The other day, Kaylen and I were sitting outside sipping iced milk teas, gazing at the flow of Lujou life passing before us. I think it was in the middle of the week-long flooding rains Taiwan was experiencing in the second week of June.  Watching the rain from the dry comfort of our al fresco table, we were inspired to write some poetry. We talked about the haiku form. I like the haiku form: it is easy to introduce, short in length, simple in structure (5-7-5 syllables in three lines), and typically written of light-hearted subjects. 

My haiku:

Black streets wet with rain

Smokers under the awnings

June day in Taipei.

Kaylen, thinking back to our day at the beach a few days before, wrote this one:

Big blue waves crash down

Hot sand under the big sky

I surf between them.


 I love this particular Billy Collins poem. “This is the beginning of sadness…”


On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel

 like I’m coming down with something,

something worse than any stomach ache

or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–

a kind of measles of the spirit,

a mumps of the psyche,

a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,

but that is because you have forgotten

the perfect simplicity of being one

and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.

But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.

At four I was an Arabian wizard.

I could make myself invisible

by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.

At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window

watching the late afternoon light.

Back then it never fell so solemnly

against the side of my tree house,

 and my bicycle never leaned against the garage

as it does today,

all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,

as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.

It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,

time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe

there was nothing under my skin but light.

If you cut me I could shine.

But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,

I skin my knees. I bleed.

Billy Collins





                By Kaylen Isabella Hou


                 A black hat

                 A black dres

                 A black cat

                 A pare of black shoes

                 A broom stick

                 What cood it be?

                 A WITCH A WITCH

                 across the sky

                 across the moon

                 and that is the end.

I guess the illusion I am thinking about today is the illusion that Billy Collins sat down at his famous table next to his famous window surrounded by his famous wall paper and wrote his poem “I Ask You” in about five minutes, the same five minutes that I took to read his poem. That his poem was composed as a smooth complete lozenge ready to be consumed. That nothing was crossed out or erased, that there were no other possible choices for words. That the poem was inevitable and fell from his mind like a minted coin falling off the press. I sometimes think that one good poem can last a person a lifetime. Maybe that is actually how long it takes to write a poem, or at least that it took one’s whole life up to that point.

 A book of smooth lozenges:

 The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins

A window muse: