Random Musings: excerpts from a forgotten journal

Poetry Reading (April 6, 2013)

Today I was part of a collective of poets and artists sharing each others work and ideas. I was honoured to be part of such a circle.

Writers and Readers at the Ricepaper Magazine launch party held at the Historic Joy Kogawa House

Writers and Readers at the Ricepaper Magazine launch party held at the Historic Joy Kogawa House

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gum in mouth
chew, swallow,
for words, desperate
for ideas

prosaic, prodigious
perhaps neither
perhaps both
perhaps the mind
keeps these secret
nooks, venues, state,
property, home
away from
my roving
my searching

transcendent claptraps
gum in mouth
speaking tongues
smack lips to
familiar rhythms.



words swim upstream
fight discordant words,
attract themselves to other
words, swims further upstream
mutates into
nonsensical, farcical


words vanish
no pen, no paper
they vanish into crevices
perhaps, they are at the tip
of my tongue.

chew, swallow,


© Carousel Calvo, 2013

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Random Musings: excerpts from a forgotten journal

Crappy Movie Makes Me Maudlin (June 3, 2011)

It’s an awful realization to know that you need someone. An earlier version of me would scoff at this kind of nonsense but it’s hard to admit to one self that they need companionship – the kind that simulates heart palpitations and giddy moments of embarrassments. It is the feeling of knowing that someone will give a crap or at least understands the labyrinths and heartaches of one’s own dilemmas.

I saw Something Borrowed today. It’s the kind of movie I avoid. It’s complete garbage, but it induces a certain feeling of what-ifs. I choose to be in the position I am in because I tell myself that I don’t have the time or the energy to be with someone. I’m focused on something else and would rather expend energy on something I believe would benefit me more in the long run. Yet, some nights, I ponder at the possibility of being with someone again, imagining myself in a different situation. My imagination amalgamates every romantic movie I’ve ever seen and plunks me as its heroine. Pheromones and endorphins rush inside my brain and, momentarily, it makes me happy. I feel content at that specific moment; however, it’s the after that makes it painful. Fantasy is like a drug – short-lived and bad for you. When I can’t pretend anymore, I read until I fall asleep.

There are days when I feel left out. I hate feeling left out. Who doesn’t right?! I can’t stand the sight of PDAs and I want to hurl tomatoes at every happy ending ever created. I hate how I see couples making gaga eyes at each other — I’m talking to all the teenagers out there — or when I’m at the supermarket and I can see couples pretending to look at fruit or cereal or milk or laundry detergent. Who hangs out at the laundry detergent aisle for more than a minute?! NO ONE! These couples have a certain zing, a tension, surrounding them. They’re so sweet my teeth hurt from looking at them. Or when I (pretend to) jog and I see old chinese couples holding hands as they walk slow and sure around the track. There’s a serenity and comfort in their mannerisms. There is no immediacy in their actions as if they communicate telepathically.

Like I said it’s a situation of my own making, and I know it’s up to me change it, but (damn it!), sometimes, I want the universe to at least give me some slack. Bludgeon me with a sign or nudge me to a direction. It’s not too much to ask, I think.

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Support Poets @ The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

I have been confirmed as one of the readers for the The Joy Kogawa Event/ Double Issue Launch for Ricepaper Magazine. If you love poetry and love hanging out with poets, come join us. There is a cool exhibit prior to the reading for those that love textile and textile art.


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Random Musings: excerpts from a forgotten journal

Naples (July 2012)

Naples is chaos. It’s humid and hot in July. Drivers don’t know the meaning of traffic laws whilst local pedestrians cross the street without a care for their safety. The main drag is full of shops, both expensive boutiques and street hawkers with numerous brand name knock offs. The city’s charm lies in its confusing streets and alleys. Every corner is a delight: teenagers strut and smoke cigarettes like they own pedestrian walk ways; university students hang around crowded piazzas, drinking local wine with loud electro music blaring in the background; and in tight alleys seniors argue, arms gesticulating with rapid insistence.

My favourite place in Naples is the waterfront. While the city streets are bustling and noisy, trying to coax a transaction out of my frugal hands, the waterfront slows time. It urges one to sit down on a bench and enjoy the view and let the breeze caress heated skins.

This is where I will start my story.
This is where I fell in love, amidst all its curiosities.

I was hot and sweaty coming back from Pompeii. The train was packed and I was always aware of how likely my belonging were going to get snatched or stolen. When I arrived back at my hostel, my roommate Nick was sleeping. I tried to be as quite as possible but he eventually woke up. Like me, he was out all day visiting another archeological site, Herculean. After changing into clean clothes and washing my face, we talked about how we spent the day. He told me of preserved humans and ancient potteries; I told him how I found Pompeii vast and frustrating.

We were two strangers who didn’t know a soul in the city and, maybe, it was because we were the only two people in the room, so he asked if I had seen the city. I told him I was familiar with the city’s main streets, having walked them a day before. At first, I though he wanted recommendations on where to go and what to avoid, but I was surprised when he asked me to walk with him. I hesitated for a few seconds, but the thought of having to spend the evening at the game’s room in our hostel hastened my acceptance. After he changed, we headed out.

I’m awkward around men I find attractive and when he first introduced himself the night before, I noticed his friendly eyes. He looked like he hadn’t shaved for awhile; it was unkept, but it suited him. During breakfast the following day, before I headed to Pompeii, I saw him talking with someone and I noticed beneath the unkept beard was a nice smile. He was short but I was shorter. He had a lean body and strong hands. He looked like he ran or swam recreationally.

As we headed out of our hostel, I asked Nick where he wanted to go. He answered with a shrug, “show me the city,” he said. His answer startled me. I was perplexed at how open and trusting he was, and so in the spirit of adventure, we walked, with me leading, and we headed to my most favourite place in Naples. As we traverse alleys, I told him how I spent hours at the waterfront the day before. Of course I had gotten lost, which had become a normal occurrence ever since I arrived in Europe 2 months ago. I told him of how I tried to follow the streets coming out from the marina but construction and a roundabout blocked my path so I had to back track to alleys that I wasn’t sure would lead me to where I should be. Even though I was lost, I told Nick I had fun looking around. Nick nodded enthusiastically and told me how his best stories came from experiences that were unexpected. I was glad we thought the same.

I was surprised how at ease I was with him. It felt like I had known him for a long time. At first, we talked about random topics: where he was traveling and for how long. We talked about our travel woes, from missing trains, to getting sick, and tasting weird food. There was no silence. We stopped by Castel dell’Ovo that had two free showings of local art. We wandered around rooms and found an odd sculptor of a naked woman and a dog in very close proximity with each other. It left us thinking thought best not said aloud. We left in a fit of giggles. On top of a tower, we viewed the city, and discussed its architecture and layout. How the city lacked space yet somehow it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. The weird juxtaposition of old relics with new industries. We talked about my plans moving forward after university and his plans in Tokyo. We meandered further down the waterfront and talked about living in Japan and certain cities in North America. I told him of how restless I was living in Vancouver. He told me of why he moved to Tokyo. We sat down on a bench, for awhile, and, surprisingly, I told him about my first love. He reciprocated and told me about his. We compared: how his relationship worked out for him, and how mine imploded. There was comfort and camaraderie. By the time we headed inside the city for food, we had been walking for three hours or so. The sun was setting, yet I wasn’t hungry at all.

When I showed him the pair of Italian shoes I was thinking of buying, I was infatuated with him. By nine in the evening while we were sitting down for dinner at a famous pizzeria, and a man with an accordion played Italian love songs, I already knew I was in trouble. I like how he made me feel. It had been too long since I felt something genuine inside. He was smart, articulate, and funny. By the time dinner was over, I didn’t want the evening to end. It was almost midnight when we passed by University of Naples Federico II. When we crossed the next intersection afterwards, I knew we were heading back. He said he had to leave early the next day to catch a train to Sicily.

Stepping inside our dorm room sapped the magic out of the evening. I felt awkward and shy. I didn’t know how to feel or what to feel. I had an wonderful time. I believe he did as well, or he wouldn’t have stayed the whole evening with me. It certainly was one of the highlights of my euro backpacking trip. Whenever I think of him and Naples, I feel tingly and warm inside. I don’t really know what to think about the whole episode. I don’t know what he thinks of me or the night we spent together. For now, I think I’d like to leave it like that.

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*** I wrote a story before writing a spec script for my screenwriting class. What I realized after this exercise was how hard it was to translate prose into a script.***

On Spiderman sheets and surrounded with Dungeons and Dragon action figures, Camillo tosses and turns. It’s as if someone is holding him and drowning his breath. The heater hums quietly in the corner. Beside the twin bed, his small study table brims with stacks of books, graphic novels, and assorted superhero comic books.

On the table’s surface, one book is open to a certain page: a painting of a tempest and a skiff, fighting the capricious winds. Inside the boat, a man holds tight to a long rope, while a boy drowns at sea about to be swallowed by angry waters.

On the bed, Camillo whimpers.

The page comes alive: the waters churn, the boat sways dangerously, and a man screams.

Inside Camillo’s dream, he hears the storm roar, gathering its immense power for a colossal tantrum. Camillo feels the heavy sway of the skiff; the insides of his stomach tightens with motion sickness. He hears his father scream a warning, telling him to stay where he is. Camillo looks for his father, to alleviate his growing panic. Around him the wind howls. He sees his father pulling in the sail, muscles straining from effort. His father’s face contorts into an angry and defiant scowl. He shivers. With apprehension seizing his mental faculties, Camillo runs towards his father.

Camillo feels as if the wind is running beside him, while the rain obscures his path. He slides and hits his head, laughter ringing in his ears, rainwater spitting on his pale face. Dazed, he sits up to look for his father. Camillo sees him run towards him, but in a blinding instant, as thunder and lightning echoes, he is enveloped by waters then lifted up then out off the skiff.

On the bed Camillo tries to kick his blanket away. His movements shatter an almost empty glass of water from his nightstand. The sound wakes his mother from her fretful sleep.

Inside the dream, Camillo sees his father scream his name madly over the shattering of the fierce wind. He swallows sea water as the ocean tugs him under, forcing him below. His ears ring with silence. Camillo looks down at the immutable depth and he sees visions of his father with his old fishing hat and his mother praying, rosary wrapped around her slender wrist. When his lungs clamours for precious air, he fights and up to the surface. With the storm screeching around him, he heaves in lungfuls of air. Before he can look for his father’s boat, the ocean yanks him under again. The sea slaps him on the face, the sting lingering on his cheeks.

Camillo wakes with his mother hovering over him. He sees her hide her hand.

When Camillo was rescued, coast guards found him clinging to a life preserver. They brought him to the nearest hospital where he spent two days in a coma. He woke up to his mother hovering over him, rosary beads wrapped around her slender wrist. He couldn’t speak for a few days so did not know that the coast guard found the skiff empty. His father missing.

His face is wet and his spider-man sheets ruined. The small heater in the corner of his room hums reassuringly. Focusing on its familiar sound, Camillo closes his eyes, slowing his breath, evening it out.

“We should go see Dr. Brown again,” his mother says. She wipes her own tears and watches her son cover his head with his wet red blanket.

“Go please. I’m fine,” he answers, “Go pray or… just leave.”

“I don’t know what to do Milo. Tell me what we should do.” She sees the red comforter and the uneven rise and fall of his son’s breathing. She looks at the book on the table, angry and sad all at once. She gets up to close the book. She puts it away, then heads out of her son’s room.

Camillo waits for the familiar shuffle of his mother’s slippers as she closes her own door. He waits for the sound of rosary beads clinking together. After several minutes, Camillo gets up to change. He looks at his bed in disgust. He dumps his soiled bed sheets and blanket on the hamper. He cleans the broken water glass then pulls a sleeping bag under his bed. He spreads it on the wooden floor before sprawling on top of it. There is lingering taste of salt in Camillo’s mouth. He closes his eyes and empties his mind from thoughts of water.

© Carousel Calvo, 2013

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Princess Bed

Cici arrives in IKEA with mismatched socks. Her winter jacket is three sizes too big for her. Her long pants rumpled, with dried mud on its knees. Her face looks gaunt, as if she has just recovered from a long illness. She has a long scarf wrapped untidily around her neck. Inside, the store is humid but she does not unbutton the many layers of clothes she wears. She wanders, watching families paw polyester sheets, tugging and tapping at price tags. She meanders around the marked path, sometimes stopping to admire a pretty dresser or a comfortable looking sofa bed. She lingers at the kitchen display not because she finds it attractive or efficient but because it was next to the bedroom displays. She hesitates at the imaginary line between the kitchen and bedroom displays. Far ahead, she sees bright colours and childish designs, with bunk beds and computer tables, some in indigo futuristic themes and others in pink princess motifs. She sees a toddler about two years old squeal for having been let out from her carriage. Cici takes several steps forward, pushed by instincts, as a toddler, baby steps uneven and excited, waddles straight ahead. The baby bumped into a bedroom display – master bedroom with mahogany finish and a big wide screen TV — and before she thinks of crying, her mother scoops her up in a flourish. Cici sees the Dad tickle her tummy while Mom smiles proudly at both of them. She turns away fro the scene and walks towards a chair next to a touch screen kiosk. Behind her, a chinese family turns on faucets, opens cabinets, and measures counter space. They look serious and deliberate with the Dad calculating the width of the faux marble and the Mom making sure the price is manageable. The toddler she notices awhile back is safely back in her carriage with a pacifier in her mouth. Cici follows them with her eyes. Mom and Dad push the cart together hands touching in solidarity.

She finally arrives at the kid’s section, lingering on the display beds. She’s looking for a bed with gold trim and pink rose print. When she finds it, she stands outside its display area not wanting to touch or go near. She backs away far enough that she stops traffic on the pathway. Families skirt around her, some look perplexed as Cici stares at the bed. They shake their heads as she watches daughters lie down and pretend to sleep, rumple the covers, and smudge the white sheets with their shoes. Sometimes pedestrians jostle her. Cici ignores the angry stares, the rude gestures, and the loud whispers.

She suddenly walks away after standing at the middle of the pathway for almost an hour. She does not leave the stores; instead, she circles around the floor a few times, bumping into tables and couches as if drunk. At every turn, when she nears the bed with gold trim and pink rose print, she stares for a few minutes then walks quickly away.

While the people around her are abuzz with choices: the possibility of remodelling their kitchen, or an extension added next to the garage, she sits still on a couch, keeping the frayed remains of her emotions intact.

“I miss her too,” she hears someone say.

Cici looks up and finds Jim. He looks haggard with black circles under his eyes. His face has a sad weight. He takes off his gloves and kneels in front of her. Cici closes her eyes.

“I miss her a lot. She was a wonderful child. Never complained. She was so happy when we bought her that big bed.”

Cici wraps her arms around herself. She avoids looking at Jim’s face.

“Remember when she skipped on that bed the first time? She wanted to paint the headboard orange. I wish we did paint it orange. We should have let her do what she wanted with it…”

Jim sits next to her, holding his scarf tightly. Families around them are eating ice cream or bickering, or shouting at each other to be quiet. One couple starts to argue about how big a bed they should buy. At the far end a little girl squeals at being told that her room was getting a makeover.

Cici winces at the sound, trembles at the decibel, and starts to cry softly.

“Let’s go home. I think it’s time to go home.” Jim stands and walks away. Cici looks back at the girl, hair bouncing from excitement. She follows Jim out of the store.

© Carousel Calvo, 2013

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