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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

         His friends, fellow neighbours, skinny dipping

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

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

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

     Night beckons;
              his sketch, made anew, alive as
                     he lay within burgeoning wants
                           that he never wished
Soundtrack: Alexandra Stréliski - Plus tôt
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 —
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 hidden…

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 M·A·C

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 —

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
Justin Lai Sep 2020
life from the crossroads,
meeting a blood clot
already thickened from
running sweat, a stone's
throw from a ***** four
letter word: P-A-S-T

in another stream (one
wayward than my own)
i would be he, shivering
and possibly unrepentant,
emphatically gone too
far beyond anyone's

yet in another, i live out
the dreams of the father,
or 'sins' if pure honesty
had its say. what i wouldn't
give for a beautiful wife,
obedient children, a gold
standard like this stanza's
length; prosperous--

preposterous. in my own
uncharted stream, i would
live out troye's dream. free
on the inside, eons removed
from demi's 'sober'. what
choice does one have but
to make pop stars their
patron saints? maybe
mr. a-z has the answer?

scribes and stagehands,
satirists and spirits so
wishfully kindred, i smile
in solidarity. each line a
flame of pathos, each tap
a letter in loosening of
veins, like makeshift gifts
of a medium we inhabit.

to my girl, a lady-to-be
of such unwavering faith,
love someone even when
the party's over. keep
your billie eilish close by
like a bluebird in my heart;
highwayman to highwoman.

but most of all to Him,
patient with my inevitable
candidness just as he would
if my bargain held up. if we
were in love, I might just
learn to trust myself again.
A little reliant on pop references :/
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