Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Never Ever

And when all is done
And my life is on a countdown of days
When my lungs heave their last few rounds of inhalation and exhalation
And I look back at a life just about finished
Will my breath be laced with regrets
Will I sigh about the book i never wrote
The song I never sang out loud
The city I've been meaning to visit but never did 
The poetry forgotten
The world I never changed 
The talent I buried 
The gifts I never gave
The apology I withheld 
The hug I was too shy to give
The compliment I hesitated to utter
The gospel I was too afraid to preach
The goodness I held back
The speech I forgot to deliver 
The film I never saw 
The literature I was too lazy or overwhelmed to read
The moment i did not seize
The bucket list I didn't even bother with 
The instructions I never gave
The craft I never mastered 
The bungee jump I never took 
The ocean depth I did not plumb
The leap I did not take
The love I limited
The me I did not discover
The inertia I did not overcome
The fear that kept me from trying
The break I stepped on to keep me from soaring
Will the unfinished business I never even started
Drag my spirit down 
As my body gives in 
And all the dreams I gave up on
Die with me? 


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dr. Kwak Kwak, Tulungan Mo Kami!

(My first Tagalog poem. If I don't count that one I submitted for Filipino 12)

Nakapulupot ang buhay ko sa buhay mo.
Kamay, braso, hita ko’y nakadikit
Sa kamay, braso’t hita mo.
Ang puso ko ay nakaepoxy sa iyong puso
Sa ayaw natin o sa gusto

Ang mga araw at taong pinagdaanan ko’y
Hindi mapipilas sa kwento ng iyong nakaraan
Ang kasalukuyan ko, ang gagawin ko ngayong araw na ‘to
Ay ano pa, e di nakatahi sa araw mo
At bukas, ikaw pa rin ang aking kambal tuko

Kahit subukan kong pumiglas
Kahit minsan sa iyong mukha ako’y nababanas
Kahit parang masmadaling dumiskarte ang mag-isa
Kahit minsan ayoko na talaga
Bakit parang hindi kaya pag ika’y wala?

Nakapulupot ang buhay ko sa buhay mo
Sa gabi pag natutulog, ang higpit ng yakap mo
Sa araw kahit wala ka ay parang nandyan ka pa rin
Nagkabuhol buhol na ang mga parte ng katawan natin
Kahit si Dr. Kwak Kwak ay hindi tayo kayang paghiwalayin.

Para tayong preso ng isa’t isa
Magparole man, hindi pa rin tatakas
Nakapako tayo sa package deal na pangako
Nagsumpaang walang iwanan
Life sentence na nga ba ‘to?

Pinagdikit ng rugby,
Nakakandado at tinapon ang susi,
Nakapulupot ako sa’yo.

Nakapulupot ang ating mga ugat
Mga bituka nati’y naka-superglue
Nakapalupot ang buhay ko sa buhay mo
Dinikit ng kola ng panahon,  ng karanasan, ng kasal na legal,
Ng pangagailan, at higit sa lahat, ng malagkit na pagmamahal

Sunday, February 22, 2015


And when the spell is gone,
When the magic of the moment vanishes,
And the heat, the ardor of going through the fire
Leaves nothing but the memory of embers,
When the river of tears dries up,
Leaving a bed cracked and arid,
When the season of the storm
Has turned into the parch of summer,
When the quake leaves no more tremors,
And the sea has calmed down
Except for the currents down in the deep,
When the piercing pain
Has become a numb ache,
When the anger and the hurt
Have been wiped out from a calloused heart,
By the need to heal and move on,
When the scab has disappeared
Leaving a hint of a scar,
Barely visible, except to the eyes of those who know.
When the desperation of threatened love
Turns back into the complacency of security,
When the chase is over,
And the battle ends with the compromise of a ceasefire,
When the fight fades into a sigh,
When the mundane sets in
And we once more become fixtures
Nailed, hitched, anchored,
Easy, willing, accessible property,
Clad in a house dress,
Wrapped in layers of everyday dust,
A nagging presence,
Been there, done that,
And ennui becomes a comfort,
And comfort becomes a curse,
What then?
What next?
Just waiting for the next upheaval,
Bracing for a storm
That we miss
But we wish would never come.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tints and Shades

Don't we all

Forgive our lovers
Soon to be lovers
Imagined lovers
Their foibles
We turn a blind eye
To their flaws

See halos where others don't
And allow the haze to hide the horns
Blemishes apparent to them
Invisible to our clouded vision
There's comfort in our prejudices
Solace in our imagination

We don our tinted glasses
To blur the blotches of a frail character
We camouflage crimes
Obfuscate offenses
We squint, we blink, we look away
We deny, we justify, we glossify

Because to burst the bubble of belief
Would be too hard to bear
Uncoupling too far from comfort
To be lonely is to be lost
Because identity is never isolated
And to belong is worth the price of oblivion

Better to stay imprisoned in our illusions
Better to remain ensconced
In our cocoon of conveniences
Our sentinel of sentimental attachments
This fortress of fog is our haven
To be cushioned in clouds is bliss

Because superheroes are dead
And what use are our armors
If they're far and not entwined around us
To protect our tender hearts and egos
Because saints are up in heaven
So we kiss the feet of the ones beside us

We put our blinders on
For the eternal ecstasy of
Evening embraces
For the luxury of lust
The privilege of pairing
For a lifetime supply of kisses and caresses

After all, who else could endure
Who else could dismiss the lapses
But the one who loves the most
The one who knows the deepest reasons
The one who sees the hidden motives
The one who's already given to the point of bleeding

Because maybe it's all damn worth it
Maybe the end will justify the pains
And in the meantime we hide our minds in shadows
And drench our hearts in numbing potions
And fog up our goggles and reinforce our helmets
And we stay and we love to the point of blindness and amnesia

And in return
We become heroes too
Objects of adoration
Beloved beneficiaries of gratitude
Saints saving sinners with imagined halos
Loved with and without conditions

And we too are forgiven
Our sins concealed under comforters
Our faults forgotten too
Our freckled pockmarked faces filtered
By eyes beholden, tinted, shaded, blinded
By hearts held captive by time, tide, and the turbulence of togetherness

Don't we all?


Restless, listless, like ants are crawling under my skin
Anxious, aching; feelings simmering into a boil
Disconcerted, agitated; the pea under my bed is growing
Seething, bleeding; finding words to paint the color of my angst
And failing

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ripples and Reactions

When you shatter the peace of my worlds, 
Do not expect me to be still.
Do not expect me to pretend that I'm fine.
Do not expect me to shut down my own hurts.
Do not expect me to be dense,
To shut up, to act unaffected.

When a butterfly flaps its wings
In a land distant from mine,
It sends a signal to my bubble of space,
Heats up the skies above my head,
Stirs the air around me,
Agitates, stirs, moves the clouds to cry,
To form oceans and whirlpools
That cover the walking surfaces of my world.

When you breathe, the energy you expel,
Disturbs the molecules around me.
The germs of your heart seep into mine.
The virus of your thoughts
Do not stay quarantined in your head.
It finds its way out,
Spreading, invading, infecting,
Whether we like it or not,
Whether you planned it or not,
No matter how we protest that it shouldn't be.

Because no one lives in a vacuum.
No one exists in isolation.
There's an ecological balance to relationships.
There's an interconnection, a fine thread that runs,
Snaking its way through minds, hearts, hands, spirit
In parties, conversations, coffee dates, meetings,
In heavy musings, rabid messaging, and silent sighs,
In the wee hours of mornings, the bright glare of days,
At night when the loneliness weighs down,
Or that last wishful prayer before the dreams set in, 
Poking, binding, blinding,
Strangling, chafing, knotting, weaving,
Killing, stifling, sticking,
Holding, healing, breathing life.

I am not blind.
I am not callous.
I am not impervious.
I feel.
I see.
I think.
I reason.
I love.
I seethe.
I rebel.
I hurt when someone hurts.
I flinch when someone pinches someone else.
Just like you do.

If you can't control your passions,
Then don't try to control mine.
If you can't fix your emotions,
Then do not manipulate my own.
I cannot sit in a little peg
In a world you have designed
To be quaint and quiet,
Where only you can feel.
You cannot will me to be still.
I cannot gag my ideas to suit yours.

When you exercise your right to emote.
Know that that privilege causes you to provoke.
To goad, to peeve, to alter the emotional landscape.
For you do not hold the franchise to feelings.

Newton said it--Any action
Is met by an equal and opposite reaction,
You offend; I defend.
You launch; I punch.
You push, I shove.
You hate, I protect whom I love.

Maybe I can respect your decisions.
Maybe I can see your point of view.
But would you respect my right
To react, to feel, to speak up in anger?

Ripples in nature,
Waves in the sea,
Fissures on the earth,
Geological shakeups of the past.
This leads to this, and that causes that.
The whispered ire, the secret roars
Escape their dark places,
To gather momentum,
And explode.
And hit everything on the path.

What's shattered is shattered.
The shards of what you've broken
Have turned to dust,
Blown away by the wind,
Then a speck lodges in my eye.
Though I've tried to remain stoic,
And tried to keep my peace,
Holding on to the pieces salvaged,
In a world that’s been ravaged,
My hand has  to let go,
To wipe away the sting.
And yet the memory of that speck
Lingers, still hurting my eye.
And I cry
For a world forever changed
For a time now long gone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Debris,flotsam, jetsam, garbage, wreckage, floating trash,
Corrugated metal folded like paper, a book destroyed, all junk.
Carcasses of trees, shards of glass, iron rods, a refrigerator door, a hand,
A shoe without its pair, unidentifiable things, soggy rubber, clothes off somebody's back,
Dogs, cattle, pigs that could not swim, a child's plush toy, a bench, a lucky charm,
Somebody's father, a neighbor, a stranger from another village, a lot of stuff.
What used to be a roof, a student's backpack, now all useless crap.
Uprooted crops not ready for harvest, a teenager not ready to die,
Shanty dweller, man, woman, child, elder, sister, enemy, friend, someone's lover,
She who lived in a concrete house, he who had two cars, they who had none,
Business man, kanto boy, tambay, police man, priest, a convicted thug,
The village gossip, the righteous one, the one reviled, and one well liked.

Residue of a life that was

Remnants of days that now seem so long ago
Of that quiet time before the storm
Wreckage of families, separated, decimated,
Bodies of children who escaped their parents' grasp,
Corpses never given a chance to say goodbye,
Drifting to the sea,
Carried helplessly,
Washed away from home,
Swept away, then gone.

The angry water did not choose.

The storm surge had no favorites.
The howling force of the wind did not discriminate.
Yolanda was blind; she took without regard to who or what.
The fury vengeance of mother earth simply struck everything on its path.
Everything, everyone was equal, all fair game.
It wasn't the clever nor the richer who survived.
Not the braver, the stronger, nor one more deserving to die.
Just whoever, whatever, whichever.
Random and impersonal as can be; they're all debris.

She struck, swept, smacked,

Stole, swiped, slayed.
And then just as abruptly, she left.
And in her stillness, the shock.
The deafening stillness after the roaring waves.
And the last struggling leaf fell on the littered ground,
Waking up those who did not die.
And they stirred, and they moved, and they searched
Through the debris, the flotsam, and the jetsam
Searching for hope, for nanay, for kuya, for remains of life.

Debris, detritus, sludge, scrap, and crud

Cover the earth for miles around.
Under the garbage, signs of life.
Under the rubble, somebody rises.
Behind the glazed eyes too tired to weep,
Remnants of a heart ready to fight,
To eat, to lash back, to survive, to fight for what's left behind,
To move on, to forgive, to forget, to flee, 
To find a new place, a new reason, a new season, a new cause,
Amid the debris, the vestiges, the leftover matter, yes, hope remains.