I Think It's Deja-Vu

March 9, 2023

photo by Thomas Cruz

Hour 1

The deranged peals of your alarm
Tug at your eyelids.
Your eyelashes stick together, it’s


You pry them open, throw out your right arm,
Fingers scrabbling,
Empty wooden surface.

Where’s your phone?
Under your pillow.

Silly you.
It’s cold. Remember to turn on the heater later.

The alarm…
You must’ve woken up
Don’t you remember?
The bedside table.

Wasn’t it on the left?

Finally, silence.
Your teeth chatter.
Grasping at degraded willpower to haul yourself upright,
Your body is leaden.

Your left shoulder feels tight,
You roll it experimentally and it protests.

You must’ve slept weirdly.

You swing your legs over the bed,
Like a puppet master
Controlling sleepy limbs.

Puppet. Puppet master
Which one are you, truly?
Swing them again, your legs.
Are you able to do it?
Do something abnormal,

Your brain feels cluttered,
Plugged up with a foggy cork.
There’s a thin film in your vision
You think you can see some


A desperate mirage,
An unsettling rainbow in the corner of your eye —

When you blink it vanishes.

You need some air.

You stagger on unsteady feet,
A pressure behind your eyes,
A dream hangover?
You look left at plaster wall,
Then right at —

Oh right, there’s your window.
With the pink curtains.
Exactly three steps away.
Right —

There’s a tree branch in your backyard.
It’s been snapped by the wind.
Its dewed tips droop,
As if clawing, accusatory, at the ground
It looks like an umbrella.

Sounds familiar.
The breeze is chilling.

Check the calendar.
January 27th…

What year was it again?

It’s cold. Remember to turn on the heater later.

Lock the bedroom door behind you.
Drink tea, you never drink tea.
Tell me, what year is it?

Did you even open the window?

Your coffee machine gurgles peacefully
As you grip your favorite blue mug
Did it always have that scratch?

Maybe you hit it somewhere.

There’s something bubbling on the tip of your tongue
Wash it down with some coffee.

Put the mug on the counter, you’re running late
You’ll do the dishes later.

It’s cold. Remember to turn on the heater later.

No, do the dishes now.
Stay inside, inside is good.
The outside world only traps us.

Traps us where?

Why don’t you ask yourself?

Wallet, water, lunch,
Packed in your leather briefcase,
Lukewarm to the touch.

Remember, the umbrella said it’s cold outside.
You pull on your jacket
it reminds you of something.

Green like your mother’s eyes.
You should call her sometime.
Better layer up,

Looks like a storm’s coming.

You walk to the bus stop,
New shoes pinching at your heels
Size eight doc martens
Need breaking in.

Throw the key away, you don’t need it anymore.
Did you know?
Leather’s a bad conductor of heat.
Look carefully, a crease in your shoes.
Your mother’s eyes,

Aren’t they blue?

photo by Thomas Cruz

Hour 2

The bus is empty,

You take your usual place,

Your phone’s freezing,
It stutters before powering on.

Finger swiping mindlessly,
Huh, these posts look familiar —

Oh look, your friend’s posted on Instagram.
It’s their birthday.
You send them a message.

It gives you a pressure behind your eyes
Your gaze finds
The lethargic tiles of the bus floor.
There’s something in their pattern,
Seven twenty-seve-

The bus screeches to a stop.
You banged your left shoulder
Against the handlebar.

Be careful,
Focus on what’s in front of you.

It’s time to get off.

The tiles,
Don’t they remind you of something?
Your friend’s birthday,
Seven twenty-seven.
Your sore left shoulder.

Stay on the bus.
Don’t get off.

Hey, are you listening to me?

The January chill clings onto your shoulders,
You pull at your jacket sleeves,
The green of your mother’s eyes
Wrapping you in pseudo-warmth
As the wind attempts to pierce inside your gut.

The familiar crosswalk by your workplace
Huh, like the bus —

Save for a crowd of five
Faces grave,
Shoulders straight as a balance scale,
Mannequins in pinstripe suits
Unwavering, scarves fluttering
In the howling of an unnatural winter storm.

No, it’s January, remember?
one twenty-seven
the year is-

You wrench your gaze away,
Aren’t they familiar?

It must be nothing.
Time to go to work.
You pass by the figures,

Don’t touch them.
They must be late to work.

Hand up in greeting,
There’s five coworkers
Good morning, a comment on the weather
Then slide into your worn office chair,
Air saturated with dust.

It’s cold. Remember to turn on the heater later.

Five coworkers, five mannequins.
12 months, one year
A friend’s birth on seven twenty-seven
And yet, here we remain,
In the snowstorm of One.
Those mannequins,
Can’t you make out their faces?

You went suit shopping
With dave last week
Pinstripe suits,
leather briefcases.

photo by Thomas Cruz


Work is uneventful
Although you might have stared a little too hard
At the lobby tea packets
And the new intern’s alarmed face.

You could’ve sworn you’d seen her somewhere before.
Maybe during recruiting.

You pass by your coworkers’ cubicles.
Five chairs turned upside down,
Lightbulbs struggling to illuminate dusty desks
On, off, on, off, onoff, onoffonoffon-

You blink.
Five ice-cold leather briefcases on each desk.
Your coworkers took paid leave

You brace yourself for impact
Opening the door
To an unforgiving 5 PM of exhausted commute.

Same as always.

When is yesterday?
Today, tomorrow, weeks in the future?
Five mannequins,
Pinstripe leather briefcase suit
Turn on the heater drawn pink curtains
Instagram intern coffee mug
Green jacket one seven twenty seven.


photo by Thomas Cruz

Hour ???

The train ride home is uneventful

You stared at the numbers
Straining against grainy footprints from past commuters
They’re all
Size eight, doc martens

Dinner is typical
Microwave pasta

You got sauce
On the cuff of your new shirt
Like a venn diagram
With a blot of bleach already peeking through
Impeccable creases.
Almost as if
You’ve stained it before?

The TV flickers against your mindless eyes,
The same monday shows

Channel nine is kids’ cartoons.
Channel ten will be playing the news
when you switch over to it
Five seconds later.

Remember what it says?
Forecast is arid
Lots of sun.

The dishes are a juggling act,
Brushing teeth while wiping mugs,
Adjusting water with elbows

Not too cold.

Did you turn the heater on?

One last look in the mirror before you
Go to bed.

But wait.
Did your face always look…


Green eyes
Pinstripe long nose
Blue mouth, frozen strips
Oh shoot it’s freezing in the apartment —

Remember. Remember.

Weathered skin
like leather left lukewarm.


From somewhere you hear a ringing,
It’s familiar, it’s annoying
Someone turn it off.
Reach to the left, to the right?

Remember. Remember.

Umbrellas in trees
Pink curtains, open or
The snow storm,
Wait, snow storm in July?

Coffee it’s hot,
I need a new mug there’s a
But wait,
    We just bought
    Size eight doc martens
        No creases
        But look a bend right there
        In leather,
            Like a briefcase you bought
                The bleach on your sleeve
                The TV running
                You never realized
                Your alarm sounds like those
                Kids cartoons on channel
                    Speaking of numbers
                    You Remember
                    Seven twenty seven
                    Pool parties
                    What, in this snow storm?
                        But he did last year,
                        Last year, when you saw your mother
                        She had
                        Blue eyes
                            He invited
                                There’s the ringing again
                                It’s time to wake up it’s time to

photo by Thomas Cruz

Hour 1

The deranged peals of your alarm
Tug at your eyelids.
Your eyelashes stick together, it’s


You pry them open, throw out your right arm,
Fingers scrabbling,
Empty wooden surface.

Where’s your phone?
Under your pillow.

Silly you.
It’s cold. Remember to turn on the heater later. ■

Models: Tyler Tran & Jean-Claude Bissou
HMUA: Angelynn Rivera & Averie Wang
Stylist: Jordyn Jackson

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