Thoughts on the Last Few Months and Turning It Well




: the ability to contain, receive, or accommodate


Seeing Up Dharma Down perform in a venue as big as One Esplanade made for a slightly surreal experience for me, but in a good way. There’s a more intimate vibe watching them preform in a space as small as Route 196, but on the other hand, there’s something incredibly uplifting singing along to Oo with hundreds of people.

The past three or four months saw me in a darker mood. I was feeling bummed out more often than I usually did and I think I pushed myself away from certain people. In retrospect, distance played a big part in what I felt during that span of time and why I felt the way I did. My girlfriend has been staying in Germany since August for JTA, I found myself being eased out of a once very tight social circle (though I believe that was my doing), and my Tita passed away a few weeks ago. I didn’t cry on the day I found out, and I didn’t cry during the wake, but I miss her a lot. It hurts when people you hold very close to you are farther away from you than they were before, whether literally or figuratively. All these things happening weren’t unbearable, but they were difficult to process all at once. There were highlights to the past few months and I had a few good friends to talk to whenever I needed a good pick-me-up. Otherwise, going through each day felt like a stone slowly sinking to the bottom of a lake.

I don’t think last night’s concert granted me a catharsis but I don’t think it needed to. I’m constantly reminded that music has a healing power, and sometimes all it takes is a great band playing a great set to help put your life into perspective. Watching UDD play Turn It Well just kind of made the troubles and stresses disappear. Well into the set, the effect of the things that were bothering me were already diminishing.

So thanks, Up Dharma Down, for getting me out of my rut. I love the new album.


Note: More renga! This time with Kara Chung, who takes spectacular photos and posts them on her blog here. The prompt was colors. I took the final product to be some sort of discourse of light and relationships. Really satisfied with how it came out.

First line is mine, second line is hers, etc.

It’s all a matter of how the light is cast, really. For example,

a flickering: the in-between of our shadows.

Brief successions of you, I, you, I, you, and then

an overlapping: our silhouettes in unison.

The coalescing of two selves, darker and unbodied. Tell me,

what now of the colors, fading into a peripheral vision blur?

Were the better parts of ourselves always perched on our rougher edges?

Indefinite, the culmination of our outline.

Where I end and where you begin, this is where we susurrate:

in the absence of motion.


Note: One of the first drafts. This has already been looked over by a few friends. Suggestions for revision are being considered, though that’s another post for another day. But for sure, once everything is fleshed out, the title will change.

Posting here for additional feedback and criticism. And I don’t want this blog to suffer from a lack of original work.


The signature characteristics

of an overseas long term trip already reveal

that, like the claustrophobic bustle


of a city crowd, everything

is moving and there is no space

to gather your bearings. Imagine


the landlord who—by profession,

let’s not forget—is obligated to see off

his tenants, their departure all ready


scheduled. Imagine the conductor

who knows better than anyone

backpacking across Europe what it means


to submit to a destination already set

for you. Observe any machine

or institution with its regulating

mechanisms, ushering a small sum

of parts by its incompleteness. I am told


some of these trains now come with small beds,

and imagine, you manage to be still

while moving. When you aren’t attending

classes in Munich, you are pulsing through

the heart of underground Europe.  The last time

we spoke, you were in Brussels, then Venice, and then


you were somewhere in Florence, standing in line

to see the David who is brave not despite, but because

of his vulnerability. How does it feel to know

that even in repose, you still possess

the capacity to wander? Memory is


like walking backwards to restore your footsteps

into fullness, so may your travels never be

a betrayal of your sense of direction, and I hope

the road feels like finding a thousand homes

you never thought you had, settling down


a thousand times over. If you were ever curious

about how it feels writing you letters, imagine

me praying to old gods. The last time


we spoke, you said you were going to tour

the city of Rome. Can you feel the history

of a strange land, warm in your bones?

Naked Except for the Jewelry

by Jack Gilbert


“And,” she said, “you must talk no more

about ecstasy. It is a loneliness.

The woman wandered about picking up

her shoes and silks. “You said you loved me,”

the man said. “We tell lies,” she said,

brushing her wonderful hair, naked except

for the jewelry. “We try to believe.”

“You were helpless with joy,” he said,

“moaning and weeping.” “In the dream,” she said,

“we pretend to ourselves that we are touching.

The heart lies to itself because it must.”


by Carl Phillips


late, this morning: Don’t blame

me, if I am everything your heart

has led to.


Hazel trees;

ghost-months in the hazel branches.

Why not stay?


It’s a dream I’ve had

twice now: God is real, as

the difference between

having squandered faith and having lost it

is real. He’s straightforward:


when he says Look at me when I’m speaking,

it means he’s speaking.

He’s not unreasonable:


because I’ve asked, he shows me his mercy—

a complicated arrangement of

holes and


hooks, buckles. What else did you think

mercy looked like,


he says and, demonstrating, he straps it on, then takes it off.


It had been said before that all we see

of the light of stars are old projections

of how they shone lightyears ago.


So what our eyes take in has come a long way

to reach us; it is a different fire flickering

on that side of the universe.


A photograph takes on a different nature

when framed by time, once we recognize

that time is not a continuum but


a succession of instants, infinitely reducible.

So it was small eternities ago when your hair was shorter

and you were cozy in my arms, believing a smile didn’t need


a call for posture. The greatest misconception, I think,

for photography, is its overestimated capacity

to freeze time, but snapshots never quite did justice


to reality. One panorama of the sky is not nearly enough

to accommodate all the universe’s shooting stars,

not kind enough  to grant all the heart’s wishes. You tell me


to veer away from clichés, I remind you

there are areas of the Marienplatz you have yet

to discover, strangers you’ve yet to befriend, and maybe


you should put on your winter coat and not coop yourself

up in the apartment. We can talk later. I’ll wait.