Haiku XI

Flushing, Queens

can’t shut my mind off

toxic music and voices

screaming, “it’s over”

©Steven Cuenca


Saying, “fuck yaaaa,” in Bushwick

My best friend recently told me, in one of her “general rules of being,” that people should not act on impulse. She said this clearly, and with no room for compromise. People instead, she’d argue, should think about every decision they make, especially big ones, and imagine all the possible negative outcomes. After doing that little calculation, one would act according to the safest route.

Play it safe. 

What a shitty way to live a life. Living in fear of failure. In fear of rejection. In fear of getting hurt. It makes sense, however, and there’s no arguing against the appeal to living safely and living the way ‘one should.’ And you can live and die having lived safely and maybe you wont regret having missed opportunities of greatness or happiness. But just fucking imagine that for a second. Building your whole existence up just to survive comfortably. It’s against our nature to be comfortable. We’re born into suffering, the second you come out of the womb you’re crying and in pain and fucking wishing yourself back to nonexistence. Every day we’re closer to dying. Our bodies and minds are imperfect, we’re being poisoned by man and the machine. This isn’t supposed to be easy. So don’t play it safe. Go fucking head first and say, “fuck you world, I’ll find happiness in all of this shit.” Be impulsive, act on love not calculation.

My favorite film is Good Will Hunting. It’s a story that favors impulse. A genius, Will, is aimless in life and is complacent in bumming around with his buddies. After getting figured out by a professor, he’s thrown into a life of math and is eventually offered big time jobs. He also meets a girl who he falls for, but because of those calculations my best friend is fond of, he decides that she isn’t good for him. She moves away to Cali and he’s left with his genius, his dumb friends, and his work. He can safely navigate his life at this point, and a lot of people would settle with the money, job, and comfort. But he doesn’t, he drops his entire fucking life and goes to, “see about a girl.” The last scene is Will driving towards California, towards uncertainty, with the off-chance that she is worth it. That’s impulse, that’s living.

I’d rather die having followed my heart through this existence than following the rules of the world. I’m gonna be hurt, I’ll fail and be humiliated, I’ll put myself out there just to be ignored, I’ll get sick and injured. I’ll do all these things before I play it safe. And the few moments of love, the moments of joy and fear and ecstasy, the moments of madness and discovery, those few moments will be worth it all. Impulse is letting your heart lead. Impulse is freeing yourself from the black and white. Impulse is love animated, it’s how I will choose to live. Impulse will be the story of me.





(Triple) Haiku IX: Tuesdays

©Steven Cuenca

we’re doing it wrong

did i forgive you too quick?

i’ve been too happy


ecstatic even

should i be angry at you?

i can’t remember


we’re playing best friends

and i can’t wait for tuesdays

we’re doing it wrong


©Steven Cuenca

I Jumped a Kid for Cocaine Money

Somewhere in Chinatown

I’ve never done cocaine. Out of fear and lack of interest. I’ve never gotten into a fist fight. Out of fear and a lack of interest. But I have jumped a kid over cocaine money. I say kid, but he was probably 10 years my senior at the time. I was 16 and just kind of fell into a really shitty situation. This is my loss of innocence story:

I wanted to hang with my buddy, let’s call him Pete. I was dropped off at his house by my mom. Well, Pete forgot about our arrangement and he had gone out with his other friends. He suggested I hang out with his neighbor, Bruce. I knew of Bruce, he was a friend of my friends, but I never spoke to him. He always seemed reserved. I was intrigued by him. So he came by Pete’s house and picked me up. He was with an unsavory type, another kid I knew in passing named Greg.

So it’s me, Bruce and Greg. Fast forward 2 hours of driving aimlessly around town, the two kids sitting up front convinced me to lend them 40 bucks for cocaine. Wasn’t so much convincing as it was annoying. They annoyed me into buying them cocaine. Promised to pay me back, a promise that was kept by Bruce only.

So now they’re coked up and the next objective was…getting more coke. Fast forward another hour and there’s two 30-something-year-olds in the car and there’s coke everywhere. The adults bought me a couple of Steelies, some disgusting fucking malt liquor that made the situation a little more bearable.

So I’m drunk, they’re coked up. We drop the 30 year olds off. The night felt like it was nearing an end and I was thinking about laying in bed and how I never want to hang out with these two ever again. But life happens, and it doesn’t owe you anything. Bruce gets a phone call. The town drug dealer, Pillz, was robbed a couple of days back and had arranged some payback. Some drug-dealing justice. We picked up two persons that were gonna help us out. Pillz’s brother Marc and a friend of mine, J.P. I moved to the passenger seat. It was Bruce and I up front. Behind us were Greg and J.P. And hidden in the trunk, one of those open trunks, was Marc. Then we picked up the 20-something year old kid who gave Pillz fake money. We were gonna “sell him stuff.” He sat in the middle of the back seats.

Have you guys ever played Grand Theft Auto? There’s a thematic device they use often. A motif. Whenever you pick up an individual you’re about to kill, he does this thing where he arrogantly narrates the exact reason why you’re about to kill him. Like if Tony Baloney hired you to kill Joey for banging his wife, Joey would be in the passenger seat saying, “Yo, I just banged this broad, some dude’s wife. Can you believe that?” Etc. etc.

Well, this individual did that same thing. “Just the other day I gave this kid some fake money, and he totally fell for it!” Fast forward he’s on the ground in an empty parking lot. He’s bleeding, his shoulder is all fucked up. One of his shoes is off and missing. His wrist is bent in the wrong direction. We took his money and gave it back to Pillz. Mission accomplished. Our reward? Cocaine, obviously. I didn’t partake, I went home.

That was 7 years ago. I’ve written about that day several times, I’ve spoken about it. I get the same responses:

1. “Why didn’t you get out of the car?”

2.”I feel so bad for that kid.”

3.”Do you regret it?”

1) I didn’t get out of the car because I was young, naive, scared. I didn’t know the two kids enough to tell them I wanted to go home. I had a thing where I wanted Bruce to like me. There was also the feeling that the night wasn’t over. Like, there wasn’t a mutual agreement where people decided it was time to call it a night. I still get that anxiety today, where I’ll be out and I want to be home already. But I have more control over my life now.

2) I don’t. I really don’t feel bad for the kid. Remove me from the situation for a moment, since it would have happened regardless of my involvement. Let’s take a step back. He robbed a real drug-dealer, not your local part-time weed dealer. I’m talking hard drugs, cocaine, heroin, pills etc. You rob a drug dealer, you’re lucky if you never see the guy again and hope that robbing him was worth losing your source of drugs. You rob a drug dealer and get your ass kicked? Sounds exactly like what the fuck would happen in that situation. Best case scenario, he learns to not rob people. Worst case, he robs a scarier drug dealer and gets himself killed. Sure, it sucks when people get hurt. But you can never blame a reaction. No one can say, “Wow that’s an overreaction.” No, he wronged someone and felt the consequences of doing so.

3) I’ve stopped regretting things. I think it’s a poor use of energy. Sure, the immediate response to doing something stupid is regret, but I’ll never look back and play the “what if” game. I am who I am today because of what I’ve experienced. I don’t regret the people I met, the investments I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt. Things that suck, things that are awful and difficult, those are the things we learn from. We learn from adversity. The only function of our mind is learning, so who the fuck wants to live happy in ignorance? Can’t do it. It’s not me, I’m too addicted to the pain and the immediate/eventual reward it brings.

I removed a lot from this story, so I’m sorry if I come off as proud of what I did or even indifferent. I removed the part where I was digging my nails into my arm, bleeding and focusing on the steady pain so that I could pass the time without thinking. Removed the part where all I did was punch the kid in the balls a couple of times and then turn away in self-loathing and confusion. Removed the part where I cried that night and couldn’t sleep. I even removed the part where Bruce is my best friend now.

I’m not gonna give you some bullshit lesson I learned. There was no point to this. There’s no point to the fucked things that happen around us. The suffering. No point at all, but it’s a story I have and an experience that threw me into the world. It threw me with no warning or reason, and it didn’t care whether I gained anything meaningful from it. But it’s mine and there it is.



(Quadruple) Haiku VII: Off-Chance

ig: snapshotsteve

almost moved, you know

started a new one – alone,

but i stayed for you


stayed for the off-chance

we’d remember love again,

so i’ll wait for you


patiently waiting

for love for hate for something

will it be worth it?


worth going all-in?

putting my whole life on pause

for the off-chance?



©Steven Cuenca