jettison

i’ve done so many things over the past week, and – perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s just laziness and a lack of practice – i’m not sure where to start, or how to organise all these thoughts into a coherent passage. after helping out at the direct schools admissions of hc, and then going to rj to help mfa with their scholarship fair booth… it’s only fair to feel old, out of your depth, etc. told the kids at hc i was ‘two times your age plus alpha’, and, after telling the rj students i graduated eight years ago, ended up fielding endless questions about ‘[my] job at mfa’ and how it’s like ‘to work in a country other than singapore’. found them flabbergasted when i described how i’m still waiting to do my masters, but hey, that’s life. i remember clumping anyone above j3 status into the rank of ‘supersenior’ back when i was in jc. only natural that i should fall victim to this same instinct my juniors have clearly inherited.

but there are things i want to say, about how smart they are, how eloquent they are, how endearing they are. there’s nothing bad to say – there’s empathy in abundance, i think, beyond the brilliance that sometimes forms a wall of light, that obscures both the individual and the individual’s ability to penetrate the world around him. but all these things that i want to say have to be said later because i can’t find the words for them, at least not now. perhaps before i leave for boston there will be a piece. i hope it’s worth the effort.

so, i have to resort to the usual cheat. here’s a poem by tony hoagland, called ‘jet’.

Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

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