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Justin Lai Mar 10
<๐š๐šž๐š๐šŽ ๐šž ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ>

Only a few short days...
We were laughing away on Friday

You seemed happy, not flinching
Even when our friend replied with

An Emiya Shirou meme
What killed you homie?

<<๐š‹๐š›๐š˜ ๐šž ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ>>
<<๐š’โ€™๐š– ๐š’๐š— ๐š‘๐š˜๐šœ๐š™๐š’๐š๐šŠ๐š•. ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐šขโ€™๐š›๐šŽ ๐š›๐šž๐š—๐š—๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐šŽ๐šœ๐š๐šœ ๐š—๐š˜๐š >>

Sunday, your seatโ€™s empty
Our friends all at church

Like He finally heard us
Your mom, she needs our prayers

Her spot on the front pew bare
While she holds your hand at the ward

<<๐š๐šž๐š๐šŽ... ๐š’๐š ๐šข๐š˜๐šž ๐š๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š‘๐š’๐šœ:>>
<<๐š’ ๐š ๐š’๐šœ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š ๐š ๐šŽ ๐š•๐šŽ๐š๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐šœ๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•๐šœ ๐š•๐š’๐š”๐šŽ ๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ๐š— ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐šŠ๐š›๐š–๐š’๐š—>>
<<๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š’ ๐š๐š˜๐š—'๐š ๐š”๐š—๐š˜๐š  ๐š‘๐š˜๐š  ๐š–๐šž๐šŒ๐š‘ ๐š’ ๐š‘๐šŠ๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š•๐šŽ๐š๐š.........>>

<<๐š‹๐šž๐š ๐š’ ๐š•๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐šž ๐š‘๐š˜๐š–๐š’๐šŽ ๐Ÿ–ค>>
I was on Twitter this morning. One of my follows (an anime fan in the US) had tweeted his condolences to his late friendโ€™s family and tagged him as well. From that tweet, I started learning about their lives through their online interactions: tweets, gifs, memes. At times I felt like I was intruding on a strangerโ€™s privacy, having never met either of them in real life. I hope this poem does justice to a life taken too young too soon.
Justin Lai Oct 2021
The nights are long but the days are longer
Only in her sleep does she exhale
The rest of the world loosening its grip

She thinks of false promises and shallow hopes
Things all too familiar by now
And swears to do better for her child

The baby on her back now a young woman too
Still her precious light and hope
"My only sunshine" in the dark

She feels her bones and flesh aching from the race
Her heart beats stronger than rising tides
An indomitable force pushing at an irrational object

And so she wakes, smiles at the sky
Fixing sunny side ups for her kin
To get by in spite of everything

is sometimes the bravest act of all
inspired by Brandi Carlile's "The Joke"
Justin Lai May 2021
A boy, sketching

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  His friends, fellow neighbours, skinny dipping

This is not the first time,
ย ย ย ย ย ย but what is indeed new are the imprints
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย of streams, droplets;
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย yelps, giggles;
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย the force of a tumbling body,
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  or limbs on limbs,
ย ย ย ย shivers and waves in his very young heart.

ย ย ย ย ย ย  He finds his nib forming strange contours,
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  fingers tracing the imprints as much as his
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย eyes could picture,

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย only to tear the paper, later,
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ripping out a flat, grimacing tangle of lines,
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  his friend, grotesque on canvas.

ย ย ย ย  Night beckons;
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย his sketch, made anew, alive as
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  he lay within burgeoning wants
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  that he never wished
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย before
Soundtrack: Alexandra Strรฉliski - Plus tรดt
Justin Lai Jan 2021
O brother, tell us where you've been!
What is the world like beyond these trenches?

Is it safe to crawl out โ€”
we heard the wolves were just 'were-' with a sweet tooth.
Won't you help us sniff out the lotus from the roses,
their thorns so cleverly hiddenโ€ฆ

Sisters, we're tired of hiding in the dark,
our eyelids shut by the nurse's damp cloth;

To our champions: were you blessed in your travails?
Did you find the loving,
the caring,
the fabled Happy People that
Nashville balladeers croon about?

brave children, remember to return;
we dreamed of setting foot in a place of our own, too.
does one exist in their world ||

I was thinking about minorities and marginalised groups, that it takes individuals braving uncertainty and doubt to blaze a trail for everyone else. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

(Giha Village is an underground village from the anime Gurren Lagann. Happy People is a song written by Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters and recorded by Little Big Town.)
Justin Lai Jan 2021
part of my brain thinks you're a phony.
the rest of it knows we're just the same.
what if i were a pastor
comfort in the fear of an all-loving god
would i be hapless like a prospector
tailing the gold rush, seeking
sour grapes instead?

child, i do not pretend to live your pain.
though if i were to drop this cross and collar
all that they thought i was
would you let your story be heard?
Justin Lai Jan 2021
google was my babysitter
not a very good one i'll admit

perhaps more like a cool uncle
with infinitely scrolling treats

the more i tickled his algorithm {
search queries = seo && [freewheeling whims];

OR ||
stray thoughts seeking foster homes
just fronts for attention farms

reaping curiosity off the vine
while overclocking the study room

being held to father's chair like a vice
if only to keep me safe in a web

spun by a child's simple thoughts
and a sentient robot babysitter
if you craft a more elegant google algorithm then dm me ;)
Justin Lai Dec 2020
squelched between bodies spiralling into escalators,
my trained eye couldn't help hovering a little left

right there, coming into view at the watch store,
though never caught dead anywhere near MยทAยทC

but neither should my stares, blatant without restraint,
fixed on a trio chattering like keys jangling

to the beat of a million other stolen glances,
only for them to slip away for some froyo.

rather than melt into a fruity confection myself,
I steel my eyes back into the spiralling masses

blocking out three gym bags marked 'WATER POLO',
my untrained heart pulses still for their suntan

and the bleachers of yesterday, the sight and sweat,
jocks jangling for position in glistening waters โ€”

only then did I dare scream my lungs out,
safe in the crowds of a high school roar.
the bj stands for bugis junction, it's a local shopping mall okay xD
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