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Sunflowers are nice in theory. Personally, I’ve never liked them because they seem a lot less flower and a lot more weed, and a lot less petal and a lot more seed, and there’s a lot more sunshine associated than actually perceived but…

If you’ve ever had a friend die… then you know how important what they loved becomes

And Katie loved sunflowers. She loved a lot– in fact, I was the first one to nickname her Kate, cause in the seventh grade, Kaitlin wanted a new slate, and it just seemed so much cooler.

And she was my, “Asian sister from another mister,” meaning she was my baby sister, because she was the only friend I was older than. And Christmas was always extra special in her house, because both her and her older brother were born on Christmas Eve,

And at some point, we decided we should leave high school, and start our own fashion line, but not before getting banquet dates for the first time, stealing popularity, partners in crime…

But after a while, the plans stopped because Katie stopped coming to school… for a week. For a month. For a year.

And I never visited her in the hospital.

Because my prayers visited… and vested her chest with a bulletproof, cancerless rest ahat would protect her, even from her dreams..

And I never visited. Because we all knew she was coming back, so we cut her some slack, and made wrist bands that said, “The power of prayer, keep strong Kaitlin Pham”

And Katie loved sunflowers. So twenty-four days after her fifteenth birthday, when I walked into the chapel, they were everywhere, on the table, on the mantel, in the vases, and even in the programs.

I wore mirror aviators to mirror the emotion of those around me because my thoughts laid in a place too dark for reflection, reflecting upon her mother repeating

“I should not be burying my baby,

I should not be burying my baby,

I should not be burying my baby.”

Imaging, my class graduating and her parents receiving an empty diploma, her brother always celebrating his birthday alone-a family of four now standing on three legs, a home now a house never seeing an end to its days…

After the funeral, I walked home alone, allowing my mind to roam, until I walked into my bathroom and looked in the mirror and accused you–

Because you should’ve done something. You should’ve visited. You should have called. You said you were her friend. You prayed too little. You hoped too little. And you didn’t trust God enough.

I collapsed, In a heap on my sink and cried out, “God! It shoulda been me!”

Cause I would’ve taken the bullet for her if I could, but how could I when the bullet was her blood, and the fragments were her bone marrow, and the gun was being dissolved inside of her body, how could I pick up the casings?!

“God, if you kill me now, could I take her place?”

And I paced, my mind raced, so my thoughts sprinted until I came face to face with that mirror image, and I heard God whisper,

“Look in your eyes.”

Unfocused, Bloodshot, Dilated…

I saw something I’ve never seen before.

See the top part of my iris is green, and the bottom part is grey, but for the first time, I saw an amber ring encircling my pupil that shot out like fire at every angle

And it







Two sunflowers, staring back at me. And maybe I only imaged it, but Katie loved sunflowers.


Heavenly Father



You should meet my dad.

An artist not well known, but he paints with strokes that pastel across canvases as complex as the sky, feathering jewel tones in a technique so delicate it’s almost like the wind guides his brush—He’s hilarious! A comedian, telling jokes that only an anteater would appreciate, about the length of a giraffes neck and centipedes that don’t quite measure up—I get it from him.And he’s a great listener too, especially on days when my eyes brim with more tears than an entire ship’s crew could pail, enough sorrow knotting at the back of my throat, that I can’t even speak—he’ll still hear what I’m trying to say, offering advice that I used to dismiss, but now perk up just to hear his tone of his voice when he gives it…

When you meet a man who’s able to jumpstart your heart every morning with a shot of hormones so potent that your eyes bounce open as you jolt out of bed, it’s hard to be impressed at someone’s “heart skipping a beat”

When you meet a man who composes personal symphonies from the evening legs of crickets huddling in the corners of their orchestra pits and directs a corale of cascading waves that lulls even the most restless souls to peace, it’s difficult to understand someone who can’t make time for you

When you meet a man who has held your heart, even as it pumped acid instead of blood, a time bomb leaking battery fluid all over the holes in his palms, asking him “will you still love me if I explode, will you still be here if I detonate, will still you hold me even if I self-destruct,” and the answer is always yes—when you meet a man like that, it’s impossible to feel special when someone just asks to hold your hand…

What can I say, I’m a daddy’s girl. And if there’s three things I know, it’s that I could never do anything to make him stop loving me, that he would turn the world upside down to find me, and that if he had to die for me, again, he’d breathe his last breath with my name on his lips, a curled smile forming on his mouth as he pictures my face beaming up at him, because he loves me that much

A Poem on Surviving


IMG_3929“I am a survivor of sexual assault”

I hesitate.

I should’ve said something else,

But It’s too late to reverberate the sound waves,

An unannounced tsunami running from my lips to your ears—it’s heavy and strong and I feel guilty for letting it out, but I’m so tired of drowning. I’ve been dog paddling in this ocean for ten years…

My palms are sweaty.

My sentence triggers a biochemical reaction in my body, a memory, of thirteen year old fists that never formed to punch an enemy,

Adolescent wrists that went limp,

My hands begin to shake, again, moving closer and closer until they find one another, interlock in a hold like a bond that understands where they’ve been—

I’ve been hit. Right in the gut where the dinner I never had is supposed to be digesting—I couldn’t eat. Something about staying alive sometimes makes me want to die, it’s sick, but I tell myself that it’s not, because cliff hanging onto the edge of life is supposed to be better than jumping from it…

I look up.

Do the eyes staring back at me understand? it wasn’t my fault, was it? I didn’t ask for it, did I? Well, yeah, maybe I should’ve better… Someone else could’ve saw it coming… they probably would have fought…

pupils scan my face like a genius at the alter of his white board,

What will they find?

A person who deserved what They got and got what they deserved?

They finally lock onto mine

I used to know those eyes but now they look so unfamiliar, the eyes of a person who reminds me of a person.

I wait.

“I still love you.”

I’m in tears, taking a breath that expands to the bottom of my lungs, but it doesn’t burn anymore, it’s almost like… breathing feels good—like each inhale is a sign of life and each exhale is a sigh of relief that I’m still alive

When I finally look up again, and my eyes meet their reflection, I smile like I’m seeing an old friend return home for the first time.

I’ve missed me



Pledging Allegiance



“I pledge allegiance
to the flag
striped with the blood from my forefathers’ backs…
And to their shoulders,
on which we stand,
Strong foundation,
under God,
But with liberty and justice
for the majority…”

Cause the census
That made us senseless
has been in effect for three hundred years
Uncles tom, ruckus, and sam
Cheering from the stands
Black people picking cotton
Medicine bottles –
Trying to fossil
Lungs with tobacco
Chronic pain
Medicated by chronic gain-
But who can afford food for thought
When food stamps amount to less than three dollars a day,
Even Starbucks lattes are 4.95

Country’s hidden mutation,-
Republicans try to buy our education
As if that’ll atone for Brown vs. The Board
Root for the underdog
As long as he stays under
Cause the darker the berry,
The sweeter the juice,
But white stains too easily
So like tide we bleach

Cause there’s a black man
In the white house,
But there’s no black man
In the black home-
Mothers firing their own warning shots, trying to teach their sons never to stand, let Alone rise up,
And daughters learning to be the first to lie down and the last to get up

Government promoting slave mentality
Subliminal abuse
Pursuit of happiness ahead
Tanks right behind
What path will you chose,
Star Strangled banner around our necks like noose

Constitutional wrongs outweighing the bill of rights
Beheadings heading headlines faster than journalists can die
Gun shots ringin
National anthem part two
Isis, let them live!
How many mothers have son-less homes
How many more modern lynchings  will we see
Television screens like the modern day tree
White men going free
Mothers of liberty
Wearing red to their sons funerals
Innocent blood shed
Pilate, wash your hands!
What color will the water be
Red white blue
depends on who’s guilty
Guilt-free consciouses latching onto the American pie
Our slices too thin to fortify
It’s anorexic
And our only rehab is prison and welfare
Fare well to arms
Police waving riffles
Like it’s 1969,
Black mothers with children, stay in your cars
pull over for none
Cause I heard that a cross once burned can inflame hearts and minds three generations removed
Like 3/5s was never proved
Nigga, what animal are you?
Who let you into school?
And what is it that you’re pledging to?