Alive in the Black and Blues
the disco ball casts fragments of light across the room,
a basement with a vinyl record player playing some album from
the 50s; strings of light decorate the walls, in the corner
a poster of Elvis sags. there's a table of liquor by the door,
cd shards decorating the floor as people sway against sweaty
bodies; invisibility in darkness and drowning within alcohol,
yet you sit by the forgotten bookshelf with peeling paint.
sketching people as they dance, capturing them in their
ethereal happiness. you don't belong, and yet you do
the world spins as you glide through the collection of books;
music echoes next to you, now just a blurred memory. in the
dim light, you make out titles you have never seen before.
your fingers dance along the smooth spines, and you pull one out,
the fault in between our stars by john green tumbles into your hands.
when you open it, the initials j.b.m. dance in swirly letters.
what are you doing here?'s reverberate in your mind when you
turn around, facing a boy with angelic features and soft whispers;
can i draw you?'s fall from your lips
let's get out of here's and devilish grins and diet cokes.
the world makes sense as the wind tussles your hair;
sandals slapping concrete as the two of you walk down
towards ocean breezes that encompass you as you scratch charcoal
against paper—and he does the same, lead against paper.
you sketch the way his eyes furrow slightly together, and he
writes about how beautiful you look in the moonlight in stanzas;
you're both artists committing each other to memory,
escaping from painful reality to an ephemeral worlds of dreams
your hands are stained with swipes of charcoal, fingerprints
peppering the paper. you watch as your pencil forms strands
of hair, until looking back at you are the same doe eyes that sparkle
in the moonlight. his chin haplessly rests in his palm,
his journal tucked beside him, papers blowing with the breeze.
he’s memorizing you into lines, forming you into words and
metaphors and symbols. what's your name?'s fall from his vocal cords
and wouldn't you like to know?'s fall from yours
the moon peers from above, pearly luminescent rays shine
upon the two of you, who walk side by side, towards a party
you forgot existed, because you don't belong there
with the vinyl music, the disco ball sheen, the sagging posters.
you belong here, in the cold sand that tickles your toes, the
charcoal that stains your hand black, the smell of paper that
makes you feel alive, you belong where the dreamers go;
let's stay a little longer's pulls the two of you along, back onto
the sea-ridden beach that calls to you, and when the icy water
jolts you awake, you are alive
someday's tumble from his lips like jewels,
and you pick each one up carefully, rearranging each to create
a collage of adornments. and you feel blessed in that fragment of
night that belongs to just the two of you. stroking his feathery strands
of hair, that feel every bit of the charcoal swipes you sketched.
he's sandalwood and broken promises and cherished moments wrapped
in a pretty disguise, but you're innocent heartbreak and gentle tears
and flowing longing tied into an eloquent figure; and the two of you
dream with one another, because you come alive in the iridescence
of black and blues—holding tight to the desires of someday
leaving is harder when you're on the highs of euphoria,
but the two of you manage to break your reveries, because you're both meant
for doom anyway—two artists colliding for the same daydream don't
last, not when the two of you are off flying in the stars above.
and you walk in silence back to the party, feeling the rhythm throb
inside your mind as your steps reverberate with depleting energy.
you reach the door and turn to him, he looks at you with the same
notion of one of a lost poet, and you recognize the longing written
in the pupils of his eyes; here you go's drop like falling rain when you
hand him your drawing, because ephemeral things only last so long,
he does the same, placing a paper folded in half into your delicate hand.
j.b.m. initials yours and p.k.l. initials his
waves crash upon each other like fleeting memories; fighting and falling,
until they have become one, eventually disappearing among the rest.
and you know it’s the same with you and him, don’t you? to your heart,
you hold his words, knowing he’s doing the same to yours. and you sigh,
walking towards the twinkles of the ocean, and placing his poem flat out
onto the waves, watching as his words melt into the sea, and your fragment
of him dissolves, carried away in the memory of the black and blues
About the Author
KatieAnn Nguyen is a Hmong-Vietnamese American who lives in California, US. To her, writing is about the freedom of expression, an extension of who she is. It is her hope that one day her work will be able to touch someone and help them through their own experiences.