When I first met heard of Richard Chiem, I noticed he began following me on Twitter. Then he invaded my blog with a question for Steve Roggenbuck for an interview called the “Pseudo-Social Scavenger Hunt” for the (Youth is Write Series). After I discovered why a question was on my blog for someone named Steve Roggenbuck, I told him it was awesome. He thanked me for using my site.
“Old Tampons” is the first short story of Richard’s I’ve encountered. It is about long distance relationships. Richard originally submitted it on “NewWaveVomit” and it resonated with a lot of people. First he read it aloud and you can hear it here. Personally, I enjoy his delivery of it. If it is possible for someone to sound like a poet, Richard Chiem sounds like one. He sounds similar to my college poetry teacher. Though my college poetry teacher was called “Mr. Beardsley” (which he might have legally done in order to teach poetry more ironically) one of the most ridiculous names I’ve encountered in my entire life besides “Bea Trout”. Richard’s work is well-thought out with an emotional core that makes the effort more than worth it.
A few fine individuals created a short film based off of his poem. Michael Inscoe, Meggie Green, and Melinda Wheeler star in it. All of them match the energy I get from reading the poem. If you’re more of a visual person, or don’t enjoy reading poetry, then you can watch the Youtube video right here. They have a well-chosen soundtrack as well, which is important to someone as obsessed with music as I.
“Long distance relationships are like believing in God and do you want to believe in God again?”
The above introduces you to the poem. For me, it was strong. I’ve never been in a long-distance relationship. I wonder; what if I fell in love with someone. Could I manage to have the faith needed to let that connection stay strong, or would I just let it be, parting with one last hurrah as I moved away. I’m happy then that Richard’s story basically ruminates on that very emotional decision.
A lot of religious metaphors are in the poem as well. They are beautiful. Using “Christ” in two different situations gives both the absolute highs and lows of a single word with all the baggage it entails. Having it mean the hurt and suffering Christ had at being so alone. Having it mean the pure joy and kindness he literally embodied as he embraced others to make them whole again.
Personally, I adored this poem. The hurt both of them feel is vividly portrayed. I couldn’t have asked for more direct language. As I read it, I feel sad at the amount of space and time countless others must have felt as they started out on a long-distance relationship. Both parties feel an unequal amount of hurt as they leave each other, her to go to Boston, him to stay on the West Coast. It was well-paced and gorgeous. Even as it was sad, it had hope for the times they met and were happy together.
I’d strongly suggest checking him out. He’s number #23 on Online Literary Power along with the editor of Vertebrae, an online journal of literature and art. If none of this means anything to you, he’s also really nice. That counts the most.