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2.5k · Jul 2016
Controlla
Andrew T Jul 2016
Control the guns. Or unload on one. Under the hopeless sun. Or control the shooters who stole his future.
Patrol in stupor when the gaping hole is super. Rolling in supras.
Holding and maneuver, round the bend. Good lord, glad I found the pen. But white men found the pen. In there, Black men down and spent. And they're wasting away in the pen. Write a letter to their friends. Either their behind the bars, or drinking in bars, or rhyming these bars. Spit it like I got tobacco juice in my mouth. Another shooting in the south, while I watch from the couch.

Kendrick said we gon be all right. And I'll believe him, when everyone has the same rights. When the white man know wrong from right. But just because you're light in your skin, it doesn't mean you're gone from light. Let this song break fights. Still though, as long as we're nice, you'll still invite us to smoke bongs and pipes.

But when the summer heat scorches the streets and the Porsches, next to the fortress with the smooth grain porches, you will ignore this. Warning shot coming at you, hot enough to light torches. I wake up every day thinking life is gorgeous, but at night I still walk like the tortoise.

No more of this.

Blood spilling on the pavement, now you wonder why I lounge in the basement. They say practice patience. They say keep waiting. They say there's saving. Pop a pill, forget about life, start raving. Po-po after the po, so send Edgar Allen Poe with a raven. Calling us kings, like this Game of Thrones, but this war is ancient. God vs. Satan. Medusa vs. the Maiden. Neo vs. all the agents.

Take hits before I escape to the matrix. Tired of eating fake ****. Make spliffs, out of makeshift wooden ships, that Cuba Gooding Jr. Gripped. Won't take lip, go and save it. Why are they loved and we hated?

Emotion flowing from the mac and the healing potion flowing from the track. Go in the back. Put the slow motion in the stacks, the records from class, tethered in snacks. America's anger is growing in fact, because every one knowing life's back. Shoot the body and throw it in the back. Fiction, or reality? Turn on the television, that has driven your vision to a complacent state of living. And you wonder why we're so forgiving?

But we're never forgetting. This here is armageddon. This is how life be when karma getting to be like, getting to be like, getting to be like fatal. Like Cain did abel. Death, or disabled. Missed the fable, because I kissed the label. Then the bottle, as I went and risked the stable. Now I'm gathering my crew and we're ****** and a holes.

Hear the shot ring from Baton Rouge to Chicago. Thinking about becoming a florist. Foreigner in this land of tourists. Listening to beats from Morris. Joshua hit me up for the chorus. How many black Americans need to die? If it were white people, would you ignore this?
2.5k · Apr 2016
Blue Tennis Court
Andrew T Apr 2016
Wimbledon’s playing on the TV in the living room. Dad and I are watching on the sofa.

In the kitchen, Mom cuts carrots and cucumbers with a long blade. She slices the vegetables one by one. Orange pieces. Green pieces.

I glance over Mom chops up the carrots and cucumbers without a cutting board, taking each long carrot and cucumber and slices it with precision, as though she’s a professional like the film with Natalie Portman and Jean Reno.

But she’s not a little girl and she’s not a Frenchman. She’s like a mix-in-between, like the asphalt in our driveway and the grass sprouting in between the cracks.

Dad is a computer engineer. He used to be an artist. Used to study technical drawing in a university in Saigon.

He met mom when he was working on a play. She was the lead actress. Shakespeare had said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

He’s right, but right now I can’t tell what act I’m in. Dad focuses on the TV. Watches Federer and Djokovic, his eyes, darting from left to right like the mood of a young boy that crosses back and forth from light to dark, and back again.

Blade in hand, Mom makes longer and deeper cuts across the cucumber, cutting away the skin, leaving deep cuts in the vegetable. Dad turns his head towards her, his neck cracking like the forehand swung by Federer.

He clears his throat, softly, soft as gas leaking out from a stovetop from a studio apartment, like the scene in Fight Club, a match about to be struck.

Mom sets the blade down on the table, and bites her lip. Her nostrils flare. I press down on the couch arm, and stand up, my head bent, my eyes wandering to the doorway.
2.5k · Apr 2016
Welcome to A.A.A
Andrew T Apr 2016
Washingtonians, this Wednesday afternoon, come to the Starbucks on 1600 K Street to become acquainted with some young, interesting, average income level Asian American guys and gals. Instead of meeting Asian American doctors, lawyers, and consultants, you’ll meet Dr. Dre copycats, alcoholic paralegals, and T-Mobile wireless salespeople.

These guys and gals are looking to meet new friends that include: white, black, Hispanic, or any other race of people, just as long as you aren’t a F.O.B. Because after all, they don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that Asians only hang out with other Asians. Just kidding, we love our F.O.B brothers and sisters! But **** stereotypes.

If you are a Washingtonian who likes drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, stop by and make a new Asian American friend who will provide mixers and match you on a blunt. Please, do not ask these guys and gals for college study notes for Math or Bio, because all of them have dropped out of college to pursue their artistic passions, like: writing a novel about having a white group of friends and being the token who reads Tolkien and likes Toking; playing electric guitar in a grunge, punk, post-emo garage band with your black buddies who like Fugazi and bad brains but ******* hate Green day for selling out; and drawing sketches and painting portraits of the half-Asian girl you’re dating on a wide canvass, but really you’re secretly into selfies and taking photos of breakfast on Instagram.

We don’t discriminate against the kind of alcohol you drink, whether it be wine, beer, or liquor—within reason please don’t bring Franzia or Rolling rock, this isn’t college anymore. Yes, we get it, you’re highly considering attending this group because you’re a huge Haruki Murakami fan and you’re wondering two questions: are our Japanese American patrons also huge fans of the author, and do our patrons behave in a similar fashion to Murakami’s characters like Toru Watanabe and Toru Okada?

First, our Japanese American patrons are huge fans of Murakami and they own books like Sputnik Sweetheart and The Windup Bird Chronicle, but they also think the author often is obsessed with Western culture, in a way that possibly, and seriously possibly transforms him into a Brett Easton Ellis derivative based on Ellis’s American ****** and Glamorama.

Second, no these particular patrons do not behave like Murakami’s characters, because they’re real, living, breathing human beings, and not some fantasy figure or made-up person! But enough of the rant, please come though and let’s have conversations about jazz and talking cats.

While we respect Asian American actors like Ken Jeong and Randall Park, we really aren’t interested in having a lengthy dialogue about The Hangover’s Asian **** scene, or how Park was kinda offensively funny in The Interview. Although Park is awesome in Fresh Off The boat! All we really want is to just drink jack and cokes and smoke Marlboro lights and have conversations about the latest trends in indie rock and Hip Hop culture, and whether Citizen Kane was better than Casablanca, or vice versa.

At the meeting, we will have our guest speaker Jeremy Lin’s college roommate George Park answer questions about Lin, as well as a special appearance by Steve Yuen’s ex-girlfriend Marcy Abernathy who will give us an inside scoop to Yuen’s fetishes as well as his quirky habits. We will also be providing free snacks like LSD Pho noodle soup and Marijuana Mochi ice-cream. On a serious note, we’ll be giving out guilt-free Twinkies.

Before you arrive at the Starbucks, you’ll be getting a name tag and a free A.A.A T-shirt that wasn’t made by little children from China; instead, the shirts are made by Ronald Mai, our aspiring fashion designer whose twitter handle is @thatsmyshirtwhiteman! If you’re interested in coming out to the group our first meeting is this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Leave your apprehension at the door and walk in with a warm smile, as you’re greeted by an expressionless face. And phoreal if your car is messed up and you require a ride, please call A.A.A’s number at (202) 576-2AAA (we know we’re phunny). Hope to see you there, and if you don’t come, you’re a ******* racist! But seriously come out and meet some cool *** people.
2.2k · Apr 2016
Benji
Andrew T Apr 2016
When Napoleon walks into my house, he doesn’t shake my hand
Instead he nods, clears his throat, and says my other name, “Thien.”

“Chu,” I say. He sniffs the air like a K-9 from Denmark,
presses his lips into a line, like one found on a blank page,

like one found on a mirror, and like one found in McDonalds.
He smells the smoke from the Marlboro lights on my black-Tee shirt.

I reach into the pocket of my trousers, searching for cologne:
Tommy; ocean; breeze. It’s lost. I mutter, “son-of-a-bi—”

Chu stares, tries to punish me. I want to laugh, want to shrug.
“Anh-Thien,” says a young voice. I close my eyes. And see my cousin.
1.8k · Jun 2016
Clean each cell with a rag
Andrew T Jun 2016
An airplane crashes into an uncharted island and hundreds of people die in the burning debris, and somewhere a group of boys and girls are taking selfies as they stand next to a burning office building.

Thousands of teenagers sit on the couch and eat ice cream until the buttons on their pants explode off.

Kids light themselves on fires as if they were monks from the Tiananmen Square, trying to gain acceptance, their dreams of stardom translated through a series of YouTube comments.

We can't afford books for college because the tuition is ridiculous, but these glossy tabloid magazines are only a few bucks; pick one to set the course of your life.

Middle-aged people spend their lives indoors, away from the thirsty, hungry, withering children, and check how many likes did their photos receive on their smartphones.

Pornographic images in front of our tired faces, our eyes locked to the screen and we do not blink as our memories become embedded with objectification.

So we don't look up and see the chaos transpiring.

Cat memes and colorful gifs hold our attention while our parents slave away at their boomerang-shaped desks, trapped in clustered cubicles.

I saw a post on Facebook of a girl who was sexually assaulted at a house party and now her name was being hashtagged and kids were posing in photographs, laying on the floor, legs and arms sprawled out, left and right, trying to mimic the injustice.

We swipe right to find our future hookups, but what if our future husbands and wives were on the left?  

Society spends millions of dollars on drinks to numb our conscience, until our brain cells are wretched like the homeless guy on the street corner drinking liquor from a coffee mug.

Israel and Palestine battle each other day after day while our generation gossips about Solange Knowles beating up Jay-Z with her patent leather purse as if that news conquers every other bit of information out there.

The world will always be corrupt, but it suffers more from the apathy that belongs to us.
1.2k · Dec 2016
Baggage
Andrew T Dec 2016
Her dreams are packed suitcases,
sitting on the driveway,
a piece of cloth sticking out,
ready to be unfolded and opened,
and then carried around.
I miss her
like how Americans
will miss the Obama family.
Touching her lips with my fingertips
is like rubbing healing ointment
onto an open scab.
Mom says, “You will always regret it,
if you don’t send her a text back.”
I dump my phone into the fire,
watch the plastic and metal burn,
the embers and ash piling up.
A black hand reaches for my shoulder,
before I wake up in a cold sweat.
I open up her suitcases:
a blue Grand Canyon blanket,
a laminated receipt
from a Sushi Restaurant,
a deflated basketball,
her knockoff Gucci glasses,
a worn piece of my heart.
I touch my chest.
and I feel nothing there.
1.2k · May 2016
To you, Mom
Andrew T May 2016
In Northern Virginia, for the ladies of wealth, Sunday mornings begin with a hangover, a Virginia Slim, and a Xanax. The day transitions to brunch at Liberty Tavern: one mimosa and one ****** Mary; an omelet with green and red peppers; and another round of mimosas and another ****** Mary, because: why in the world not?

For Thu—a Vietnamese American—Sunday mornings always begin with a different routine.  

She comes downstairs to the dining room, steps around the bundle of adult diapers, and pulls back the curtain that leads to her parents.

There, on the far right corner, her Dad lays on an electric bed, his eyes sleepy as if he had drunk too much whiskey from the night before. His mouth agape, he has a face of a man who has lived for many years. In fact he has, 80 something years in fact. His arm hangs over the railing, blue veins protruding from the skin.

Thu pulls the blinds and light comes seeping through the window.

Her Dad smiles as the sunlight warms up his face.

Thu lifts him out of bed and into his wheelchair and travels with him, looping around the house in a circle: starting with the dining room, then the foyer, through the hallway, out the kitchen, and then back to the dining room. She tries to make him walk at least three rounds. Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t.

He grunts and curses in Vietnamese, his walker scraping against the marble and hardwood floors. He moves the walker, using the little strength he has in his biceps and the muscles in his right leg.

Two years ago, her Dad had a stroke, leaving the right side of his body impaired and aching. Ever since then, he’s been trying to recover. He spends his time watching soccer and UFC on a television with a line running across the screen. He has caretakers who assist him with going to the bathroom and showering.

His wife is the only thing that keeps him going. She has Alzheimer’s and at random times in the night she’ll open up the refrigerator and search for food, because during the day she hardly eats a bite. She walks around in a cardigan and cotton pants, a toothpick jutting out from her mouth. She enjoys lying on the sofa and making phone-calls to her friends.

But she often misdials the numbers, startled when she hears a voice of a stranger on the other end of the line. She tells the stranger she doesn’t know English, shutting her eyes before trying to dial another number.

Thu has lived in Northern VA for many years, 18 years to be exact. She’s a Hokie. She’s an avid watcher of Criminal Minds. And she enjoys apple cider with a side of kettle-corn. Despite having to cook and look after her parents, she never complains. Never gets upset. Never says that life is unfair.

Later on in the day, she’s wearing a blouse dotted with blue flowers, a pair of gray sweatpants, and open-toed sandals.

When her daughter Vicki walks into the kitchen, she makes a remark about her posture. Vicki scoffs, no longer trying to seek her approval, but when Thu’s back’s turned, she straightens out her posture. Thu never makes a comment about her boyfriend. That’s a lost cause in her eyes. Once Thu doesn’t approve on a relationship that’s the end of it. She wants the best for her daughter, pushes her to be the best at what she does.

Thu used to live in Saigon. When the war ended, she had fallen in love with a boy who lived next door to her. He was her first love. He would write love poems to her. Sometimes they would hold hands. Once they had shared a kiss.

They were young and deeply in love. But as the war finished up, they moved on from each other. The boy went to live with his family in Australia, while she moved to America. After they broke up, Thu would still think about him. He was the one who dumped her.

The breakup crushed her heart. But she didn’t let it mar her dignity. Time passed by, Thu moved to Virginia and she went to high school in Fairfax County. The letters started pouring in from the boy. But she had too much pride and she didn’t respond until one day.

That was the day that John Lennon was murdered in cold blood.

She was heartbroken like every other person in the world. Yet, she also thought of the boy and how much he loved John Lennon.

Thu remembers reading the newspaper, seeing John Lennon’s face on the front page of the paper. She took a pair of scissors and cut a square around John’s face. Then she wrote a letter to the boy. And then she sealed the newspaper clipping and the letter in an envelope and begged her mom over the phone to send the letter to the boy. Her mom was still in Saigon and somehow she made contact with the boy and gave the letter to him.

A month later, she opened the mail and there was a letter from the boy.

She read the letter, stifled a cry, and then proceeded to write. The next day she sent the letter. Thu was happy to read his words. It was as though she could hear his voice through his sentences. Like he was there next to her, looking at her, speaking to her spirit.

Days passed. Weeks passed. And then after a month she realized he wasn’t going to respond back to her letter. She couldn’t believe that he didn’t give her a response.

“And that’s the end of the story,” Thu said to her son.

“What do you mean that’s the end of the story? That can’t be the end!”

“Well you’re the writer, right? Think of an ending.”

Okay. So here it goes.

Thu smiles, her eyes grow sleepy, and her head slumps over. She starts to snore, very loudly in fact. But it’s cute and you’re hoping that she’s dreaming, dreaming about something relentlessly lovely.
Andrew T May 2016
Certain people see things
differently.
Now why do we do that?
Is it a lack of closeness?
Maybe communication?

I have questions
for the pastor/Pete Campbell clone
at Immanuel Bible Church.
Like,
why does your sermon feel derivative?

How often are songs played in-between the sermons?
Are these songs a necessary transition?
A slideshow?
A distraction?
I still don’t know how to sing,

or keep tempo with claps.
Pavlov’s dog is hated,
by you.
Do you hate the dog?
Or do you hate the results of the experiment?

Is science,
a deceitful ex-girlfriend to you?
Someone you don’t trust?
If so I can understand you.
But I don’t understand you.

Because you have your truth.
And I have my truth.
Peter said to me truth is an abstraction.
I’m telling you your truth is yours.
But,
cup your hand and press it against the wall of my truth,
listen and you will hear a man and a man talking to each other.

Their naked bodies are sealed by an anchor that you have never seen.
The first man leans forward
and
kisses the second man on the nape of his neck.
Then, the second man kisses the first man on the left part of his chest.

Should I stop?
Am I scaring you?
Do you want to watch a blonde girl stick her tongue down another blonde girl’s throat,
Until her breath cannot escape and float and trail off her lips.
Like the dove white spaceships that launch into the expanding horizon of darkness.

Am I making sense?
I want you to follow my words.
I want you to respect me.
The first man is talking. The second man has his arms folded behind his back like a
Korean man, and he’s looking out the window, gazing at the dove white spaceship
Propelling into the incredible shadow, the one that is swallowing up everything we love.

Pete Campbell is the shadow.
Do you care about POV?
Are you bothered when another person is talking about a person in the third person?
I consider your opinion,

Even when you don’t consider mine.
Does that make me weak?
“Television turn off the mind,”
that is a quote that shot out of your mouth,
like an arrow from the Green Arrow dressed in Cupid’s apparel.

Or is that the flesh?
Carnal.
I digress.
Tangents happen.
I was rude. I am sorry,

And I know sorry is a word,
And you do not value words.
But I am a poet.
Words are my salmon and red wine
Rewind the cassette.
1.1k · May 2016
Drive
Andrew T May 2016
Restless in bed, the stir of warmth blossoming in his heart,
the girl he loved has gone,
drifted from his house to the field of vacant stares.
Rainstorms brew in his mind, shifting from one end to the other,
the current forming into a large sheet of distance damp with disconnection.
He thinks of fire. As he rolls out of bed.
Grabbing a cigarette from his ashtray,
he lights up. Old habits stay kept in the roof of his mouth. Fresh air
permeates through his nostrils as he steps out onto the front porch.
He props his elbows on the balustrade,
brushes against the grainy wood
tarnished from the skywater.
The sun droops below the gray cluster of clouds
hanging over a horizon colored with blues, reds, and yellows.
While he smokes on his cigarette he remembers the girl. Her name is a
wrinkled photograph stored in a dusty shoe box.
She has green eyes and curly red hair.
Her body is shaped in an hourglass figure.
She's tall and gaunt, but her
legs are toned from running several miles on her treadmill
each morning before the dark slips away into the fog of light.
He grounds the cigarette out on the porch. He steps onto the driveway. There's a red
Honda CRV parked across from the two-car garage.
He hops in. The key turns.
Booming engine roars out loud.
The wheels churn backwards. He pulls out of the
cul-de-sac. And he drives, drives,
until he can remember the road map, the one
that she stole from him to follow her dreams, and hopes, the aspirations that he had
once shared with her. A thin, white film of mist
belays across the windshield.
And for a short second he wishes that he were dead.
Dead so that he could have the
perspective of an omniscient narrator to oversee everything, and everyone.
But where is his girl? She's not the one who got away,
she's the one who abandoned him, the
night after he ate the sweet nectar,
the fruit, little drops of dew splashing onto the back of his tongue.
The red Honda CR-V careens down the interstate, windows down, subwoofers pumping
with something similar to apprehension,
tense with overwrought poems.
The substance lacking from trying too hard,
for something that wants nothing to do with him.
1000 · Apr 2016
X
Andrew T Apr 2016
X
She is the last cigarette in a crumpled pack
that you have lost,
and now you have found.
I pull out my lighter
and put the cigarette to my lips.
My hand trembles, the lighter slipping through my grasp.
There’s smoke spreading across the fresh air,
billowing from another smoker’s cigarette.
I smell it.
The smoke engulfs my lungs.
I refuse to cough and I breathe in deep.
My knees begin to bend and I sit down,
on the curb.
But,
I lose my balance,
stumbling,
as though I had the laces on my tennis shoes
tangled,
warped,
an imperfect figure eight,
a dog flap for a rabbit’s ear.
Andrew T May 2016
A recent BBC Headline reads: US orders ban on trans-fats. In a day when fat-discrimination has been thought to have stopped, the US is discriminating against the fine and upstanding obese community. Eliminating trans-fats from food will save lives by preventing heart attacks, but it will also eliminate fat jokes, which will set back standup comedy for years to come. Health experts say that Americans continue to consume too much foods with trans-fats, even with trans-fats information labeled on food; in scientific studies done by Dr. Kazuo Takitani, research shows that Americans "Do Not Give A ****" about their health due to entitlement and fatty privilege. Taking trans-fats out of food will reduce coronary heart disease, but it will also make fat people who are stupid more confident, not necessarily smarter. Supporters of French Fries have taken to the streets and are calling on President Obama to stop the War on trans-fats. The Obama administration has responded with a statement in regards to the trans-fat crisis, and have said, "Go To The Gym." Obese people are in danger of becoming skinny, and already the obese population of the United States, are hoarding Cheetos and pizza rolls in their ***** packs, in order to stop the madness. In this day and age, health is a choice, skinny and **** people, the ones who are supporting the ban on trans-fats, do not know the irreparable damage they are doing to the fat American white male, who's narrative will always be ingrained in the American consciousness. A chubby boy named Paulie was interviewed earlier today as he was eating French fries and a large soda: "The government doesn't care about Fat people. We deserve better treatment. We matter. We exist. How am I supposed to survive without Mickey D's fries? Do I look like I can exercise? I'm moving to Canada." When Paulie was informed that Canada was strongly thinking about following in the US's footsteps, Paulie suffered from food coma and passed out in his chair. The United States is slowly turning towards becoming healthy and fi; many people oppose this trend, while others embrace it; all that can be said is that change will shocking, can give some people a new perspective on life. Stay tuned for more details. Now here's Marcus with today's weather report.
986 · May 2017
Sleepless
Andrew T May 2017
Drink the first beer after you wake up. The door to her bedroom is closed, so don't play the acoustic guitar, loudly, if at all. A dog is laying on the lumpy couch. Try your best not to disturb the dog who’s name is Pasco. You hear her talking upstairs, but you don’t go say, hi. Put on your coat, grab your smokes from your pocket, go outside to the porch and light up. No one is outside. It’s dark and the birds are chirping, and she hates when they do that. Do you best not to drink too fast, as you down the second beer. Try not to think about how she accepts you, or rejects you. Think about Virginia. Think about Chicago. Think about LA. Then breathe in deep. Don’t pass out, as you drink the third and fourth beer, one after the other. Throw the keys into your laptop bag, so you don’t try to reach in there and grab them. Sit down on the stoop. Pick up your cig from the ashtray, light it again, and smoke it. She doesn’t care as much and you’re going to have to be okay with this fact of life.

Don’t sleep on the couch tonight.
couch spotify uber cool word beers chicago virgina
950 · May 2016
A Love Letter to Richmond
Andrew T May 2016
A Monday morning in Richmond
     is like waking up with your head
   shaking with commotion.

You pray while you take a dump.
       You end up going across the street to Starbucks,
    with three-sixty left on your credit card.

For some reason unbeknownst to you,
you feel that you're a Renaissance artist,
brought to earth to perform studies on human beings.

Little by little you realize that you're the son of God.
There's a moldy tennis ball in
your pocket labeled: God.

Rap, or is it, Rock music that pumps through your ears?
And you're not afraid anymore.
You start to notice the handwritten facade built around your surroundings.

The State Farm billboards
perched above the scaffolding.
Your nose drizzles with crimson.

Memories of the Christopher Walken Impersonator stains the keyboard.
There is no real difference between the garbage man
and your best friend, the one who supplies you with mescaline.

And the comedown feels like a Indian Monsoon.
Electrocute your senses
until you've turned numb to your baby sister Victoria.

The Toyota Avalon cruising up
the street corner with the yellow high beams
is not the white witch from The Wizard of Oz.

Trip falls.
Inhale smoke.
Speculate more.

Dirigibles in the clear, blue sky plummet down.
You listen to your parents while you're high on *****,
wondering why mom dukes looks like Johnny Depp.

Fingers tremble as you try to type out
a handwritten letter from prison.
You meant to text message your mom, "Happy Mother's Day."

And instead
you typed out to her,
"Happy Birthday Mother!"

Lows and highs permeate through your heart.
Caving in, the walls crush into each other.
That girl was married and you gave her a head start on life.

You stole your best friend's birthday money to buy M. You tell yourself everything
is going to be okay as you swivel in your leather recliner,
A ****** dollar bill jammed up your left nostril.

Long, blue rails dotting the wrinkled notebook paper,
used up from the last owner. You
can't stop coughing.

You throw up on your clothes.
And you start to think that
maybe you are ******* up and you can't stop without an intervention.

Then
you start to think,
maybe this is all in my head.

The cold wind nips at your exposed ankles.
Red sores develop on the back of your elbows.
Local pariah is far away from his hometown.

Your favorite Uncle has stage 4 lung cancer,
and you're chain smoking menthols
to ease the edge that splits your brain in half each morning.

What is struggle without the lost—
without the success on the other side of sanity?
You pop prescriptions to ward off the insects gnawing away at your eyeballs.

Gouge your intestines with a straight edged blade bought
from the dollar store.
Ode to Keroauc.

The unholy manuscript written with pen and needle.
Cool story bro.
But you have nothing, but mistakes to offer to this unjust world.

And earth continues to spin on an uneven axis.
When it comes to a point where fiction and nonfiction
        are void of speculation.

           When it comes to the point where reality and dreams coincide
and you begin to stumble
over your shoelaces that are tied.

When it comes to a point where
               your enemies and friends seem the same that is the point
when you attempt to sleep.

But sleep will always allude you, you Danny Art
          So read your poetry aloud to the unsung.
To the sleepless.

The Walkers dressed in rags approach you,
smoking on black and milds, dark rings
circling their eyelids.  

And the time of night which you so longingly search for
in the face of listening to The Dark Knight soundtrack, gives you a pulse, a sudden click that boosts you into peril.

That bloodstain drenching
the corner of your eye sweats profusely. And that's when you start to wonder:
is everything that I'm doing baked in fallacy and witchcraft?

The comedown.
The comedown.
The comedown.

You are the burden of my fellow constituents, lost in reverie,
gone in madness, forlorn from deeds,
that are too great to imagine.

Your tears mean nothing
in comparison
to the world at large.

And that's okay.
And that's okay.
And that's okay.


You begin to discover,
that you do not write poetry,
but you write greeting cards in a journal.

Or a pen and pad,
ink
and blood.
948 · Jan 2017
Cassette
Andrew T Jan 2017
Kiss me good-bye until the thunder stops clapping,
until the moon starts glowing, until we all crawl
back to the fireplace, where the logs are burning
and the kids are laughing. Take me to the underground,
to a place I’ve never heard about.
Make me forget how I’ve hurt you.
Ask me questions, even if I can’t give you
all the answers.
Please accept my excuses, even if they’re useless.
Drink coffee with me, beneath the terrace,
as the smokers vape, and the drinkers guzzle.
Tell me what you love about the sunshine
that peeks under the rainclouds.
And tell me to stop,
if I’m talking too much.
Because I can listen to you speak,
on this cassette tape, over and over.
Press play.
923 · Aug 2016
Franklin
Andrew T Aug 2016
You constructed a towering cathedral out of popsicle sticks
and blue Lego pieces, searching for deeper meaning
through building a foundation from discarded dreams
and stuttered melodies. I listened as you played folk and bluegrass covers on your acoustic guitar, wondering if we would ever cross our arms into a figure-eight on a rainy morning,
in the middle of a fire-fight between the Vietcong
and Francis Coppola.

Remember when we watched “Lost in Translation” and you asked did I feel isolated and anxious around large groups of white people? I wanted to nod, but instead
I smoked green out of an apple and ate the core,
as smoke lingered under my chin. You tapped my shoulder,
stared me down, and forced a grin, as though you knew
my answer would be nothing but manufactured nouns and verbs, gibberish, and Pig-Latin with no room for form, or design.

The sun belted heat rays down on our tired faces, stopping only
when a Mac Demarco song crooned from the boom-box on the
patio table and as we heard the beat and the lyrics,
we took shots of fireball and had a discussion on EDM festivals
and the rise of smartphones capturing moments of racism
and hatred with each video, each picture.

I wanted to read “Kafka on The Shore” to a six tennis players
from my country club, but they were too busy
staging a protest for an increase in minimum wage jobs
and besides Murakami spoke with a thick Japanese accent,
which turned off white people who revered his prose.
A shame you didn’t draw a faux Calvin and Hobbes
comic strip about Susi Derkins finding nirvana
in watching “Game of Thrones” while sleep-deprived
and eating half a bar of Xans. We drank the entire bottle
of Captain Morgan’s and still Drake’s Uncharted story mode
didn’t seem any less fascinating.

Your cousin Bonnie crashed
a white Ford Mustang into the back of U-Street Music Hall
and I cringed as I rode shotgun, the airbag releasing and smacking into my ruddy face, all the life I’d lived gleaming
beneath the shadowy figure I bought last weekend
at the thrift shop on West Broad Street.

You could have come over last Thursday to listen to
me play jazz on the piano for Epicure’s open mic night,
but you were too busy playing saxophone on the veranda
in Georgetown’s Waterfront and anyhow,
you wanted a relationship forged on trust and great ***,
and I could barely get out of my townhouse without
writing a diary entry etched in bone marrow and angel dust,
plus you told me, “I love your imaginary brother.”
And all I have is a teddy bear named Franklin.
You could have come over last Thursday to listen to
me play jazz on the piano for Epicure’s open mic night,
but you were too busy playing saxophone on the veranda
in Georgetown’s Waterfront and anyhow,
you wanted a relationship forged on trust and great ***,
and I could barely get out of my townhouse without
writing a diary entry etched in bone marrow and angel dust,
plus you told me, “I love your imaginary brother.”
And all I have is a teddy bear named Franklin.
You could have come over last Thursday to listen to
me play jazz on the piano for Epicure’s open mic night,
but you were too busy playing saxophone on the veranda
in Georgetown’s Waterfront and anyhow,
you wanted a relationship forged on trust and great ***,
and I could barely get out of my townhouse without
writing a diary entry etched in bone marrow and angel dust,
plus you told me, “I love your imaginary brother.”
And all I have is a teddy bear named Franklin.
Dedicated to my homeys
898 · May 2016
We Were Sheltered
Andrew T May 2016
The neighborhood was surrounded
by looming trees and basketball hoops,
shrouded in a blanket of blinding sunshine
that burned the petals
off of the white magnolias
and the pink petunias
that all stood crooked in the rigid garden,
the soil entrenched with dead caterpillars
and corpses of black birds.  
There were large holes
that were pocked in the slanted driveways.
Tarnished, ruby red sedans sat side by side,
their tires deflated and front fascias
caked with mud and grime.
Each house had a flat roof with peeling shingles,
and wide gutters that were strewn with brown leaves
which fluttered down to the front lawn
when the winds from the Northeast
pushed through to cover the neighborhood with
freezing air.
A little girl was chasing a little boy,
swinging at him with a whiffle ball bat,
hollering until her voice was hoarse,
the white sundress she was wearing, frayed
on the edges, her long hair bleached from the sun.
The boy had a deep shiner on his left eye
and snot flying out his nose while he giggled,
running around in circles and circles,
pulling up on his trousers which kept
slipping below his waist, the buttons
on his dress shirt dangling against the fabric.
A short woman with hunched shoulders
was leaning back in a rocking chair,
snapping open a cold beer,
tapping her blue slippers together,
gazing at the children, her chin in her hand,
wishing she could run freely without
the bones in her legs cracking and bending
from one end to the other.
The weather was muggy, slicking
the pools of water that had been collected
beneath the lonely streetlamp, its bulb opaque
on one side, and naked on the other.
I remember that we were sheltered in this environment,
imprisoned from the blaring sirens atop the police cruisers
and the nasty rodents, which crawled along
the winding streets looking for innocence in children.
And now we are living apart from our gated communities,
decaying away in our studio apartments and cozy bungalows,
watching Reality TV shows and college football games
on our 50 inch screens while we indulge in pistachio ice cream
and IPAs, thinking we are safe, thinking we
deserve our privilege, thinking that we need more.
More income, more flesh, more vehicles.
When all we need is a half-hour of conversation
with someone who cares about our disposition
dreams, and longings. And does not require
our status, our background, or our possessions.
We were sheltered from this world of hate and love,
and had to find ourselves through material objects,
and careless people.
But we can change and become better,
better than who we are now, beyond
what is said to be vibrant and beautiful.
Because we are human,
and are able to understand
what is right
and what is wrong.
Before we were sheltered
and now we are exposed
to the pain, to the suffering,
to the beauty, to the happiness.
The shelter has shattered
into many halves,
that do not have to be carried
on our backs
until we are old,
until we are gray,
until we collapse.
887 · Jan 2017
Breakfast
Andrew T Jan 2017
For a week straight, I avoided going to the supermarket, even when my stomach grumbled and the fridge stayed empty and lonely. And instead, I looked through my binoculars from the tree house my dad had built with a few planks of wood, nails, and a rusty hammer. A place he’d built before I was put into my mother’s arms and put into a bright blue cradle. Blue as the shirt Abigail was wearing, the same day the cops busted her for giving head to my best friend Isaac in my Toyota Camry. Right in the middle of the parking lot of the supermarket, as I bought pancake batter and cage-free eggs for breakfast.

And Abigail never ate that meal after she spent a week wasting away in a cell block, reading JD Salinger stories over and over, as though his words could heal her marks and bruises.

Today, I made pancakes and eggs for breakfast.  I waited for the TV to load a Netflix show, hoping Abigail had learned from her mistakes. She passed me the salt and pepper shakers, as I lit a cigarette, sat in a chair, and smoldered.

Abigail put her face in her hands, cried for a bit, even reached for the ***** bottle.

We went to the supermarket later, walked down one aisle, and picked up meat and potatoes. As we headed for the self-checkout line, I passed the breakfast section and saw the pancake batter and the eggs. Abigail crumbled to the floor, said, “I’m so sorry.”

After that, we never touched breakfast.
883 · Dec 2016
Shades
Andrew T Dec 2016
You’re eyes are black and white
They make me think you have an old soul
They remind me of classic films,
Of the dusty keys on our piano
Different races but no winner from competition.
I wonder
What these sunglasses will do for you
865 · May 2016
Routines
Andrew T May 2016
Every morning I went
to the coffee shop across the street
from my house,
because I didn’t work.

For every resume I typed out,
I wrote a poem,
in order to keep me from
sending you a text marked with a white flag.

A skull was concealed in the flag,
as a watermark. The sun made
love to a cluster of clouds,
while I rolled a cigarette using strands of your brown hair.

I opened my wallet
and took out a photograph
of me and you from the booth
that one night when you made a fire out of caskets.

Your face had been glowing with warmth,
as if you had drained all the light out of the sun,
and had taken a shower in its yellow glow.
Your eyes were bright with a hopeful future.

Then you grew your hair longer,
and pulled it over your eyes,
like twin pirate eye-patches.
But you’d said you weren’t blind, just indifferent.

Today I wrote another poem on a countertop,
in the coffee shop,
and bandaged the wounds you gave me
when you told me you never cared about me.

One of the baristas wearing a brown apron
and a blue baseball cap, gave me poems
from James Tate. And as I read
“The Lost Pilot” it started to drizzle from the ceiling.

I wasn’t sure if it was rain pouring on my head,
and on my poems, or if it were melted ice-cream,
rich and thick in its texture,
Our first date we stole vanilla ice-cream from a Giant.

You stuffed it in your golden purse,
and ran through the doors, as a fat security guard
chased after you. Then, you hopped
into my blue Volkswagen and we sped off.

I was perfectly fine with being the getaway driver,
you dipped a bent spoon
into the plastic container and scooped out
the ice-cream. You ate it hungrily.

And after I took a bite,
we went to the park and swung on the swings,
coasting up and down in the air,
vanilla stained on the front of our black shirts.

Back at the coffee shop, I played the keyboard
in the bathroom because I was shy,
shy of you finding out,
because you love piano melodies.

And I guessed I wanted to play
for myself for a change. I played
“My Cherri Amour,” and drank gin
from a flask, until every key looked like a playing card.

After I played the song,
I left the coffee shop
,went home, and painted our last conversation,
using words from a newspaper.

“It’s over.”
“You were never right for me.”
“You’re not mature enough for a relationship.”
“I never want to see your face at Peets.”

Peets was the coffee shop we would always go to,
every morning, rain or shine,
rested or exhausted, and
I remember you would read my poems.

You read my poems as if they were
Daphne Loves Derby song-lyrics. Last night
you texted me that my poems
sounded like rushed and convoluted emails.

After that I blocked you on everything,
from social media to your number.
I hoped we would grow weak with joy,
and grey with age.

Words, whether from your lips,
or a text shattered the trust
I gave you, as if it were
my social security code.

In front of the bathroom mirror,
I took a pink eraser and rubbed it
against my foreheard,
to remove the wrinkles.

Each wrinkle represented a time
when you had failed me, or
when I had failed you. Our failures
were weights that I had balanced in my memory.

Kaufman would be pleased
of my progress. I wrote a sculpture
with glass and tears
at my desk, alone in my clean, well-lighted room.  

And then I took the sculpture,
and buried it
in my backyard, right next to the grave
of my old and weak self.

I smoked a cigarette using
sad memories as rolling papers.
As the paper burned slowly, I
let the smoke fill my heart.

Because my lungs were tired,
tired from breathing, tired from
living for you. Because you
are not the only thing that matters anymore.
861 · Apr 2016
B.P.
Andrew T Apr 2016
I met Lori at a beer pong table. She was tall. A trash talker. Beach blonde hair. Eyes blue, blue as the sky on an afternoon in July, when the weather was cool from a light rain. This was post-college—a house party, for young adults who wanted more from life than the typical 9-5. She wasn’t from NOVA. She was from Weston, FL. Her teammate was a guy she was with at the time—they ended up breaking it off and for a while she was dating Cam, a pro-bass fisher, a long distance relationship, but they loved each other. But at the table, I was competing with her teammate, later on I ended up mentally competing with Cam, which didn’t do any good except to make me chain-smoke jacks and drink bourbon. I had a girlfriend at the time—let’s just call her Voldy. My teammate was Lori’s best friend Erica. This girl had swagger; played beer pong like Dr. J, always got us roll backs. I was tall as **** for a Vietnamese American—still am tall as **** for a Vietnamese American (Don’t worry my guys, my family’s from the Southside)—and in college we had built a beer pong table, at a spot called the pink house. “We,” meaning my roommates and I: CJ, Trevor, and Samuel. The U.N. I had practiced daily, playing before class, playing after class. Height made a difference; some great basketball player once said you need to have game on and off the court. I wasn’t sure what court I was on when I was in that moment. Lori was more than appearance; more body language; more eye contact; more southern twang; and more astuteness, than a TED Talk combined with NPR, combined with The New Yorker, combined with Al-Jazeera and linked with Wikipedia on a ***** binge. I could talk all day about how she looked, how she dressed. But I told you what you need to know. She shot first, her right arm shaped like a swan, the type of swan that sits on a lake in the middle of a spring morning, the type of morning when the sky is blue with the eyes of a girl who has seen too much, been through too much, and has heard too much. She sank the shot. Her teammate roared. But all I could hear was Lori’s voice; soft as the piano notes played by Sakamoto’s right hand, loud as the piano notes played by Sakamoto’s left hand. Blu was not how I was feeling. Or maybe I was.
Because at this table I had to either take a loss,
or seal a win. I didn’t know what I wanted. But I wanted her. Wanted her, like how you wanted a postcard
from Santa when you were 5 years old, and it was opposite day. So you got the address wrong,
and the letter was never received. And your parents told
you to keep trying so you did, you did, and you did,
but you were young and naïve. You didn’t know
what was real and what was not real. And now I was
at a place in time, when the setting didn’t matter,
and the alcohol didn’t matter, and the drugs didn’t matter.
All that mattered was her.
Because when I shot that orange ping-pong ball,
I kept eye-contact with her eyes.
Blue, much more blue
than the water in the red solo cups we were playing with.
I wish it were water from the beaches in Florida,
beaches I could read a Salinger story on,
beaches I could rest on
beaches I could lay on,
lay and take in the sun
that rises above my soul
that aches for something more.
But Lori wasn’t Brett Ashley,
she was more Daisy Buchanan
than anything.
But does that make me Tom or Jay?
Jimmy or Nick?
I didn’t know and I still don’t know.
What I do know, is this;
the ball sank into the
first cup of the triangle.
Lori’s face went from cocky,
to frustrated, from frustrated
to relaxed,
from that
to a smile.
One that I remember, and one,
I won’t forget.
Because all I want to do is forget,
Take my memory and squeeze
the bad **** out,
twist the living **** out of it,
and burn it with a match.
Because she thinks I’m the one,
Who did her wrong, but it wasn’t me.
I put that on my integrity, even if my words don’t mean much to your ears: please listen.
I was inebriated, 3/4ths of the time we chilled.
So I didn’t know what was false and what was real.
You can check my temperature,
Because when you’re in my thoughts I get a fever
And hey, I shouldn’t have made a pass on your roomie
I should have thought before I texted, because now your trust in me has been affected.
We’re not talking. I can keep apologizing for what happened, but you don’t want to listen to a broken record.
I wish the bad memories would pass away and I guess they’re all in the past today.
Look, I don’t have a time machine
strong enough to change all the mistakes that I’ve made.
But take this as a time capsule,
this piece that I’m sharing. Like that piece we were sharing. The one that belonged to you.
The one I wish I could kiss again,
Because your lips touched it,
And mine never touched yours.
Hey, guys this is my first poem. I used to be on Hellopoetry and then I deleted my account a long time ago. But now, I'm back on the site and I'm excited to start reading poetry from others in the community! Hopefully, my creative work is something you can find connect with and find meaning in.
855 · Jul 2016
For Vicki
Andrew T Jul 2016
Backstory: A Memoir

For Vicki

By AT

5

While I was downstairs, folding laundry in the basement, I heard my sister Vicki stomping upstairs to the room that used to be mine, slamming the door, and locking it shut.

I was a ****** older brother. And Vicki learned that action from me.
Then, I heard more footsteps. Louder stomping. And I knew, with certainty, it was Mom coming after her.

I'm not an omniscient narrator, so I don't know what Vicki does when the door is locked.

But I do imagine she is reading. Vicki’s been using her Kindle that Mom got her for Christmas. She adores Gillian Flynn and Suzanne Collins. She's starting to get into Philip Pullman which is swagger. I remember reading His Dark Materials when I was in elementary school.

The Golden Compass ***** you into that world, like during June when you're hitting a bowl for the first time and you're 17, late at night on Bethany beach with your childhood best friend, and the surf is curling against your toes, and the smoke is trailing away from the cherry, and you begin to realize that life isn't all about living in NOVA forever, because the world is more than NOVA, because life is bigger than this hole, that to some people believe is whole, and that's fine, that's fine because many of our parents came here from other small towns, and they wanted to do what we wanted to do, which is to pack up our stuff into the trunk of our presumably Asian branded car, and drive, drive, until they reach a destination that doesn't remind them of the good memories and the bad memories, until memory is mixed in with nostalgia, and nostalgia is mixed in with the past.

Maybe I'm dwelling on backstory, maybe you don't need to hear the backstory.

But I think you do.

Life isn't an eternity,
what I'm telling you is already known, known since there was a spider crawling up the staircase and your dad took the heel of his black dress shoe and dug his heel into that bug. And maybe I'm buggin’, but that bugged me, and now I'm trying to be healthier eating carrots like Bugs. Kale, red onions, and quinoa, as well. Because I want to be there for my sister, Vicki my sister. All we got is a wrapped up box made from God, Mohammad, and Buddha.

Soon, I heard Vicki’s door handle being cranked down and up, up and down.

Mom raised her voice from a quiet storm to a deafening concerto.  
Then, there was silence, followed by a door slamming shut.

Welcome to our life.
Later on that night, Vicki sped out of our cul-de-sac in her silver Honda Accord—a gift from Mom to keep her rooted in Nova—and even from the front porch of my house, I felt a distance from her that was deep and immovable.

I sank deeper into my lawn chair and lit a jack, but instead of inhaling like I usually did, I held it out in front of me and watched the smoke billow out from the cherry.

I always smoked jacks when she was not there, because I didn’t want her to see me knowingly do this to myself, even as I was making huge changes to my life. It’s the one vice I have left, and it’s terrible for me, but I don’t know if she understands that I know both things. Maybe instead of caring about what jacks do to my body, I should care about what she thinks about what I’m doing to myself. This should be obvious to me, but sometimes things aren’t that obvious.

4

As we grew older Vicki and I forged a dialogue, an understanding. She confided in me and I confided in her, sharing secrets, details about our lives that were personal and private, as if we were two CIA agents working together to defeat a totalitarian government—our tiger mom.

But seriously our mom was and still is swagger as ****—rocks Michael Kors and flannel Pajama pants (If I told you that last article of clothing she'd probably pinch my cheek and call me a chipmunk. Don't worry I'm fine with a moderation of self-deprecation).

The other day Mom talked to me about Vicki and explained that she was upset and irritated with Vicki because of her attitude. I thought that was interesting, because I used to have the same exact attitude when I was my sister’s age and I got away with a lot more ****, being that I'm a guy and the first-born. I understood why she would shut the front door, exit our red brick bungalow, and speed away in her Honda Accord, going towards Clarendon, or Adams Morgan, spending her time with her extensive circle of friends on the weekdays and weekends.

Because being inside our house, life could get suffocating and depressing.
Our Grandparents live with us. Grandpa had a stroke and is trying to recover. Grandma has Alzheimer’s and agitates my mom for rides to a Vietnamese Church. Besides the caretakers, Mom, Dad, Vicki, and I are the only ones taking care of my grandparents.

Mom told me that she believes that Vicki uses the house as a hotel. Mom didn't remind me of a landlord, and I believe that Vicki doesn’t see her as that either.

I didn't believe Vicki was doing anything necessarily wrong.

She had her own life.

I had my own life.

Dad had his own life.

Mom had her own life.

I understood why she wanted to go out and party and hang out with her friends. Maybe she was like me when I was 21 and perceived living at home as a prison, wanting to have autonomy and freedom from Mom because she was attempting to make me conform to her controlled system with restraints. But as Vicki and I both grow older I believe that we see Mom not as an authority figure; but, just as Mom.

Vicky and Mom clash and clash and clash with each other, more than the Archer Queens of The Hero Troops clash with the witches of the Dark Elixir Troops.

They act like they were from different clans, but they're both on the same side in reality.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. And in this case the tree wants to hang onto the apple on the tip of its rough, and yet leafy bough.
Because the tree is rooted in experience and has been around for much longer than the apple.

But the apple is looking for more water than the tree can give it. So the apple dreams about a summer rain-shower that will give it a chance to have its own experience. A similar, but different one, to the darker apple that hangs from a higher bough, an apple that has been spoiled from having too much sun and water.

3

During Winter Break, Vicki scored me tickets to a game between the Wizards and the Bucks. From court side to the nosebleeds, the audience at the Verizon Center was chanting in cacophony and in tempo. Wall was injured. But Gortat crashed the boards, Nene' drained mid-range shots, and Beal drove up the lane like Ginsberg reading Howl.

Vicki and I both tried to talk to each other as much as we could; unfortunately, Voldemort—my ex-gf—sat in between us and was gossiping about the latest scoop with the Kardashians.

Nevertheless, Vicki and I still managed to drink and have an outstanding time. But I should have given her more attention and spent less time on my smartphone. I was spending bread on Papa John's Pizza and chain-smoking jacks during half-time, and even when there were time outs. When I would come back and sink into my plastic chair, I'd feel bloated and dizzy.
And I'd look over at Vicki and either she was talking to Voldemort, or typing away on her smartphone. I didn't mind it at the time, but now I wished I had been less of a concessions barbarian/used-car salesman chain-smoker, and more of an older brother. I should have asked her about her day and her friends and her interests.

But I didn't.

Because I was so concerned about indulging in my vices like eating slices of pepperoni pizza and drinking overpriced beer. There's nothing wrong with pizza or beer. But as we all know the old saying goes, everything is about moderation.

Vicki scrunched her nose and squinted her eyes when I would lean forward and try to maneuver around Voldemort, trying to talk to her about the game and the players in it. I imagine that when she smelled the cigarette smoke leaking away from my lips, that she believed I was inconsiderate and not self-aware.

After the game, we went to a bar across the street from the Verizon Center, and bought mixed drinks. Voldemort was D.D., so Vicki and I drank until our Asian faces got redder than women and men who go up on stage for public speaking for the first time.

I remember this older Asian guy was trying to hit on her.
I took in short breaths. Inhaled. Exhaled. I cracked my shoulder blades to push my chest forward.  

And then, I patted him on the back and grinned. The Asian guy got the message. You don’t **** with the bodyguard.

Vicki had and still has a great boyfriend named Matt.

I guided Vicki back to our table and laughed about the awkward situation with her.

The Asian guy craned his head toward me and did a short wave. And then he bought us coronas. Either, you’re still hitting on my sister, or it’s a kind gesture. She and I better not get... Or am I overthinking it?

But seriously, I wished I had been the one to spend money on her first—she had bought the first round of drinks. Because at the time, my job was challenging and low-paying. Or maybe I just wasn't being frugal enough and partying way too often.

I still remember the picture that a cool rando took of us, drinking the Coronas, and how I was happy to be a part of her life again. Our eyes were so Asian. I had my lanky arm around her small shoulders, like a proud Father. She had her cheek propped up by her fist, her smile, gigantic and beaming, as though she had just won Wimbledon for the first time.
I was wearing a white and blue Oxford shirt that she had gotten me for Christmas with a D.C. Rising hat. She had on a cotton scarf that resembles a tan striped tail of a powerful cat.

My face was chubby from the pizza. Her face was just right like the one house in Goldilocks. The limes in the Coronas were sitting just below the throat of the bottles, like old memories resurfacing the brain, to make the self recall, to make the self remember how to treat his family.
Or maybe this is just a brand new Corona ad geared towards the rising second-generation Asian American demographic? I'm playing around.
But end of commercial break.

Vicki pats me on the back and we clink bottles together. Voldemort is lurking in the background, as if she's about to photobomb the next picture. Sometimes I don't know if there's going to be a next picture.
Either we live in these moments, or make memories of them with our phones. And like sheep following an untrustworthy shepherd, we went back to our phones. She made emails and texts. I went on twitter in search of the latest news story.

2

Before Vicki and I opened each other's presents, I remember I blew up at Mom and Dad, and criticized everyone in the family room including Vicki. It was over something stupid and trivial, but it was also something that made me feel insecure and small. I was the black sheep and she was the sheep-dog.

I screamed. Vicki took in a deep breath and looked away from my glare, looked away to a spot on the hardwood floor that was filled with a fine blanket of dust and lint. I chattered. She rubbed her fingers around the lens of her black camera and shook her head in a manner that suggested annoyance and disappointment. I scoffed. She set the camera down on the coffee table and pressed the flat of her hand against her cheek, and glanced out the window into the backyard that was blanketed with slush and snow.
Drops of snow were plunging from the branches of the evergreen trees and plopping onto the patches of the ground, plunging, as though they were little toddlers cannonballing off of a high-dive.

She turned back and looked at me straight in the eye, so straight I thought she was searching for the answer to my own stupidity.

I cleared my throat and said, “I need a breath of fresh air.”

Vicki bit her bottom lip, sat down, and put her arms on her knees, a deep, contemplative look appearing on her face.

I stormed into the narrow hallway, slammed the front door back against its rusty hinges, and trundled down my front driveway, the cold from the ice and the snow dampening the soles of my tarnished boots. I lit a jack at the far end of the cul-de-sac and counted to ten. I watched the cigarette smoke rise, as the ashes fell on the snow, blemishing its purity and calmness. I inhaled. I exhaled. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach that Vicki knew I was having a jack to reduce my stress, stress that I had cause all by myself. I ground the jack against the snowy concrete, feeling the cold begin to numb my fingers that were shaking from the nicotine, shaking from the winter that had wrapped itself around me and my sister.

When I came back inside of the house, I told Mom and Dad I was being an idiot and that I didn’t mean to be such an *******. I turned to Vicki and put my hand on her shoulder, squeezed it, and smiled weakly, telling her that I didn’t mean to upset her.

She nodded and said, “It’s okay bro.”

But her soft and icy tone made me feel skeptical; she didn’t believe me. I didn’t know if I believed my apology. Minutes later, I gave my present to her.

Her face brightened up with a smile. It was a gradual and cautious smile, a little too gradual and a little too cautious. She hugged me tightly, as though my earlier outburst hadn’t happened.

She opened the bank envelope and inside was a fat stack of cleanly, pressed bills that totaled a hundred. Being an arrogant, noob car salesman at the time, I thought it was going to be a pretty clever present. I could have given her a Benjamin, but I thought this would make her happier, because it showed my creative side in a different form.

I remember seeing her spread the dollar bills out, as if the bills were a Japanese Paper fan. Vicki told me not to post the picture I had taken on insta or Facebook. I smiled faintly and nodded, stuffing my smartphone back into my sweatpants pocket. I understood what she wanted, and I listened to her, respecting her wishes. But I also wasn't sure if she was embarrassed and ashamed of me. And maybe I was overthinking it. But again, maybe I wasn’t overthinking it. Social Media, whether we like it or not, is a part of life. And in that moment, I actually wanted social media to display this a single story in our lives. I wanted to show people that Vicki was the most important person—besides my parents—in my life. Because I was so concerned with how people viewed me and because I lacked confidence, lacked security, and lacked respect for myself

Vicki's present to me was a sleek and blue tie, a box set of mini colognes, and refreezable-ice-cubes. I think she called it the car salesperson kit. But I knew and still know she was trying to turn me into an honest and non-sketchy car salesman. And you know what, I was genuine, but I also couldn't retain any information about the cars features—to reiterate my Grandma has Alzheimer's, my mom writes down constant notes to remember everything, and I forget my journal almost every time I leave the house.

After Christmas I wore the tie to work a few times, but the mini colognes and ice-cubes never got used by me. They stayed in the trunk of my Toyota Avalon. I should have used the colognes and the ice-cubes, but I was too careless, too self-involved, and too ungrateful.

1

Back in the 90’s, when we were around 3 and 6 years old, Vicki and I shared the same room on the far left end of the hallway in our house. She had a small bed, and I had a bigger bed, obviously, because at 6 foot 1, I was a genetic freak for a Vietnamese guy. I read Harry Potter and Redwall like crazy growing up, and I would try to invent my own stories to entertain her. Every night she would listen to me tell my yarn, and it made me feel that my voice was significant and strong, even though many times I felt my voice was weak and soft, lacking in inflection, or intonation.

I had a speech impediment and I had to take classes at Canterbury Woods to fix my perceived problem. I wanted to fit in, blend in, and have friends.
Back then Vicki was not only my sister, but my best friend. She used to have short, black bangs; chubby cheeks, and a dot-sized nose—don't worry she didn't get ****** into the grocery tabloids and get rhinoplasty. She wore her red pajamas with a tank top over it, so she looked like a mini-red ranger, and her slippers
Dedicated to my baby sister, love you kid!
824 · Aug 2016
RVA All Day (EDM_Night)
Andrew T Aug 2016
You painted your eyelids with green velvet and ruby red. The fractured mirror kept your insecurity at bay, as sparkle blue glitter poured all over your head from a little tin can.

We drove across the bridge, and through Shocko bottom, stopping at a nearly deserted parking lot sanctioned by an honor code. We double parked behind an Acura sedan, and waited as you snorted half a gram of Molly off your manicured fingernail into each
nostril.

You took in a deep breath, smoked a Parliament, and blew smoke out the
window. After ten minutes we shambled out of the car with our purses tucked under our armpits, and red fire dying in our eyes. When we reached the Hat Factory venue, the line disappeared from our view and we walked to the entrance where two bouncers were posted up. The tall giants marked our hands with black sharpie ink, drawing a large, bold “X” on each one.

Once inside the spacious warehouse, we ascended a white marble staircase and paid a ten dollar entry fee. Another doorman took out his marker and drew a red line, crossing through the dark black “X” that was drying on our hands. You broke off and away, going
straight to the bar. The bartender asked what you wanted to drink, and you requested water. She smiled and gave you a red solo cup filed with tap water and ice-cubes. After you thanked her, she handed you a bright pink glow stick that you wrapped around your forearm, fitting a figure 8 around your skin like a cloth sleeve.

On the stage was a young man dressed in neon colored plaid and skinny jeans. He climbed up a tall stepladder and jumped from the top, belly flopping on a beautiful African Queen bodacious gluteus Maximus, daggering deep into her soaking black spandex, the decadent bodies swimming on top of each other, stroking and staining the pink gymnastic mat with hot sweat and salt. A huge beach ball colored with red, white,
yellow, and blue pinwheel stripes sailed through the air over the balcony, smacking into a deathly thin model who was smoldering her Parliament cigarette into a clear glass
ashtray.

Mollywopped undergraduates gathered around circles where reggae artists harpooned inflatable black and white killer whales with thrift store bought switchblades.

Laying flat on his stomach was an Asian photographer snapping away with his Nikon digital SLR camera, pale hipsters in ***** black blazers and black fedoras hurling red and purple plastic assault rifles into the intense mass of worry-stricken college students carefree for the moment, gyrating and grinding to the womp-womp bass booming from rectangular speakers that squished in a disc jockey and his hardwood stand with his mixer and two turn tables. He scratched the needle along the worn edge of a battle-scarred vinyl record. His fingers zigzagged the sliders, pressed down on buttons, turned up the volume knobs.

Some hyper-maniac golden child bounced around the dance floor, sneaking up behind university sophomores mesmerized by the makeshift floodlights in the rafters blinking on and off. Conversations were made in the head, but never opened up when the girl approached. Stuck up super senior girls with heavy black mascara and matted eyelashes raised their eyebrows and swatted away ***** flies with a wave of their lotioned hand.

***** girls dress in high heels and septum piercing, their ear cartilage stabbed through by unclean metal. A rude person bumps into the Hyper-maniac golden child, causing the golden child to shove squarely into the rude person’s back. Name-calling ensues, threats fired and received, looks exchanged and bitterness rose over any other tension in the fuming room.

In the far right corner were a couple of kids making out; they’d just met.

Walking away from the fight, sidling between sweaty **** people, the golden child swayed upstairs to the second floor, passed another bar and balcony tables, chairs, and dance platforms.
He went through a swinging door and joined a conversation between
a bunch of strangers. Wary around the golden boy, he starts practicing his standup Comedy routine, almost bombing on the first joke. Cheap jacks burned bright orange after a blue flame ignited the tapered paper end. Arms snared around the golden child’s body. Oh how nice! It was his friend from Modern Grammar class, he used to sit next to
her in the second row and copied homework answers from the blackboard with her.
She was happy.
And he was happy.
Andrew T Oct 2016
You Facebook messaged me today.
**** it’s been a month or two!
I remember at Velvet I tried
to be like Lennon to your friend Roxy!
“dance?” I said, raising my arms; eye contact; smile.
She smiled and said, “Oh no that’s ok…”
“Ok, I’m not John Lennon haha…”
Twenty mins go by. I lit a jack.
You and I geeked about Murakami.
I was three Natty bo’s deep. I glanced up; rain fell
Your friend Sara pushed up her huge [ellipses] umbrella.
You mentioned your boyfriend is a Deejay at Flash.
You Facebook messaged me today.
800 · May 2016
Opaque Shades of Richmond
Andrew T May 2016
You could have reached here Wednesday by last choice
Perhaps your mood shifted. All the calm nights
you had now lay awake. You explore the city
built by the perfect people, white cathedral
stands upright on a slant, a compass buried in plain sight,
the gibberish of art students from painting lullabies as sirens.
Only children are asleep. The university
grows younger each year. The best teacher
is always late, not realizing her impact.

The person I’m most comfortable with
stays in bed. Security found indoors
the couch allures, security in the capsule,
The deafening whispers, the genuine friends
who live nearby and can’t talk straight. The blessed temple
building worshiped by advertising majors.

The lucid potential, morning sprints round the track,
a library sustained by crushed Adderall —
glowering orbs rotating back counter clockwise,
out of chimneys the black spirits climb,
detectives bicycling, the honor students rummaging
for class notes in the deep end of the dumpster.

So this is college? That frontier plateauing
before you can dive off a cloud? So this utopia
was a dollhouse, the daily on the doormat
camps in the hallway: waits while the child watches
a sit-com?
Don’t apartments stand still? Are abstract paintings
and basketball supposed to nurture a city,
not only Richmond, but also other lonely cities
of misunderstood brunettes, dank **** and dubstep
the weekend will seldom put out
until the city you moved to shuts its eye?

Just tell yourself, “live.” The best teacher, eighteen
when she moved to the university, still grins
even as she coughs out fiberglass. Any day now,
she sings, I’ll take a drive and leave this place.
I pull her close and say. You haven’t slept in your own bed.
The boy who you’ve always loved still thinks about you.
The books you read before breakfast,
whoever the author may be, inspires
and your least favorite student who raises her hand
is judged but her posture never falters.
792 · Jan 2017
Close the door
Andrew T Jan 2017
While the light faded from the windowpane,
I tried to encourage and push you
like a door swinging slowly on its hinges;
But nothing ever made you happy,
nothing ever satisfied you--
as the cool air grew thick and muggy with warmth,
you stomped on top of the floorboards,
which concealed my wounds, my scars, the bruises
I would never let anyone examine.

We struggled to get on the same page,
couldn't even reach the same sentence.
So when you screamed at me, aggressively and loudly,
I gave you the silent treatment,
your threats unable to rattle me.

Why can't I stop thinking about the way you'd
dry the wet off your back with a bath towel?
Don't you miss how I would blow your belly button,
or how you would moan softly as I scratched your back
with my guitar pick?

The cinema plays homevideos of the two of us
laughing at the drunk girl who wrecked her bumper
on the parking space concrete, and the two of us
holding each other's hands at the John Mayer concert.

A nook, a camera, a pair of sunglasses,
a Michael Kors purse, an emerald bracelet;
gifts to show you I cared, to show you I wanted
more than just one night cuddling in
your younger sister's apartment.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died in his forties,
holding a wine bottle in his hand like a newborn,
as his wife Zelda built a fire pit
and burned his stories, page after page, until
the characters twisted and rolled into ash and charcoal.

Are we the writers?
Or are we the characters?

Tell me you don't love me anymore,
so I could finally close the door shut.
Don't leave me voicemails, or send me text messages
with emojis and memes.

I remember we would cruise around Maryland
and Virginia, in my dad's silver sedan,
blasting music and smoking *****.

But now we're swimming
in the deep end of the swimming pool.
You're wearing a life vest and I'm trying to keep afloat,
as the strong water hits my chest,
and the cold chills my bones.

You are Kate Winslet,
and I'm Leonardo DiCaprio
giving you the inflatable killer whale,
so that you could stay above water,
as I slip under the current of our decaying memory,
the years we've lost,
and the time which we'll never regain.

The door is closing on me
and everything darkens from the lights
to your face.

And I know now, that a piece of my heart
sits at the bottom of your mason jar,
like a corroded anchor
dug deep in the floor of the ocean.

Keep it,
and whether you come inside the house,
or walk out to the driveway,
close the door
like eyes
shutting for the last time.
Andrew T Jan 2017
The radio
plays a different song
depending on your mood.
So I make you turn sour grapes
and suddenly Jimmy Eats World
hits the speakers.

I wait; nothing great ever happens.
Blame it on me,
as I drive under the tunnel.
You put the window down,
light a cigarette, and tell me,
"I put my soul into this art ****."

I don't know how to respond
to that statement, so I keep driving.
The smoke leaks out,
covering the night like a quilt.
You ask me, "Where'd you leave the drugs?"

I don't respond.
Tap my shoulder until I twitch
and say, "Cut it out."
But this time, you open the door,
step out to the road,
and ditch me to go watch "La La Land"
with your ex.

I go home and make a tuna melt.
The sunlight is fading and nothing
good is playing on TV.
The couch pulls out into a bed
and there I shut my eyes.

And I tumble into dreams,
dreams where you exist
to hold me up,
instead
of pulling me down.
761 · Jul 2016
Whip
Andrew T Jul 2016
My shiny car, I love that Japanese luxury
It was a hand-me-down from my mom
I love her for that
I named my car Avy short for Avalon
A good Asian car not like those American cars
Those American cars are big and strong
Asian Cars are easy-going and have nicer sound systems
But there’s something different about this car
Every year
The metal
Rusts away
And I’m scared that one day I’ll lose her
755 · Jun 2016
Stan
Andrew T Jun 2016
Kanye West made me think polos were cool. I thought playing rap music while wearing polos would make me into a rapper. And then I turned into a tennis player. Tennis got me out of the hood. Let it be known. I could have went to court, and instead I chose the Tennis Court.

Tennis is fun. Before it was ratchet. Now it is tennis racket. Rapping was fun. Bernie Sanders liked rap. He liked Killer Mike, and he was a phenomenal rapper. Hilary listened to me. So I don’t know what that means. I should have been a rapper, but when I saw a videotape of Arthur Ashe playing tennis for Wimbledon, I felt a yearning grow inside of my gut, and it grew until I raised my hand to my mouth to smother the scream of nostalgia that I was feeling.

I wanted people to like me so I started rapping at cafeterias and bleacher stands. People drank cola and munched on popcorn as I talked about growing up in the hood of Burke. Real **** went down in the Burke. Like **** you wouldn’t believe. And that’s real.

I hung out on a rooftop overlooking the city drowned in sunshine that was sad as the girl who left me. Kanye West saved me from becoming a *******. And even if he’s an ******* now, everyone knows he was the greatest with 808’s and Heartbreak. Robocop used to play from the car speakers, as we rolled spliffs in the front seat, the wind pouring into the windows.
Andrew T May 2016
A pretty girl sits down at a patio table across from me.
She takes an acoustic guitar
out of her leather purse. I’m drinking coffee grounded from Carver Stories
With one hand, she tunes the guitar,
and with the other she strums the strings
with a beating heart.

I feel an emptiness,
deep from within my chest,
that is like a ceramic jar
missing its precious soil.
The lyrics to her songs
come from a radio station on the moon.

The one that plays
music made out of
empty friends and unplanned successes.
I hum along to the pauses
between her words and clap
to the punctuation marks, constraining her lovely voice.

She sounds like my future.
She sounds like a songbird.
She sounds like running your fingers
through a round, bald head.
The girl looks up from her guitar
and smiles at me, as if I am her second boyfriend.

The same one who she marries
out of necessity,
out of income,
out of security.
I offer her a piece of gum
Etched with masculinity.

She takes a bite.
Then spits it out at once.
I laugh.
She laughs.
And it’s not the kind of laugh that is forced,
or given out of sympathy.

It’s the kind of laugh that says:
“Hey I see you and I know,
I miss the stranger in your smile.
And the kick drum in your heart.
And all love
that I have never received, due to my stubbornness.”

I blinked.
And the girl transformed into
a mirror.
And I changed into the girl.
And then the mirror became the girl.
And the girl became me.

Then we looked into each other’s eyes,
and made love under the spell of a song,
the same one she played in the beginning,
with music notes that sounded like the anguished cries
that come from my heart, the same heart
that she uses to play her guitar.
706 · May 2016
Stay Woke
Andrew T May 2016
I’m waking up from the dream. Now in reality. Wasn’t being conscious. Said too much sketch ****. Did too much sketch ****. Didn’t think before I spoke. And I didn’t think before I acted. Betrayed trust far too many times to count. I can’t be a boy anymore. Resting. Healing. Growing inwardly. Said sorry and my bad way too many times. Those words mean nothing. And now the past happened. It can’t be changed. Staying in the present. And building for the future. To everyone I’ve ever called a friend. I am talking to you. Time heals everything I heard. That isn’t always true. Actions change things. And that is the route I will go with. Towards positivity. Thinking before action. At an age when I can’t be ******* around. Time is too valuable. Never listened to the positive influences. Listened too much to the negative ****. Too much arrogance. Too much carelessness.

I don’t know what you’re thinking.
But this is what I’m thinking.
Doing my own thing.
Planting the seed in the soil.
I know it will grow one day.
Into a tree that people can accept.
Into a tree people can respect.
No more apologies.
Because apologies don’t do ****.
On this new journey.
Distance from the city.
Either.
I asked for too much. Did too much.
I took advantage.
People took advantage.
**** all of that.
Reflecting.
Small goals.
Large goals.
There isn’t a next time.
This is all I have.
697 · Aug 2016
Coffee
Andrew T Aug 2016
A Grande Iced coffee sweetened with whole milk always
supplied Trey, the Zombie, with energy. On a bright yellow morning
Trey sat down on a canvass deck chair outside of Starbucks.
He puffed on his e-cigarette. Then he took a sip from his plastic cup.
And as he tasted the refreshing creamy coffee, he remembered
what it was like to be a human being. Before the infection decimated
the world’s population of men, women, and children, everybody
was killing each other with double barreled shotguns, sleeping
with their best friend’s girlfriend to prove that they were not
in love with their best friend, forcing girls and women of all
ages into cramped basements leaving them with a bowl of
white rice and a cup of water, telling them that they had to sleep
with strange men who lived in America and other countries polluted
with lust and desire, or else they would get sent to the bottom
of a swamp where the Alligators roamed the muddy shores in
search of flesh. Trey remembered that he had been a college student
living at home, working as a tennis instructor part time at the
rec center down the street from where he resided at.
This little girl Amy bit him on the ankle. It was the first time
he had taught her how to hit a topspin serve with such
velocity that the tennis ball would bounce off the service box
and rise over the chain-linked fence, where the zombies were, crawling
over and up onto the hard courts. As Trey drank his iced coffee
he realized that life was more pleasant now. People didn’t shoot each
other anymore. Closeted **** and lesbians didn’t sleep with their best friend’s boyfriends and girlfriends just to prove that they were heterosexuals. And wicked men with shaggy hair and yellow teeth didn’t buy young girls and women from cramped basements and **** them because they had the money and the motivation to follow their lustful desires. No. None of this happened anymore. Now that the Zombies had taken over. Everybody just went to Starbucks, and drank iced coffees sweetened with milk.
694 · Feb 2017
LMS
Andrew T Feb 2017
LMS
I don't feel safe,
as though a predator has found
the combination to my comfort zone,
and now has unlocked it,
and is stealing my peace of mind.
"Please stop," I plead.

My arms are shaking, my hangover
is bigger than Trump's Wall.
The same blocked number appears and reappears
, then repeats on my phone screen.
I had to block you on my Gmail (Is that even a thing?).
Tinder used to be for fun,
and now I have contracted a haunting for five lifetimes.

My old friends do not want to speak to me.
I understand their worries, finally,
and I hope it's not too late to listen.
But your screeching voice is deafening
and it's hurting my sanity.

I'm sitting on my soft couch,
writing this poem,
and my fingers tremble as I write.
Because I don't even feel safe in my own house.
Once upon a time,
I thought we would say the "I dos."
Now, all I want is whiskey until I reach oblivion.

IRL is the steepest road to travel on,
but I chose a shortcut,
and now I have fallen off and into a descent
into a madness that Ginsberg has only whispered about
during smoke breaks at the temple building.
Quitting to smoke cigarettes is easier
than dealing with your stab-wounds of sentences.

Like my FaceBook Status,
if you've ever felt violated and controlled
by an old flame.
Then grab a fire extinguisher,
press the lever,
and put out the conflagration,
before it burns your life away.

-Andy
690 · May 2017
Ending
Andrew T May 2017
Thu used to live in Saigon. When the war ended,
she had fallen in love with a boy who lived next door to her.
He was her first love. He would write love poems to her.
Sometimes they would hold hands.
Once they shared a kiss.
They were young and deeply in love.
But as the war finished, they moved on from each other.
The boy went to live with his family in Australia, while she moved to America.
After they broke up, Thu would still think about him.
He was the one who dumped her.
The breakup crushed her heart.
But she didn’t let it mar her dignity.
Time passed, Thu moved to Virginia
and she went to high school in Fairfax County.
The letters started pouring in from the boy.
But she had too much pride and she didn’t respond until one day.
That was the day that John Lennon was murdered
in cold blood.
She was heartbroken like every other person in the world.
Yet, she also thought of the boy and how much he loved John Lennon.
Thu remembers reading the newspaper, seeing John Lennon’s face
on the front page of the paper.
She took a pair of scissors
and cut a square around John’s face.
Then she wrote a letter to the boy.
And then she sealed the newspaper clipping and the letter in an envelope.
Begged her mom over the phone to send the letter to the boy.
Her mom was still in Saigon and somehow she made contact with the boy.
And she gave the letter to him.
A month later, she opened the mail and there was a letter from the boy.
She read the letter, stifled a cry, and then proceeded to write.
The next day she sent the letter.
Thu was happy to read his words.
It was as though she could hear his voice through his sentences.
Like he was there next to her, looking at her,
speaking to her spirit.
Days passed.
Weeks passed.
And then after a month, she realized he wasn’t going to respond back to her letter.
She couldn’t believe that he didn’t give her a response.

“And that’s the end of the story,” Thu said to her son.
“What do you mean that’s the end of the story? That can’t be the end!”
“Well you’re the writer, right? Think of an ending.”
686 · May 2016
Vapors
Andrew T May 2016
Vicky opened the freezer compartment of her refrigerator, and got out a box of vanilla ice cream. She looked down at the ceramic bowl and scooped a piece of vanilla ice cream with a spoon. She ate it and it tasted creamy and cold.

            Glenn forced a smile, as if he were trying to placate her, and knew he had no chance in hell of accomplishing that feat. He reached out and grabbed her hand, squeezing it.

            “You’re really going today?” Vicky asked.

            “Yeah, I really am. Hey, don’t do that. Can't you be strong for us?” Glenn asked.

            Vicky nodded and watched Glenn take in a deep breath and look down at his scuffed tennis shoes. They went out of the house and walked to the veranda. The sunlight was bright and hot and the ice cubes in the lemonade melted from the heat that blazed and scorched when Vicky pulled from her vape.  

             Glenn pushed his chair back and sat down, the veranda was filled with shade, and he dribbled his fingers on the table in a steady rhythm. She tried not to look at him, tried not to think about him leaving for the war, but all she could think about was him flying a fighter jet and seeing it fly into a golden mountain range, smashing into a thousand pieces of aluminum and scrap metal.

            “I don’t understand why you have to go back to the Middle East…you were so against the fighting in the beginning when the war started. And now you’re changing your mind. I mean, what are you trying to prove?” Vicky asked, taking a sip from her lemonade.

            Glenn folded his hands on the table and said in a quiet voice, “I’m not trying to prove anything. But I got to go over there. So many of my friends have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now people are dying in Syria. All of those refugees are getting murdered. Not killed. Murdered. They don’t have anyone helping them. I just want to make a small contribution and **** these terrorists up.”

            “What about me Glenn? Who’s going to be there for me? Who’s going to take care of me?” Vicky said, feeling her tears brim her eyes.

            “Look Vicky. I have to do this and I don’t expect you to understand what I’m doing, but I need your support. All these people are dying. You can see it all over the news, the net, social media. The terrorists don’t discriminate in their slaughter. Women, men, boys, girls, young and old. Every person is getting hurt out there. I can’t sit back and do nothing. I won’t be gone for long. I’ll be back before you know it. Promise, I’ll come back,” Glenn said, rubbing her Vicky’s hand. He touched the skin right above her wrist and offered her a smile.

            Vicky withdrew her hand immediately, got up from her seat, and went inside to the family room. He was drinking his lemonade when he set the glass down on the countertop and walked into the kitchen. Vicky slammed the freezer door so hard that some of the alphabet magnets fell off. Glenn flinched and cleared his throat as he washed his glass in the sink. The water dripped down his hands and washed his wrists.  

              She set the ice cream down on the countertop and looked directly into Glenn’s eyes. They were droopy and red with his pupils fixated on the large flat screen mounted on the wall in front of him. A computer keyboard sat on the couch cushion and a mouse-pad sat on the couch-arm. The TV screen showed a picture of men and women cramped in black inflatable boats coasting up and down waves that undulated in murky waters. A commercial break popped up: Anderson Cooper doing the news from Turkey.

               Glenn rubbed his chin and his new buzz cut, a huge difference from his old stoner’s shaggy hair. His face was narrow, but he had a broad chin with dimples in his cheeks. He was clean shaven, so much, that it looked like the razor had cut off the frightened expression from his face that had appeared when he found out he was going to be training to be a pilot. Glenn had a huge fear when it came to heights, and had never even been on a plane, let alone flying into an unknown territory like Syria. The military operated with drones at this point in the war, something Glenn hoped he could use instead of actually flying. He tucked in his raggedy camo green tee with the sleeves cut off. He smoothed out the wrinkles in his tan khakis, folded the ends up like edges on a cocktail napkin. Glenn looked comfortable in his old attire, but seemed unsettled, as if unsure about going back into the military.

              Vicky stared across the room at the decaying bonsai trees on the cracked windowsill. She had bought the trees for Glenn and now the leaves were browning and turning dead. Outside, it thundered with lightning. She said softly, “You remember Maggie Drayner, right? Well, her husband died over there. I can’t imagine what she must go through every day. I think she’s gone insane. Just absolutely insane. She cremated him and put some of the ashes in a mason jar, and stashed that in her purse. But she always looks so happy, she tells me: he’s always with her now. I worry about her.”

              Glenn wiped his hands on a bath towel. “So, they’re like us now? Is that what you’re saying? Why are you telling me this?” he asked, turning around to face her.

              Vicky put her hands on her hip and sighed. “If you go over there, they’re going to hurt you,” she said, pulling on her vape. A plume of smoke rose and fell.

               Focused on the screen now, Glenn watched as three American soldiers were standing in front of an American flag. “That’s nice of you to say. Do you understand my perspective though? I really got to help out these guys right now Vicky, I’d feel like I’m letting them down if I don’t go over there. They need me. Maybe you don’t see this, but I’m making a difference.”

              “Life isn’t some stupid game. You don’t get a restart, lives, or a respawn. Why can’t you stay home, stay with me?” she asked. Vicky frowned and pointed at the TV screen. “Do you think that’s smart? Killing people?”

              Glenn reached over to hug Vicky and she moved right out of his grasp. He looked up at her and sighed and said, “It’s a one-way street and both sides are crashing into each other, without any regard for any soul. Baby, baby look at me. Do you think I enjoy doing this to you? That this is a vacation for me? Trust me. I’d rather be doing spending time with you than fighting the enemy. But that’s not how life turned out.”

               Vicky bit her lip. “So this is how life turned out? You’re going to war, and I’m stuck here at home, we’re both going to die aren’t we Glenn?” she said. Her mouth felt sore and parched and her face burned with irritation. She knew she couldn’t stop him from going, not even if she poured quicksand over the front entrance.

                 Glenn ran his fingers through his black hair and rested his chin on his palm. “You know that’s not what I meant, don’t twist my words. You think it’s easy for me to go?”

            She turned away from him and rapped her nails against the TV screen. “What do you see that I don’t? It’s a stupid war. Everyone dies over there. Glenn, you don’t have to save the world. You have me,” she said, feeling some tension in her stomach rise up.

              Glenn picked up the remote control and turned off the TV. The picture went fuzzy and then went black. He said, “Vicky, I’m going to say this once and then I don’t want to have to repeat myself, so please be calm down, and listen to me. Please.”

                 Vicky curled her bottom lip, but didn’t say anything.

                “Do you even know why I’m doing a second tour again? A bomb hit my best friend Theo’s squad on the way to a mission. The car flipped and rolled twice. Theo was the driver and he had severe head trauma. Now, he can’t even remember his first name. He almost lost and arm and a leg due to the explosion. I think his mind is deteriorating. I don’t know how he survived, why some higher power let him breathe another breath. I haven’t been to church in months. But that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is Vicky—the reason why I’m going back into this war, is because, I want to save guys like Theo. I could have protected him. I could have saved him. He’s family to me. We’re brothers. And in my home, I can pretend to fight and protect my family and my country. But it’s not the same. It’s just not. And honestly, I don’t care if this is pathetic to you or if you’re embarrassed of me. You’re going to have to accept that I’m leaving, but that I’m doing it for the right reasons.” Glenn said.

                  Vicky frowned. She went back to the kitchen and opened her ice cream. But she hesitated before scooping any ice cream out. She was looking for substance and instead she was left with melted vanilla cream and vapors.
670 · Dec 2016
Major Bag Alert
Andrew T Dec 2016
A White girl figure with a blank face and
a dress cropped over her knees lays
smeared flatly onto a restroom door;
a black star encrusted shoe kicks open the
Door.
In comes a knocking the delusions
of grandeur that stay suspended in the
Fragrance of workaholic soccermoms.
In one of the bathroom stalls
swims a ****** rosemary, teenage midlife-crisis
Averted. Theses tests were ironically
positive for the genesis of an unborn
Icon. I might have just used the wrong definition of irony.
Moving on. A hand flushes
the remanents of immortality down a sparkling, smiling toilet.
Rolled poems become unscrolled
when writeen on the pampered virgins paper.
In the next stall,
there lives substance for the homeless man
in the deep, brown soil
Of the marsh. A trash can is hunched over the sink,
attempting to dispense it’s
Apathy for a commercial world.
He turns the corner and sees writeen on the wall in
legible, abstract graffetti; “Ugliness is shrouded
under layers of positive
contradictions.” The words are engraved
deep into the cracked out, white tile wall.
Socialist Olympic torches blaze before ash
crumbles into communists tendencies.
The water is clear but the benches
are polluted with foreigner sea ****,
and
beneath the jangled sands
lie the zombies stuffed deep in the black body bags.
631 · Apr 2016
Yesterday's Funnies
Andrew T Apr 2016
You sit down at a desk, coffee in hand, and you try writing a joke for a humor magazine.

“Yesterday, my roommate Angie suggested that I should try being a male role model. And I totally would, but that would conflict with my dream of being a male fashion model. I have all the qualifications of being a model: I’m pretty tall, about 6 foot 3, I enjoy walking around with a constipated expression on my face, and since I’m Asian, I’ll look twenty-two years old for years to come. So ***** a 401 k and medical insurance, when my genetics will give me reliable job security.”

The sunlight hurts your eyes, the pencil point has dulled, and in the next room it reeks of boiled eggs and spoiled cream cheese. You won’t eat brunch for a month.

Angie watches TV on the couch in the living room, pours ***** into her glass of orange juice, spills a little bit of it on her jeans. Her sunglasses are black and make her look like John Lennon. Of course, she’s wearing a stone’s Tee, so you don’t bother to tell her what you think. Telecommuting has been her life for the past six months. She works as a consultant for Accenture and has traveled to Austin, San Diego, Brooklyn, even Miami. You’ve never been outside of Virginia.

Upstairs in your bedroom, you dress in a button-up: pretend you’re a 20’s something professional, instead of a 25-year-old going through a pseudo-quarter life crisis. Getting fired from the dealership wasn’t as big of a deal as losing out on seeing your coworker’s smile when you give them a donut from Krispy Kreme. When you’re in the bathroom, taking a number two, sometimes, you catch a glimpse of your old manager’s enthusiastic smile, and you feel like you’ve let him down.

Go out to the coffee shop on Main Street, sit by the window, scribble hearts on the margins of your notebook. Try writing another joke.

“Honestly any job is fine with me, but I'm a little afraid of going back into the workforce. The last couple of jobs I worked, happened to be with co-workers who ended up becoming my sister's boyfriends. My sister is in a pretty serious relationship now with a guy I used to work with at a tennis camp. So if I get hired and start working again, there's a very good chance that my sister could end up dating a guy who walks around in his underwear for a living,”

Google: starving artist. Consider the picture for the starving artist: straight, white, male. Ask yourself: why are the envelopes in the mail box, also always: straight, white mail. Golf-clap for the correlation created by your inner poet. Contemplate drinking wine during the day; red. Look for jobs on Indeed.com to pass the time.

“And if modeling doesn't work out and he ends up in a deep and dark depression. No worries, just make sure he eats excessively, and he'll be ready new career path as a sumo wrestler.”

Ask for a job application from the barista with the puppy-dog eyes. When you finish the app, intentionally smudge your handwriting to prevent employers from seeing your professional references. Your last six jobs ended in you getting kicked out; a world class record right? No one inside gives the impression that they want to talk to you. Crack your knuckles. Crack your back. As you casually take a drag from your cigarette next to the “NO-SMOKING” sign, wonder if it life would be different if you were Korean; Japanese; Chinese. Puppy-dog eyed barista bangs on the storefront window, mouths: put the cig out dude. Follow the instruction and feel guilt momentarily.

While you wait for the Wi-Fi homepage to load up, resist the urge to text Angie: how’s your day? Or: “Wanna read a joke I wrote?” Cold beads of water drip down the contour of your thumb; incidentally, nobody gives a **** about mundane detail like the one you just mentioned.

Ask the blue-scarf wearing girl if you can keep an eye out on your computer. She asks: sure, how long will you be gone? Don’t tell her you’re going to the bathroom to throw up last night’s combination of supreme pizza and several shots of Johnny Walker. Tell her: I need to wash my face. She nods and noticeably grins, as though she’s caught you doing something incredibly embarrassing.

Once in the bathroom, look into the mirror. Breathe: once, twice. Your hand starts shaking like saltshakers in a Ying-Yang twin’s music video. Stand over the toilet. Close your eyes before you dip your finger into your mouth. Refrain from thinking about her.

“The worst thing about driving in DC is having people call you out on slow driving. And then they see my face and they're like it’s an Asian thing. And I'm like no it's a speed camera thing. I tell my friends I don't think I'm a bad driver. And they tell me Mario kart doesn't count. I tell them I've never gotten a speeding ticket. And they say but you've been in four accidents. I say yeah but I'm golden in Mario Kart.”

You park your car in the driveway. Angie is sitting on a rocking chair and smoking a cigar. Radiohead plays from laptop speakers. Her eyes are puffy red and you wonder how long has she been sobbing for. Would laughter dry up her tears better than a box of Kleenex?  The grass sways. Cars pass by. And Angie pulls up a chair for you. Sit, ask her what’s wrong, and listen to her story. Wait for her to explain the situation, detail by detail, then tell her your best joke, and watch her face break out into a smile, as the smoke from her cigar vanishes into the air, a space opening up now between you and her.
631 · Apr 2017
Hi-C
Andrew T Apr 2017
We walked through the woods,
when it was growing thick with shadows, the way smoke funnels
out a chimney. She wore a hoodie and yoga pants,
attire to match her mood: relaxed and comfortable.
Her eyes reminded me of what lies beneath puddles,
after a rainstorm had passed through
the small hometown, which disowned you.
We wrote songs while sitting on tree stumps,
chewing tobacco and drinking gin.
Because, we wanted people to write movies about us,
like the ones they played before the explosion
took out a half of Paris, DC, and Sydney.
Test me again, and I will never talk to you,
you said those words and you meant it.
I regret ever running
into you at the house,
and falling for you,
like how I'm falling
over on my ***.
And now we will never text,
have a conversation,
or hold each other in bed.
Kiss me goodnight,
but don't say
that you ever cared about me,
because I don't believe
in the lyrics,
your favorite musician sings.
Andrew T Jan 2017
Hillary,

In regards to your previous email, we’ve checked your account and have decided that “alllivesmatter666” is not a sufficient password. Your password requires a letter with caps, and a special character. Furthermore, we regret to inform you that S.O.S is an urgent distress signal, and shouldn’t be used as an acronym for “Secretary of State.” Please refrain from using the words “Secret” and “Classified” in the title box of your emails, this will undoubtedly let foreign spies and officials know the significance of the subject in your messages. If you have any questions, or comments please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

Best regards,

Benny Benghazi,
ITT Manager
(202) 567-9028
Andrew T Apr 2016
This large square ceiling hanging above my body
is a blank canvass that needs to be painted
with bold strokes and bright colors,
with smooth orange and ocean blue,
rapid pummeling rhythms dictating tone and mood.

I have a pen in my hand that squirts out black bird ink,
but to me it’s a stone sculpting tool that carves deep inside my imagination,
and scoops up newborn thoughts before they disintegrate
when I wake up from my daydream.

So I climb on top of a cocktail chair with malleable
aluminum legs and I attempt to shape the dry whiteness
into something colorful and beautiful.

I want to create beauty because I don’t enjoy surfing the channels of Comcast digital entertainment
having to paddle through the brainwashing
and the ******* and seaweed that washes up
on my hometown shore.

The waves are all the same across the television screen, I am desensitized and numb to the upper class Anglo-Saxons,
who mind-****** my favorite poets and Hip Hop musicians in the mouth, so that they cannot speak with

honesty
and
compassion.

I don’t wonder anymore why some prominent media-figures choke on the microphone; it’s because they have been force-fed
chicken-****
and injected with
snake venom.

That’s why I don’t take all my time of leisure resting back on a tan cushioned boogie-board, riding a cable channel that will not take me anywhere except for an escape from the loneliness of living alone, away from close family and good friends.

That’s why I prefer to sit below a yellow and red pinwheel umbrella and stretch my toes in the wet sand, I don’t even need a beach towel to lie on, and sometimes I just want to sink into the grainy sand
and
forget about time,
forget about love,
and
forget about my reason for being here.

But back to molding a new form of living; that top white wall takes up the majority of my apartment and I think it deserves to be drawn on, painted on, spread with posters of voluptuous artists and cool brooding actors.

A canvass needs to have flesh, just as a skeleton needs meat and skin. I stack my sandy tan sofa cushions one after the other on top of the cocktail chair and I reach up to brush long and wide strokes of bravery and euphoria.

The bristle-tips flicked up specks of green apple paint and sunk deep blotches of red heart into the ceiling.

I danced on top of the spongy sofa seats while they swayed to and fro, but I didn’t think of falling down, what is the point of thinking about

failure?

That will only impede progress and I’m not merely trying to fabricate an illusion to drape myself with a safety cloak. I wish I could have pranced and jumped on the wavering cushion tower,
but instead I begun to grow a look of seriousness and submerged myself into a pool of
focus
and
concentration.

Nonsensical imagery floated adrift from my mind and the energy pounced onto my fingertips and I started to write and draw, and draw and write. I popped a small remote from my pocket and made the stereo sing opera, followed by jazz, followed by something bluesy.

Those songs carried me into this calming state where nothing mattered except for the now kaleidoscopic landscapes and the spacemen with hypnotic eyes. I wasn’t jacked up on Columbian coffee beans, diet coca-cola caffeine, nor psychedelic highs and lows, I was just going with the current baby.

When the canoe is in in the river and you’re rowing with a chipped paddle and without a life-vest, don’t even try to make an adjustment when the water gets rocky and the water pushes you around like an elementary-school ***** bully.

You keep paddling and you don’t throw a rope onto a branch and feel the scene; go with the flow and travel down-stream,
because where you came from is long gone and there’s no point in wallowing and pleasuring yourself late at

night just

to feel better about your ****** life.

But, I don’t even want to think when I’m in an artsy mood, I just want peace, and if peace won’t come to my doorstep and will not call me back when I left five messages, then **** peace,
I’ll settle for a shot of cheap ***** and a scrunched-up cig.
I stop drawing and painting and writing
for a while and take a nice long gaze
at my chaotic collage and smile until the jester frowns.

In huge messy cursive were the words, “LOVE YOURSELF, DO NOT SHOW YOUR EMOTIONS AT A WHIM.”

I was now beginning to struggle to smile. This wasn’t easy to be so straight with yourself, I’m used to bending my back in the wrong way

                 and not accomplishing anything in the process.
572 · Jun 2016
Why Do you Hurt Yourself?
Andrew T Jun 2016
She plucks feathers from the tiny hole
in her comforter, handing them
to my trembling hands as if she were
giving me pockets of conversation.

I crumble the feathers with my fingers,
feeling the softness and the lightness.
She gets up and ambles on to
the bathroom, as I drop the feathers.

When she is blow-drying her gorgeous
black hair, I step outside the house
and onto the patio to smoke
a cigarette, knowing she will not approve.

I sip on black coffee, hoping my breath
will reek a little less. After I finish
I come back inside and she walks
into the room, telling me she smells the smoke.

I feel embarrassed. I look down
at the carpet counting all the black
and brown spots, then I come across
the feathers, so white and immaculate.

I move closer to her and run my fingers
through her hair, feeling the knots and
the curls, leaning forward to kiss her lips,
thinking that it will rectify the situation.

She pushes me away and asks "Are you
trying to get cancer?" She crosses her arms
and huffs, narrowing her brown eyes
at me as if I were a suspect in a crime.

I put my hands on top of my head
and try my best not to shrug, but I
cannot help feeling indifferent. And
that feeling makes me think that I'm careless.

She shakes her head and taking a step,
she scoops the feathers from the carpet
and shoves them back into the comforter.
Glancing back at me she asks, "Why do you hurt yourself?"

And I do not have an answer for her.
571 · Dec 2016
ROFLCOPTER
Andrew T Dec 2016
I met this girl at the bus top across from ironhouse condiminums on west broadstreet, and we started talking and I took the wrong bus just to talk to her. I didn’t even have the right amount of change to give to the bus driver. I needed $1.50 and I was thirty-five cents short. So I walked up the asile and asked the cute girl with raybands and lavish brunette hair if she had some change. She smiled and gave me a quarter and a dime. Excellent, I’m in. After I gave the bus driver the bus fair, I leaned back in a chair and I talked to her about literature, writing, reading, poetry. Her name was Anna and her favorite book happened to be “Catcher and The Rye,” she had stacks of notebooks from grade school until now, and she journaled each day in the morning.

We stopped at Willow Lawn and I said: bye. I recommended to her some novels and I wrote down my email on a ripped out pocket book journal page. I passsed it to her, saw her hand close over the note. And then, as I got off the bus, noticed she crumpled up the note.

Later on, I came across a free sandwich, some bowls, a coors light, and a deep tissue massage (my friend is a massage therapist in training; half black; half white; #winning). So imagine being twisted and getting a deep tissue massage with creamy oil lotion. She had this cushioney tan bed to lay down on and relax.

The two girls Rachel and Rachael sang with perfect pitches these great lyrics. We smoked sticky icky *** from a bowl and a plastic orange ****. I pulled up on the carbueretor and vacummed the mushroom cloud of smoke into my lungs, sending radioactive pleasure into my body. A bowl and stem apparatus. Mouth piece. A water pipe or a **** was smokey jazz brass saxophone. The black gas washed by murky water and condensed icecubes sent me spiraling down.

So, I ended up riding on the GRTC bus, smacked sauce, and I wrote all these great ideas, and weird *** descriptions of the bus interior. Went home, changed clothes, swag black VCU shades with neon yellow sides, and a fresh Kanye West Bear shirt with Japanese eyes and shutter sunglasses. I walked down Shafer street and came up to the compass and Hibbs hall. Outside there was a crowd of people freestyle battling, and I enterered the contest. I became a compeitior and I was the challenger, there was no champion yet. I won one round, lost a round, and then went O.T. sudden death overtime. The whole time I was still high, I was carrying around a VCU Cary Street Gym aluminum water bottle with a black insulated sleeve. So I ended up losing, my friend tapped my shoulder and I said whatup and we walked to subway, and I got a foot long Buffalo Chicken sandwich.

We went to his friend’s townhouse on Main and North Harrison Street. I drank a cup of Pineapple and Rasberry Burnetts *****. We went down Cary street, and took a right on Pine Street and then we went to this Delta Chi Fraternity House. There was a kalidescope discoball with rainbow lights. A bar serving jungle juice from an orange gatorade water cooler. I silded my way into the dance floor and turned around and say this girl who I knew. She was someone I taught tennis to when I was an instructor in high school. Needless to say she got extremely attractive. So I was dumbstruck and trying to process all this **** in my mind, and I told her straight up, “Aiight we’re dancing.” And wow. I taught her to stroke the ball well from the tennis lessons. She wore these pink ******* bunny ears and a white dove cardigan and a black halter top, with a dark mini skirt.
559 · Aug 2016
Blue Cap
Andrew T Aug 2016
Each night, indigo blue smoke bloomed from the candle sitting on the patio table while the tall brown-eyed girl spat chewing tobacco into a Styrofoam cup leaning forward with her elbows on the porch railing, watching the black birds pick apart a chicken bone as they teeter tottered across a sable telephone cable. Her name was Candace and she wore a backwards baseball cap, that belonged to her brother Joshua. He had died from a brain aneurysm last year.

She always would tread her fingers around the wide brim of the blue cap, close her eyes and remember how her brother use to take her
to softball practice back when she was in elementary school, driving
her around in his lime green Mitsubishi GT 3000, with the windows down,  and Pink Floyd percolating from the soothing speakers built
into the dashboard. After Joshua had died, Candace dropped out of Mary Washington. She found a job at Movie Theater down the street from the baseball diamond, working at behind the register, arms propped on the countertop, wishing that she had tried out for the club softball team at college. When her shift would end
she’d go back home and sleep in until midafternoon. Then she’d wake up and march over to the library to read the picture books while snuggling  on the lumpy couch with the plump giraffes and short elephants, the toy animals with the holes on the bottom of
their rear ends where the stuffing would roll out whenever she’d squeeze their heads.

One rainy day she strolled to the lake and stole a rowboat from the wooden dock. Dipping the plastic oar into the calm current, she paddled through the blue water, yawning, stuck in her daydreams about winning that soft ball championship back when she was ten years old, and after the game her brother had bought her a fudge brownie sundae
and a strawberry milkshake, with a ****** cherry sunk in the whipped cream.  The night grew darker, as her memories turned more emotional. So she  came back to shore, tied the rowboat back to the dock with looping a knot around the nook with a thick rope cord. Then she went back to her apartment house and
crashed on the couch, the blue baseball cap falling onto the floor.

When she woke up from her nap she put her cap back on her head, and
went out on the porch, lit a cigarette, then gazed out at the shining moon
suspended in the clouded sky. She reached out with her arm, her fingers stretched.

The depths of Joshua’s soul lay beyond her touch, and she knew it.
She grounded out the cigarette, went upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door. And then she cried, cried until the hot tears turned icy with the pain, that was wracking her heart with an emotion that staggered like Joshua had when he was in the kitchen that one day, swaying back and forth. Dropping

to the tiled floor, blood running out his nose like a baseball player
stealing home. Then the memory dissipated from her mind, as if it never
come to fruition in the first place. She took off her blue baseball cap.

She held it in her hands. She clutched the wide brim and treaded her fingers around the stitching, wondering why Joshua had to leave her life.

And why she couldn’t let go of this baseball cap.
559 · Dec 2016
Dance
Andrew T Dec 2016
Dance with me,
under a raincloud,
as sunshine bursts,
like schoolchildren;
leaping through the double doors,
of a rustic brick building.
Flowerpots filled to the brim
with cigarette butts, and bad
decisions, ones made
after dancing on the boardwalk,
as the darkness shrinks away,
for the sun brightens and shakes.
Quivers—the world spinning and spinning.
551 · May 2016
Trailer
Andrew T May 2016
You made me wait for 45 minutes at a Banh Mi shop as the afternoon sun
morphed into a ceiling of darkness. I read a story on Buzzfeed
about break ups and relationship rocky as the road my car sat on.
The gas station was lit up like a theme park, but no one arrived,
and soon I believed you'd been taken, or you'd forgotten about me.
The cicadas started chirping and the humidity in the air cooled down,
and when I was about to turn over the engine, your black Honda scuttled into the parking space covered in puddles. As though, you knew
you could survive on any terrain, whether rough, or wet, smooth, or dry.
We talked briefly, small chit-chat, nothing worth mentioning.
I had already devoured a double-cheese burger and some fries,
but I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to ruin your appetite.
You touched my bicep, told me to flex. I did as I was told, like an old dog, wanting to please its master. My muscle hurt after your fingers drew away, as though my skin showed a wound, something **** and worn.
I tried to smile, but inside I was drowning in false ****** expressions, and shortcut body language. We went inside, shuffling to the L-shape line, you picking up Mochi Ice-cream from the freezer, and me just happy to be in your presence. You said, you missed me and I knew you mean it too.
I said, you don't know how good it is to see you. You nodded and put your head on the nape of my shoulder. Closing your eyes momentarily, I touched your hip and held on for dear life. Because all around us, war battered young and old in countries stricken by fear and poverty. Gifs and Memes provided us with distractions, as you showed me the trailer to a new rom-com. They're just like us, you said.
You're right, I said. I gave you back the phone, before the trailer ended.
Andrew T Jul 2016
Do we really want to leave our hometown?

To hell with this middle-class neighborhood, decorated with manicured front lawns of emerald grass smeared in geese ****. Nobody, but Arnie looked behind the identical white-brick houses for the skeletons half-buried in the backyards. Arnie used to be distracted by the pure white porches, the perfectly red-layered brick, and the ebony pavement seared from the heat of the cascading sun. As the summer morning stretched in monotony, Arnie went over to his mother’s house and looked more closely at the aluminum siding, sweeping his fingers across the crookedness in the fortifications. He touched the void in the blackness and the cracks outlining the surface. Underneath there, no rich substance laid in the soil.

But he knew something full of dread and full of anger resided in the dried-out bark and withered flower petals. With his shovel, he sifted through the dirt and wondered how much longer the seeds could sustain themselves in this soft and vulnerable soil. The ground decayed under his tennis shoes as Arnie closed his eyes, and felt the wind brushing up against his shoulder. He imagined the weather cloaked itself in the guise of a carpenter, chopping down the ancient trees with scythe and axe, and snipping down the stalks of tender flowers before they could grow to maturity.

Later that day, his mother told him children in this neighborhood either blossomed early, or never even experienced first bloom. Arnie ran around in circles, wishing the leaves and petals lost their infatuation with the wind, so they wouldn’t drift away, floating aimlessly from town to town searching for their heaven.

He knew no one wanted to live in this small town their whole life, wasting away in the sunset as the birds weep alone in the nests lined against the rain gutters. His mother and father worked every single day, consumed with their busy selves, they forgot to schedule for an exit-plan, their get-a-way maps stayed locked up in the bottom desk drawer, the hinges rusted over the years.  

When he turned, sixteen Arnie’s parents bought him a new shiny red 2010 civic. They handed him the keys and right then and there, he thought they wanted him to travel, to see worlds that looked different from the one he dwelled in. As he turned over the engine, Arnie realized the automobile appeared less and less as a transaction for his spirit. Not an anchor, but rather a cement block tied around his ankles, the knot tightly secured. The candy coat paint was too bright and too shiny.

He slept in bed that night and wondered would he ever leave his cozy room, as the blankets warmed him up from the approaching winter. He knew he was sheltered, but this shelter was home.

He kept forgetting if the walls were supposed to keep the elements out, or barricade him inside. The roof over his head made him feel secure, but sometimes he felt his home confined his body, his soul, and his spirit, as if his house was a bird cage. He told his mother, Don’t tell me the sky is the limit, when this ceiling
prevents me from spreading my wings, and flying towards the heavens.
I’m leaving this town, he thought.
Our generation believed we were the salt of the earth, as though we’d conquered the city, and yet we still ended up salting the earth, daring anyone to defy our intelligence and uniqueness. Yet, we were not original, we were not even different.

Arnie napped on his autumn red couch and his body didn’t feel made of flesh and bone. It felt composed of stones, and he couldn’t get up. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get up. He had millions of ideas that roared through his mind every twenty minutes. Like a subway train, but they always became derailed. Off the tracks before they came into fruition, before they reached the station, with every sip of wine with every **** of bud. So he waited patiently for the next train,
hoping to go somewhere with his life. Though eventually, he knew that train would not come whenever he pleased. He had to leave this couch, get off his *** and go.

Suburban mansions furnished with comfortable furniture and luxurious amenities. Wide flat LED screens were the new remedy. We had become tolerant to obscenities that flash and sparkle in the highest resolution, surround sound, so the brainwashing was soothing, as the subliminal messages were grooving. Through our ear canals and advertisement clutter pollution. Soul distortion as Arnie watched graphic images, but it was in the clearest quality. So he was in awe and disgusted, but at the same time he ******* loved it.

So stop saying you invented this and you invented that. Arnie knew the sun already scorched every original idea into smoldering ash.

But he didn’t want to burn. He wanted to survive. He didn’t want to remain a burnout. He wanted to rekindle the hearth and leave this godforsaken slow-burning ashtray, where everyone was trying to find a match to bring the light back

But we sit in assigned seating,
complacent in our concrete prisons, our youth decaying rapidly,
angst already cemented in our minds
Faux utopia where young minds rot in classrooms
Classrooms with no windows
We have opulence
but no oxygen
we can’t breathe but
we don’t know if it’s from this airless building
Or the smoke that surrounds us
so I guess we are LOST
Can’t you see? This (grab shirt) this is false confidence
we fuel our arrogance with shallow compliments
we are hypocrites
a walking contradiction
only our masks hide our lies so well.
Our souls are engulfed in sin from the day we are born
So I guess you can say we were all born
with something original.
But Arnie is oblivious to the shadows
that attach themselves to his weak shoulders
He’s stopped his afternoon naps by the tree,
The shade
is the brother of the shadows
There is sunlight
only a few feet away
Arnie only has to reach
Reach out with his hand,
To feel the warmth of the sun,
there is light
in this dark world.
535 · May 2016
For Days to Come
Andrew T May 2016
We sat in deck chairs, our feet entrenched in the sand,
as the water crept up the shore
and splashed gently on our toy sailboats.
The fire pit roared and rose with flames
under the moonlight. Our friendship was anchored
in the beach for years, since second grade.
I kept watch on your sailboat,
knowing it would soon cast out into the sea of adulthood.
We spent hours talking about our dreams,
as though the sandman truly existed
apart from
our imagination.

Remember when we dropped our textbooks in the trash compactor?
Because we believed in the Lost Generation and The Beats, and not some phonies from academia.  
We even sprinted away from the security guards after we used our slingshots and shot rocks at the The Verizon Center's Marquee.

Smoke and drink.
Smoke and drink.
Smoke and drink.

We lounged in the dugout while the sky poured buckets of rain on the baseball diamond, as our lighters ran out of fluid.

*

By accident, you shot me in the mouth with an air-soft gun. The beady plastic pellet zinged through the air, and sawed off half of my front tooth. Frantically, you sprinted inside and came back out with a glass of whole milk. You snagged the chipped up tooth from the lush lawn, and dropped it into glass. The tooth got swallowed up by the milk, leaving a trace of ripples.

But you had pure intentions, only lukewarm aim. On a porch chair, I sat bent over with my upper lip bundled with wet paper towels. There was no blood, no flesh wound; just a clean shot. I dabbed my tender gum gently with the damp towel.

You walked up to me and slapped me on the back. I shook my head, rolled the towel into a paper *** and chucked it at your nose.

You caught the projectile in mid-air and threw the afternoon’s remnants over the pointy picket fence. You turned around and saw my back, as I walked on the neighborhood sidewalk away from your house.

Ten years later, in the summer of 2007, we stretched out our limbs on Rehoboth beach and smoked headies out of a papier-mâché-looking piece; we called her Old Glory. As we toked and held in the gray coughs, we took in the view. Small waves barreled over and flattened out onto the fine sand shore. Our toes were tangled in the snare of the ivy green seaweed.

We didn’t want to let go of this.

This picture frame memory, the wooden frame lacquered with fresh pine comb.

A peace pipe shared between each other to rekindle their friendship. I stared at the bright fire of the lighter, watching as red sparks turn into violent black. Light gray debris collected on my swim trunks. We both looked up at the starless sky, as if we were searching for twilight. The moon glow shrunk the longer an eyeball looks, you said.

I nodded, got up, and walked right into a tall wave. I took the full force of the water, standing my ground with a bird’s nest chest. You laughed and lolled your head back off; you were exhausted.
I walked back up the hilly shore, and treaded my finger along the ridges of my ceramic tooth. A replica embedded in my mouth. I felt the jagged edges, the flaws, and grinned a little.

Just enough, to feel like I was on the verge of epiphany, on the beginning of seeking out the correct approach of life.

We hit the piece again. And the sun began to rise.
Our eyes closed, breaths quiet, and our memories entwined
for days to come.
Andrew T Dec 2016
At 2:30 a.m., I drink a beer,
as if it is a crushed Ambien.
I light a joint (the parents are gone for the weekend).
My girlfriend is asleep in the basement,
eyes closed, lightly snoring,
the left side of her face is covered in scars
and burn marks.

I look around my room:
white and blue Ralph Lauren shirts
hang from the lampshade,
the collars and sleeves are layered with dust.
The bookcase is littered
with shoeboxes, novels,
and poetry collections.

I take a drag from my joint
and realize my ears are full of static,
as if they had been packed
with black and white TV sets.
There’s the faint sound
of a car
passing by.

The car is a reminder: Civilization,
glass buildings,
happy hour
at my favorite hole-in-the wall
in Chinatown.
I’m naked, but
not totally bare.

All I’m wearing are blue boxer briefs,
as though it is my uniform
for my current occupation
as a poet.
The blinds are open
and I wonder if I open the window and jump out,
will anyone give a ****?

My therapist will probably label me as suicidal,
if I mention that last thought.
I think I’m just restless and idle.
I take another chug from my beer.
I’m hunched over a notebook,
and writing with a blue pen,
not because I think I’m an authentic writer.

But because my computer’s in the basement
and I don’t want to wake her; I love her.
But I can’t stand her critiques, in regards to me.
Maybe I can’t handle the harshness
in her honesty, as if it is a foreign language
coming from a stranger who I’ve known for years.
I’m not sleepy.

I’m scared.
Scared about growing up,
scared about having to stop
giving a ****,
and finally having
to care about
my life.
529 · Apr 2016
FML
Andrew T Apr 2016
FML
Some years ago, on a Monday, I met Joyce at Whitlows.
I bonded with her over bourbon and cokes.
She wore a black dress; sloping V, open back
It clung to her thigh, as though her skin
Was coated in sweets: sugar, honey, syrup.
Her face shined under the light overhead:
Denim eyes, velvet lips, an upturned nose.
She went to G.W.; read Junot; rode thoroughbreds;
Spoke Arabic; ate okra; watched Kubrick.
At the foosball table, I touched her wrist. She touched my arm.
The next day, after coitus and coffee,
I went to my car and found a ticket.
497 · Dec 2016
That night
Andrew T Dec 2016
I watched you soar off a balcony,
Only to land on a giant net stitched
From your goals and dreams.
You traded your soul for an extra moment with the silhouette of her shadow.
Bury me in her old cardigan and
Her parking tickets. Take me back
To a time when these feelings
Didn't shatter my good sense.
I traced the outline of our brownstone
On your inner thigh.
You woke up to the bed covered
In roses and firewood.
The getaway car trembled as
You stepped inside, dragging
A red wagon weighed down by your discarded dreams.
Before I could pass out on the futon,
You asked me, do you love me?
As you drank from the merlot bottle.
I wanted to nod my head instead of
Shake it. But hey that's what the
Rewind button is for.
So the parachute refused to open,
And I died that night too with you.
489 · Apr 2017
unsaid_Things
Andrew T Apr 2017
friday morning,
we wake up hungover
from last night's binge drinking,
because even though we love our jobs,
no one really wants to work for their entire lives,
when so many things are unanswered,
perverted, and misconstrued.  
hashtag all of those millennial catchphrases,
to garner hearts from your friends
who you haven't seen in years,
friends who work in San Fran,
Chicago, Greenwich Village.
crank up your laptop speakers,
as Neon Indian's Polish Girl
plays that **** synth,
and take a drag from a P-Funk,
before your Grandma hits your
shoulder with the newspaper daily—
right after she speaks in Vietnamese,
asking you what is your name,
because she has Alzheimer’s.
but in these social media days,
isn't everything that is worth mentioning to your sister,
everything that is worth fighting for,
everything that is ****** in this world,
on the internet (maybe, just Twitter tbh).
screenshot the cat meme you like,
save it,
share it,
move on.
if only she wasn't allergic to cats,
maybe it could have worked out.
that was 7 years ago.
—*** ova it. Then, mix your red bull with your coffee,
because the next 10 hours of your life,
will be revolving around caring about people
other than your ungrateful and ingratiating ***.
don't cry,
when I say good-bye.
stay for a while, under the shade of the rooftop
where the deejay spins Frank Ocean
and Frank Sinatra records,
as everyone is drinking scotch, or Yuengling,
and ashing over the veranda bansister,
; the bad boys try to open their souls
to the good girls. and the bad girls,
reveal too much to the good boys.
we devoured those drugs, as though
they were jelly beans from a convenience store,
and then we broke into the store
and ate some more.
break the coals on top of the ******,
puff, puff, pass—
inhale, exhale,
fit the deformed piece
back into the Dinosaur puzzle,
and crawl back into bed,
pull the covers over
your trembling body,
shut your eyes,
and reflect,
for the day is heavy with regret
and unsaid things.
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