Regretful Things

Inspired by the thing poems from Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book. You can read select writings of her’s here: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon Translated by Ivan Morris.


An idea sinking into your unconscious. It’s an intriguing catch, the start of an epiphany about something remembered. The top of it rides the waves, and you think you can still grab it. But no, it’s gone under, capsized by the brewing storm. You sail, searching for El Dorado once more.

It’s gone forever.

Passing by people you cherished. Desire to pop across and preach the pent-up tension brims from the top of lungs, waiting to burst. But no, they’ve drifted by and you’re still frustrated. You sought the salty popcorn you two shared at the movies, the wild jokes you exchanged, the promised emotional bedrock. But they’ve gone past. They’ve gone.

It’s gone forever.

Expecting the unexpected. Memories of surprise, elicited by unorthodox syncopation, enjoyable obtuse syntax, a twist in the fold of a story. But even diamond wears down with time. Memories rusted by overexposure – you’ve opened the vault too much – refilled the vault too much. Listened to that mixtape enough to burn your ears deaf. Read that book enough to rewrite it, but not anew, not fresh.

The wonder is gone now.

It’s gone forever.

Passing a deadline. Your gut starts coiling before your mind does, but your mind is what should be coiling. You need to coil yourself out, to safety. Maybe this time it’s a paper, or a presentation, or a project. But the exit is gone forever.

Your train passed your station, and it’s one-way. Your time is gone, and your luck is too.

Something pivotal disguised as a mundane task. Thinking you were making another inconsequential decision, you arbitrarily pull. The clanking inevitability veers left into the foreboding darkness, which is mantled by a stone arch. All along you were part of a Trolley problem. Something down the track is gone forever, thanks to a certain someone’s choices. Nothing exists in a vacuum, there is no 0K.

Something is gone forever.

There he lies, his face alarmingly violet. Nothing hits him from behind, drags him back out of bed, backward into places now a sepia or greyscale. There are no foregone conclusions left born of living life fully. Regret is the real grim reaper, you can’t escape it, even if you avoid it. Yet you wake with a start, and your face widens, half cheerful, half fearful.

You’ve not gone yet.

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