Paper Pigeons



And no

Rilke in the


In          evitable           tragedies

are little boys and         little girls

Who live to
Tell and
weave     s     t      o

r   i   e


Of  needs  and               w


Shaped by

And words
gifts                                 trust
respect                            honor;

Watching                       bridges burn
As we

sink;                                singing


Once and


And yet, we
dance                               in vases

to                                      gether

and a


For                                    ever.

Love in the Time of Quantum Physics

So here I am sitting on my bed trying to use quantum physics and astronomy to cope with grief, that I couldn’t have possibly lost anything or made any mistakes or have any regrets if what we have are dimensions and a parallel timeline and the other “me”s made different choices and I now travel alongside “myselves” on a different course, never crashing, not worried about the finish line, only about the vastness of space and the magnitude of light years, galaxies, constellations, a billion suns. My best friend in Rome calls me and I tell her I am hurting. It is evening over there. She says, “It’s ok you’re hurting, it means something broke. If something broke, it means it still works.”


“Well, something works all right, everything, everything still works,” I shed tears into my morning coffee. “So fix it,” she says.


And suddenly I remember. Huddled in the corner is a backpack. I put down the coffee and buy a one way ticket to walk along the Silk Road, right where it started in China. It’s amazing how much gold and silver had been traded for thread that comes out of a worm; how many lives gained and lost and transformed by trade, by faith, by the winds of monsoons and thirsty camels. As I plot my route, I go into caves and taverns and speak with merchants and kiss strange men who are on the same journey, for different reasons. I sit on canoes and drink in waters of rivers, touch uncut diamonds and lose oxygen in high altitudes. I plunge into prehistoric forests and dance and shoot game and rub soil on my face. I steal honey from bees because I am hungry. I will fall in love and die and break all over again and learn how to say goodbye elegantly. I find friends and family on the streets of India, Persia, and hanging off rocks with my fingers. Like the history of mankind and the migrations of peoples, we are all seeking and searching and wandering, in Mongolia, in Kazakhstan, in Istanbul, where you cross the Bosphurus River and one minute you’re in Europe, the next minute—Asia. As empires rise and fall and faces launch a thousand ships, dynasties overthrown by concubines and gypsies with dreams, I will get everything stolen from me and despair once again, but out of that despair, I will suddenly remember. I will remember. And then there will be a call. And I shall come home again.

Alicia Khoo,
Costa Mesa, CA
October 2013

My Benjamin Button

You will always look like this—
In dry-cleaned suits,
Combing your hair to the side.
Wax. Pick. Groom.
Complaining about being too fat,
Too mad, 

sad, bad,
I watch you grow
And older, stuck in time;
Regressing, swinging,
The uncontrolled jazz
Of our laughter
And confusion.
Sometimes the happiest music,
Carries the saddest lyrics,
Like the sound of
Our dancing shoes;
Or my shoes
When they come to your bed.
I am that love
Spilling out of your sink;
Like dirty dishes,
Screaming eternal sunshine,
this is home.
You wandered too far away,
And I had to let you go;
While you broke things
And invaded my mind
Like warm feet on a cold morning.
Now I shoot paper pigeons
Out into the wild;
If you remember Paris,
Or poems,
Or me.
It is silent
And final,
Without your complaints.

Suddenly I Remember

I was washed up
at sea, shell cocoon
born of a tiger and
a lamb, the sand that
came out of my nostrils blew
into glass, amber, fossils with bees
collecting nectar,
trapped in remembering,
and forgetting.

When my father hands me his eyes,
I burn them into
the palms of my hands,
yellow, ochre, gold.
He puts me on a cliff of eagles.
I jump.

Horns of Babel and civilizations
trumpet and spill into the ocean,
onto shore as people, ships,
and gardens;
Commerce comes pouring out.
My father runs, my mother follows
into the highlands and cries into canyons
when she cannot find him.

It’s not as easy as it seems,
they bellow;
I wipe earth off my face and pull out twigs
from the soft of my heel.
I hear her.
I hear them.

I feel ridges of wings pushing
through flesh and skin
like a wisdom tooth.
My shoulder blade bleeds and
baptizes daisies into birth.
I sing.

Honeycomb drips off my fingers,
we eat, we eat, we throw ourselves off bridges,
we rush forward and our faces appear as stars
drumming like hammers into the black nothing of nails.
Loose, loose, my oldest friend.
We bloom into mountains, into shrines.

Alicia Khoo
Signal Hill, California
Oct 2013

BOP: Perth

The wrong woman and the wrong man;

untouched, living, absolute, dying–

This is the first draft, the first draft.

It is May 1937, deeper. (Deeper?)              Deeper.

I’ll never see you again by the post office,

still alive who you love.


Pain is good, she says,

It means you’re broken,

broken means it still works.

They say with the greatest loss you will start to live;

get hurt and get hurt elegantly,

pull out all the stops, on repeat.

Then say Stop! Don’t do it! You’ll hurt someone!


Still alive who you love.


Sleep on me tonight, lie with me,

there is no courage for the truth;

I am careless with my life;

you don’t know how, I can’t say too much: 

but something still works, everything, everything still works.

Still alive who you love.



Alicia Khoo

BOP poem experiment,

Poetry Lab, Long Beach.

September 2013

Concerto No. 6 Outside the Post Office

Who would have thought,
I would be the kinda girl to sit
in front of the post office in Huntington Beach
listening to Allegro, Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major.
Oh the Academy of Ancient Music. Richard Egarr! Bach!

And turning it up, up so loud,
it’s like candy,
It’s turning my brain into jazz.
Like coming out of slavery,
I’m sitting right here rockin’ out,
like it were Bon Iver or Patrick Doyle
on steroids.
It’s the sweetest procrastination
you will ever have,
here, right outside the post office
in the middle of a sunny day.

How did I get here, you ask?

Well, first of all,
let’s just say Hatred and Envy and Sabotage
Didn’t break me nor kill me,
They just made my poetry stronger.
Yes, in a way, they killed me,
but I was reborn.
Like Viktor Frankl and Ingrid Magnussen,
I write on wallpaper and stick it
into the cracks of walls,
I polish the enemies’ stones like champagne,
cold and crisp without any sweetness
in the final freedoms of my mind.

I will not stop writing,
and I will fight to live.
You will continue to hate me,
but you will not have me.

Born Again

We pay high prices to gain
Smoke and wind;
When all you know is
brick walls, and dead ends,
That’s all you will decide
To choose.

Days like these,
When some were born
And some weren’t,
I imagine my body
Breaking into pieces and
To the ultimate tapestry,
some call it
Nirvana, some call it Paradise.

In our hearts we all long for Eden,
Where we came from,
The forests, drums, oceans
Stories, kisses, touch,
Mourning together
And dancing in joy.

What is human life but
To be known
And to be loved;
Lack of condemnation
And shame;
A world where everyone
Can be trusted;
And our jars never run out
Of oil and flour.

Believe it or not,
We have been lied to:
We really only have today
And the earth is abundant
For us to receive and share.

If you are in the prison of
And the hell of yesterday,
Come on out, my friend.
I’ll walk with you
From this earth
Into eternity.