The Bonds of Understanding

conversation with an asian at 2am on the bottom of a staircase
by Joseph Cruse

He was just a tiny asian.
You don’t get to meet many exchange asians inhabiting the Midwestern small campus.
They’re actually studying.
His name was Yoshi.
It wasn’t, but he didn’t mind when I called him that.
We were passing back the bottle. He’d drink then I’d drink.
“You know my problem with foreigners, Yoshi?”
He nodded.
“I’ll never completely understand you. We’re apart, you and I, and I can’t take it.
In Science, I learned that the world, comprised of atoms,
is a series of every action out of reaction, bonded through a repulsion of swirling electrons
colliding, crashing, and cracking under the pressures to be whole with another.
The fucking cosmos tears us to pieces every single day, Yosh,
and we have the presumption to create language?
To connect
to try
to create
the illusion of mere understanding.
Hope, is our problem, Yoshi, hope and trying.
There’s always pointing and grunting, I suppose,
when words have no more accuracy off our tongues lulled dull without a sharpening stone.
We’re talking in a concocted language,
using words and phrases solely meant to tip-toe across high-tension thread,
between the message and the understanding,
between the conveyance and the meaning,
in our misplaced desires to simply just be heard.
And I can’t fathom such a cruel fucking joke.
Goddamnit, Yoshi, you drunk asian bastard, you made me cry,” I said laughing.
He flashed a smile back.
He didn’t speak English.


Joseph Cruse is a writer, an actor, a bad painter, and an English Master’s student – he is, easily more, a lot of nothing and everything. When not getting into trouble, he explores New Orleans, sprays graffiti scenes of movies onto canvas, and works at a brewery. Some of his work can also be seen in Poetry Quarterly, Cacti Magazine, and Bareback Magazine.


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I am a dreamer, as well as a doer, who lives in the North Georgia mountains. I started my publishing journey August of 2013, have had moderate success, but my utmost passion is my "daytime" job, which is working with adults who are constantly striving to better their lives as they obtain the GED credential.

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