Casting Shadows in the Moonlight

Some years ago, I have found myself alone in a crowd, armed only with my nine-voltage-battery-powered-flashlight and a cape.  I was a 7-year-old boy and I was plodding the pedestrian streets barefoot in my pajamas and my favorite space odyssey shirt.  I looked up to the skies and saw angels gracefully gliding in circles above me.  I was pretty sure that one of them was watching over me.

I went back on the very spot where I once stood as a kid and realized that I am much like them now. Instead of my PJs and my favorite shirt, I wear adult clothing and shoes.  And the angels were replaced by skyscrapers and aeroplanes.

And I wonder.

So I went strutting, down the under passages of the thought that this is not one of those I invent in my head and was actually happening.

In the simplest truth to illustrate, you are writing a picturesque tale of your own grand adventures.  In a way, it is like going through the photographs kept in a shoebox, of once was, and of shared anecdotes.

The great human need for symbiosis, this undeniable fact of longing consumes all of one’s biological and intangible beings. That the brimming of its manifestations must be tempered, when we bump into each other just to feel, especially when pain attempts to hold claim to our significance.  And yes we aspire and act upon these indispensable necessities, but the very education which we feed on is also in question.

I got up and went to open the windows and yet the winters of these past nights had made the texts frozen.   The ceiling was outlined with traces of smoke; I must have stayed here for too long.  More than I should.

The retreat to the long and crude process of manufacturing sunlight is the only recourse. As the circumstance instills its resolve, I begin with my door and latched onto isolation. However it is, time is neither infinite nor bordered.

A concept of science, men of higher intellect attempt to encapsulate.  But it is like a force beyond us, an intangible matter, or like a memory, you caught only in a dream.  Papers with coffee stain and crossed out words, he resumes every after erasure.

I turned to see what’s calling me from a great distance.  I saw a man in a dark suit, or was it a shadow? Just a silhouette of a figure cast by moonlight, or a traced memory from a distant past?  All made up by my own mediocre pursuit of some pseudo contemporary ambition.

Well, what is real from one’s won comprehension is enough guarantee of tonight’s passage to live through the swallow of the forthcoming darkness and the unknown.

Maybe that is it. Happiness is piecing together little fragments of wonderful moments, hopeful dreams, and acceptable flaws.  I fear that when all the hypotheticals and the assumptions fail to deliver, one might be reliant on what was made convenient.

Contained, and self-absorbed, I refuse to settle.    And so I went upstream and consulted a higher entity in humility to the point of surrender.   And maybe, just maybe, that upon conferring, I may soon rediscover the eloquence back to my Saturdays.

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Omelet Tidings

The two waited on the bleachers with their eyes wandering through the damp. They were exchanging a half-done flask as they were also whistling cigarette smoke across the soccer field.  They have found themselves in a vacuum within this seemingly infinite void before the dawn.

She reveals her face to the voyaging clouds across the sparkling seas of the night, giving up a smile as she pulls back the hood of her jacket. The paradox of the universe unfolds. She gently kisses the stale tasting lips of nicotine, freeing its very soul one drag at a time.  It had no complaints, nor did the silence of the surroundings, as it implied in affirmation. Neither even the imposing claws of the tree branches nor the entire army of crickets under that sweet vanilla moon had any quarrels with her at that moment.

Her make up smears, she hasn’t painted her nails for a while, but she doesn’t really mind at all.

Deep breaths, as she administers imagination, what needs to be done?  She had begun in the shallow waters of her mind.

And little by little, she submerges down into the depths of her profound contemplations. And in every burning sip from the bitter openings of the flask, it was as if a passionate lover making love to her, she finally reconsiders.

She was taken gradually, within the raptures of the abyss and the parallel dimensions of her make-believe world. What is this unalienable truth that haunts her now? She then wishes for an antidote, like morphine, dismissing the pain in ten folds.

Then she ponders on the reassuring respite of bacon and omelet. How this dynamic duo may soon have to save her and the world when they both cry out for help. Be great presidents someday perhaps, or a pop song playing in loop, or be an empathizing friend for just a little while.

She then retracted these notions out of her head almost immediately. She must be drowsed, she thought.  Over romanticism might have murdered her skeptical heart she feared.

But these apprehensions were real. Confronted by their undeniable strength, she was tied to the mast.  As she turns to him reluctantly, almost uttering the words, falling like the rain in September.

She gave the boy a smile instead.

Omelet Tidings

Photo by T. Angara-Aragon

Just in Case (Don’t Wait Up)

You found a piece of something not too big to keep, nor too small to be easily lost. A treasure not for the pockets, well, we wished you love under the falling skies that night hoping to safely say it could last a lifetime.

Probably this is it, yours for the present and future tense.

Dance to the beat, throw your arms around the carbonated spaces and sing melodies for the centuries to come.  Get lost through the pages and faces of time, mind the pain from your heels later, we have dreamt for this moment to come, don’t think twice now to take that leap. You are a migratory bird after all.

I found your smile inside the television box, and you looked so beautiful and grand, how the whole world should be.  Do you remember? After the rain, when we stayed up late leaning against the couch, sitting on the floor rug by the warm lights, you drew a picture of this moment.  You did believe in fairies after all.

Weekends and too much sugar kept us alive, and we slept to die on weekdays.  You took the batteries off the clock and lobbed them into the trash bin.  You held a cigarette between your painted lips and a glass with your hand. You slid a cassette tape to play — the neighbors woke and sang along.

You drove a thousand miles, the freeway lights of yellow, red and green were on your face.  You rolled your windows down, and the wind smothered you with love.  You did visit us a few times when you were somewhere near and sent postcards every once in a while. It almost felt like we were there as well.

I tried to move to another place, but I just couldn’t do it.  I can’t stay away for too long.  I guess someone must stay behind.  Do not worry, everyone is doing just fine. You wore a white shirt the last time I saw you. You have surrendered, and yet you are free.

The lemonade glass sweats, I wore my sunglasses talking to the hot summer sun.  We were having the longest farewell conversation, or were we arguing?   I will write him letters and proses in the coming months, folded and turned into a kite, the days and the weather will be better when it reaches him I pray.

And for my dear friend the wind, I will strum my way into its chest. To quote from the same book over and over, “everything essential is invisible to the eyes”.

In a couple of hours, at exactly 2:45 am, I will draw the curtains and sit by the windows, next to the biggest moon this year.  In case you decide to drop by, you might not catch me, for I will take a short trip on a rocket ship and will be right back before breakfast.

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Photo by: JJG

For the Dreamers and the Wide Awake

I gave this drowsy pair of eyes a gentle rub from my fingers, while the heat from the sunrays marinades my skin from its sweat.  I noticed that my complexion is browner than ever.  It is excruciating, but somehow I enjoyed this southern warm setting in the early afternoon.

I remember a good friend who once told me over a few good ones, as he slurred, “have your skin burnt, and go find yourself a good book, learn while you can and travel well.”

“But know that all the wonders of the world are already inside of you.  Sometimes, you need not go elsewhere. “

“Let the night stay for a little while”, that was my only request.  I can still remember the taste of wasabi on my lips while listening to my best friends’ singings, on our way home in a cab. The neon lights brought the universe to us, and then I rolled down the window half open, to hear every heartbeat in the world.   I still dream of those hyper-drive moments sometimes, and it will always be with me.

They say I over-romanticize reality, and I stare at the moon a little longer than most people.

I know it is not the most popular of choices, but I enjoy these kinds you see, like catching clever combinations of words turned into meaningful lines from screenplays, attempting to remember, scribbling them down on paper, or collecting pencils, nibbling nori flakes, and waking up really early.

I really think Life is simple, and that Chaos is just a tapestry of random events, people and timings.  It is not a bad thing really, we just don’t agree with the conniving variables most of the times.  So we run away.

Sometimes I wonder what if life comes in a box with an instruction manual or a roadmap perhaps. All the convenience and the indecisions it would provide.

But we’re expected to get lost.  And discoveries will never happen if we did not.

I learned to love taking train rides, although it is overly crowded at most times.  I just love the sound it makes.  Or taking that early flight out, just about in time to catch the sunrise up there, over the sea of clouds, when you are caught in that deep trance of thought, that surreal feeling you get at the same time.

And if everything seems too fast, consolation naps never fail and cassette tapes too.

For dreams and music are the dialects of the universe, love is its language.

In the wee hours of these contemporary ramblings of a fool, at the height of a great need, I became a commuter to see the world.  And In this race we refer to as Life, pit stops are essential.

And I hope to change wheels every once in a while.

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Pinwheel Mile

The night clouds form an obscured figure of an Old Persian king in his sleeping clothes, lying on his side in some remote oasis. The wind was faint, but the low temperature of the final season was definitely there.  The colorful flicking lights were replaced by the blankets of the drowsy lights from an antique bedroom lampshade and the sidewalk lamp posts outside.

With this discerning conclusion that the night has already passed me by, what remains faithful was the stench of sweat and cigarette smoke on my shirt.

It was getting late so I figured that I retire and went back to the apartment. I double locked the door, rushed into my room, then climbed up on a wooden chair and drew the curtains open to let some of the moonlight in.

My fingers ran through the stacked records in the wooden shelf, breezing through the oxymoron album titles, taking the time to reach for a decision. One of the hardest I should say, to pick the most definitive one.

After giving it some thought, I picked Kath bloom and very carefully I took the vinyl record out of its delicate paper coverings.  I bent and ducked plugged the power on, and placed the needle down against its most fragile body on the now rotating turntable.

And there they were; the notes that started to fill every empty, uninhabited space of the room.

And In those moments, I was flying, so it seemed.

As the needle sailed through the waves and the surface of the record, a whispering imposition dawned onto me as if it was a matter of great importance.

“How I wish I’ve got cigarettes right now, or at least one more drink to cap the night.”

But I couldn’t move, maybe I was too lazy to go outside or maybe I was subdued by this undeniable influence of the soundtrack that accompanied me while leaning against the window sill.  I was pretty sure, that in those moments, my existence there was legitimized as a lifetime altogether.  I lingered, my outlining thoughts stayed on remembering, and then I wondered and dreamt with eyes wide open.

“No need to hurry, everything’s going to be alright…” She then goes singing, never failing to deliver a soothing embrace to my chest every time.

Some thoughts continue to brew, about me mostly, and I felt selfish almost immediately when they insisted to stay.  I could not stand this narcissistic reflection on the window pane, and so to my shame, I backpedaled.

And there was no one there really aside from this voice singing to me. I was a serpent lured out of its box, as solitude became a familiar face which encouraged for a renewal, I decided to carry on.

I saw my shadow traveling on the lunar draped concrete pavement, walking away with a small pocket flask, my blue warrens, and an extra pair of suede shoes in my luggage.

The Old Persian king slowly moves across the twilight, his reach expanding, pointing me to the pale half-moon in the sky.

My lips began to pretend blowing cigarette smoke between me and the vast openness.

The smoke traveled in the air after each vertical release, then disintegrates in the light of the lampposts as it lands.

Now in the ambiguous state, away from any lucid reality, I carry on strolling by the placid waters of my inner conversations amidst all the noise and the chaos.

A satellite gracefully placed its uncloaked body in the moonlight.  A constellation in the sky forms a broken pinwheel around the glittering islands of the late-night icebergs.

My musings took me sitting on a gutter in front of a convenience store, relishing a hot cup of seafood noodles.

I was a middle-aged ship-builder, resting under a tree after the day’s work.  I was a poet, staring at the streams of the waters and the moon that gleams over me.  I was a child longing for an adventure with Huck Finn through the endless Mississippi river.

And in the sheets of my brokenness, I wrote the words lent by time.  That we are merely the threads of the circumstances weaved. We are entwined by the strings of our allaying fears, shame, and disappointments, which made us the quilt that blankets us against the cold.

While I choose to be the piles of inked 8’11 bond papers placed inside a plastic envelope, the hot soup warms my throat and fills my empty stomach, but my mind yearns for more.

I am famished.

Summer 1988

It was a Tuesday morning and the day was blending nothing special, just a regular workday like any other.  Nothing was different, other than the fact that I was on my way to work 45 minutes earlier than my usual schedule when I reached the station to catch the train.

I guess distance does not matter as much when you have long strides.

The carts were not as crowded as most days and the sun was still fresh. The warmth from the rays was still friendly on the skin and it felt really good.  So I got time, a commodity I have regained somehow as these moments were mine to own, and I’ve got nothing else to do but to just wait for my stop at the end of the line.

I was sitting sideward to my left with my head resting on my knuckles with these aimless stares facing the window, looking at the mushroom billboards, car-infested highways and the cotton filled blue skies while most of the passengers on board if not all were in this very same state of blank thoughts and half consumed consciousness, commuting in silence, it was 6:20 am.

It seemed like everybody agreed to disengage as if there was an implied understanding among us and the only imposing sound was from the crashing like noise that the train wheels against the steel rails were making. This reminded me of the terrible typhoon back in August. I closed my eyes and I was taken back, I open them again, and it was sunny.  It was funny to note on how everybody else was unmoved by this, it was like everybody in the room was placed under a spell or to be more analytical, was a result of the preconditioned tendencies that dates back to early childhood.

I almost forgot about humanity’s ability to adapt, on how we can learn to get used to some chaos.  It is unspoken most of the times, yes, but it is also undeniable, the truth on how we can breathe to coexist with the most unforgiving conditions.

So I shied away from all of this, and inside my compartmentalized head, I open each drawer, stretching both of my arms to reach for the higher shelves, to find these comforting thoughts from the other side of my delineation.

I gave the cover cloth a good tug dropping one of the boxes on the floor.  I untied the knot, blew the dust off the lid, and brushed away what’s left of the dirt with my backhand until the label was readable enough – “summer 1988”.

Years of accumulated dust swarm around, within the beam of light coming in from the window.

As I open the lid, a paperback photograph was sitting atop of the pile of handwritten letters, cut out newspaper articles, a transparent flashlight and a few banged-up toys, one of them was a cowboy on a horse which was very popular at the time.

There in the photo was me and my brother on our first bikes.  His was a tricycle which pedals were attached on the front wheel and was larger than the other two on the rear.  It was made of plastic and metal, its body was blue and the wheels were finished in orange.  Mine has four red wheels and it was made mostly of wood. It got no pedals and the seat came in blue with white stars scattered all over it, while the rest of its body was painted white.

We had gray caps on and we were wearing our sando-undershirts and we had the look that we could ride those things anywhere we wanted.

I had a conversation not so long ago. About how time changes us.  On how circumstances replace everything and that childhood is like a cocoon covering that we outgrow eventually in life.

But I don’t really believe that.

The longer I looked at the photo, the more it felt familiar, the more it felt it was still me, that the child in that picture is still in me somewhere, that it wasn’t really gone.

A door down the narrow hallway swung open.  My attention was then captured by the newer boxes of memories stacked neatly in this special shelf from one of its aisles. I took a closer look, not minding the short walk that I had to take; after all, I have long strides.  As soon as I got there, I opened one of the colored boxes, doing the same routine, tug, untie the knot and dust. But this time I was more careful.

I then held a black and white photograph of a kid wearing a fedora hat under an umbrella with his Tommy gun toy. He reminded me of the boys from the other photograph. And from a crumpled paper note I read the words out loud on a whisper.

“Life is the transcendence of love towards another, and it leaves a permanent mark every time.”

Funny, it sounded like a line from a bumper sticker, but I guess there’s some truth to it.

It was a Tuesday morning and the day was blending nothing special, just a regular workday like any other.

And I have brought something back and I haven’t even reached my destination yet.

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Letters from a Passerby

“I am going to save the world someday!” He exclaimed to himself, giving the invisible foe a determined nod as if this was a known certainty. “Maybe not soon, but someday you’ll see.” He was threading on the railway line all the way from the previous town on the other side of the mountain, following a gravel pathway staying away from the rain-soaked grass on both sides. Every step makes a crunching sound as the soles of his boat shoes land on the uneven surface of the boulder fragments.

“But for now, I will have to find a dry place to take a rest.” As he stretches on both arms up in the air with a quick release of a yawn. He wears a collared striped shirt, buttoned all the way up, hand-me-down khaki shorts from his older brother and a fisherman’s hat to complete his wardrobe.

The boy readjusts his shoulder bag which contains clamped sheets of bond paper, a sketch pad, colored pencils bound with rubber band, a Tupperware of mixed cheap local chocolate candies, and a peanut butter sandwich.

“You’re not from around, here are you?” The mailman on a bicycle appears out of nowhere, as he then held the tip of his cap with his index finger and his thumb, pacing himself with the boy. Not a lint on his navy-blue coat uniform and he wears a white undershirt with a bowtie.

“You are a stowaway, aren’t you?”

“No sir, I am not!” Retorted the boy, almost angrily. The mailman then examined the boy with a lingering look from head to toe.

“I’m on my way home after fetching some of the dried fruits my grandmother is selling and took them to the market on the other side of the mountain.” The boy further explains.

“Good then, I trust you if you say so, besides, I always wander around these parts myself when I was a lot younger too. On the other thought, I heard you shouting something from back there. Forgive me, I’m not eavesdropping or anything like that, around here you can hear even the softest whisper, or a stumble of a small rock from a definitive distance.”

The boy was a bit embarrassed but hides this to the stranger. His face turned red though. He then pays him a soft affirmation with a short answer “it must have echoed.” And the mailman agrees.

“Um yes, I was just talking to myself out loud, it’s sort of a habit. Why? Do you think that’s weird?”

“Well, the world is filled with much weirder things.” The mailman replied.

“Weirder things?” the boy repeated. The boy stops walking for a while, turning his head following the man with his now narrowing eyes.

“Please allow me to explain. I mean for one, folks nowadays don’t’ read anymore. They spend most of the time watching TV than enjoying this, right here. They do less and complain much more each day.”

“That’s what I like about my job you know? I get to enjoy riding and passing by these parts every day, and I never get tired of it. I am the link between two distant lovers through their letters, the bearer of enveloped truth, may it be good or bad, all the correspondences that people value. I would like to think of myself as the caretaker of hope in a way.”

“You do the same things every day? I don’t know kids in my neighborhood that can stand that. We’re always up to something different each day” – the boy wondered.

“Well you’re still young of course, and you want to do many exciting things I’m sure. Your case is different. You’ll realize what I mean when the time comes.”

“But that doesn’t make my case any less exciting. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I guess the secret is learning to enjoy the little things. And I see that now, every day I take joy in having the opportunity to fall in love over and over with every unfolding flower and appreciating their varying colors, being able to hum along with the rustling of the leaves as I cruise these parts. When it becomes lonely, the buzzing bees are my companion, they are far hardworking than I am, so I guess, they make me want to better myself.”

“And when the circumstance won’t allow me to visit the hillside or the lake, like when it rains hard like moments ago, I go to my books while sipping a good cup of hot chocolate, teach my sister’s kids a thing or two, helping them with their studies, or I go visit the city library two blocks away from where I live. “

“I still don’t get it, how is it weird?” Asks the boy, now walking after the stranger interested. The boy does not understand what the mailman was saying. After all, he’s just a kid. The words are too big for him

“How do I put this?” The mailman then maneuvers over in front of the boy and squeezed on the brakes.

“You know how everybody feels and thinks that they need to do something very significant with their lives, say something bigger than them, to be someone perhaps, or to be known, leaving behind lasting marks on the face of the earth? Say like superheroes?

“Yes.” The boy finally understands.

“Well, I think it is just plain silly that most people are convinced that by complaining while holding the remote control watching the news will do the trick for them.”

“Change and Apathy are not good bedfellows you see?”

“I get it.” Says the boy.

“By the way, what do you mean by saving the world?” returned the mailman breaking a smile on his face, “You don’t mean aliens do you? You don’t strike me as a member of a secret government organization.” He follows this with an uncontrollable laugh. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mocking you or anything, it’s just that, you reminded me of a character in a book that I once read.”

“No, it’s okay, I was rehearsing. That was a line from a school play I am in. I should be able to memorize the lines by the end of the week or else I am screwed.”

“I also wrote the play by the way.”

The mailman was impressed, nods while scratching the temple of his face.

“But now that you mentioned it, I kind of like the idea of me really saving the world one day, or at least contributing something very significant.” the boy continued.

“And how are you supposed to do that? I hope you don’t mind me asking.”

The boy gave it a quick thought and gets back to the cyclist. “No I don’t mind it at all, in fact, that’s a good point. I never thought about it until now, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of things that you could do.”

“Like how, what’s in your mind, my young friend?”

“Well for one, and I may be oversimplifying things here, but if only I could find the right story to write about to show everyone. Stories that really matter, like yours Mr. Mailman, I’m sure that many people would be very interested in your story.”

“But it needs to be well played. As you said, we all play an important role.”

“I don’t know about my story, but yeah, I second what you are trying to say” – the mailman feeling a bit embarrassed himself.

Then the sun behind the thick monochrome clouds appeared, revealing the rest of the steel railway line ahead, and the mist is slowly but definitely starting to vanish. The distance appears to be long, but he realizes that it is the pathway to his destination, nonetheless, leading him to the clearing.

The kid knew that he’ll never be the same. The words that he needs to memorize now fluttered inside him. His inked fingers can’t wait to reconcile with the pen, and he felt freed by the encounter he just had.

And he reckoned that he is on a mission after all.

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