Off Topic: Today’s Verse 81


The face you behold when I order coffee,
the voice you hear when I cut in to make copies,
even the breath that you feel when I nurture your devotion –
they are but projections of your own demanding.

The body you snuggle up against
in the deep chasms of the night,
the car you fall asleep in during out-of-state drives,
they are but corroborations of an old story.

I am a kingdom unknown, whole and unto myself,
that stayed below the world’s radar until the winter solstice
when an earthling broke through a rusted gate,
unconsciously aching to restore a bond with the wild.

Dripping with white light, both cool and warm
this earthling unhinged threshold after threshold,
silenced song after song,
and opened a chest of precious metals
passed down to knights of a round table.

Alarmed, I should be,
Ill at ease, maybe,

But have you ever known the power
of the goddess inside you? or tasted abstract creation?
Do you know the sound of your own soul
rising out of your destruction
to meet an oblivion that knows only the peace
of a shared secret.
of a tacit smile daybreak meeting?
To be in two places at once,
without maddening duties of both demon-slayer and demagogue?

Though I keep the face that you see, the voice you hear,
the breath that wrinkles into your blueprint of the future,
I dig into my bones, 
reserve the entrance to my kingdom
for the earthling who made a myth-maker out of me.

— yiqi 24 march 2015 1:33 pm


Just Turn Your Head

I woke up on Saturday morning craving a coffee, gluten-free pancake, grits, and eggs from Another Broken Egg Cafe.  The location nearest to me had a line out the door, not surprisingly given its location, so I went outside of 285 to a part of town where I spend much of my free time.


I was seated quickly and ordered the gluten-free pancake, a side of grits, and the Floridian omelette.


I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with brunch foods.  I yearn for it a couple times every few months but after about four bites in total, I’m done.  Gastro-intestinally speaking, I’m done. Hunger pangs are gone, blood-sugar level stabilized, and cravings are gone.  Psychologically, though, the idea of and the motions involved in experiencing these foods (with coffee in tow) is too enticing to obey the signals from the GI tract to the brain.  And, on this particular Saturday, I had decided after two bites of pancake and three sips of coffee that I was going to the Mall of GA,* so I needed to be sufficiently fueled.


I was feeling a bit anxious that day because I had no envisioned idea for what I was going to do on Saturday, which is not characteristic of me.  I typically know by Thursday what I’m going to do on the weekend because it’s something to which I can look forward.  Lately, though, these “plans” have been few.  (Sometimes I don’t even know if I want to get out of bed or just take tumblring and reading into the bed sheets.)  I was especially anxious for a couple of minutes that day before my food arrived as I had returned from washing my hands and had started putting my rings on my fingers: one on a thumb and two on a ring finger.  I got the thumb ring on but as soon as I went to put the ring finger rings on, gravity intervened!  Yeah!

The thin things went rolling; I managed to stop one of them from going into the kitchen but I couldn’t find the other one.  I crouched down onto the floor next to the edge of the table and scanned the floor in front of, behind, and to the right of where I was sitting when the rings fell.  Soon, a few of the wait staff asked me if I lost something.

“My ring fell a second ago.  I found one of them but the other one….”

They started to help me look.  Then, I turned my head to the left and saw the ring next to the shoe of one of the waiters.  I cried, “There it is!”  He picked it up and returned it to me.  I thanked them.

One of the waiters (or managers) then said, “See, sometimes you just need a different perspective.”
Truer words couldn’t have been spoken in reference to how I found the ring.  I thought about what he said throughout the day as I took the scenic route to the Buford city limit.

I am so accustomed, so tied and bonded to the ways I think about myself, the world, and other people in specific arenas.  I don’t know any other lens because I’ve never had to use a another filter, nobody’s ever proven me wrong or out-of-my-mind..until fairly recently in my third decade of existence.  Seeing some things from the same vantage point day in and day out creates complacency, expectation, and blanks in memory.

Did I brush my teeth? I don’t remember.
Did she wish me a good night’s sleep? Probably.
Did I really just do that and say that out loud? I don’t believe so.

Can I be bold and trust myself to make decisions whether or not they become mistakes?  And what is a mistake, really? If no disagreeable result occurs as a result of some action, it wasn’t a mistake? According to whose definition of “disagreeable result” makes one thing a mistake and not another?

Biggest mistake of my life: getting my hair permed in fourth grade.  More or less the only thing I regret in this life.

Biggest non-mistake in my life: letting someone take me to places I had never wanted to go, but go I went and though I may not want to stay in those lands under those environmental conditions, I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t be much of who I am today without those adventures.

So, a different perspective gives me the strength, the self-compassion, and conviction to undulate to the rhythms of my own being, to smile upon those who would not stifle nor admonish me for staying true to my being.

Oh, my waiter’s name was Carlos.  I wrote this poem for him:

If you’d like to see the other poems I’ve written for various waiters and waitresses in the metro-Atlanta area, hop on over to my Tumblr and look for the hand-written notes like the above.

* Mall of GA no longer has a Nordstrom, but, in the near future, there will be a Von Maur, which makes me so happy because Von Maur has the best retail restrooms ever. Ever.

Combed Confectionaries

When I first saw Rosalie, I felt as though I had hit the game-tying home-run.  When I noticed her looking at me, it was like striking out three batters.  When she walked over and talked to me, I could actually hear my bones breaking and re-shaping themselves into a creature with better posture.  I followed her around like the train of a red carpet gown.  I held her hair when she did the like Romans did and feasted beyond digestive means.  In return, she wove a web of limitless understanding and draped it around my aching shoulders.  She taught me how to make paella; she showed me how to identify poisonous berries; she reminded me of every wonder-filled childhood memory I had that only came to me when I looked at photographs.  I thought she would be mine forever.

But, Rosalie met Marguerite and everything changed.  They were inseparable.  Marguerite the classically beautiful, Marguerite the infinitely wise, Marguerite this and Marguerite that — Marguerite until the cows dropped dead from their own methane gas.  I had seen her once before and thought she seemed out of place, like a painting hanging at a tilt when all the other frames were perfectly straight on the wall.  To Rosalie, though, Marguerite was the grand dame of art and all things anthropological.  The more time they spent together, the less Rosalie taught me.  I thought I would die of intellectual malnutrition.

Then one day, a letter arrived in the mail for me.  I had been accepted into an international program to study and save populations of honeybees.  Rosalie and I were living together at that time and I told her the good news.  She congratulated me, gave me a guidebook for the Yucatan Peninsula and a compass key ring.  She did not help me pack, she did not hug me as she once did when I succeeded in completing a challenging task.  She just put her hands around my shoulders and said, “Calvin, my dear, you will bring the earth back with new dirt.”

I never saw her again.  I heard stories along my travels, though, stories of a Rosie and Margaret who drove across wastelands and everything they touched turned to amethyst and diamond dust.  I thought I saw my Rosalie when I was in Nepal.  I heard a voice like a constellation shimmering, I smelled the spices of simmering rice, but when I went to get a close look, I saw a wolf running with a red fox, wildly beautiful and eternally wise.

When I happened upon my reflection in a lake the next day, I saw my face was red like Georgia clay.  When I looked at my hands, I saw they were no longer made of flesh and bone but had turned into fresh earth, as though someone had dug up an old herb garden to replace it with a giving tree.  From growing to sowing to relinquishing and refurnishing, every cell and blood vessel transformed into chambers of chloroplasts, the vines of gods plunge into the core of my ancient fragility.  They pulled out the beating heart of a crooked matador who had only eyes  for the daughter of the forest floor.  Rosalie, my beloved, drunk on the elixir of Marguerite, the creator of every door.


Adjacent Topic: Campfire Tales 18

Spinning in from the seventeenth hallucination, loosely based on the human condition, and inspired by real personages.

I watched my uncle refill the empty gourds with sesame seeds.  From left to right, each gourd smaller than the last until they were all full again.  His movements were quick and methodical, the motions of muscle memory and not conscious thought.  My brother, on the other hand, moved like a rusty jack-in-the-box.  I’ve asked my uncle repeatedly to teach me how to fill the gourds with sesame seeds but he’d consistently turned me down.  He insisted that my hands were too insubstantial to grip with the required force.  And, my tendency towards visual hallucinations would have made it futile to bother teaching me how to verify the number of seeds were the same in each gourd.  I stopped asking after five years.

“How is your guest this morning?” my uncle asked as he placed the gourds into a tray.

“Still resting.”

“I was going to wait until he made himself ready to return to wherever it is that both of you jumped in from, but it is probably better that you know now.”

My uncle rarely spoke in this way, like he was going to tell me that the last several months were a dream and I never left, and the man with the rifle wasn’t real.

“We cannot let the other one leave with him.”

“You mean, you won’t let the other one leave with us.”

My uncle narrowed his eyes, slowly closed them, put his hands on his hips and slowly shook his head.

“Oohh, someone’s in trouble,” my brother quipped as he picked up the tray and put it on the conveyor belt that would take it to the south garden.

I glared at him just as he disappeared from my sight.

“We can’t let you leave either, my dear girl.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” my uncle said as he looked at me with a hint of disdain.  “This man who saved your life is already dead.”

My uncle couldn’t be serious; I’m the best at sniffing out dead humans no matter how long they’ve been dead.  If the man with the rifle were already dead, I would’ve smelled it ages ago.

“I know, I know.  You’re the best when it comes to identifying the multifaceted scents of dead humans but you may have been away too long this time…and if he doesn’t know he’s dead, you could easily mistake the sweet stench of rot with honeysuckle.”

I turned away from my uncle, unable to meet his gaze, unwilling to consider that he could be right.

Off Topic: Today’s Verse 80



A slit, just a cough of a slit
goes between your skin and your subcutaneous fat.
And in goes a shoe-horn to lift
flakes and drapes of your slacken jaw
which rests against the crook of my thigh.

I stand, sit, twirl like a puppet
with or without strings, the throes of politeness
are not my own.
Take three steps to the left, make a desperate dash to the right edge of the chapter
but don’t you dare reel me back inside your bonfire of fallacies.

Love is not a baked potato loaded with fat-free this and low-sodium that.
Love isn’t even a dignified, alcohol-free beer tasting.

Love is the abyss I looked into that did not look back.

— yiqi 2 march 2015 1:42 pm