Photo: Jessica Xiong

i always loved fireworks

a comforting backdrop to a picturesque peace

noisy neighbours and nosy relatives

incessant chatter and hissing sausages on american grills

all seated on a weathered picnic table

moss forming between the cracks of the backsplash tiles

a view I would enjoy every summer


i always loved fireworks

deafening symphonies of ultramarine blue

bold streaks of tuscan sun 

bewildering shades of vermillion

vibrance erupting across the stygian night, giving meaning to the nothingness

illuminating the fetid smog bellowing out of potbelly stoves

a view I would not enjoy ever again


faded burnt sienna ink against rough parchment

conscription papers shattering my holy stained glass

anguished shrieks of wronged mothers, silent weepings of guilty brothers

paralyzed fathers laying comatose in a mosaic of broken beer bottles

pitiful stares from bystanders, shifting accountability like cards of poker

a melancholy farewell


my father exchanging desperate murmurs with cloaked men

unnoticed, I perch on rigid clay stairs

curiosity overtaking 

much of the conversation lost through mud walls

sol rises, hesitantly I awaken

our household soaked in disquietude and trepidation 

i run across the schoolyard with unchanging vigor, blessed with ignorance


sweat mixed with mud and rain

incessant chatter replaced with incessant yelling

a foreboding grim clouding and hardening our hearts

stew in bags arrives, hungry soldiers crowd, their raw fingers reach for their meals

letters sent, never received

gunshots echo in the damp air, ringing off the trench walls

like fireworks


i was awoken not by the sun, but the familiar sound of fireworks

gleefully I hurry outside, unnoticed as always

i am met with soot and an ashen sky

my neighbourhood reduced to debris


soldiers have gained ground, we advance toward enemy territory


i’m scared


we have arrived on the rebel base


i’m scared


the fog has hazed our vision

we have made contact with the first rebel


alien men in green greet me

a metal ball slowly approaches

the explosion goes unheard


the sounds of firing guns and exploding bombs drowned out rationality

and no one would ever mourn 

ultramarine blue skies painted over with silvery bomb residue

no one would ever mourn 

rays of tuscan sun obscured by raining shrapnel

no one would ever mourn 

beautiful shades of vermillion darkened into a sickening sanguine

no one would ever mourn 

the evaporated stygian night, now littered with souls 

like asphodels blooming in the underworld

no one would morn one blossom amongst a field of millions


we returned

some lost legs

some lost arms

and some lost a piece of themselves that could not be mended by stitches and plastic

no amount of medals and politician speeches and embellishments

could bring back

the way I used to love fireworks


i always loved fireworks