On a Clear Night

The longer you stare
at the sky,
the more stars
you see.

Everything is more.
Sighs are louder.
Laughter is lovelier.
Blood is warmer.

beyond the street lamps
and marquees
and neon: “Sorry We’re Closed”
silver threads shimmer
in the Heavenly brocade.

In the intimacy
of an indigo harem,
stars cast away

November 2011

The One Thing I Might Have in Common with Spiderman

I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man on Friday night. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I was actually surprised that they were even making another one. Fortunately, it was awesome (go see it!). In this interpretation, in which “cross-species genetics,”  emphasizes the wondrous and horrific possibilities of science, you feel the familiar chills and thrills as you watch a shy but smart young man transform into a superhero. And you get to stare at Andrew Garfield for two hours and sixteen minutes.

I’ve never actually read the Spider-Man comics, or for that matter, any comics about superheroes. Also, the violence that is generally part of action movies makes me dizzy. I cringe throughout the climax, as the beloved protagonist becomes covered in blood, bruises, and burns. Yet when I watch the scene in which Peter is too angry and resentful to help stop the robber, and that robber ends up killing Uncle Ben,  I feel like my heart is literally being wrenched out of my chest. I can only imagine how Peter is struggling to live with his remorse.  And then there are lighter moments, like when he can barely ask Gwen Stacey on a date: how can anyone who has ever had a crush on anyone else not relate to him? In the darkness of the theater, I was totally grinning from ear to ear (and blushing) as he stuttered and shrugged his way through the most awkward and adorable asking-out ever. The moments like this, in which we witness a character’s vulnerabilities,  are perhaps more meaningful than the moments in which they save the world. One could argue that their superpowers make them who they are; it is what sets them apart from the rest of the population. However, it is their vulnerabilities that dictate how they will choose to use their power. Peter is first motivated by vengeance, then by moral responsibility. But as Spiderman, he can’t bring Uncle Ben back, nor can he always protect everyone he loves. His helplessness is a reminder that he isn’t so different from us after all.

In the previous film, the memorable line from Uncle Ben that the audience and Peter are left to ponder is “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this version, I left the theater thinking about something that happened in the last scene, words from Peter’s English teacher. She says how her English teacher taught her that there were ten plots in literature, but he was wrong. There is only one. It is “Who am I?” In Spider-Man, a search for identity is the ultimate driving force: he must figure out how to use his powers to do the most good, while also learning more about his parents and their past. But if this is one common theme in all literary works, then it is perhaps the theme of our stories too. Our day to day actions can be accounted for as part of a search for our identities. We are constantly carving out our spaces in the world. We build and manage relationships that give us a sense of place and purpose. We develop and hone our own superpowers, hoping to make a difference. We express ourselves with music and art and words, so that our individual voice may be recognized and appreciated. Maybe that’s why I am writing this blog: with the hope that, by writing, I will somehow give a more definite shape to my identity.


She dealt her pretty words like blades

She dealt her pretty words like blades
to strike
the gut, the temple
the tender spot
above the collar bone
with a force
that left you aching
for more.

She wore her pretty smile like pearls
sensuously about her neck
and dangling from her ears.
There was no knowing
their smoothness
in your own fingers.

She kept her thoughts on shelves
like porcelain from Spain
and glass perfume bottles from Egypt–
out of reach–
for you to prove
you are adroit enough
to feel their weight
in your hands
and not let them fall.

December 2011

New Room

pink bed sheets–
soft from washing–

catch some sunlight
of the fading day

through the window–
I can see

runners on the track
chase it too

September 2011