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2023

2023 was very heavily focused on creating art, any kind of art. I painted and I played with clay and I played with digital art. And of course, I wrote. A lot. I wrote many shitty poems, and I even tried my hand at writing in Spanish. I wrote many things that no one will ever read.


But here are some poems I absolutely loved.

 

2023

Let's Be Honest: No One Wants to Love a Poet

I Hear the Creatives Singing

(Untitled — April 4th, 2023)

Life Lately (As of July 2023)

Sunflowers

(Untitled — April 13th, 2023)

Short Letters to My Past Loves/Crushes

Orange Blossom

Shitty First Drafts

2023 Wrapped (Creative Edition)


A poet's words can be pretty or poisonous,

for they can either paint your existence as a light to behold

or they can scar and burn your image —

they can either bless your name

or curse it.


The poet can make you a hero or a villain —

but no one wants to be the bad guy in the story,

and no one wants a life sentence

trapped between the pages …


and for that reason,

no one wants to love a poet

because a poet's words about you

are immortalized forever.


After Walt Whitman

I hear the creatives singing, the varied voices I hear,

Graphic designers, those tech savvy perfectionist

gurus,

Dancers sing as they swing and spin and sway perfectly in sync,

Actors sing as they get into character, before Take

One,

The poets singing what belongs to them in their hearts, the authors

sing the tales in their heads,

Tattoo artists singing as they ink the skin, illustrators are

singing too,

The painters' portraits, the photographer capturing moments

they find to be beautiful and breathtaking,

We can't forget the songs of the singer, written by the songwriter,

backed by the musicians' instruments,

Each sing of the creativity they hold in their souls,

Their work livens their days and their lives — at night the creatives lay awake,

to muse, to dream,

So they may sing their songs when they get to create again.


Happiness, true happiness, is a scary thing. My therapist told me that happiness comes in waves. She says that when sadness rises, to its wave, happiness will drown for a bit. But she also said that happiness will always rise again and eventually the water will become calm and serene. But when happiness lingers for a tad longer than I'm used to, and when my life feels a little too peaceful, that's when I'm most afraid, because I don't know how big the next wave of misery will be. Will it be a few depressive days that I can recover from fairly quickly, or will the next wave completely push my peace down underneath the water, like God trying to drown it for good with His strong hands? Maybe my karma for something so trivial, like cutting someone off in traffic months ago, will return to me with tragedy after tragedy until my heart feels so bloody and bruised, I'd wish it'd stop beating. Happiness only scares me when I've had it for too long, because it reminds me that it won't be mine forever.


520-...-.... ... I won't show your phone number to the world out of respect for your privacy. But I know every one of those 10 digits. It's been engraved into my brain — why? I have no idea. Maybe it's to serve as a reminder that people can play with your heart and that I should never let it happen to me again. And maybe it serves to remind me that even when you're long past that chapter of your life, there's always a part of them that will remain. The memory doesn't simply die out.


But neither does the memory of me waiting for hours, days, weeks even, for that number to light up the black mirror I was constantly staring at. Every vibration surged me and activated my fight or flight — sometimes I tried to fight the urge to check my phone and sometimes I wanted to simply throw my phone across the room so you could never reach me again. But the adrenaline rush would make me run to check my phone every time, at one point or another, hoping that it was you. But more often than not, it wasn't you. It was my mom, my brother, my friends. Everyone but you. Even though I adorned your contact name with heart emojis (because that's just how much I loved you), it was rarely you. But even when I hated you and swore that I would never let you into my heart again and reduced your name to your first initial, or even when I deleted your number entirely, I knew it was you. Because I memorized those 10 digits. I still found myself jumping to each ring, each vibration, hoping it was you. And there were times when it was you, but you never had much to say. You made small talk when you were lonely and tolerated my text messaged essays when I told you how much you hurt me by simply existing. Because you didn't exist in my story the way I wanted you to, the way I imagined you to.


I haven't talked to you since 2018 and I still know your phone number by heart. But the difference between then and now is that I don't wait around for you to text. But there are times when I want to exhume your phone number from the graveyard of past loves and say hi and see how you're doing. Or maybe just to try again and see if maybe we were the case of "right person, wrong time." But I know better than to dig up graves in hopes to find a ghost. The past haunts me enough already, and I know better than to the ghosts back in.


After Ocean Vuong's "Notebook Fragments

I drove an hour to celebrate my cousin's birthday

and cried when I got home


because he hugged me goodbye and squeezed me into his arms —

this was the first birthday he's spent with family in ten years


I know how happy our presence made him


Boisterous laughter filled the room

the way only Romo men can do


and I learned that applesauce is the key to making a great cake


Memories fill the air, both old and new,

over 9PM cafecito


My dad jokes and calls us old and takes a sip of his beer —

my brother drinks his Dos XX


"Don't worry, Mom -- this is only my second one!"

— he's really on his sixth


I got to hold baby Nathaniel

and he doesn't cry (for once)


I think I'd make a great mom


I'm still trying to figure everything out —

I'm 26 and I'm no closer to being married or having kids


Am I lonely or am I bored?


Seriously, I gotta get my shit together


I overspend and I work at a bank


I'm getting a degree in finance

just so I can defer my student loans again


Google, tell me how I can make a living being a writer

or tell me how I can escape the 9-to-5


Please


The other day, I dreamt about what it would be like

to have my work analyzed and annotated


to have someone attempt to understand it to its fullest depths,

to understand every detail I laid onto the page


I write my morning pages in my little red journal,

inscribed with the word "inspire"


Julia Cameron was right when she said that creativity

shows up when you force yourself to write three pages


by hand, every day


I've been studying my craft lately,

the one I've been gifted and cursed with loving


I read "Night Sky with Exit Wounds"

and didn't understand any of it


until I read it again and again


then I started annotating it, highlighting,

studying how Vuong chose his words and how to display them


Now I understand


The more I learn, the more I understand,

and the more I admire


and the more I realize that I still have so much more to learn


I'm closer to 30 than I am to 21


Sometimes the thought of time passing

makes me lose my breath for a second


then I remember that time passes anyway

and all I'll have are memories to carry with me into the afterlife


and all that will be remembered of me

is what I write down on the pages


for someone else to read, annotate,

(and hopefully)


understand.



Underneath the golden summer skies,

the sunflower

bursts

and blooms

its head

into the azure beams,

sticking its petals out

like youthful tongues in winter

as if to see

what sunshine tastes like,

knowing it tastes of heaven

and all things sweet.


Summer is a reminder that warmth

never lasts, but that the sun will

still rise, as it always

does, casting its light

over the earth —

so diving,

perfect,

pure.



Dear C,

Apparently, my mom still has my grade-school diary where I wrote your name + my name all over it. How embarrassing.


Dear R.N.,

I always thought I'd marry you. But I know now that if I ever did, I'd only be disrespecting myself.


Dear R.M.,

You are still the most handsome man I have ever met.


Dear B,

You introduced me to Twenty-One Pilots. So, that's cool.


Dear J,

I was right about you: you like a girl that's quick and easy. Unfortunately for you, I have never been that kind of girl.


Dear M,

I can never really forgive you for walking away. Love is supposed to make you brave, not cowardly.


Dear F,

I pray for the girls who fall for you.


The smell of orange blossom wafts through the spring air as I trek through the neighborhood. I never remembered orange blossoms smelling this good, this nostalgic.


Because the scent reminds me of my dad’s famous citrus concoction of orange, grapefruit, and lemon, finished with a pinch of salt. Often, he had only enough fruit to make a glass or two, but he always shared it, letting me taste the harmonious blend of sweet and sour and tangy.


It also reminds me of my tata, peeling an orange with his pocketknife, without a single mistake. He would toss the perfect spiral into the dirt, knowing it would slowly fade into it, feeding the crops he tends to with his gentle hands. Then, he would break the fruit into its natural sections, sharing the slices with us grandkids.


The smell of orange blossom reminds me that both my dad and my tata have always been men of God and giving, always believing that whatever they have it meant to be shared.


I eat my girl dinner of a watermelon-wedge plate


Poorly chopped fruit and half a muffin

and chicken nuggets I buy frozen and toss in the airfryer


A cold Poppi

because I care about my gut health


(not really, but that's the lie I tell myself)


Sometimes I pour it in a glass with ice

and drink it with a reusable straw —


it makes my girl dinner slightly less pathetic


The Last Airbender plays on my screen —

it reminds me that, I, too, can become a wonderful storyteller someday


Aang makes me want to be a vegetarian

(or eat less meat, at the very least) —


to be kind to all living creatures


Katara makes me want to be strong,

Sokka makes me want to be brave


Zuko reminds me that we can heal from past wounds

but the scars will always remain


Uncle Iroh reminds me to trust in those wiser than I


Anne Lamott told me to write shitty first drafts

then I can fix it up


Then I can tidy it up until it's perfect


I need to listen to her,

for she's much wiser than I


(I think ...)


So I try to spend an hour writing each day


I take long walks with no music,

no audiobooks to fill my ears and flood my brain with —


only the crack and crunch of the twigs and stones under my feet,

and the solar wind against my skin


I envision myself as the main character of my work-in-progress —

how she thinks so I could accurately portray her on the page


I want her to be kind like Aang

and strong like Katara


brave like Sokka, and with scars like Zuko,

ad wise like Iroh


I have no idea how to bring her to lie

but I have to try


So I romanticize the shitty first drafts

and the fix-it-up drafts


and everything that led me to write it in the first place


because I'm 26

and I've decided to romanticize this life now —


better late than never, right?

(at least that's what they say)


because all I know for sure

is that I must tell her story



My journal knows far too many things,

but she has always been my closest confidant and she carries my secrets safely between her covers.

She holds the musings of my heart,

and the confessions I have yet to share.

She knows about the tragedies I’ve endured,

she knows of every ounce of grief and heartache,

and every sin I’ve ever committed.

She carries within her arms

the love, the joy, and the hope

that has managed to pull me out of the darkness.

She carries every thought I’ve had,

every prayer I’ve messengered out into the universe.

More importantly, she carries all the poetry and prose

that has turned my life into a meaningful one —

she’s the reason I am a writer,

a poet,

an artist.

My journal reminds me to create beauty of nothing

and to turn every wound into a portrait of resilience.

And it’s on her pages that I spill my soul out —

it’s where I find myself,

where I learn who I am

and who I wish to be.

My journal knows far too many things

but there’s no one else I’d trust to know every little thing

there is to know about me.


after @_simrain

You DNFed four books

and you still feel guilty for doing so

(especially because you only finished fourteen).


You went to two concerts

and you were immensely inspired by the artists’ passion for their craft.

You wish that you weren’t so afraid

to chase after your dreams.


You spent countless hours writing

and countless more hours thinking about writing.


You shared twenty-nine poems

but you wish you had shared more.


You went on ten artist dates

but your goal was to go on twelve. But that’s okay.

You tried new things, and you went out of your comfort zone

(and for that, you should be proud).


You spent every spare moment tending to your creative heart

and you are eternally grateful for it, even though

you will always feel like you could've done more.


You created art this year

and even if it was just one piece or even if it was just

for yourself, you’ve done more than enough.


You’re an artist

and you made it another year.

 

Here's to another year of poetry ahead in 2024. Cheers.

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