instead, I became indulged in using my poetry to gain fame, money, and other superficial achievements. So when the Famous Poets Society selected my work for a national convention & competition at the Disneyland hotel in September 1998, I went for it. Registration for the 3-day event cost $500, but the grand prize was a $15,000 check! I didn’t win any prizes (except for the little trophy that every competitor received), and that made me feel like the biggest loser in the world. It took me a few years before I started writing again and realized how dumb I was in placing all the value & worth of my work & myself in a financial prize.
An early version of Four Seasons Past was featured in an anthology published by The International Library of Poetry. Before you start congratulating me on what an accomplished writer I am, realize that I do not consider this achievement a big deal. First of all, anyone can submit a poem. It’s possible the publishers accepted any piece of crap people sent their way. But the main reason this anthology is a joke is because the contributors have to pay to own a copy! Sure, they give us discounts. But with the amount of promotions they sent us encouraging us to buy extra copies as gifts for friends & family, it became apparent to me that they rely on the purchases of the poets themselves for most of the profits. I was also featured on their CD compilation. Don’t remember if I had to pay for it (probably did). Anyway, words cannot describe the disappointment I experienced when I played the CD. They didn’t even bother to print track listings of the poems. Actually, that made sense because there were no separate tracks! I had to fast forward to find my poem. I would have probably just listened to the whole CD if it wasn’t for the fact that the recitalist’s voice sounded like a donkey. Whatever emotion I tried to convey in writing my poem sure as hell wasn’t evident in the way he read the piece. That’s partly why I built my own website: no matter how good or bad my work is, it’s here for all the world to see, and I don’t have to spend money or deal with some damn company to make that happen (at least not until Eddie starts charging me for his web hosting service – please don’t! I’m still a starving artist).
ANOTHER DARK DAY FOUR SEASONS PAST LETTER TO CUPID
No, I didn’t experience the trauma of losing a girlfriend during high school. But at that time, I was somehow motivated to pump out three consecutive pieces on lost romance. The driving inspiration for the sad style came from The Raven and other works Edgar Allan Poe wrote about deceased lovers, as well as songs such as Boyz II Men’s Four Seasons of Loneliness. “…As such, Cupid, you will not, through an eternity of Valentines, strike such grace, Because Karen’s steps are followed by the heavens’ shifting pace, And the countenance of the clouds up there duplicate her shining face, The same way the torrents of rushing sea duplicate the elegance of her motion, And the way her voice takes me away like the hushing breath of ocean…”
SMILE TOUCH THE SKY THE STREET & THE CITY
These poems reflect the periods in my life of deep isolation and unhappiness. Ya know, those moments when I was about to commit suicide, but then I spotted a box of Krispy Kreme donuts with my name on it, and it was all good! “…I have not made my way to the childhood’s city like others have made, To be the bigger brother other boys have been, to play the model role other men have played, That street of romance, I have not stepped on, that city of passion, I have not stepped upon, That strength, that sweetness and seductiveness, I have not felt within, For I have not been touched or kissed as the rest of the world has been, I have not loved as lovers have loved, or mated as others have mated, And so, have never reflected the eyes of innocence in that child I have long awaited…”
A DREAMING FAMILY
The longest piece I’ve written so far. About a typical family’s dream vacation to get away from their stressful lives. The original version was about the family’s house getting robbed, but the revised version here cuts that out. Inspired by my family’s actual experience of having our home robbed while we were on vacation during Christmas 1995. “…And in this dreaming family’s dream, the ocean stretches beyond this crowd of islands where mother and father have feasted, The ocean’s tip soaks the edge of a beach, where gurgling waves creep back and forth, It is here where little daughter stands, the rushing bubbles surrounding her, Some popping on her feet and others dying away as they coward back into the ocean, But she cowards when they return, frightened at the shallowness diminished with each farther view of transparent sea…”
My poetic reflection on what it feels like waking up after a night of mind-altering substance use. Originally written as a contribution to a health journal for San Francisco State University. “…I surface towards consciousness, in the wake of an uncertain morning…for I am unable to discern, To distinguish the distance from which my mind is letting out these thoughts, My body has also dispersed into various parts of nowhere, Leaving me suppressed in this blurry space, in a time span of vagueness…”
A short, simple homage to hard-working people with conscious directions in life. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider myself to be a part of this type of people, since I wrote this during my early stage of college – one of the laziest and most misdirected periods in my life. “…If you have a mind, think about something…Because it’s not about what the world has to offer you…”