Courage to Smile #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth

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The Courage to Smile

There is a geography which holds
That life is just in our hands
You destroy yourself if you don’t know
How to laugh through

Partially-coloured hours
For I am moved by the
Multitudes of your intelligence
Of your gifted sayings and sometimes

Returning with an
Open state of mind
I come to you in my night, your day

To tell you I don’t think
I want to win anything
I think I want to die unadorned

Unknown, for ever pure and innocent
There is a freedom which states
A glass of papaya juice

And back to work
For I wear my heart in my pocket
I don’t dare go down to the sidewalk

Where labor feels dirty
You know, I might as well
Leave a tiny poem

In that brain of yours and bid you my farewell
For I’ve been writing and ate
A poem on the way here
It’s been that kind of day

But thanks, to you I’ll keep
To always embrace things, people
Earth, sky, stars and do it freely
Since mortality insures
I don’t have an appropriate
Sense of time and space.

Fading Away Little by Little


A Quiet Distance

There are quiet features
In my letter box
Journals that went unopened
Hearts that went ungiven-away

It was celibacy all around
In my soul, that waited for years
To write the perfect sentence
The ideal stanza


The deviation from without
To satisfy the necessity of within
Talking in bed to the poems
That defined a lifetime

There is emblematic unrest
Vulnerable to horizons
Autobiographies burned
In isolation, nothing shows why


In all this distance reduced at night
We prune our youth with gratitude
For how things turned out
Eventually, the night takes us

Outside of symbol into ambiguity
A distance between
Ourselves and the racing stars.

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Free association in Red-ness

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From the sneak peak to the Novel, Red, by EJ Koh.

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Koh-Catharsis Diaries 1

A brief study in the

Implications of literary angels:

Pause and follow the direction

Of the innocence and passion

Of the birth of language

Of the pangs of poetics

It’s our sanctuary of hope

It may be disobedient to become a writer

But if it’s our calling, is it not

Our moral obligation to oblige

The inner universe in us bursting forth?

It’s where the hero’s journey

Became the writer’s journey

Alchemy of lonely years

Lonely years that were not truly lonely

Like an orphan from another country

We left behind traditions to pursue

With pause, deliberation, a lifetime of editing

Translating, giving speeches, marketing

With only the barest silver light

Of recognition from the sun outside

Like the attempt to piece together

All the things that occurred in our psyche

Without success, we were doomed

Trapped in the fiction of our own myth

Like a journal of Sera and Azel

Unending, serpent biting its own tail

Experience the Guru, Sera

Youth the dreamer, Azel

The Koh effect implied objectivity

A truth that was not Justice when there was none

A magical realism of our bone-split

Rain covered tears, the vision that

Encapsulated our prison room

Untold labor of conscious hallucination

The way eyes flit away in internal direction

When the shaman wakes the brain

These I have seen, these have I witnessed

A trinity of Spirit, Earth and Wake

And the lost sense of no-time in the dream

The dream that was our life

The surrealism of the spirit that

Liked to study our human past

Dissect it for significant moments

Summarize the way memory plotted inaccurately

Like tear-stains on letters from mother

It was a lottery of bright moments, pale

In the forgiveness that altered them

The primitive familiarity of the search

For belonging, in an anonymous modern world

Full of condemnation, virile self-criticism

Waging wars of inner doubt

Mover, spirits, humans, animals, planets

The blatent hierarchy fostered responsibility

Consciousness required us to rebel

Gendered pods took on ethnic-matter

Race became part of snickering identity

Identity became a frame of reference

One glowing figure in our own night


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– EJ Koh

Indeed well, Here I decode the Koh effect

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The Koh-Catharsis Diaries

There is a secret Haiku between you and I
Though I suspect only I can hear it
The words are dim and bright

You who colonized the American dream
For East-Asian writers forever
It wasn’t a banner you took on lightly

And I admired you for it:
In part because I myself
Fantasized about being Asian

Had strange anti-white guilt
Embarrassed by my British Descent
They say white people only came

Into existence eight thousand years ago
With a healthly dose of Neanderthal genes
And if, as artists we ever felt like outcasts

These invisible connections were cathartic
Lonely and abandoned, I relished
The purity of self-sacrifice
As if the poverty helped me focus
On what I wanted to do
On what the divine universe asked of me
I complied, was obedient, took it to heart

There is a haiku between you and I
It’s a wet barren emblem
Of creative arousal, like
Bards of magical realism

I endured in poems only to reach you
I became both testimonial and deviation
The inner critic in me was silent
When you were in my inner room

I never knew how to communicate
My voices was uncategorized in
The anthologies and manuscripts
I was the sun on a blanket of a lost poem

With no fine description or synopsis
Though my narrative was a dream to you
A longer poem crafted for short movements
Of the soul, like a shared hologram

That replaced skype, was more intimate
Than periscope, more alive than self-publishing
On that wick I lit the flame of your split shadows
Black honey, black light, anti-matter gravity

The eminent imminent intuition of
Of sacred intent to another person’s journey
My eyes discovered your language
A cage of sounds, an open morning

Your foliage like the blouse of the moon
Your hips shuddering in your privacy
The sifted light of your ferocious attack on art
Your daring red, your what-if-mother approach

Your shriek in the lips of Virgo
I was a scavenger of the heroes you created
And I swam in your gardens careless
Of the wholly immaterial nature of the encounter.

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