Loser for Love

I don’t know who I am,
and that’s the truth.
It’s as true as the blemishes on my skin
and the weariness of my hands.

I’m the figure enshrouded in mist,
a small stone statue of Hercules, thriving in silence,
fragile, yet broken from labour,
slowly dying of a lonely heart.

It is the mask I wear,
a veil hiding my lost soul,
a fallen angel
seeking its way back to paradise.

For every empty hope and promise,
falls a feather from my wings of wax,
like rose petals on a wilting flower,
my innocence – my beauty – is lost.

Broken, I wander in the wake of a wasteful world,
Waltzing and spinning through life like it’s a masquerade,
a sea of empty faces and emptier souls in a world of gluttons and drunkards,
dancing hopelessly into oblivion.

Like the fool I am, I wear the mask,
seen as I’m not, afraid to be seen as I am.
But why should I be afraid, when we’re all the same?
I am, like you, a desperate soul,
wearing the mask I have forged for myself
and the one the world has sealed upon my face.

Is it because of the pain?
The pain in knowing that instead of the Hercules I wear on my face,
I am Quasimodo, disfigured and unloved,
desperately ringing the bells to drown out the sound of the throbbing pain in my heart?

Yet, I know, as you know, that an aching heart is the only way you know you’ve loved,
wistfully longing for a love you know can never be yours;
I can’t do anything but listen to the footsteps going out of my life as quickly as they come,
all the while cursing Cupid’s stupid arrow,
angry that the world I love does not feel the same way.

Do you know how it feels,
when the girl who has ravished your heart tells you that she cannot, and will not, love you,
because you are a foot too short, five inches, two?
Or that the world is not looking for the ones who thrive in silence,
but those who can outroar even the mighty lion from its throne?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been searching for the wrong thing too long,
weaving in and out of the grove of sycamores,
avoiding the harsh glare of the sun,
hiding in the shadows pining for Rosaline when I should’ve been looking for Juliet.

I am a lonely pilgrim,
a hell-bound traveller seeking my way back to paradise,
a love born in a masquerade and built on the kisses of two palmers,
searching for the divine among the mundane.

Those simple glimpses of ethereal beauty,
dancing whispers on silver-gilded winds,
are the remnants of the carefree childhood I long to live once again,
a Neverland built on the dust of fairies and the clinking of pirate coins.

Yet, the way of the world is always so different,
and I, tasting its assaults for the first time,
was only a child, drowned slowly in papers and heavy books,
its stiff words forcing their way into my mouth, down my throat, and into my lungs.

Now, the world thinks I do not know what fun is,
but only because it was the world who stifled my dreams and forced a mask upon my face,
I am a loser for love, a phantom soul suffering from a broken heart,
but not from the shards of shattered dreams.

I don’t know who I am,
and that’s the truth,
but simply because I can only define myself in worldly terms,
when I know, full well, that this is not where I belong.

I don’t know who I am,
and that’s the truth.

Souls and façades are simply two different languages telling the same story. They may look different, their curves and edges flowing in opposite directions, their words gliding off one’s tongue in different melodies. However, in the end, both play a vital part in telling one of the greatest stories the world has ever known: the mystery of the human individual.

The problem is that many of us have differing ideas regarding who we are. Some believe we are simply the amalgamation of the influences that surround us, while others think that our façades are mere canvases painted by the ideas of other people, hiding the individual originality that lies still within the soul. These thoughts suggest the solution to the mystery is rooted in discovering ourselves, but since truth can never contradict truth, as of this moment, the only truth I know is that I do not know who I am.

I am given inklings, however, of my identity. From the passions that boil angrily from the depths of my soul, to a persona as plastic as an empty bottle, the things that I feel and the things that I see serve as imperfect guideposts leading me on an uncertain road to the truth I seek.

My façade tells the story of an individual shying away from the disdainful eyes of the world, veiled underneath an exterior of false confidence. Using the small stone statue of Hercules as a symbol of my façade, I project a distorted impression of who I am to those who happen to set their eyes on me. Like stone, I am strong. Like stone, I am confident. Like stone, I am rigid. Hercules, the Greek character of ancient myth marvelled for his great strength, is who others think I am, but only because that is who I want them to see. In the end, though, the truth in the character of Hercules lies not in his appearance, but in the cares and worries of his heart. According to Greek myth, Hercules, a father to two children and husband of a beautiful princess, was driven insane by Hera, a goddess who despised him since he was the offspring of her husband, Zeus, and Alcmene, a mortal woman. In his fit of madness, he killed his wife and children. Gravely remorseful for his actions, Hercules had to undergo twelve labours as penance — difficult and dangerous tasks that were seemingly impossible. Despite his godly physical strength, Hercules had the human tendency to be weak. His weakness was hidden in the curves of his muscular physique, his brokenness coursed through the rivers in his veins. I am like him. Like stone, I am impressionable. Like stone, I am erosible. Like stone, I am fragile.

My soul tells the story of imperfection, an individual torn asunder by sin and the desire for redemption. My soul unveils hidden longings and a beautiful ugliness inherent in my humanness. Underneath the beautiful Hellenic façade is the hideous, disfigured form of Quasimodo, the bell-ringer in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Though he was kind at heart, he was despised for his severe hunchback and a giant wart on his left eye that left him deformed. Due to his grotesque appearance, he was hated for his whole life: he was replaced by his parents for a physically healthy baby girl, abandoned as an unwanted orphan on a bed in Notre Dame, looked upon as a monster by the rest of Paris, and rejected by the girl who ravished his heart. After Esmeralda, the girl who Quasimodo loved, was hanged for attempted murder and witchcraft, Quasimodo left his cathedral to lie down next to her lifeless body, his skeleton intertwining with hers after eventually dying of starvation. In life, Quasimodo’s inner beauty was clouded by the judgements of a cold and prejudiced world. In death, he found the love the world could not give. Likewise, I have felt the pangs of unrequited love from a world that does not love me back, and that is why I feel I do not belong here. In many ways, I do not and cannot live up to its expectations, my most painful insecurity being my short height. While I cannot feign ignorance of more troubling insecurities or the more painful agonies of others, there is no denying that I feel rejected by the world around me because of it. In a world that says taller men are more successful, in a world that says taller men are better leaders, in a world that says taller men are more attractive, in a world that says taller men always get the girl, it’s no wonder, then, that I feel I don’t fit in. It’s no wonder I feel that I don’t belong.

Another story that is alluded to in the poem is William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It begins as another tale of unrequited love, with the young Romeo expressing his anguish for the unloving Rosaline, the girl with whom he finds himself deeply enamoured. However, on the night he attends a party where he knows Rosaline will be, he meets another girl by the name of Juliet. At that moment, Rosaline loses her charm in Romeo’s eyes, merely becoming the fading memory of a foolish dream. Upon seeing Juliet’s beauty, Romeo takes her by the hand and proceeds to woo her by evoking religious imagery, emphasizing the ardour of pilgrims in their pursuit of spiritual ecstasy. The use of religious symbolism throughout the poem not only pays homage to Shakespeare’s literary brilliance, but also reflects my own spiritual beliefs. In my faith, I find a source of strength, comfort, and inspiration that the world is unable to provide. By using the images of fallen angels and hell-bound travellers, I confess to my own sinfulness, while expressing my desire to live a life guided by virtue and goodwill. Through Shakespeare’s words, I find the realization of my belief that I, too, am merely a pilgrim on a narrow path strewn with thorns and sharp rocks, my heart in pursuit of the happiness the world cannot satisfy. In a way, Rosaline is the world, whose charms seduce the masses and whose expectations are way beyond mortal reach; in stretching one’s arms to grab for her, they meet an untimely downfall. On the other hand, Juliet is the place of supreme bliss – some call it Heaven, others Paradise – whose charms are quieter, overshadowed by the world’s grandeur, yet they harbour more power. She is the divine among the mundane, the place of sanctuary I seek in the chaos of my life. Being human, I crave for the world’s attention, I desire material wealth, I long to be deemed attractive. However, feeling rejected and despised by society, I have grown to learn that true happiness comes not from chasing transient pleasures, but from setting my sights on my faith, one that promises me life. Real life – painless, gratifying, everlasting. It comforts me to know that the reason why I feel I don’t belong in the world is because I was never meant to fit it in the first place, this world being but a pale shadow of what my faith, and therefore Heaven, offers. However, just as Romeo and Juliet’s love could only find peace in death, I may only find what I seek when I finally learn to ignore societal expectations and break free from the world’s poisonous influence.

I think it was in my desire to compensate for what I lacked vertically that I began to adopt a serious demeanour. Associating harshness with adulthood, I wanted to stray away from things people considered childish, finally finding maturity in reading books and studying, all day and all night. When it dawned upon me that I would have to live with the possibility of remaining as tall as short child forever, I began to muffle the laughter of the child within me. I began to despise words like “cute” or “adorable,” regardless of the speaker’s intentions, for who wanted to be reminded of something one remembered everyday? Amidst the rush to grow up, my serious façade often covered the child nestled snugly in my soul, tightly enwrapped in its soft, warm folds. I like to think that I am a child at heart, but while many of my peers dreamed of Peter Pan, and Neverland, and they dreaded growing up, I found myself longing for the opposite: I wanted to grow up, though I dreaded the possibility that I never would. In the poem, I utilize the imagery of Neverland to illustrate the innocence I lost because of my desire to fit the world’s expectations. I describe my longing for the childhood I never truly lived, one without worry or care. The imagery of books and stiff words that follows it expresses my regrets in desiring to woo a world that would never love me back. In wanting to grow up, I made my studies a priority; as a result, I forgot about the importance of family and personal pleasure, and I watched my childhood eventually slip away like water running through my fingers. In loving, I lost. I became a loser for love.

The title of the poem pays homage to another work associated with the loss of childhood, namely, Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching an adaptation of It in the glory of the silver screen. While watching, I fell deeply, madly, hopelessly in love with the characters, especially the seven members of the so-called “Losers’ Club.” As a gang of bullied social misfits who were ostracized by their peers for many different reasons – religion, race, weight, socioeconomic status, just to name a few – I could not help but feel as if I was a part of them. I felt as if they knew what I was feeling. I felt as if they understood me. From their weakness, they found a common strength. In their struggle to survive in a world that did not love them, they discovered a bond that gave them the power to fight an evil entity (which they called “It”), when no one else could. Their weakness gave them the ability to face their fears, insecurities fueled by the cruel world in which they lived. In many ways, I am just like them. If I had a trait that I think would cast me as a member of the Losers’ Club, it would be my height; it has often left me feeling despised, rejected, and ridiculed, whether by my peers or the adults in my life. We are all influenced by the world’s ideals, but those of us who find ourselves left in the margins often have a more painful longing to gain acceptance and recognition. However, this weakness has taught me to be strong. It has taught me to never give up. It has taught me to accept my weakness as a source of pride. After all, if it means I have to fit in with the world’s expectations to be perceived as a winner, I think I’d rather be a loser.

I don’t know who I am, but simply because I can only define myself in worldly terms, when I know, full well, that this is not where I belong. In shedding his mortality, Hercules won his immortal place amongst the Olympian gods. In abandoning the confines of the world, Quasimodo found sanctuary in a broken love made whole by death. In laying down his life, Romeo found eternal bliss in a love the world did not accept. In leaving the world’s cares behind, Peter Pan gained the happiness of eternal youth. In using their weakness in the eyes of a world that did not love them, the Losers’ Club discovered the strength to face their fears. It makes me wonder if my place truly isn’t here at all; perhaps the only reason that I feel like I do not belong on Earth is because I was always meant to shine among the stars.


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4 thoughts on “Loser for Love

  1. Jieo,

    Wow. You are truly a brilliantly beautiful writer, and I can honestly say that I have been left a little speechless after reading your piece.

    First of all, your poem is stunning–I loved it when I heard it for the first time in your Portrait of Me presentation, and I have come to love it even more after reading it on your blog. You write in such a detached yet raw way, and I really appreciate this juxtaposition that is present in the mere tone of the piece. I have to say that I found several lines in your poem to which I connected strongly, bu after rereading it several times, I think that my favourite is this; ‘I wear the mask,
    seen as I’m not, afraid to be seen as I am.’ I cannot even begin to tell you how strongly this line resonated with me–it was the most peculiar thing, because I found that every line hit me in a different way, and I felt as though I was reading something that spoke to my innermost thoughts and feelings. I know what it is to have no idea who you are. I know what it is to feel as though the world does not have a place for you–that you were not made to be here at all. And it is so strangely humbling to know someone who feels that way too.

    I think it speaks to the idea that no one truly is alone, for there will always be someone else who feels the way you do. We are, as members of the human race, despite all our difference, really just the same on the inside, aren’t we?

    Honestly, your poem was beautiful on it’s own, and I was already enchanted by your writing before I read your analysis.

    And then I read your analysis.

    Honestly, Jieo, I am a fan. A really big fan of you and your writing and your work. Your writing is simply masterful–there is really no other way I could describe it. Everything is deliberate, every word and sentence has a purpose, everything means something. The allusions that you explored in your poetry were very expertly explained in your analysis, and I could clearly see the connections you made and why. You had a reason for everything, and evidence for everything, and on top of that baffling logos, you still managed to play with pathos and evoke an emotional reaction in your reader. (I read this post in my Social Class when I was supposed to have been doing Social things, and I may or may not have reacted to your words with ‘oohhs’ and ‘aaahhhs’ that made everyone stare at me like I was a little insane.)

    Your writing has truly made an impact on me, and I think you should be very proud of the person and writer that you are, because I think you are extraordinary.

    In terms of improvement, the only thing I would have to offer would be to break up your paragraphs a little more–the dense paragraphs make it a little daunting to read, and adding variation with the length of them should fix that up right away.

    All in all, this was a beautiful piece and I just want to sincerely thank you for writing it, because I have learned something not only about you after reading it, but also about myself. And I just wanted to let you know that there is a place for you in this world, Jieo. You DO belong. You belong in AP English. You belong in this school. You belong with us. And maybe you don’t feel that way, and maybe there is some other place out there in the ether waiting for you and calling to you, but until you find it, just know that you will always have a home in us.

    Infinite love and gratitude,


    1. Dear Hope,

      I am so grateful that you took the time to read my blog post. Even though the length of it was quite daunting, I sincerely appreciate how you endured it nevertheless. I am especially honoured that you, one of the most brilliant writers I know, found some inspiration in what I wrote; it truly means the world to me.

      As for the length of my paragraphs, I agree with you completely. I have this horrible habit of writing too much in every paragraph, and I will certainly keep that in mind for any future works. It can repel the interest of many readers, and I feel the same way. I’m really sorry that you had to undergo that ordeal!

      Again, I want to express my gratitude to you for taking the time to read my piece. It is truly comforting to know that there are people like you who feel the same way about one’s place in the world. In a way, it makes the world a little less lonely. Thank you, also, for welcoming me to AP English with such open arms. It truly is intimidating to be in the presence of many brilliant writers, such as yourself, and the experience continues to be quite humbling. However, the class has turned out to be a home in its own way, a place where I can express myself without fear of judgement or contempt. Thank you for helping feel like I belong here. It means a lot to me.

      Ever yours,

      P.S. I am so honoured that you took time out of your social class to read my post. Never before have I been worthy of such a risk!

  2. Dearest Jieo,

    Despite claiming that you are not a poet, your first poem is baffling in my eyes and makes me wonder if you really have never written a poem before. Your poem is amazing and my favourite line is, “…hiding in the shadows pining for Rosaline when I should’ve been looking for Juliet.” Each word in your poem is deliberate and has meaning to it, just as Hope says, and I love the fact that you included Shakespearean characters to allude to yourself.

    Although I know that I cannot truly relate to your poem, as I don’t feel that I have much of a facade, I would say that I appreciate you writing this poem and sharing it with the class, despite not being a person ready to take off their mask. Your diction and your writing style is captivating, and pulls readers in immediately. Despite being a “newbie” in AP, I feel that you should have been in grade 10 AP as well.

    I really enjoyed your analysis of your own poem, as I got to learn more about you, as well as everyone else. Your allusions to the many great stories represented your facade and the soul, and the tone you give off of your writing is one of perfection and eloquence.

    In terms of improvement, I would suggest to you to place the visuals in a smoother manner-they’re in between the words, and it broke the flow of your piece. For example, the Netherland picture is between the words finding, with the g cut off. Other than that, I have nothing else to offer.

    All in all, your piece is beautiful and has a touch of true sincerity, despite you claiming that you are hiding behind your facade. I hope that you find a place where you feel like you belong, even if it’s not in the AP classroom, I hope you realize that we will all welcome you with open arms and smiles.

    Happy smiles,


    P.S. I do admit that I chuckled out loud when I read your last sentence-it was the tiniest bit cheesy as I imagine you reading it our loud. 🙂

    1. Dear Kelley,

      I must say I am really glad that you found the beauty in my piece. As you may know, it’s always been so easy for me to see the beauty in others, but it’s always been so difficult to find it within myself. I think it was easier for me to find myself in other characters (hence the allusions) than if I were to search for it deep within my soul. Alright, cheesiness aside…

      In terms of improvement, I shall certainly take better care with my visuals. They can be distracting for many, especially if they break the flow of the piece, so thank you for bringing that up.

      Thank you, as well, for your words of welcome. As many of our peers have told me, AP is where I can find a firm sense of belonging. While life still has much for me to explore, the AP classroom certainly acts like a home away from home, and it’s where I can chase my passions, express my humanity, and turn my insecurities into something beautiful.

      Ever yours,

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