Departures

On that damp and cold night, she kissed the glass pane and left a flyer in a public phone booth on some dark alley. ” Life also exists in the deepest parts of the ocean” she said.  And for her, we were chasing modern-day heroes, a commodity hard to come by nowadays.

Her fragile heart was shattered into frosted pieces, but only made it countless, she refuted.  Before I could even open my mouth to respond, she undressed herself clean to finally make love.

“When we bleed, a part of humanity also reeks.” She sang.

An old man now, and her clasps were replaced by arthritis. More and more it often visited me like a loyal friend.  I couldn’t even change strings right anymore.

I like spending most of what’s left of my shorter days on a wooden boat.

Over the course of this journey, I am grateful to have made those acquaintances.  Different kinds of Tuna, Mackerel and other sorts of fish you’d normally find around the region. And despite the ever-changing weathers, I never really gave up on her.  Something about the sea that calms me down and makes me feel connected.  I feel like I’m a part of her now, a part of this grand design.

I spend my early mornings in the calmness of the lake, swinging the fishing rod away and just wait for the longest time which I do not mind.  Right here I have a steady control.  I like listening to the swishing sound of the leaves. They feel no fear when the winds arrive to invite them for a spin.  Watching the whiskered terns plunge from the skies and up again, I allow myself exposed out in the open.

Lately, I have also grown fond of my garden. Growing tomatoes, green beans, lettuces, and bell peppers has been a delight.  Waking up to their colors, and witnessing life unfold as if they were my children.  I have made a promise to take good care of them and I intend to keep that.  My life was far from perfect, but she was always good to me, it’s the least thing I could do.

I can still remember that day when we slept together under the flight patterns.  Beneath the familiar rumbling sound of the turbine engines, propellers, and the crosswinds. Our eyes fluttered in the ordinariness of that day.  My head rested on her thigh, while jet lines intersected through the sallow skies.

The runaways by the runway, seventeen, we will always be.

The other kids raced, passing on twigs until they reached the end of the line. They ran so fast that their shoes barely touched the ground.

In those fleeting moments behind the steel fences, we watched in awe those who took off and flew.  And they were so graceful, we were so proud of them.  We wanted to encapsulate that world in a fishbowl and keep it forever.  Constant that memory was, but we knew that even the earth had to move sometime.

“Save me a seat, will you? I’ll be a little late tomorrow.”  A kid exclaimed to his friend under that afternoon sky.

“Make sure to bring hot chocolate in a thermos like always.”  The friend required of him.

He’s all grown up now, and he went into the sunset like how cowboys do in those films.

He always rooted for the arrivals and the departures, always the romantic one, while the other counted the hours down for the friend’s safe return.

In those carbonated days of summer, life was easy to comprehend.  How I wish we can go back, I always wonder.

Somewhere in a dream, I heard you say, “Fill the gas tank only a quarter full, spend the rest on flowers.”

Flabbergasted, I smacked your head real hard and sneered.

Like sand castles, you insisted that we can always rebuild that day.  The hues were lined low, and the sun was almost dimmed.  The commander crowed across the field, ordering to sling our rifles and move out.

And everyone did.  But I had a change of heart.

I wrote war stories instead.

Yours and hers.

Had I known, I would have done otherwise.

The needle was loose, so the constellations were made compass.  Come back and fish with me.  Let’s spend an afternoon once more.

Photo by Denvie Balidoy

Photo by Denvie Balidoy

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Space Travel Contemporaries: Asteroids, Comets, and Satellites

Toes are curled, I was biting on my lower lip, I know that the first ascent is the most crucial part. I was holding on to the control wheel when I realized that my palms begin to excrete sweat.  I am on my way to chase a runaway star that stole one of the space probes earth sent, on a mission to take photographs of an alien civilization. I guess mankind has not enough problems to solve.

Just about to reach the midpoint of the stratosphere, the weight of my entire upper torso is dependently leaning against the backrest of the rubber and the polyester seat. Surprisingly I am still conscious at this height, thanks to my life support pack; one of my many worries was crossed out of my list.

On a vertical leap, I was pulling back the throttle lever more and more in a gradual fashion.  I was taking my time as if I was having second thoughts.  I already miss the chirping noises my winged neighbors make when they wake and the smell of sautéed garlic in the morning,  I was telling myself, the sooner this thing ends the faster I can get back to my couch and reruns.

Something that I never quite understood, something I have not seen in books and what they have taught us in our spaceflight training.  The second I flew through the marshmallow-like skies, I was caught off guard by this immense ocean of clouds. Who would have thought that Atlantis did exist? Below me I saw the dreamer in a boy with his World War II leather headgear and a pair of pilot goggles; he was on a wooden kayak paddling against the waves trying to keep up with me.  The pigments of ether land gently against the window pane like soft voices from the conversing angels playing in the sun. I closed my eyes for a little while, hiding them behind their coverings, as I enjoy the drowsing winds passing through the blades and the fins of the vessel.  The bright blues and the stripes of white from the cirrus clouds from all around were like a warm homey blanket in the cold.

As I keep the pace of an easy stride, I went through the small notebook that I had from my jacket reading the inscription from a lunar kiss.  I was reminded of the courage I represent, and the emblem of a happy ending this deed for many.  I was humbled clasping my hands together, it was almost like a prayer.

I took the time in a vacuum, shutting down my senses for a while. And deep down under the layers of slumber, I hear the soundtrack from Space Invasion is at play. I then found myself speeding through the laser beams, on a counterflow against the showering meteorites coming my way.  I was trying to reconcile what was going on with the fragments of what I could get from the last memory that I had.  I was searching for anything familiar around me, any clue that would help me connect the dots to make sense of this picture but I just couldn’t.

I was with the celebrities of the universe, Saturn and its 62 lovely mistresses, the gentle giant in Jupiter and the controversial Pluto. They are both my space travel contemporaries and TV programming.

It was during those moments of awe and transcendence that it dawned to me that it is okay to wander and to be lost, to ask a question and never get the answer, that there are things within our existence that are too grand to decipher.

I was lost in thought, realizing that I am but of a mere speck, just a grain in the sand.  But my sheer microscopic existence has also made me feel grateful by this overwhelming grandeur that surrounds me.  I was drenched by a thousand kisses of comets, asteroids, and satellites.  The space was deep; its breath swallows the moons and the entirety of the constellations and the Milky Way.

The faraway stars are like powdered diamonds from the rough that were scattered across the night sky.  This must be what Captain Ahab must have felt like when he was chasing the great sperm whale in the polar caps.

I guess humanity had always found its relief in deep explorations and space missions, searching for another frontier.  The human spirit and its curiosity are designed to go on and prevail. And I would say that it is alright to search and ask why, how and what, but It is in the acceptance and believing that there are profound anomalies not meant to be understood.

And what makes a perfect ending to these wanderings is a short humble conclusion of what makes humanity great.  –  The ability to understand that it is alright not to know.

An acceptance that there is a definitive yet obscured border between the imaginative and the conscious, in the hopes that these lucid thoughts beneath the waves of the words are enough to finish this never-ending prose.

These Days

Early breakfast on the road and a cool brush by the breeze through my uncombed morning hair were the firsts on the list. As I help myself, rolling down the tinted passenger seat window, catching the first glimpse of what could be an opening of a perfect season after the long monsoon rains. With the windshield wipers no longer in use, the rain is now dripping down the glass pane. As I was urging myself on going somewhere distant, I am not sure if it is somewhere uphill but the road I am on was definitely taking me somewhere new.  Something has gotten into me, a sense of urgency to take advantage while the world is still half asleep, a reckless abandon of some sort, looking for that great escape.

I then looked up and see a lingering, thick contrail from the jet exhaust streaming across the stretch of the sky, a long vertical line that sketched the sky fluffy white. I checked my backpack for anything to munch on and found a half done sandwich that I had after a few beers. Everything is going neatly so far that the entire experience showers me with high hopes of leaving behind the remains of last night, covering the stench with a couple of hours of sleep later, hoping not to remember.

And the day is already breaking.

The world truly does not owe us anything. I was thinking that my only rescue now is to catch the first waves of the sun tides.  I was moving my head from side to side looking for a clearing from the open road by the cliff as we make a right turn after passing through the tunnel. We had to take a longer route since the fault was at its dangerous that time. My hands are shaking because of the cold, yet still very eager to create something beautiful with whatever the blotted ink from my pen can lend me. Yearning for a far cry inspiration, I picked out a past dated reading material from the dashboard compartment, popping the lid open with a hammering motion of my right fist. An old newspaper or was it a travel magazine? I can’t remember exactly, but It was dated sometime 2001. “Not bad” I murmured to myself, for it was like time traveling all the same and I can use that for reference I figured, giving an undeserving applause to myself. And somehow I realized that the course we were threading on was much better. It was from those after meal thoughts and the open-free spaces in between towns and the quiet celebration from a flick of my cigarette that validated this glide the right thing to do at the time. For it was by far the warmest after the cold. And the ease of the lift of my facial muscles seemed sustainable and could seem to last a lifetime. It really surprised me on how easy it was all of a sudden.

A very good friend had once told me over a glass of rum, that our realizations and the wisdom that comes along with it, are all emanating from the affirmation that sometime soon after we are long gone, we will be just a part of a punch line in the short stories being told. It would probably start with a short visual reference from one of your favorite self-portrait photographs carefully placed in the family album or perhaps if lucky, you’ll be remembered when the index cards of the recipe box you once filled and treasured, was opened and used during some yearly household occasion.  You’ll be in a way, like a transistor radio or a technicolor television set with giant capacitors and wooden shutters that was boxed and locked up in a room somewhere.

I turned the knob of the car radio a notch higher while lip-synching to a plastic record, and for a moment there we were shaking our heads senseless and doing these random unrehearsed movements from our seats. We were, in our own weird ways, happy.

Past the varying heights of the trees, while the sun is playing hide and seek behind each, and the varying shades of greens of the hills color the feeling, I can’t help but compare. That it was definitely a different view from what laid days before. The haunting and casting shadows on the moonlight floor were no longer there, and all of the episodes were nothing but of a distant memory now, in my chest to be safely kept and yet to be seen again but not now, not at this very moment.

Through the fast open sky, and past the telephone wires that fenced the mountains and the slopping landscapes of the north and the infinite blue skies ceiling above us, I watched the wheels that spun so fast through the side mirrors, our speed made the white-highway-broken- lines appear to be this long and endless straight marker directing us towards the end and the beginning of a circle. Our tomorrows may or may not be there, but I will relish the flip of the coin, playing through over each finger as I tap my feet to the waltz of this familiar song.

And somehow it felt like we were slowly getting off the ground, we were almost flying.  A shift in perception or just an ordinary optical illusion, I could not really tell and it did not matter. For what I had there was not of this world and yet it felt it was.

Twenty-two degrees on an 80 kph freeway for as long as I have my polarized lenses on, my past dated magazines and plastic records – I am there, crashing through the walls of the uncertainty of history, trying to live in a story worth telling.

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The Great Battle against the Giants of Lightning and Thunder

Lightning and thunder had always carried a pull of interest to my imagination, of the tales that they would always bring, on how lightning can magically take its physical form out of sheer nothingness to these flashes of a great declaration of its very discerning presence.

Even as a grown-up it would always take me wondering, what if it is more than just an atmospheric disturbance, more than just a by-product of the mixture of the warm and cold air. What if?

Often times it is perceived as this very frightening notion that still hunts the living daylights out of our grown-up selves.

I remember as a child, me and my best friends would always think of lightning as the clashing of the broadswords of the Giants that fought over the terrains of the clouds.  Our nanny would also say that it can also be seen as a crooked hand of the grim reaper reaching for the souls of the dying.  Or sometimes, it is being used as a bridge by the “Engkantos” when they travel to reach the other realms to harness mystical powers.

When these bedtime stories got the very best of us, we would always hide under the force field of the sheets and our blankets; each of us curled up like an Armadillo in the presence of its slayer.  As this was the first of our many tactical maneuvers.

You’ve always got to have a defensive strategy.   And this was ours.

We would then hold on to our flashlights to counter the striking and blinding power of our unpredictable foes, the Lightning.

To time when would be their next attack, we would always try to catch patterns by counting the seconds from the last lightning strike to the next.  By doing this, we would know when to uncover and open fire.

But, we found ourselves stuck in a predicament. Although we are protected by our force field, we are as blind as a bat. The blankets are too thick for us to be able to see when the last lightning strike was.  We’d be fried if we ever took a chance.  And we figured we were outnumbered, we can’t afford to have any casualties.

“We have got to work with what we have”.  A very compelling voice from our esteemed captain, He was also our neighbor.

And my brother and I looked at each other and came up with this brilliant strategy.

Since we cannot uncover, we will have to rely on the roaring sounds of the thunder.  But the giants, despite their looks, are highly intelligent to have come up to delay the sound of thunder after each terrible lightning strike.  And it took us quite some time to have figured out the patterns to solve this puzzle.

We counted 1, 2, then the thunder would come, and 1,2,3,4, then another, 1, and another roar, it was so random and almost impossible to decipher.  We wrote all of the patterns on the back pages of my P.E. notebook, the one I never got to use a lot anyway, and discovered that despite the chaos, and its unpredictability, there’s this unique pattern that came out.

All we’ve got to do now is to make sure that we’ve got enough ammunition.

So my brother, our weapons specialist, made sure that a good supply of 9-voltage batteries was available, that we hid under the blue pillow we call our armory. These were recharged batteries. We believed that we can still use drained disposable batteries when you recycled and recharged it all day under the heat of the sun.

As I was waiting for the Captain’s signal, I wiped the sweat off of my palms against my battle uniform, which I also wear when I sleep, my pajamas.  I was ordered to strike when it is time. And we believed that the light coming from our flashlights, our weapon of choice, can make holes through the clouds where the giants take their cover.  And if we made just enough holes, they would fall from the skies, and the impact of the fall would kill them.

I held 2 flashlights, in case one would fail. Our first offensive strike was very crucial as this may be, the only chance we have.  The giants are not expecting that we have figured out their secret, and if this was deemed to be a failure, they’d definitely change the thunder patterns and we will be defeated.

Time was not on our side as well.

Children get easily bored and unable to stay up that late. This was our weakness.  If we fell asleep, they could easily snatch the win and we won’t be able to wake up again.

The Captain mumbles… with his eyes closed, calibrating and reading the flashes from the lightning and the roars of thunder.  And almost in slow motion, gave the wave, gesturing the signal to attack.

“This is it, brother!  You can do this! We’re all counting on…”

The last of the encouraging words from my twin was unheard, for it was abruptly interrupted by the blinding lightning strikes that were immediately followed by the deafening drum rolls of thunder. This was the last wave of their attack! A showdown between the soldiers of the light and the towering guardians of death itself!

The Captain reveals our frail bodies from all the sheets and pillows that helped camouflage us.

And he yelled, “Go, and Do it!”  And I knew we were done the moment I saw the two of them, fading away, falling on the bedroom floor.

But I was able to stretch both of my arms high, and towards the window, I went, as each step was proven a struggle by our enemies’ blunt remorseless gestures. I was able to reach the wall, then showing myself, aiming to the great marsh of the night clouds, holding both weapons as long as I could until I was taken out by the giants’ hard hitting blows.

Then I was out.  The 3 of us died in this great battle.

The next morning, the sunlight reveals the ruins of last night’s battle.  Pillows and blankets were on the floor, the debris of toys fallen from the shelves, and our fallen bodies on the ground.

And when we woke up, we realized that we were crushed, and have died tragically from last night’s war.

Then we smiled and agreed that we’ll be astronauts the next night.

 

Yelling — “Let’s prepare for a mission!”

Morning Sable Brushes: Travel Log

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At this point the summery warm love embraces of the morning sun are starting to bring in life to everything on its path, showering everyone with its unprejudiced, unbiased attention, attempting to overthrow the glittering and sophisticated beauty of the nights that came before. As its skillful sable brushes dabble freely into the skies using it as its color palette where all the pigments are mixed on, I looked up towards its direction, with my right hand placed over my eyes, looking through the fingers as I bask in the morning’s gentle sun shower.

In my thoughts, I made a recording of this grand majestic order that I believe still lingers. As I take a stride toward these unspoken summer feelings, my consciousness decides not to limit myself to what this world may soon only have. And before the darkness blots out the sky with smoke and gunpowder, I will dispense my thoughts, through my skipping pen, writing about this beautiful world, before it ceases to exist.  So let me go for a little while, don’t wait up, for I will be taking my time harnessing all the goodness that still prevails before genocide becomes the most common word spoken, and body parts are used for confetti to proclaim glory. Let me go back to the very beginning of my daydreaming.

I remember the time when we were treading on the cliff side of the mountain to a place we heard holds a glimpse of how afterlife should be. It had rained a few hours before, making the way very slippery.  The rocks were unsteady in their place, the bushes along the narrow pathway make it harder to maneuver, but luckily our timely arrival led our exhausted feet to a gathering of the dried up leaves that had fallen on the ground, I mean they were so giving, that even in their dying moments they were still able to provide traction in this muddy and dangerous traverse.

And in those tailored fit moments, time stood still, and the warmth we felt from within was starting to build up. I guess real miracles happen in the most unexpected times, in the most ordinary of forms.  From the unfolding of life from a small seed that will soon reach great heights, from the meeting of the endpoints of the stalagmites and stalactites, as they inch their way for millions of years just for that single, longing touch.  The perfect lighting from the summer sun for that perfect moment for the lovers at the bridge arching over a river, the inspired poets and the dreamers who sit by its banks, with their thoughts and prose floating like driftwood in the water. During those days life was good, we were wanderers but never quite lost, always looking up, bidding clear skies so we may also find our way back in the longing arms of our loved ones, like the setting sun in the ocean.

I am dreaming in this daydream, and somehow the clouds took her into my arms and as I was dancing her off into the crowd, I realized that she was as graceful as a butterfly in the park on an idle Sunday morning.  Her eyes glazed like honey, and she was as cool as ice cream.  And over my shoulder, she rests her soft chin and reached up to the sky to hold the moon between her fingertips. She then painted the starry night with her waterfalls of imagination, tasting the clouds like cotton candies as her finale.

And we knew that this familiar feeling will soon be back. We were hitchhikers in the east, treading home, now undressing our backpacks from their rain-covers, filling them up with farewells and good memories.  As we rest all of our expectations in the sky’s eternal influence, stretching on farther and farther over the town’s little hut-houses, to the tens and hundreds of hectares of rice fields we pass by, we found ourselves embraced and now drenched with sunbeams.

And it felt so exclusive.

So the next time I receive a phone call from you or a friend through a can on a string, I will try to be more ready.  Putting my worn down shoes on, stringing them well, traveling with nothing in my pocket but a few change for a phone call home, a few clothes and a flask in my pack, just relishing the time getting lost in these words I read to you, for another round of life’s awesome adventure.

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