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Antino Art Apr 25
They met at a tea shop. There, the three apprentices emptied their cups to learn about the secrets of the elixir. Its key ingredient was the power to create, hidden deep within the seed they each carried.

From the tea shop, they left their cups on the table and set out with their seeds in search of the elixir. The first apprentice, named Datta, was a monk. He climbed to a monastary in the mountains and planted his seed in prayer. The second apprentice, named Mark, was a Renaissance man. He locked himself in a studio and planted his seed in art. The third apprentice was a non-believer. He doubted whatever he saw. Still, he went through the motions, planting his seed with a sense of wonder he lost over time.

No matter how far they went, they ended up back at the tea shop, seeds in hand. The secret of the elixir was beyond their grasp.

Tea cups emptied, they asked Manu the teamaster for directions.

“Where do we start: point A, B, or C?”

“And which way do we go from there: left or right?”

The teamaster said nothing. He knew what was on their minds.

He picked up the stick he used to stir tea with and pointed the way.

Somehow, one seed moved.

It didn’t matter which path they chose.

The opposite direction would have worked just as well.

The teamaster’s lesson was there was more than one way up the mountain.

Knowing this, the apprentices each took their seeds and set out once again from the tea shop.

The monk escaped to his temple, the Renaissance man to his studio, and the non-believer to the shadows of his doubts.

Because they never left their comfort zones, they all ended up back at the tea shop empty-handed, their paths intertwined.

They asked the tea master to just show them how to brew the elixir, so they didn't have to keep searching.

The tea master put down the stick he used to stir tea with and told them to empty their cups.

The lesson was about the illusion of separation: what the apprentices saw as separate and different paths were really one and the same.  

The teamaster took one seed and threw it away. He took the other seed and threw it away. He told them to focus only on the seed in the middle, for they were all searching for the same thing.

Still, the three apprentices got nowhere and ended up back at the teashop.

The tea master saw that his lesson wasn’t getting through.

So he taught them a secret:
even if you take the seed and throw it away, it stays with you.

When you empty your teacup, you let the seed fall from your hand.

It was a lesson in letting go.

With the seeds gone, how many are left in the middle, they wondered.

All of them. The tea master pointed to the center cup.

The apprentices finally understood. They threw their seeds away and left the tea shop.

There was no elixir at the top of the mountain. It was just water.

And when you add water to seeds, they grow.

Years later, the three returned to the tea shop with the wisdom of a mountain forest and a plant sprouting from each of their cups.
Antino Art Mar 5
Any-Her has a name. Had.
It was the title of a travel book.

Any-Her had a
name tattooed along her spine.
You search and read her
up, down, sideways.
She was a work of fiction,
a ghost story. You read her
under the covers
by the beam of a flashlight
against your chin for dramatic
effect. In a flash, she's gone.
You flick the lights out and sleep.

Any-Her is a dream.
Was. Bright eyes, pierced
lips. You'd recognize her anywhere,
in the travel aisle of a library.
She had a name. Her signature
was jotted in the margin
of a catalogue card. She was
a name on a list of borrowers.
You'd wait your turn, check her out.

Any-Her is a number.
She writes it down on
the back of a bar napkin.
You skim details,
fill in blanks.

Any-Her is easily
(mis) read, goes by
an alias based on the
date. You name her
after obscure holidays,
like, "Winter Solstice '20",
or, "Funny Valentine '21".
You celebrate her coming,
the -where and the
-when. The -who is
irrelevant, the -how,
irrational. And -why
is what you keep asking
the next morning
while waiting for a reply
that never comes.

Any-Her is a city
far from home,
you decide. You don't
remember the name.
Don't need to.
You're just one
of -any, passing
through.
Antino Art Sep 2020
I suspect that if I was taller,
I'd get laid more.

Think Basketball: I'd shoot my shot
over her friend zone defense and score.
Her weak knees would wobble at
my every move.

And there’s research to prove it:
the female psyche is hard
wired to conflate height with power.
Leadership. Responsibility.
Extra large shoes.
As if size mattered
more than say,
Endurance
as a true measure
of the lengths I'd go for the people I love.

Still, if I was taller,
I'd have an evolutionary edge.
I'd play the game
like a guitar.
Because guitar gets girl, right?

Picture this:
me strumming at heart strings
under the lights of a coffeehouse stage,
a tall post-modern Troubadour
with say, an east European or French accent.

A Filipino with a French accent:
how baller would that be!

I'd be unstoppable.
I’d have fans. Groupies.
Her phone number.
And the decency of a reply
to my text.

I’ll give the crowd what they came to see:
the tousled hair and rugged eyes,
the unshaven charm that makes her
want more by appearing to care less.

Hard to get: that’s what the crowd wants me to play
on that guitar
I barely know how to use.

(But I’m trying, right?)

yo who is it she's really after,
because that vertically privileged
guitar hero
sounds nothing like me.

I wish I was taller (high chord)
so she'd see me.
Because I am tired
of being turned
into a ghost
writing songs
for an empty room.

Guitar gets girl.

If thats true,
I suspect she won't get me
because maybe this isnt
the sound I'm supposed to make.
We'd just be pretending
to strike a chord on
strings attached
to a dissonant tune.
We'd play each other out:
a one hit wonder
on a radio station:

Guitar gets girl.

My nice guy cover falls flat.
My Asian appearance falls short
of the socio romantic standard she
is conditioned to fall for


Guitar gets girl
Same song. Play on.

And forget accompaniment (Ditch guitar)

All I need is a pen
to write lyrics
for my new single.

I’ll start a one-man indie band
and swoon in solitude
over who I sound like
on my own.
(Strum Flourish)
Antino Art Aug 2020
I greet you like a new shore with a wave that says hi and bye together.

Somewhere in between, I entertained the idea that we might have met on a train in Seattle once. We sat sideways on the edge of a deep conversation, staring out the window as the rain did the talking.

My mantra is an old Samurai teaching: defeat who you were yesterday. I told myself that I'll have something to say to you by tomorrow.

I write stuff down for inner peace. The pen is my sword.

I got it. When the pandemic is over, let's order clam chowder in lidded to-go cups and meet at the edge of a pier where ships leave. After a while, the sight of departure takes on a charm of its own.

I can talk to you more freely on higher ground, like a rooftop. Or a train platform overlooking uptown Chicago. It will feel like we've risen above the noise.

I make a pretty good penpal. I also have anime hair. And an enviable Samurai sword collection.

Do abs still count?

My brain is in great shape. Don't mind if the thoughts floating out of it are going over your head. It's better than going over heels. That would be hopelessly romantic.

Dating apps remind me of a formula in astronomy that says the odds of intelligent life beyond Earth are a statistical impossibility. Still, you can't help but look up on dark nights asking if you're alone.

I want to say I met a girl who I began writing about, the kind that doesn't just smile at you to be polite. Consider this an invitation to write back.

You'll get my name then,
-Annonymously Yours
Antino Art Jul 2020
Once
   every few
thousand years,
    a comet
fades into view
     at an hour some call
“unholy”.

It hangs
   out of place,
not a moon and not
   quite a star,
a wisp of incandescence
I never saw.

We talked
   for light-years
over soup,
    word-danced
on an empty rooftop.

The glow remains,
    no matter how far
apart we orbit
   through cold and godless
space,
   past new worlds
      we’ll never know.
Space comet neowise sky
Antino Art Jun 2020
Words become the wind
We say Bye and Hi in waves
Strangers share a drink
Antino Art Jun 2020
I'm proud of the memories we forged. I'm proud of the times we wrote our names down when it counted. We showed up. I will never fail to smile while thinking of the moment you smiled back: on that stage at the Mill in Chicago, at the edge of that pier in Seattle, while walking through that lamplit alley in D.C. We were one story. I loved the way we rode the train on those nights. We were one with the wind. I loved how we got up each time the sky fell. It was about those steps we took to get back to our center. I love how we greeted adversity with compassion. I'm proud of how close we became in solitude. We got on planes and planted our flag of conquest in nearly every city on the map. I'm proud of how far we've come. There's no telling where we're capable of going from here.
Graduation
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