Monday, October 13, 2008

No Space For Titles

Drunk nights, two, three, four
Splash a little of that sunshine into the cup
These are the chiming of our hours

Tell that silence to shut up
Peep-toe heels and shoeboxes of wit
The rise of the eyebrow at night

Cross your arms to the music of the drift
Lyrics bang: “I like you? Sike!”
Sure you’re a winner.

I could never tell if I was angry or glad
When my strength was a dying song
And being “A Woman” was a fad

They never suggest you be alone
But I sit by myself and wonder
If it will ever be the same

Or if I will find myself getting stronger
Getcha back to the rhythm of the game
Shrug a bye, and go write a poem.

You should never allow it to roam
An armory of lies and breathing
On a neck in broken baritones

Like the touch of butterflies seething.
I would like to dedicate this tea
To a frantic lullaby. I’m tired.

Leave the soil to the seed
Let me work because I’m wired
This will someday leave me alone.

Friday, June 27, 2008

II. Puppies

Part of a series of 10 shorts aptly titled "Ten Years" which, as the title implies, happens within a 10-year time span (to the past, present, or future).

She always had a “thing” for his voice. Deep, slightly harsh, but had a boyish tone. Sometimes she imagined hearing it close to her neck, ragged and hoarse. It made her shiver.

“So my sister and I threw eggs at this house. Then my brother tripped on their lawnmower. It made so much noise…”

Their conversations were mostly about families—her’s and his, separately. At times she talked about her friends or about mutual friends she still kept contact with. Then, when it’s late at night, she talks about big boats while half-asleep, he’d talk about puppies. They made fun of each other. They had fun altogether.

“Wait, why did you decide to egg this guy’s house?”

“Were you falling asleep again? Dreaming about yachts?”

“No! Unlike you I have more sophisticated things to dream about, let alone talk about.”

“Tell me, because I want to laugh at your answer.”

“I want to laugh when you ask.”

He laughs.

She always had a thing for his laugh. Honest and genuine, it makes her smile. It was the type of laughter that rumbles from your core, feel it throughout your body as it leaves your throat, and when you hear it coming out of your mouth. The type that echoes happiness or amusement on her behalf. It didn’t really matter.

At that time, nothing ever did.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York City

Part of a series of 10 shorts aptly titled "Ten Years" which, as the title implies, happens within a 10-year time span (to the past, present, or future).

They stood in the rain for what seemed like ten years, on repeat. He stared at her, wide-eyed, holding a blue and yellow umbrella, almost afraid to blink. She shrieked at god’s blessing and invoked a curse before giving him a hug. Ouch, he said, oh, when she clumsily stepped on his brown loafers. Some things never changed.

The first thing he noticed was her eyes, naked in amusement. She always wore glasses. She now wears her hair short with bangs, slightly damp from the showers. He could tell she was hurrying to find cover when she ran into him the first time. Slightly taller, slimmer than what he imagined. He still felt a lot taller like last time, even now when she’s wearing three-inch heels.

Their meeting seemed coincidental. He was there visiting his dad, she was meeting her friends for lunch. New York City seems to be that place for people. A place to meet, to lose, and to find each other once again.

He shook his head, apologizing for his awkwardness. She laughed refusing to accept his apology and began to walk. They surfaced the usual questions, falling into step, as if picking up from where they left off years ago. She teased him about his clothes, he lightly nudged her on the shoulders. No awkwardness, just playful banter.





Filled with one-liners, their conversation fueled on. From seventeen and fourteen, to twenty-two and eighteen, to thirty-six and thirty-two. He talked about his daughter and the ex-girlfriend that ran on him, she talked about her Master’s degree program for Visual Communication Arts. She laughed when he asked about her hiding behind fruit stands when there was a boy she liked.

She wanted to ask, but of course he’d remember. All these years, she thought, he always remembers.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


How do you write a poem?
How do you write a poem
When sunsets are merely oblivious particles in the sky
Emanating wavelengths according to the laws of physics
When the stroke of a finger
Is just nerve endings sounding off
In a tight, chemical cascade
Refined by the metal chisel of evolution
When God no longer is your mirror
But a flat picture on the wall, a manufactured statue on the altar
Unmoving, unsmiling, emanating a light
Whose warmth and brilliance you know will never reach you

How do you write a poem
When you already know exactly what you want to say
When words are no longer vehicles for metaphors
Because you’ve deliberately chosen the words that will carry
That exactness, with a clarity of elaboration
That makes you speak exactly like this
Because this poem is just a pretentious collage
Of all the essays and entries I’ve put in my blog
All I really had to do
Was take out the periods.

And now all those periods are nicely arranged in an unending ellipsis
Located at the beginning of this poem
Because it took me so long to figure out what I really wanted to say

If writing is an attempt
To create a mirror of the soul
Then maybe this poem is a hint
Of how I can no longer handle the ambiguity
That comes with creating a work of art
I have abandoned that sparkling iridescence
Just so I can see the world exactly the way it is
To mirror how I want to be seen
Exactly the way I am
There is a harmony that resonates within this world
That allows you to make words rhyme
With terms like pantomime
So your audience can clap, because you tied them together beautifully
And made them sound the so similar. Like twins!
There is a melody that softened the harsh angles of your late grandfather
A melody that stirs the soul of your reader
When you write lines in iambic pentameter

But all I hear, most of the time
Is a distant cacophony that scoffs at a rhythm, a design
A screeching note
That makes you long to head ram yourself
Into one of Jack Pollock’s canvases
To erupt into a splatter of in-your-face nonsense
Just so
You could make something
Of yourself

And just so
You could mean something
For that one stranger that passes you by
And gazes at you for the longest time

That stranger and I
We will echo at each other for all eternity

The lilt of that singer’s ballad from another country
Will never make sense to you
But you listen to it anyway
Because maybe you can catch that phantom
Who holds the sway to words of wisdom and clarity
Within lyrics you don’t understand

We deceive ourselves willfully.

How do you write a poem
When the world is no longer a mystery
Armed with a dry, cold arrogance
You can sum up the entirety of human existence
Within a period.
And Nietzsche would be proud of you

What used to be a suede pouch full of sacred dreams
Is now an arid sack of sand hanging on that hot air balloon of yours
And all you want to do is toss it away
And just rise
So you can continue on that journey
To a place so high, so distant its size can be summed up
Within a period.

But here’s the truth:
I have written more than fifty lines
For something I could say in four words:
“I’m really only scared”

That same suede pouch of sacred dreams
I can’t shake the damned thing off
Because that same sac covers me and turns my skin to suede
It’s my body that is sacred
And full of dreams, scattered across the contours
Nestled along the curve of my skin
A marred, imperfect exterior
Pierced by the shards of brilliance
From the diamonds in the suede pouch of this April baby
Twenty years of intense pressure forced onto this pouch
In the hopes of creating a life
So raw, precious, so graceful, so rough
So complete

I’m really only scared

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oh Odegaard
You pass a smooth river of warm soy chai down my throat
My screen is on negative, my thoughts are on positive
Algae reeking from the pdf file last opened four weeks ago
For an exam coming up
Doomsday in 2 days and decreasing
Caffeine in 2 minutes and increasing
Waaaaaah I'm screwed
And now, I freak out in the middle of the library

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Never (2/19/08)

They'd both carried their suitcases to the terminal, and stared at each other for what could be their last time. There are moments in life, Paz thought, that God gives you, large and just enough to fill the palm of your hand, significant and tangible enough to leave you breathless at the touch of a memory. As she stood breathing, staring at Lawrence, who stood against the backdrop of the bright airport runway, the rest of the world blurred for a moment, enclosing her in the space of timelessness.

"It would be a lot easier if you pinched me," she said.

He'd started at her parting comment. "I'm not the kind of person who would make this easier for you," he replied.

"Just this once?"

"Never," he quietly said, and he stepped closer, and gazed into her, with dark, penetrating eyes.

"If I was the one who pinched you?" she offered.

He frowned. "I'll just grab you before you land it and kiss the hell out of you, tell you how much I'm going to miss you, tell you how much I want to drag you with me on the next fucking plane to God knows fucking where, so that I can, you know, do you."

She felt the moistness gather in her eyes. Always the asshole. "How could you?" she whispered.

He gazed down at her. "I'm not going to let you leave without fighting you and forcing you to remember this for the rest of your damned life."

"I have enough to remember," she countered, her voice trembling, "and they're not all good, you jerk."

"Life's a bitch, ma'am," he replied, his voice dropping even lower. "You come into my life, in the middle of a jungle, looking like a man. Make me want you anyway."

The tears started to form. "And here I thought other women did the same thing."

"Close your eyes," he said.


"Close them. Let me do something."

She closed them, and then suddenly she felt his hands on her waist and felt herself being lifted up in his arms, with them chest to chest, and she only had half a second to breathe the heady cologne on his collar before he breathed her into his mouth, parted her lips into what became the most tender, sensual kiss she had ever received. His warm breath spread over her lips and she grabbed onto the lapels of his jacket, paying him back for all it was worth.

She vaguely felt her body float through the air but thought it must have been the kiss. They continued to hold on to each other, both reeling in their violent emotions, only allowing themselves this one small passion that no one else in the world would ever come to understand. She didn't know how long the kiss lasted, only that her chest tightened and that her entire body was centered in that connection. But then suddenly their kiss broke and his hands settled her back down on the ground.

He leaned his forehead against hers, and whispered, "You've destroyed me."

She smiled but her mouth trembled. "You deserve it."

"Always did."

She looked up into his eyes and a tear streaked down her cheeks. "I can't say the words," she broke out.

"Keep it. Don't wanna hear it."

"I'd go back again," she suddenly said, and she made a valiant effort to control her voice before she'd start to break down, "Go back to the jungle, pretend to be a man again. Like old times, huh?"

He grinned. "I know," he said, and sighed. "Turn around."

She turned around and saw the airplane ramp immediately before her. "You...?"

He chuckled, but it was soft, and his eyes seemed moist. "Go, before I do you in front of the flight attendant."

"Christ, you never stop, do you ---?"

He grabbed her ticket and gave it to the airport personnel, who ran it through the machine and gave it back to her. His hands settled on her arms and he turned her around to face the ramp. "Never," he breathed into her ear, and he kissed her neck, right below her right ear, before he gave her a push. "Go on. You're giving me a hard-on," he said.

As she began to walk, she turned around and showed him the middle finger.

He laughed and winked at her.

Paz slowly turned back to face the ramp and pushed her luggage behind her. Nothing had ever felt heavier. Their story was made for the books, Paz knew, but no one would ever know how the two of them had once met and connected. No marriage certificate, no photographs, no letters. Only the memories she'd have to fight for to remain in her mind, of the only man in her life who had destroyed her body and soul, and then picked up the pieces for her renewal.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Letters (January 28, 2004)

Inspired by Tampuhan (Lover's Quarrel) by Juan Luna [above], Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, and the song "Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang?" by Pops & Martin.

His eyes forced a spark as the light from the balcony reached into his pupils. The dark intensity within them hid the uncontrollable ambiguity of his emotions. And by that light, emerged a familiar face from his childhood, yet made beautiful with age.

"Josephine," he managed while stepping up towards that light.

The woman, upon hearing his voice froze in place. On her face, from what could be seen, was contorted in some form of emotion, irrefutable by the sight of him. He, who has been her childhood friend of so many years, who left her when she was ten, who has left to break her heart. They wrote letters when he was in Spain, England and Germany; through them he showed his excitement of fulfilling his dream of seeing new lands, through his vivid descriptions of the wonderful European terrain, and through them, she was able to dream of the closeness they could have shared.

She turned to leave and close the door behind that dream, when his hand graced across her soft skin to stop her. What was then not seen was evident now, on her face was irreplaceable sorrow.

"Bakit ngayon ka lang?" She said quietly, refusing to look up at him.

"¿Es verdad? Totoo bang ikakasal ka na?" The young man's voice was uncertainly calm, but trembling.

The young woman couldn't answer but tried to break free, only to be gently pressed against the door as the man in front of her stepped closer. She suppressed a shudder of indignation when she saw him smile lightly.

"Sí. Oo.."

"¿Pero, su letra? Anong ibig sabihin nito?"

The man held up a piece of folded paper: the letter she last sent him, the letter when she told him she loved him (too). It must have reached him much later, much later when it was already too late for her. For them.

"Lumipas na ang madaming panahon, Jose," she began as she dared to look at him, "madaming mga gabi ng ikaw lang ang aking iniisip at nais kong makita..."

With her words, she removed his grip on her arm and stepped away.

"Ngayon, ibig kong itanong sa iyo: Bakit ngayon ka lang?"

Also with that, and she was gone and closed the door in front of the young man behind her. The symbolic closure to her beloved memories of him and him altogether.