Joy Kozu

There is nothing poetic, or even remotely beautiful, about pain.

Pain is this ugly little demon that lurks in the depth of your soul, waiting to swallow your secrets. It feeds off of the shame, off of the lies, off of the horrors we find within ourselves. It grows bigger and bigger until it overwhelms our bloodstream and we are nothing but pain, pain, pain.

Yet, we romanticize it. We sing about in beautiful songs of heartache, with haunting melodies that remain trapped in our minds. We paint it, we write stories to it, we raise our glasses of champagne to it. We treasure it because it will never go away. There will always be another person with bright eyes and a charming smile, another needle that pierces our skin to leave permanent traces behind, another sharp-edged piece of furniture we walk into.

Pain is never telling you how much I truly think about you. Or wishing we had those warm summer nights forever, laughing until five in the morning as we roam the quiet city streets alone. It’s knowing you are cloaked in your own darkness, while to the rest of the world, you are the brightest star in the universe.

Pain is having so many words to say, but not enough lines on a paper to write it. It’s watching someone speak and smiling, while wanting to scream into a pillow and cry until there’s nothing left anymore. It holds your tongue and all of the secrets you want to share, but you can’t because it’s trapped you in this lie of eternal damnation. You are alone, you deserve to be alone, you will always be alone.


The first time I kissed you, my brain must have stopped working.

It’s all a bit of a blur to me, but I wish I could do it better now. Be slower with my movements, skip the “before I lose my courage line, and smile at you before it happens. And when it does, I would hold the side of your face because close is never close enough and I want nothing more than to be close to you.

Are you afraid? I don’t know how to stop being afraid. How to stop worrying you will realize how horribly ordinary I am compared to your glory. Once you realize I’m not half the person you think I am, maybe you will leave and I will be left alone to my pain. My eternal pain.

I think about running away a lot, but you are the only reason why I can’t. I love my parents more than anyone in the world, but you are the only person I would listen to if you asked me to stay. And I won’t bury myself in a coffin of false expectations that you one day will ask me to.

I thought that in order to experience the world, I had to travel to every corner of it. I had to see Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night in Paris. I had to go down under and face the wrath of the giant spiders and kangaroos all over Australia. Spend a couple summers in Northern Africa, in the intense heat that might make me miss the wintery Christmases back home in the North East.

But it wasn’t until I met you that I started to experience the best parts of the world.

And it’s funny because I never used to believe in love. Not really, anyways. Love was settling down with someone because it was time and we could work together to build a home of common interests. We could tolerate each other to build a routine of watching movies in the evening with red wine and spaghetti. It would never be the electrifying adventure so commonly seen in Hollywood, because that didn’t exist. What existed was reality and the reality was in a world of seven billion people, soulmates just simply cannot exist.

The first time I kissed you, I understood that spark in the heart people get when they kiss their ‘soulmates’ for the first time. It was soft, it was short, it was sweet. It was over before I could really process what was happening. I couldn’t stop smiling afterwards, for days. I thought I would never forget the feeling of your lips on mine.

But we didn’t speak for a while after. We didn’t see each other for months after. I began to forget the sound of your voice, much less how soft your lips were. Are they still that soft? Do you still close your eyes when you lean in, with your hands pressed against your side?


I never believed in forever, either.

Forever is a beautiful word, that means nothing. There is no such thing about forever because life is short. Life is quick weeks in October turning into November before you can even stop to enjoy your coffee on your morning commute. If we, human beings, truly had forever, we would be sure to ruin that too.

If I had a forever, I would spend it in the night streets with you. Maybe kissing you again, but talking to you. Under the city lights, about nothing. What are your favorite memories? What do you think about ‘so and so’ sports team? Who’s your favorite Spice Girl, if you ever listened to them or are you like me— and only know every single word to Wannabe? Are you afraid of spiders, or do you have more rational fears, like oh I don’t know, dying or being abducted?

I walk around the streets of this gorgeous city I’m currently in, across the sea from you, asking them to myself. What are my favorite memories? I smile when I think about my childhood with my neighborhood friends and playing dress-up with our Polly Pockets. When I think about the times my friends and my mother and I would spend at the beach at night playing silly games like Red Rover or Tag.

I love ‘so and so’ sports team, do you want to come with me to a game sometime? I only remember Victoria Beckham’s full name out of all the Spice Girls, and that there was a Baby Spice in the mix. I hate spiders so much I get paralyzed from absolute terror – but I’m distinctly aware and worried that whenever I walk alone in the dark I’m at risk of being hurt.

Even if we spent an entire night discussing all of these things, forever still wouldn’t be enough time with you. The time we have right now is not even close to enough time with you. Why do we spend so much of it pretending we don’t think about each other as much as we do?

These are impossible questions to answer because they are so simple. We are scarred by the pain we’ve been through. We don’t love ourselves enough to let ourselves feel true happiness. We’ve been torn and ripped apart by others and refuse to let it happen again. We are characters in a story that the author has complicated too much to write a proper emotional arc for them and we will never be fully developed.

I could spend forever answering this question, but I think it’s better if I spend forever exploring the best parts of the world.


One day, I think, we will defeat the demons.

We will laugh in the face of adversity, holding hands as we run into the baby pink sunset and the camera begins to pan out from behind us. My favorite song will start to play as the credits begin rolling. The demons will try to hold us back and gnaw at every corner of our mind, reminding us that we are stuck in our own eternal damnations. You are alone. You deserve to be alone. You will always be alone.

And right now, I am alone. I am alone in a shared dorm room where my roommate is asleep on her bottom bunk. I am alone in this city of 8.1 million people. But I am not alone in this world. You’re across the sea from me, but you’re always on my mind. I try to run from you, but your heart is too loud for me to stay away.

One day, everything will feel okay again. Things will hurt, but that ugly little demon lurking in my soul and trying to mold itself as a part of me, will be easier to deal with. I will learn how to detach myself from him but remember that ignoring him only allows him to grow and grow and grow.

How do you write about pain and give it a happy ending? I always come back to you in the end. To the first night I met you and the first night we kissed. To the first time I told you how I really feel about you and the first time you told me. To all of the complicated times in between. You are my happy ending, even if I wish we never had to end at all. I am my pain and you are my happy ending.

So that is how this will end. It will end with my favorite memory: when we walked around the city at five in the morning, in the rain, and I listened to your beautiful voice talking about everything and nothing at the same time. We roamed around looking for a bathroom and food in a restaurant, looking for water in a convenience store where I took off my high heels because they were hurting my feet so much and the wet sidewalk soaked through my socks. I jumped in the Lyft with you and told you my hometown was better than the city we were in as I stared at the most incredible skylines. I slept next to you in your bed and woke up to you, bathed in a sea of white duvet with your curly hair spread around your head like a halo.

Did you know that was the last time I’ve felt truly okay?


Joy KozuJoy Kozu is a junior at Boston University, majoring in Film and Television with a minor in English. She has an extensive background in theater production and recently completed a study abroad program in London, studying British History and Literature. Her one-act play regarding her family’s experience during the 2013 Boston Marathon was performed for the African-American Theater Festival in 2014 by Our Place Theatre and her creative poem for the Museum of Fine Art’s WordUp program is currently on display in the Art of Asia Buddha exhibit. You can follow her creative writing on Tumblr at