Nang may magawa ang mga bitwin

Month: September, 2013

Pagsasara ng mga Pinto

Kung sa di kalayuan, kuwento ko sa iyo
Habang nakaupo ka sa tapat ko, may kalabog
Sa likod mo, na nanggagaling mismo
Sa isang sirang pinto, may pagkakataong
Hindi mo matantiya kung ito ba’y nagsara
O hudyat ng pagbukas. Sabi mo, oo,
Na parang humihingi ng patawad,
At puminid ang iyong labi sa isang ngiti
Na parang may itinatagong kabog
Sa nangangatal nitong mga hamba.
Kung iyon ba’y pagbukas o pagsara
Ng isang silid ng di malirip na pangamba
Ay di ko na malalaman pa.



A teacher in a kindergarten taught the kids, once, about papers.
It was the sound of laughing, simultaneous, almost in chorus
with the sound of tearing. A child learns to read at night
with only the light of his eyes beneath the sheets to read it.
The book says: In year X, a blind boy in desperation–
They like to think that these unfounded emotions, almost
human, bring what the world calls genius– felt the awls
poking through the surface of leather. This was the story
of how the sightless discovered reading. Cows once roamed
the wide fields, and see those broken wood, dirty white? It was
a fence. In the summer of 1999 furious was the language
the bovines knew how to speak. The stampede killed roughly
thirteen citizens, three of them children. This is how following
blind beliefs destroy towns like a misplaced storm. Everything
ends to dust. The rest goes to the incinerator, with the remains
of what only fire can purge. What the fire cannot destroy,
we leave to the ocean to swallow. A writer makes stories,
another one about the sea. Sinking is the only movement
a body knows in water. He writes in an attempt to drown out
the demons. They keep telling him this is not the only way
to tame his ghosts. In the windows of the kindergarten, rain
just fell. From fifty blocks away, he imagines the possibility
of sound– if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to
hear it, the philosopher imagines the sound: violent laughter,
almost simultaneous, to the symphony of empty bullet cartirdges
clanking on the ground. That is not the only thing that fell
that day. They do not talk about it anymore. They let the demons
hang from the ceiling for as long as they could. At days
like these, the victims reach for the claws, wounding the silence.


The news this morning: an encounter between
me and a piece of mangosteen
ensued. Delicate head, crown of leaves
I twirled around my palms, looking for
weakness, fear. In a second, hands geared,
my wrists mimic a vise: the fruit
in all its tenderness, crushed by hunger
for the prize sought inside. The price,
fingers stained crimson by a vicious crime.
Only to find the flesh within: rotten, spoiled.
And how violence is only answered by violence;
how death’s the reward for this self-proclaimed
valiance; how in a war man waged against
a humble fruit, only the tender prevail.

Paghahanap ng Talinghaga sa LRT Papuntang Legarda

Kaninang umaga, I took the LRT papuntang Legarda
kasi I was planning to buy books— collection of poems
dahil ngayon lang ako nagka-free time. Sa loob ng tren,
siksikan, as usual. Kalat-kalat ang pagkakaayos
ng mga tao. Haphazard. Nag-uumpugan ang mga
balikat, braso, siko, pero ever so gently, walang harmful intentions
I think. Sa standpoint ko, mukhang dagat ang mga tao—
sea of faces, ‘ika nga. Tapos ‘yung mga kamay nila,
nakakapit sa plastic handles. Umuuga sa paggalaw
ng tren. Parang mga taong nalulunod, naghahanap
ng salvation; kung ano mang salvation iyon, di ko na inisip.
Gumaralgal ang boses ni madam sa PA system:
Ang susunod na istasyon ay Gilmore. Napaka-distant
ng tinig. Parang phone call from a stranger. Nevertheless,
naunsyami ako. To my surprise, dumami na pala ang tao
sa tren. Ang hangin, mas humid, naging mas dense.
Para kaming nakatayong sardinas sa napakahabang lata.
Iba-iba ang orientation ng mga tao, iba-iba ng tinitignan:
their cellphones, the city. ‘Yung partner nila while wrapped
around each other’s arms. Si ate sa harap ko, nakatalikod,
nakatulala. Nagrereverie. Nakaipit sa braso niya
ang isang envelope. And di ko naman intention na mabasa
pero nagsusumigaw ang letters sa harap: DIAGNOSIS.
Parang humihingi ng saklolo. Gusto ko sanang tanungin si ate:
Sinong may sakit? Anong sakit niya? May cure pa ba
sa ganitong karamdaman? But, public place and all,
at dahil kailangang respetuhin ang private spaces,
di na lang ako nagsalita. Next thing I know, nang tumawag uli
ang garalgal na boses sa PA, Legarda na. So I stepped out,
(may excuse me pa while passing through), at naglakad
papunta sa bookstore. Doon, naghanap ako ng mga tula,
naghahanap ng salvation sa talinghaga. And narealize ko,
habang naglalakad palabas ng bookstore kipkip
ang mga libro na nabili ko— expensive, napagastos ako
nang malaki— na naghahanap lang ako ng talinghaga
para sa mga ganitong eksena. Ordinary, almost mundane.
For example, paglalakad sa streets. Or pagsakay sa train.


First draft: 7 September, 2013
Final update: 12 March, 2014; this version published in Heights, vol. LXI no. 2.


When one writes a poem about familiar
occurrences, the poet must offer a way
of looking at it from a different lens. This is
nuance. It’s offering something new
to the table. So when you talk about
the sunset, the goal is to make them see
how the sunset is no longer a sunset. It is now
a bag of tea slowly being lowered into the
warm afternoon sky. So the next time
you see a sunset, you would say it’s a
teabag. And people would laugh at you
because it is not a teabag, it is the sun.
But you know better. This is nuance.
A sunset is just a sunset, until your dying father
watches it beside you, and it’s not the same
sunset anymore. The air is not air anymore
when your father breathes his last. You start thinking
about all the oxygen it took throughout his lifetime
to sustain the momentum. To suspend entropy.
And you think about his bed, his clothes,
everything he owns. And how they no longer
feel as familiar as they used to be when once
your father was there. When he held you close
before he finally leaves you like the sun retiring
for the night, you felt his body, thin as glass,
and how an embrace is no longer an embrace
and his body is no longer his body,
and all at once, you feel like a stranger
to your own, and how everything is not
the same anymore. How people say death
is not as poetic as it looks like, but sometimes
the slightest wind or a sudden warmth
now have a new meaning. You know nuance.
So you cry and other people will ask you why
but you cannot answer. This is something
no one will understand. You cry in silence,
watch the sun become the tea;
the sky, the water. This is nuance. You know better.