1-IMG_1695Schucking oysters on this salty bed,
Popping open briny bivalves with my knife,
Their cold soft fleshy bodies sliding down my gullet.

My efficiency is astounding,
And the effect quite rounding,
Swallowing one after the other,
Until my belly is bursting.

My limit belongs in a zip lock bag,
But I store it in my greedy belly,
Why wait for the kitchen?

© 2013 M. Tsai


Tao of Fishing

IMG_2202Gone is my last drop of hope,
As I stand on this crack-of-dawn-boulder,
The sun shines high in the sky,
Above this raucus river.

Out of the blue you leap before my eyes,
Sleek chrome summer steelhead,
Jumping into the tail of this ancient pool,
Full of determined energy,
Right before my feet.

A childhood moment frozen in memory.

Every synapse of my brain lights up like a circuit board,
Adrenaline jolts me into frantic action,
In my haste I make a clumsy cast, and wrap my line,
The lure spins down like a tether ball,
At the tip of my pole.

Hands shaking, I deftly unwrap
The #2 Canadian Wonderlure and cannon ball split shot,
Casting my spoon a little higher into the pool.

You nail the silver spoon like a freight train,
My Mitchell 300 sings as the six pound test line
Whirs off my reel,
My rod dips wildly up and down,
I hang on with all my might.

Ferociously you rip across the emerald waters
To the opposite side of the river,
Under the dark green fir lined bank,
Cart wheeling wildly above the fast waters.

I work you back to my boulder,
Before you rip another memory into my soul.

The fishing Gods have given you to me,
My first summer steelhead,
And I will pursue you with respect and passion,
For a lifetime.

You beseeched me to chase you on ancient rivers,
Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Stillaquamish,
Satsop, Cowlitz, Puyallup,
And now the Green.

You promised me great adventure,
And you rewarded me well over the years.
You sacrificed your chrome rainbow body,
So I might find my own.

Standing on the smooth slick stones,
I find solitude,
Along this great river.

It is you who hooked me,
And pulled me into your eternal,
Ever changing waters.

Our sacred home.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Second Cut

36 glistening staples punctuate my belly,
The incision retracing much of the scar.
From my prior liver resection.

Lucky am I to have another operation,
Pregnant with hope and opportunity,
More quality time.

My bowels are frozen,
My abdomen gradually tightening,
Like the skin on a timpani drum,
Over the last six days.

I have reached the tipping point,
No more food can be packed in.

She sits exhausted and anxious
In the cramped emergency room chair,
While I lay in the gurney,
IV drip into the left arm,
My index finger pointing my heartbeat,
Into the monitor.

Waiting for the doctor,
to review the x-rays
With my surgeon.

The levity of narcotics slowly wearing off,
I begin to feel,
The searing pain of my incision,
And the tightness of my belly.

2-IMG_1027I wait anxiously,
Until 4:30 am,
To get all of my medications,
My heart beating

Carpe diem

© 2013 M. Tsai

Puppy Love

1-IMG_3441The cream of the crop
Traveled to the 1979 Congress of Strings
At the University of Washington,
Including the musical genius from Calgary.

We all had scholarships,
For an intensive musical experience
Performing every two weeks at Meany Hall.

All college students except for me,
Heading into my last year of high school.

The camp had an extra spot,
So they asked my violin teacher,
A professor emeritus,
If he could fill it.
He selected me.

For the first concert,
I was assigned to sit
Next to the girl from Oberlin,
Destined to be a concert master.

She was the section leader
Of the second violins,
We shared a stand,
Making rapturous notes together.

Tall and lean,
Her dark wavy hair framed her aquiline nose
And sultry brown eyes,
Her long dexterous fingers moved effortlessly
As she played with fierce intensity.

Drawing me in like a Gypsy Air,
Under her mysterious spell,
I gathered all of my shy
Awkward courage
To ask her out on a date.

As we walked across the warm summer campus,
She told me she had never dated a jock,
But I persisted.

In the evening
We went out to University Ave
I forgot my wallet,
So she paid.

My heart sinking
As we neared the elevator at Haggett Hall,
Reluctantly I said good night.

She stepped toward me and leaned in for my very first kiss,
All was going exceptionally well,
Until she thrust her long alien tongue,
Into my mouth.

Tumbling back on all fours,
I watched her smiling
As the elevator doors

© 2013 M. Tsai

The Battle Continues

Over a year after my liver resection, my cancer has returned in my spleen.  My surgeon will remove my spleen this coming Friday.  It will be another big abdominal incision.  The past year has been filled with many firsts.  First time I could not do a single sit up. First time I tried with all my heart to show my wife and daughter how much I loved them.  First time I read a poem out loud at an open mike instead of playing the fiddle.  First time I tried to reflect on my life and actions.  First time to blog. 

The trained engineer in me wants to analyze and build structure.  Words do not stream from my consciousness to paper.  I know I have more to share.  But for now my posts may become quite rare.  Rest assured that I will be doing a lot of reading during the weeks ahead on WordPress.  A place where I can meet amazing people, learn through our common struggles and joys, and also learn how to open up and express myself.