The scent was all too familiar:
Damp soil exhaling
an inescapable stench
you cannot ignore.
The rains have come, and summer
is slipping away.
My head is in the oven, face down
on the metal grills, lips kissing
the burning iron, glowing vermillion.
Quickly the air begins to hiss, my skin peels
exposing the secrets it hides, my mouth now open
without my consent. Sweat, tears, fluids unnamed;
fat and flesh; meat and muscle;
(This is the only way to inspect my bones, to see
whether they are a pristine white, as I hope
they are, or tarnished with an inborn stain.)
The smoke billows out of these four embered walls,
the sweet stench rising out through the chimney
escaping into the clouds.
(My skull is not as bad as I feared.)
I lift my lids and all is born again,
I think I made you up inside my head.
- Mad Girl’s Love Song, Sylvia Plath
Maingat kong inaral
ang ‘yong bawat kaliwa’t kanan,
bawat samu’t saring
ng mapang akala ko’y patungo
sa ‘yong tahanan.
Ngayo’y isa-isa kong pilit
nililimot ang mga pangalan
ng kalye’t daanan
upang sa wakas
ako nama’y tumahan.
Like words scribbled on your palm;
reminders that seemed important once,
but faded too quickly.
Wash your hands
of the residue, please.
Perhaps we were seeds
from the same apple, but now
we are trees;
branches reaching out,
roots digging deep.
Inside, a small bed, white sheets over tough mattress.
A layer of what used to be pale yellow
on rough concrete walls.
Inside, exposed beams on ceiling, pointing
to open window, sills decorated
with smudges of his last cigarette last night,
and this morning’s shit from pigeons (temporary roommates,
they’ve already gone.)
Outside, busy footsteps on pavement,
hands hailing cabs;
small talk, conversations,
Outside, a city of strangers,
unknown, unnamed, unexplored.
You are as unattractive as uncharted oceans
and undiscovered clearings in virgin forests:
Wild, beautiful, and terrifyingly new.
There is no escape from you my dear.
Even if the earth should turn itself
away from your face,
your light still smiles down on it,
sometimes a sliver of silver,
sometimes a mouth wide open,
but always aglow with the stars.
Father You have made me
in Your image; so Your wounds
are unnameable pains in my hands and feet,
and Your cross that I must carry
is a road that splits
in too many unlabeled ways.
Walang dila ang kampanang dapat sana’y bumabatingaw ngayon
para sa oras ng banal misa. Ang pabulong-bulong na kalembang
na iyong naririnig ay ang lubid na humahampas sa kanyang pisngi
(dulot ng marahas na paghigit ng sakristang takot
mapagalitan ng Obispo.)
This is what I know as faith:
That Father will
know when it is time to wake me
from a deep slumber
filled with dreams turning into nightmares
so that I may
remember my body for a while,
and return to sleep
to dream a different one.
My heart is firing
cannonballs with each pump, every beat
a loud and low boom.
An ominous rhythm.
Did we call for armistice,
or am I retreating, waving
a white flag over my head?
Or am I a casualty,
a ghost returning home
to seek refuge in a house
that I vowed to fight for;
a cold draft
entering through open windows
to caress mother and father’s face
once more to say I’m sorry?
Once more, to say
I am David, I am David.
Dear Goliath, listen to my words:
You are going down, I promise you.
I promise you a mighty fall,
O cruel and arrogant beast;
Bereft of compassion for us, seemingly small.
Yes, the stones in my pocket are tiny.
Yes, my slingshot is tattered and old.
But my prayers are the earth you are standing on.
My hymns are the air you breath.
My psalms, the sun that beats down on you.
My invocations, the water in the tears you will shed,
and in your blood beneath my feet.
Concerning Our Future Children
Think about it this way, love:
we never say, the poems
we never write, the plays
we never stage, the paintings
we never begin, the songs
we never let loose from our shy throats,
are no different
from the unborn child in a girl’s womb;
prerequisites of beautiful bone and flesh and blood,
pulsating and beating with a heart and life,
crushed with cold forceps and flushed
down the open crevices of a woman
doubtful, or afraid, or unprepared, or young, or confused.
Dearest, certainly the pain
of childbirth is unimaginable,
but the regret of a dream unfulfilled is eternal.
This came to me tonight while lying on my bed, just like any other night, characterized by lazily chancing upon a quote from Neil Gaiman, that “we owe it to ourselves to tell stories,” while the news of a young actress’ revelation of her apparent pregnancy trends in The Philippines’ social media circles.
Of course, it’s there, the end-of-day brooding blur of what I have been doing, what I want to do, what I am capable of doing and what I should do next.
A month and a few days from now I will be bidding goodbye to 25, and it feels like I am sailing into the legendary treacherous seas of the late twenties.
Random Verses For Nobody in Particular
Take off your shoes, rip off all your clothes,
dip your fingers in the warpaint.
Let’s draw patterns on each other’s faces
like maps of roads that have yet to exist.
Take my hand and on the count of three,
let’s run as fast as we can
through the forest, unafraid
to hurt our feet on the sharp rocks,
or wound our skin with the spiny branches,
or let go of each other.
We’ll find our way back on our own.