Sinkin | Risin’


Laura Tsunami Li


Gail Calimaran
The first in a series of medical mishaps: 
I had a panic attack in the middle of my chemistry lecture.
I fall into the same trap all poets and artists pretend to avoid:
I make art of it.  

The professor lectures about free energy,  
but this isn’t what triggers the panic attack. 
Afterwards, though, I come to some realization that maybe
I am the un-useful work that needs to be subtracted from the equation. 

I sleep that night 
and wake up with a nosebleed at five in the morning, 
absolutely miserable. 
February was a really bad month for me.  

Two months back, 
I drive home from an Italian restaurant. 
The only thing that reminds me it isn’t summer  
is the deer I almost hit in the neighborhood, 
also the way familiar, perfect places hurt to look at, 
like the sun. 

On another night, 
someone drives past someone else’s panic attack. 

I want to stand on the side of that road and yell. 
How can you play in the shadows and light of someone else’s near death experience?
Who are you? 

I’ve never really had a near-death experience. 
I just think that every experience 
brings me closer to a death 
we know is inevitable but never talk about.  

I am deeply in denial about it, 
but I terribly afraid of drowning. 
I’d hate to die in the ocean. 

I made a blackout poem about hope from a page in my chemistry textbook.  The weather is terribly dark and humid today. 
I would like to go to California; I would like to forgive someone there.  

I too would dance in shifting waves on a sidewalk at any given chance, find something beautiful and permanent there, 
something that wants me to stay and forget about 
any lingering fear and the shore, so far away.