Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RANT and PANT: Because it still bugs me

I remember the first poem I wrote.  I had to align its thought to the theme of  a folio's issue.  It was 1997, and I was in my third year in college. I made  that poem sound whimsical because I thought that was how I should approach the theme, which was about mental disorders.  My editor loved it - she thought it fit the theme.  20 years old, I willingly invested my heart on that work.  I thought people would appreciate it.

Then came the workshop, and the legitimate writers read it. (I say legitimate because they have already been published, they've won prestigious awards, they teach in well-known universities,  they're acknowledged by their peers, etc. etc.) One of them said it lacked originality - South American writers have done something similar 5 decades ago.  And then something about the writer (me) being "too ignorant of what he's writing, doesn't know what he's talking about", blah-di-blah blah.  Another panelist said it didn't make sense.  The title of my poem sounded irritating.  To prove his point he kept repeating the title with such zeal.  I got irritated.  They concluded that the poem itself  needed major revisions.  They made recommendations, hoping that would improve the work.  

I was disappointed.  I never thought writing a poem was going to be that hard.  I thought the writer-panelists would at least be more open-minded about my style.  I assumed that because it was whimsical they probably felt my work degraded their intellectual capacities. (Or I'm assuming wrong.  I think I can never explain why they sounded angry and condescending after reading my work.)

So I made revisions - six revisions.  I worried so much what other people thought about it, if it's making sense or not.  I worried about the line-cutting.  I considered every recommendation anyone made -  You should remove this line.  This word doesn't sound good.  There's a problem with the length, make it more concise.   When it got published, it was so different from its initial version.  Mutilated and dissected to the point of being unrecognizable, it became a new monster.  There's nothing about me in that work.  It might have my name around its collar, but I don't feel any affinity towards it.

(incomplete)

Argh

Some dire things
That I fear
Like losing
You my dear
Snaps behind
My left ear
More wary
Of the mere
Thought of you
Not found here
Beside me
Makes me hear
Crazy things,
Makes me swear
Crazy things,
Might as well
Drown in beer.

Some key things
I hold dear,
Losing you
I most fear,
I peek through
The veneer
See if you
Have come here,
Praying you’re
Coming here,
But you are
Nowhere near.
Let me grab

One more beer.

Some Scars

Some scars still
Never heal.
Ten or so
Years have passed,
Memories
Of your voice
Telling me –
You are so
Mediocre
Better choose
Some other
Career path.
Allowing
You to do
Poetry
Is murder.
I don’t want
Any part
Of such crime.
Ten years gone,
I’m still here,
Still versing,
Still expe-
rimenting,

That old scar

My proud badge.

Residence

Hi. Welcome
To my home
Where a cat
Imprints on
The leather
Ottoman
Her own Sui
Generis
Signature
Scratched beside
My penciled
Version of
That lucky,
Auspicious
Tree of Life;
A turtle
Paints green trails
Of himself
On the smooth
White-tiled floor;
How the dank
Toilet room
Has passed days
Untidy,
Molds forming
Strange colors
Where water
Used to drench;
And up there
The bedroom’s
Grayed ceiling,
A spider
Weaves a thin
Prismatic
Most fragile
Expression

Of herself.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Brown Bird

A brown bird
perched atop
a wizened
brittle branch,
trusted all
of its weight
on the gnarled
forgotten
thin fingers
of an old
sycamore.

The wind snapped
the branch from
its comfort,
broke the weak
dying stem
and blew it
on the gray
hot pavement.

Left dead at
the asphalt,
that old branch
forsook its
hopeful wish
to ever
grow its own
small green leaves.

Hastily
the brown bird
flew away
with its wings.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

At Eastwood

Well, problems
tastes better
with gulped beers,
hot noodles,
crispy-fried
kangkong leaves,
more at home
with kind friends
who'd really
sincerely
be all ears.
Some empty
wooden chairs
around us
I wish were
occupied,
more open
hearts and minds
to give some
kind advice,
carry up
that heavy
weight of your
current world,
heavy as
the March heat
on our heads.
I might have
stayed longer
after shots
with faved stars,
but sorry
I have skipped
more stories
from your tongue
for your voice
can't compete
through the blare
that loud blare
I barely
heard you well.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Oh Brother



i.  
It’s obvious: truth’s little fingers comb
the inner walls of her growing womb.
No use for secret.  Secret is a hypocrite.
It would rather dwell in the dark.
Secret transfigures into truth.
Truth desires to see light,
learn to walk on its two feet, learn to speak.
Don’t wait for truth to point it’s finger at you
and scream. Words are more painful than fists.
The universe conspires for a flourishing, healthy truth.
If you need to explain, explain it to the truth.
Make your explanations easier to swallow.
Roll and fry a meatball of a joke.  Truth might laugh.
Unplanned situations demand unplanned laughter.


ii.
Truth grew up, your spit and image.
His little sister blossomed - has your smile.
Burly as your dream, he’d search
The fats of your memory, bits of your love,
On toys that came in boxes.
She’d be bright as lanterns
Reed thin with delight
the gleam in her eyes gone.
They grew older than their ages
Permitting emptiness’ presence
In their lives, tired of asking questions
on Christmas, on birthdays,
because nobody answers,
nobody comes.


iii.
I'm telling it as it is. 
She pretended to be you behind the glowing screen.
I pretended to know her like I know my brother.
And when the words quivered, trembled
too much with the invisible, unsure electric
that brought the message over, I knew
some cords have already been cut, contracts
burned in the heat of the desert sun,
and the world you left to make better
completely gone.  You bit the apple
and you're not even in the garden,
the original trajectory of your life deserted
for the desert. And in her emptiness you found
the fruit tasted sweeter. 
And I comprehend the travails of a fellow weak creature.
And I'm telling it as it is.


iv.

We're all made evil by this act -
sins of anger, sins of avarice
your fruits bear heavily in their hearts,
sins of rumors, sins of lies
flying constantly in the emails, in our minds
haplessly snatching which words,
which stories are true anymore.
Now we all bit the apple from the tree
the lecherous snake coiling around our heads
its tail stretching further from your thumping fingers,
arcane Facebook accounts, sly messages
constant absences, delayed supports.
Look, there's a hole beneath our feet.
We're digging it from both ends of the world.
The devil is waiting with fiery hate
we can't help burning from the hearths of our hearts.




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Year's Eve


New year's eve.
The drizzle
has filled up
the gutters.
Firecrackers
are all wet
for bursting,
no sparkles
to garden
our front lawn.


The kitchen
is in great
dire state of
disrepair.
The worn sink
is molding
where the white
dry cement
used to fill.
We do with
the measly
morsels we
preciously
have cooked for
our pleasure.


In his room,
Papa's cough
is our sole
noisemaker

in the house
to ward off
the past year's
odious ghosts.
He tries hard
to be man
of the house
one more time
with what's left
of spaces
in his lungs,
energy
to heave from
his belly
all his last
convincing,
fatherly
final boom.


Jom and Mei
keep themselves
in the room
recalling
past new years
were better
than this one.


My brothers,
we blow out
those trumpets,
wake what new
tales will come
breezing through
our small house,
but our house
tells us now
that it's tired,
waiting which
old stories
are ready
to be shelved.
It has lost
some hopeful
perspectives
this first step
of the year
while the sky
is keeping

behind deep
mats of clouds
all its stars.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Drought


The water turned itself to heat
leaving the land flaking to dust.
He wonders how the crops will grow
emerald and robust
when the brown color of burning
has crawled its way from the tips
of leaves down to the stem,
the demarcation of struggling
to survive has become smaller
and smaller as summer progresses.


Resolute he will never be
broken and seeking refuge
in an onomatopeic, scalding city
subjugated to a career
having the sun-loved backs of his palms
parallel to the ground.
He prays for something biblical
to redirect a river's flow
and quench the acres of dried
desertifying land.


But the river itself is thirsty
having lost its being a river -
So he ponders displacing to somewhere
water is still water.
Then again, there's nowhere to go
when the heat, cloudless and unyielding,
burning slowly whatever it touches,
bearing the heavy belly of its air
over the earth, borderless as the wind,
smugly blows around his archipelago.




San Pablo, Laguna
March 12, 2010




Saturday, December 05, 2015

Yolanda


When we awoke to rummage through
Some memories that were swept
From the coast and inwards to the city
We had to tread the piles of debris,
Walk the littered highways with our tired dispositions
Past a ship that was easily disanchored
By the surging arms of a powerful ocean.
We overturned some cupboards for morsel
But got greeted by a neighbor’s carcass
Who once loved to belt out, in his karaoke pastimes,
Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
Close to our location, a throng of people
Piling away from a store some plastics of rice
Never mind how they can make fire from wet woodpiles
Or where to get clean water.
Wouldn’t it have been better to be swept away,
let the Earth or the sea be left responsible for our bodies?
Here is another lesson that the world is teaching us
That we’re too hungry to comprehend.

(Note: I should have posted this 2 years ago.  Oh well, better late than never.)