I’m thinking about my next move. in every which way — location, job, post-grad education (mom keeps asking when I’ll get my M.B.A.), relationship status (cousins keep asking if I know how to talk to girls yet), and even the small things. like, my haircut and wardrobe. I’m still not sure what my style is, and how I’m supposed to just know what looks good.

my dad is the only one who doesn’t ask me questions, though, just: “want to go run errands with me?” he sees me drinking coffee (two cups so far) as I’m staring out the window. it’s the holidays, and I took off of work for over a week to be here. mom’s demand.

“you move so far away, and now you never visit us!”

“I visit more than I see some of my friends.”

“that’s a lie! when you’re not at work, you’re with friends! you should be –” I tuned out the lecture. it occurred the first day of me being here and I was too jet lagged. plus, she sneaks in a similar rant on our weekly phone calls.

anyway, present day, and dad eyes my cup. “throw it out, yeah? you’re not at work. did you not get enough sleep?” I haven’t been. this always happens. I’m around family, enjoying their company, but then away from my routine of work and after work and weekend plans…and what exactly is my life when I’m not keeping busy?

“are you dating someone, son?” sometimes I think my parents assume I’m gay because I never mention anyone. my dad, never one to ask questions much, occasionally will ask me this. I think he assumes if I was married off already, my mom wouldn’t stress over me as much. as if that would stop her.

“uh, there’s–I’ll tell both of you if anything becomes serious. but I do date.” he raises his eyebrows at my non-answer. I know he’s been suspecting. sometimes when my mom video calls me, she’s too busy going into questioning mode, but my dad, he sneaks a soft smile at me. I notice I’ve already been smiling every time.

“yes, we can’t stress out your mom. you know she made me buy her that extra freezer just for the food she makes you. I told her we don’t have to keep saving you all this stuff, but–“

“I appreciate the food you hunt and she cooks.”

he sighs, resigned. “I know, son.” pats my shoulder and motions towards the door. wordless, he grabs keys and heads out the door. my cue to head after him as he revs up the engine.

my dad is usually pretty quiet. small observations, one-liner jokes occasionally, but usually he just listens. we both mostly do. I mean, I’m chattier than my dad, but no one can take the stage like mom can.

I feel like I’m detaching from people again. I’m constantly with them, but I feel distant. they tell me things, common things about how their life is going, and everything coming out of their mouths sounds foreign. am I stuck? what will happen next? my lists, goal-setting and detailed, my black boards…all of it and I’m still lost.

car’s horn blares. dad’s way of saying, get out of your head and into this car.

I get a text. I read it from the notification bar, and then clear it.

I have some things to figure out.

olfactory memory

i’m sixty-seven. my birthday is in two weeks. i’m at a knitting club, sitting across from a woman 3 years my junior. she works here at the rec part-time. i’m retired and filling in my schedule with community hobby clubs.

“And your husband? she asks, needles sorting through tight loops.

“I’m a widow.”

Her hand pauses mid-air. She looks down. “Oh.”

I change the subject. I hate the awkward that follows after being asked.

“Why is it that once us women turn sixty, everything we buy smells like potpourri? My car scents, my perfume…It’s like we want to announce we’re OLD in more ways than one.”

She chuckles. “This is why I do not buy into artificial smell-good bath-and-body bullshit.”

I laugh now.

She continues: “My husband passed two years ago. I miss him, but not the smell of him.”

The other women who’ve been sitting in silence to the side of us smile.

“Maybe we should start a Widows Who Knit Club.” The women stop smiling. They do not want to be excluded even more than they don’t want to yet be widowed.

Her turn to change the subject now. “Ever had a memory present itself as a scent?”

“Do you get a whiff of your husband’s smell now that he passed now, Linda?” I joked.

“No– I mean, yes, but no. I just mean, like it takes you back to a specific time or place…”

“Yes, yes. It happens to me all the time. It’s somehow subtle, though stronger than anything I could attempt to smell. It’s because it triggers our emotional body. Back in my twenties, I used to smell an ex’s scent while I was trying to move on. One ex’s house smelled like dust, wet wood, and mothballs…A difficult person and hard smell to get over.” My husband had such a faint, clean smell. I can picture his face so clearly at any age, but never can I recall what he smelled like.

The ladies laughed comfortably, realizing we aren’t pivoting out of the club, and started sharing their own olfactory memories.

Linda looks at me with sad eyes. Knowing eyes.

You miss his smell the most, don’t you? they said.

She puts down her craft supplies, and scoots her chair closer to me.

“Come over for tea soon, yes?” I notice she’s wearing a bulky man’s watch.

“Only if there’s oolong.”

She rolls her eyes. “Bring your own tea bags, then.”



a lady holding onto her

husband’s arm. he has

one closed eye, a cigarette

sticking out of his mouth,

and a slanted grin.

as long as they’re together,

they skip on heavenly clouds.

a man with bright blonde hair,

wearing a backback decorated in dirt.

he looks at me like we’re past life


life is a series of karmic lessons,

we all go up or low.

will you live in this physical world,

or will you become its victim?

sadness reigns when we are

addicted to its drama.

nurture your woes so

you can pass


Purpose in Purses


hoarding all of my assumed

necessities in a pink Coach bag.

where’s my vape? she asked.

leaning against a table as two

heavy Kate Spades smack me,

their blonde owners rush

towards smiling faces.

i slip away from the table, and return to another hit by another Kate whose owner is a tall, hostile beauty.

all unbothered.

i turn, and socialize

with sarcastic quips

and emotional exclaims.

i piece together the dots

in my mental bulletin board.

signs of the past, hints of the

upcoming, but most of all:

my own shallow worries in

full focus.

new genuine friends,

and easy laughter.

i reflect on the good.

clarity is in every nervous gulp of air.

me with my asides and

unkempt hair.

me with black

heeled Oxfords


Old Skool Vans.

She is pending.

a quarter late.



the pause before
the scene begins:

a white

i scream in my head,
yet smile delicately.

American Psycho appears

on the TV.

“you’re crazy.”

paralyzing fear has me
wrapping my body with my arms.

i’m sitting next to
an opportunist.

my dreamworld is a
distorted reality.

“i’m psycho,” said with a laugh.

i try to be a loyalist to
American millennials.

my anger is my fuel to
recreate my journey.

be authentic, angels say.

i gently pull back pieces
of hair from my face.

there is more than this fear.
there is Light.

and it skips around
in the same hopeful
rhythm as me.

it is my living dreams.

“love and light.”

screen goes dark.

the human experience

6.20.2019. location: bored, sitting on a bar stool.

we’re all licking the same bottle of beer.

having epiphanies on love.

thinking out of lust.

same eyes, peeking at things in grandeur.

i love the Idea, not the reality.

politics matter!

bullshitting to deflect in all circumstances.

let me tell you a funny story:

i am more than i show!

to be human


we spoke of


when the door opened, leading one out.

a sunny day.

fled to seek Detachment.

a bug snuck in and circled around us.

i two-stepped as others ran near it in rage.

we’re no longer barbarians, yet

we still must kill what disturbs us.

our fingernails have purple polish on them since the world told us we were

royalty without title.

the human experience says

live exactly like each other

and when together,

discuss your conformity.

devoid of depth.

jokes on

unsatisfactory feelings with life,

not knowing it’s their soul

trying to reach consciousness.

restless sleep:

blame technology and

blame loneliness.

the door opens, and we see

two unknowns have come back.

they say Detachment isn’t for them.

comfortable with Earth.

“we’re only human,” they say.





a trigger is an unhealed wound,” i tell her.

“what aren’t you unhealed from?”she accuses, deadpan.

self-deprecation stories in resharable relatability:

vulnerability has been meme’d.

our shadow side is seen as an Evil to be repressed.

creativity is then blocked. art becomes pieces of unoriginality intertwined with undeserved superiority.

self-righteousness is a balancing act with self-pity.

who wins the battle in a lack of humility?

a face covering lays inside a package on their doorstep. “feels uncomfortable” is the thought.

their own mask — designed and rehearsed — awaits for the next performance.

a decision is made to be desensitized further.

but, this one is new.

another mask.



green on our mind.

materialism is all we seek.

shoot your shot.

beer pong mentality.

fun over fulfillment.

shake your ass.

be liked by everyone!

sleep little at night.

groupthink is the routine.

fancy attire. big smiles.


disappear if it’s too hard.

on people. on places.

we’re obligated to no one

but ourselves.

fight for your independence.

and your peace.

tell your friends,


tell your love interests,

see you when i care.

career over companionship.

i am all that i can trust.

we’re not human.

we’re ghosts.