Lily and Winston by Mia Nguyen
Mia Nguyen is romantic in a Borders parking lot. There is no better place to express one’s feelings than a parking lot. Everyone in a parking lot rushes by. Yet the young couple stays. Soon they will have to go, away from each other, away from the shopping carts. Until that time they remain happy to be together. Borders declared bankruptcy in 2012, two years after this poem was written and the parking lot is no longer romantic. People go to the abandoned parking lot for other things now, generally less romantic and endearing. Nguyen’s happiness in the parking lot did not cause Borders to go bankrupt. What did cause the bankruptcy was Borders’ ineffectual business plan.
Social networking is the new friendship. Nguyen rues this fact. Poor people use social networking as a way to escape the here and now for the then and there. Things always seem to be better elsewhere. With the help of the internet and phone this becomes ever clearer. Bad parties can be dealt with thanks to a phone. Phones are the saviors of boredom. However Nguyen is accurate in a sense. Devices and media can distract people from the present. Though the present can be boring, bad, or generally uninteresting good things come from this disaffection. Some of the best moments of life happen after so much boredom.
The reader is described as a ‘pretty boy’. Clearly Mia Nguyen is trying to hit on whoever reads her poetry. Is this a bad thing? Since poetry in general is all about love it doesn’t hurt to flatter the reader. Indeed while not ever reader might be a ‘pretty boy’ they can experience the rush of having a writer speak sweet nothings to them. MGMT may not be everybody’s first choice in music, but maybe it is time for a little change.
Friends split apart sometimes. It isn’t anybody’s fault. One day everybody’s grooving in college listening to the latest jams, the next they have a job. Upon re-listening to those jams, Strawberry jams, etc. it brings back a sense of familiarity like ‘Remember doing that? That was fun. Work in half an hour.’ That’s life. Life eats people up. And it is okay. This is part of the progression towards something closely approximating ‘responsibility’ or ‘adulthood’. Either way it is good.
‘Lily and Winston’ uses a simple directness that’s really effective. Descriptions are kept to an absolute minimum. Oftentimes this leads to something prettier like the end of ‘Underground Tunnels’ which ends with the simple statements of:
‘I look up at the sky
I don’t see the stars
I miss the stars
I feel good’
The language is laid bare, unadorned. This is good.