1987 / by Nick Neon

In honor of National Poetry Month + my impending birthday, I wrote a tone poem to reflect back.

I have always been painfully nostalgic + painfully introspective.  Always haunted by the past, while dreaming of the future.  I can genuinely say this is the first time in my life where I am finally beginning to live in the present.  Maybe it is something that comes with age.  Or maybe it comes with being happy.  Or with opening your eyes to the wonderful fragments that live all around you.

Either way, the present is a present.

Although every year seems to get better than the last, naturally, it all had to start somewhere: 


Red, rusting 7 trains of Queens, how I still need your lessons. 

VHS + Bill Watterson, each year we peeled back the layers on our innocence. 

Troubled youth + troubled truths. 

All those nights we had nothing but our whiskey, dreams + roofs.  

I crashed my bike in the courtyard, tears drowned out my pride.

Household of four, living brick to brick on the edge of Woodside. 

Back when Pops + I played chopstick drum solos.

And I knew who you were, my young little Brother.

The dry, burning desert of Nevada and those late-August storm clouds.

The day that I came out to my heart-broken Mother.

How swiftly all the years seem to pile up together. 

The best moments I've lived are often the hardest to remember. 

It's such a shame, you + I, are on opposite ends of the Earth as we grow closer.  

First love on Christmas Eve + the first time I thought that my life was all over.

Lights in our eyes as we rode down to AC, together we are the perpetual engine.  

Keep painting my heart while we're still young + benevolent.

Time is the great equalizer, I now see in myself what I once saw in you.

How many fractured nights must a lost boy lie in bed before he finds the calm, morning blue? 

And how we broke into that theme park late into our night.

The future was a great unknown yet we were fearless and ready to fight.

Four one two one nine eight seven was an Easter Sunday with rain.

Where once two strangers were lovers, only fondly remembered ghosts remain. 

Days spent wondering about real happiness on splintered floorboards.  

"Follow your personal truth," it only took me 27 years + four words.

We're all going to die, so stop feeding your fears.

Who are we when the ones around us keep leaving?  

Are we the fallen tree in the forest that nobody hears?

Or are we made of something that is still worth believing?