On a day you hate being yourself, on a day you want to disappear forever, let’s build a door in your mind Once you open the door and enter, this place will wait for you”A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone (2017)
last night i saw an inkblot in my dream/been thinking about inkblots and how they can tell you the state of your mind/sometimes i’d see someone who looked like me crying while sitting on a toilet seat inside a dirty school bathroom/or i’d see a halo of water rising from around the impact of a body/or i’d see the opening and folding of my brain/the i don’t want to be here anymore i don’t want to be anywhere i don’t think my survival makes much difference what am i good for anyway all i do is wander/will i always be this confused/could see the rot along the frontal lobe could see the evidence of gradual implosion/memories or desires/once/i saw the outline of a monarch butterfly/couldn’t tell where it was heading to/only that it was in mid-launch/i rubbed my fingers against the paper/i wanted the ink on my fingers
it’s always been easy for me to say i love you/it’s always been easy for me to forget to forgive myself/it’s always been easy to let things push deeper and deeper until i’m all concave and full of air bubbles/i sit with myself sometimes/i fold her things i think she’ll need out of paper/the roof’s leaking so when i write her messages the ink smears and so does her face/i think face is just another word for honesty which is just another word for all the reasons why i think i’m lost/it’s hard to sit with her sometimes/i want to be surrounded by friends all the time/i don’t always know how to say i love you/sometimes i lose my stars and it takes me weeks to get them back/i haven’t found all of them yet/i don’t always know how to tell her i love you/how can i expect someone to hold me when i don’t want to admit that i need holding/why am i worrying about what other people want from me before wondering what she wants from me/how do butterflies always know where to go?
i reached into the inkblot and found a notebook/a palimpsest of fingerprints and timestamps/dozens of languages/millions of hands touched these pages/i could understand all of it/everyone was writing about how everyone is looking for everyone and nothing is everywhere and how sometimes tomorrow comes too fast or doesn’t come fast enough or doesn’t even matter/someone wrote about how on the first day of summer they woke up with the taste of sun in their mouth/but after the dream faded from their eyes/all they tasted was dust and anxiety and the emptiness pushed between their teeth from questions/questions like when are you getting an internship have you started thinking of college loans have you gone to the gym/what are you going to do within the next several years/have you thought that far/why do you always look like that when i ask you questions/and a lot of i don’t know what to do/i just started walking and you want me to be at the finish line already/i’m just trying to live day by day/you used to tell me i was beautiful/i have nowhere to go/is this all in my head/i’ve been alone for a long time/“Yeah why does God keep/making us lonely”*/and i add when will i stop feeling like this/i cannot put the notebook back/i read through it when i can’t sleep
reading the notebook makes me feel like i caught thousands of paper planes inside my body/life’s turned us into a menagerie of confusion/i think a lot about how we’re all trying to find the same things in different places and how we’re all pretty lost/how do butterflies all seem to know where to go at the same time/is there a way for us all to end up where we need to be in the end/i penned down some flight directions/some wishes/some observations about the weather/about the taste of playground rust and 4 am tears in the back of my throat/the thing about migration is to keep moving/trust the feeling pulling you forward even when the sun’s behind the clouds/the inkblot looks like a door blown open/i reach into it and find a mirror
i’ve started my own notebook/there’s a butterfly between the pages/it’s a pinned butterfly/or maybe it’s just confused that it can’t move/exactly what trapped her there/there are times to be between pages and times to be inside the body and times to be in the air/i’ve started folding paper planes and paper balloons/i think i’ll need them/my bones are conducting experiments with the weather/for example if it’s a summer day misted with rain and wet grass and more news about our physical bodies becoming celestial bodies/will my bones be soothed by the warm air/or will they get heavy with water and start to ache/it’s usually a combination of both/i’ve learned to carry my stars/always prepared to release them if this body falls/but until then/i’ll keep them close and sprinkle a little stardust on these streets/i’ve read somewhere that monarch butterflies have internal compasses/they have pairs of molecules in their brains that are sensitive to earth’s magnetic pull/i’m thinking that if i keep moving i’ll end up somewhere/it’s too soon for these stars to return/i think a little too hard about falling and possibly going back but no/not yet/not yet/i’ve managed to unstick the butterfly/she’s smudged with handwriting/after shaking off the glue flakes from her wings/she takes aim at the opened window and flutters outside/i don’t know what direction she’s going in but she looks like she knows/i don’t doubt that she’ll get where she needs to be
i’ve been experimenting with self-love/last night i saw another inkblot in my dream/if someone asked me what it looked like i’d say/it looks like a pair of hands/it looks like a butterfly/it looks like my face when i’m washing the sweet smelling cleanser off/i’ve started looking in the mirror with a smile/i’ve stopped debating whether or not to trim and prune the garden/there’s new flowers growing along my hairline and the soy oil makes my roots smell like green apple candy/there’s still dewdrops from yesterday’s rain that’s yet to dry and it feels good/like i shook my hair out after getting baptized/if i focus hard enough i can pull back the ugly words i’ve rubbed into my skin/like blackheads disappearing into the facewash and washing down the sink/i say i love you/despite my wavering feelings towards church/ i’m sure that Jesus was really loving/momma tells me over the phone after i tell her that i think that maybe i’m not meant to be here it’ll be okay you know you worry yourself too much/didn’t i say i’d help you?/dad gives me two kisses one on the cheek and one on that brain of yours because my budda is so smart/my friends and i say i love you to each other over loud conversations in sushi bars and dorm rooms and in the streets at night when we’re tired and the only ones laughing at 2 am/and well i think the girl in the mirror is worth it even if she thinks about not being here and worries about whether or not she has a future anywhere/so i wipe the ink off of her face and tell her i love you and she smiles at me and i think yeah/if i say this every day/i won’t have to say it out loud/i’ll just know
on days when i can’t love myself,Magic Shop
on days when i feel lost,
i’ll open my hands.”
Hear the author in their own voice
It is very hard sometimes to imagine a happy future for yourself. When you are stuck in the present and are unsatisfied with yourself, that future seems more like a myth. At the time I wrote this experimental prose-poem, I was feeling very lost and alone with myself. I realized that this loneliness was fogging up my mind, and was bone deep. BTS was one of my main sources of comfort, but also a source of strength and reflection. When I was paralyzed by self-loathing or fear of the world, songs like “Magic Shop” and “A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone” helped me realize a lot of things.
I realized that being alone and being lonely are two different things; that it is okay to be alone if you are not lonely. I realized that I was never truly alone in the first place, that I was blessed to have some good people around me. I counted BTS as those good people as well. And finally I realized that the only difference between lonely and being alone is whether or not you have a true friend. This prose poem was me finding a friend within myself. Self-love, one of the ultimate forms of compassion and understanding, the kind of love that BTS always wants ARMY to have for themselves, a love that they strive to maintain for themselves, too. Maybe we walk alone sometimes, but I like to think that if everyone has healthy self-love, it can be enough. And when we find those real friends, it will be that much more fulfilling.
BTS. (2017). . A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone. [Song]. On Wings: You Never Walk Alone. Big Hit Entertainment, Seoul, Korea. (doolset, translator).
BTS. (2018). Magic Shop [Song]. On Love yourself: Tear. Big Hit Entertainment, Seoul, Korea. (doolset, translator).
Johnson, D. (2020). Notes on self-love/how do butterflies always know where to go? The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , (1). https://ther3journal.com/.
Johnson, Dynas. “Notes on Self-Love/How Do Butterflies Always Know Where to Go?” The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , no.1, 2020. https://ther3journal.com/.
Notes on self-love/how do butterflies always know where to go? by Dynas Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Illustration by MacKenzie Rawcliffe