Retired Suitcases

The kitchen door swung open and the prism made it home through.  As his wrinkled eyes welcomed the dawn, old cigars from the drawer case were lined up on the table top as if a celebration called for it, as if yesterday has left behind its shape.  During those days newspapers were treated like they were still part of breakfast, of over-easy-peppered sunny side ups and black coffee while smoked salmon and VCRs kept the night intact.

Retired suitcases filled the closet and the clock was silent and still. The mailbox was hollow, and the words were deep-seeded somewhere far away.

But the stream was endless, and the pictures were always as clear as day. The possibilities never eluded him, as if miracles do happen all the time.  He would always go back holding onto a piece of paper, to a promise across a long stretch of an attempt to dream only to find the morning at the end of it.  A slow erratic pace, but a rediscovery is always almost a certainty.

And when sleep is out of reach, the dents and the dimples on the other side of the bed keep him company. He tells himself, that nights do end and some things last.  After all, the universe allows a little indifference in its lifetime.

For it is not sentimental he would always think? Just sheer contemplations of the complicated human heart.  It beats to resonate across the end corners and the clutters, cruising the seas and highway intersections to the point of absolution or tragedy.  The years that went by were reduced to mere flashes and pixelated photographs. They are no longer numbers but the very accumulation of delightful shared experiences.

How can one be grateful without despair? Suffering concludes pretenses, and it clears the way for contentment. For sure he recognizes what was once there.  The shadows of the past let him remember that he can never make an accord with time. He steals, therefore, a thief between the paradoxes.

But what does it mean really?  Whose answer may trigger either sober inspirations or bitter ending catastrophes. Pardon the blunt demeanor, but the ink is blotted, and the pen is starting to skip.

I wish to taste all the good from a honeycomb. To weather the skies.

Retired.

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Erratum

She slid inside a half dark room, where grimy portraits of her dead and almost dead relatives hung.  Her family has a strong affinity with spirituality that she always thought this accustom was over the top eerie. As she sidled through the narrow gap in stealth like a sly cat, a familiar whiff of old books climbed into her nostrils letting the sensation immediately calm her down.

Hunched over the gentle stream of city lights was the moon that appeared to be like a half-inserted coin in the sky.  Long strands of thin after-rain clouds rippled across, while an airplane cuts through the waves skillfully like a zipper opening. She lay on her side against the linoleum floor under the heft of indifference. For a moment she has chosen to be holed up inside her delicate shell, cut off from lucid reality that requires any human interaction.

Friends gathered outside waiting to greet her merrily. The relatives appalled her, let alone the godparents who endlessly find pleasure in dispensing unsolicited life advice and religious blessings.

As if co-existing universes delineated by a partition, the study was concealed in the veil of melancholic conniving shadows, with only just a couple of dim lamps lit the corners. While everyone in the other room was bursting with sheer joy and intoxicated laughter, showering in the glint of tinsels, embellishing pearl necklaces, and strung up smiles.

Surprisingly in her world, the poignant stillness of the quiet night was immensely deafening. It was the anthem she was looking for, all along.  Her gaze was tentative, hopping from one constellation to another, across the glittered night canvas, as she is now beginning to feel saintly and light.

She drowsed a little but began contemplating within a fleeting thought. But it had become trite, so as her body wearing down. She reached for her glass and took a sip.

The drink was bland, almost tasteless.  “Of course, this was from the other side after all” she concluded.

Staggering, she stood up and rested her forehead against the pane. She relished how sublime the evening was as she also counted how many satellites crossed over her. And just across the willow trees, boats bounced in rhythmic motion above the waters, occasionally slapping against the dock. And in the faraway distance to the west, she tried to make out the outlines of the highways and train lines. She did all these, taking her time filling in the void.

Then suddenly, like how bad news always comes unannounced, the heavy timber door swung open bringing in from behind an intruder in its shapeless form.

The body was made of noise filled with obnoxious chuckles and music under the clad of cigar smoke and flattery.

A silhouetted figure of a man beckoned her to join them, gently closing the varnished wooden door behind him as he steps into her world.

Quiet resumes its reign.

She unwraps a gum from her jacket and placed it inside her mouth. A fruity flavor exploded, and a protracted stretch of infinity cascaded between them.

“I think I’m going to stay here for a while” She discerned finally.

Photo by: LJ Jumig

Cold Planked Boxes of Ernest

Remember the ones you left behind, the dead with their faces during the last moments you saw them speak. How could you possibly bring them back with you? What means did you have if there were any? It was such a cruel thing not being able to give what they truly deserved, as their voices fill your head in your sleep as you lie there on the dirt. You wonder what were those they prayed for?  To believe in the war is different from rooting for the deeds that come along with it.  It was necessary to take someone’s life, but one should not believe in it.  I phoned the commander and asked him to wait until the sun reaches above the scalp.  But damn the politics that helped oiled the gears which led us here.  Fool is to believe that all are selfless.   I was once proud and naive, for the flags I heeded to represent.  I was an urged rock that was given life, to be heavy and still as I am also numb.

A friend is when I speak out loud to myself.  It has been groomed unconsciously that it now turns into a living grieving habit.  Yes, it is normal that you have thoughts brewing to the point of discussion or a mere debate with yourself. But it should only stay within an inaudible state and not to be uttered for others to hear.  The mouth is for conversations that require a pair of ears other than yours.  And so, it is unusual to speak that way.

But how does one take control in the most piercing moments when the scorching sun strikes you back hard and when it turned the tracks of your tears into mere salt on your cheeks.  When you only have the barrel of the gun to depend on, when all of your brothers are motionless around you and you chose to crawl towards the one you are closest with. You see him drowning in his own spoils and blood. You are to willingly stick your fingers into the bullet holes just to convince any of them to accompany you even with just a hurtful moan.  You’d hope to be as faithful as your resolve.  The residues of these days are a stench that will never go away.  You rely on the handgun hoping it will not fly off when the time for shooting has come.  When it is already time to give up the bullet that will carry your message across, that the time for writing novels must be set aside for now.  It is not because you were left with no other choice. It was the circumstance presented at your feet.   You knew this was not the end, but you were also sure you could be absolutely wrong.

And you’d tell yourself, that the time for grieving is not now.  You will have plenty of that hereafter.  Nor is this the place to do it.  The dead must be respectfully cleansed.  The dried-up mud and blood must be washed off to reveal the chivalry and truth of their souls.  But most of all, as a final act of selflessness, for the families’ sake and the loved ones who waited, as one is sure that they will not have the stomach to witness the remnants of the horrors of their fate.   So, your body must be cleansed.  Your battle uniform must be replaced.

And so, you had it done, for them, always for them.

Across the Waves and the Undertones

Between the blotted spaces through a nearly empty room, by the inviting light of a warm fire, you lay across your moonlight pale body in the oceans of the four-poster bed.

You had your stare aimlessly fixed at the disdainful fire that calms you, thinking to yourself that we all deserved a dose of compassion, even for a woman like you.

You cried that line a few times over and you always were hard on yourself, I wished I could carry you just to make you see.

Then turned your head and asked me what to do, you wanted to buy an idea so much.

We watched the movies again, all the good ones, and the bad. So, we can remember why we loved them the first time.

I didn’t know why, but I think that was far better than waiting for dawn to arrive.

You hated waiting too, so we stuck with those instead.

And we used to believe in shadow plays and mystery novels. As much as we hated audio books and those battery-operated cigarettes.

Your breath was soft and quiet in your sleep, and your breasts were like a bobbing wooden canoe over a sleepy river.

I know your mind is not made up yet, so maybe if you’d please, maybe we can fly off and see the greens beneath our feet instead? To set off over the infinite marsh of white clouds and colored pencil horizons.

Because we do not want to be lined up like canned goods and fruit juices in tetra packs on grocery aisles, hoping to be picked up before our expiration dates. You would always say.

I looked outside and asked for the night to whistle a merry tune, but the stars were mute. They were for the wandering eyes, and so I guessed I did not need them.  But why was I gazing at the brightest one that night?

We decided to drive off, rolling the windows down and in between towns I was putting together a traveling song, writing on the dashboard.  I was bouncing the tip of the pen against the chin, fidgeting it playfully between the fingers. Your head was in the open road.

I remember the night when we first landed on the moon at the backseat of the car.  You slurred, with eyes nearly closed, then the faint beam from a passing car revealed your pale skin.  We were rearranging the universe.

Life passed us by when we were too busy doing make-believe. And we could not catch up with reality eventually.

But in the flashing lights of that night, I would gladly stay, for it will always be my favorite time.

Something lifted you all of a sudden, I can see it in the flutters of your dress, in all the literature, and the open-ended inscriptions you wrote me.

And so, I made a phone call and left you a message. I know it was all too late, but I hope I did not make you wait for too long this time.

undertones

Crossings and Intersections

I was waiting by the tracks on a platform sitting on an empty steel bench where a beam from the weekend ether is cascaded down through an opening of the plastic transparent sunroof. The rustic smell from the old neighboring provinces flooded the air. There were not many people there yet, it was still early and so the sight is pretty much the usual vacated scene at this time of the day.

I had my left arm folded resting atop a luggage bag beside me, while the knuckles were pressed against the temple of my head. I just finished drinking coffee from a local inn, and I did not mind waiting. In fact, I was lingering at the moment while it was still mine to savor.

Not borrowers, but I guess we are the temporary owners of these fragments we call moments. Or at least we attempt to steal these from the overly stretched time we have left.

A dog-eared paperback book was occupying the other hand, laying it flat open across my right arm. I was caught between the lines that stuck with me for quite some time. Somehow, I couldn’t get past the words. I was rereading the same chapter over and over, and it was an indication that I was not getting anywhere obviously, and should give it a rest for the meantime.

Or was I becoming too engrossed?

Quite not sure.

Faceless people began to appear. I heard them coming from the steps but not rushing. From the sound of their voices, I was assuming that they were college students talking about school stuff and a professor that I thought they hated.

I turned to their direction to see, a mere mechanical reaction I guess, or maybe I was looking for a momentary amusement. I was in a way channel surfing for real-life episodes, not really knowing what I wanted my eyes to sit on.

An old lady carrying an eco-bag and a folding umbrella was also there, walking after the students. She had a sullen and weary look in her eyes, the kind that had seen many cold Decembers I suppose.

I watched her pacing herself to reach the bench where I was. She placed her things down carefully and made sure that these were secured and will not fall over. She then slowly chose a spot, sitting next to me.

I was trying not to be obvious. I was looking straight down on to the book I was holding, and just observing her through my peripheral. I didn’t want to offend her, but I couldn’t stop noticing as well since we were the only ones there.

She looked at the direction from where the train was going to appear, but she only found the image of me sitting there across her.

“Hijo, what time is the next train?” the old lady asked, her gaze shifted towards me.

“Um, I guess in a few minutes, they operate less on weekends” Stammering, I responded.

“And why do you suppose they’d do that? People still have to be somewhere even on weekends, right?” then a faint chuckle followed.

Clearly, time complimented her with wisdom.

“I guess, you’re right” taken by surprise on her response, I returned with a polite nod and a smile.

“If I may ask, are you in a hurry, Ma’am?”

She reached for her bag and went through what was inside and held out a standard-sized marble that kids play with especially during far back in the day.

“I plan to visit my son and surprise him with this. He is much older than you are, probably a decade older.

I found this thing from a box filled with worn-out clothes and old books, and I thought this will make him remember.”

“Remember what?” I quickly followed.

“Well, when he was still a little boy, he never left this behind, everywhere he went he carried this in his pocket, believing it held some sort of magic. I guess he got that idea from reading too much Mark Twain novels.”

“To tell you honestly, this is not the actual marble that he believed had magical powers. Many years ago, I accidentally dropped the real one when I was checking his trousers for anything before washing them. I lost the damn thing when it went straight through a hole.”

“That must have felt very frustrating” I sincerely injected.

“Then what happened next?”

“I went to the house of my son’s best friend, whose mom I was very close with, and explained what happened with the marble.

As a mother, she understood why it was so important for me to find another similar.

We snuck inside her son’s room and went through a drawer where he kept his collection of marbles. But we were dumbfounded when we discovered that there was a lot to choose from.”

I gave out a huge laugh after hearing this and felt very much intrigued on how the story was turning out.

“How were you able to find an exact match?” Curiously asking.

“Well, we didn’t.”

“I don’t understand, what did you do after?” Now really intrigued.

“I got back to our house with three marbles I thought similar with the real one. It was getting late, so I just bought us dinner on the way home from a cheap Chinese restaurant near our place.

And when I arrived, he was sleeping, apparently tired from looking for his treasure.

I woke him up and took the time explaining to him what happened.

“And then? Did he get mad about it?”

“Yes, he hated me for it. And it took a few days to get him talking to me again.”

“But it surprised me when he finally did, he told me, that he had a dream about his magic marble”.

I leaned closer to hear her clearly. Her tone and the volume of her voice dropped a couple of notches it was almost a whimper.

“He said that in his dream, I came out of an Ice cave and gave him a marble.

And according to the dream, I placed the marble inside his invisible pocket, and told him that it will never, ever be lost again.”

“That turned out well?” with a gesture of relief I gave a deep exhale.

“Well it sort of did, but years went by, and he seemed to have also forgotten where that secret pocket was. That’s why I am visiting him to show him this old marble. It’s been years since the last time we saw each other. Call me overly dramatic, but I am running out of time.” Holding the round toy up next to her hopeful smile.

All of a sudden, the train loomed out of the huge body of a hazy fog across the green field, approaching the station.

We hurriedly bid our short but sincere farewells, never knowing if we will cross paths ever again for another storytelling.

Apparently, that was the last time I saw the old lady.

She got on the train as I stayed behind watching her go.

The heavy weight on my chest was starting to fade as the rubber soles of my shoes seemed to have grown wings on them suddenly.

Flying off to somewhere instead.

Intersections

Loose Catching Ropes

The gleam from the golden drink shined upon the philandering cigarette over the ashtray, and my resolve was as flimsy as always.

I was entering a room in my mind that I knew nothing about, I reckoned that doom was upon me, anyhow it went.

But the Infallible human capacity to thrive on arose amidst the chaos. An old book helped me remember.

And while waiting for that warm Incandescent feeling to dawn upon the surface of my skin, I settled with instant coffee in my hands for the meantime. I was relieved by its faint vapor that soothed the narrow passages of my buttoned nose. A glimpse of what is forthcoming.

The summer haze was fast approaching. And one couldn’t wait.

For the unpainted board panels and that pair of burnished boat shoes beneath my grainy soles.

The taste of sea on my skin.

On hers.

The hand-weaved daisy chains, crowning the heads of our children.

Endless summer laughs gift-wrapped for the mornings to come.

To be sentimental. For it is always good to remember. The blueprints from which we base our endeavors on to.

To fall in love again.

To love head over heels or make love with a foe for just a night.

To be lost in that watercolor substance.

Deferring permanency, realizing that life is about forging relevance and leaving behind lasting marks.

To indulge.

On chocolate bars and short novels.

Sushi.

And leftover proses.

Typewritten.

Raw and unedited.

Collapsed and Cascaded. For fiction is the unwithering rose petals during summer.

A beautiful and strange incoherence.

A brand-new day, or just a change of paradigm. It does not matter.

A chance to recover,

A chance to catch up on sleep. To dream.

A chance to forgive, if not forget. To tidy up one’s room and finish up laundry finally.

To learn how to learn. To listen not to respond, but to truly understand.

To pray, for faith.

To be carefree, eating ice cream in the rain under a shared umbrella.

Learning how to dance.

Reading outdated editorials.

To be an astronaut.

To become.

You. Me. Us.

Catching

Somewhere along the Lines

The early morning light was in her eyes, waking her gently, like many times before. The day was warming up her toes, so she readjusted by pulling the blanket to her side. Every contour and delineating landscape of her body was as true as the lie she told herself upon seeing an old lover.  And the bending of the light from the window glass glared over her, so brightly and sincere, to remind her that she is alive for another day.

To endure, not for herself, but for those who cannot.

What power she had in her grasp. And it couldn’t be any simpler than this – No coffee, nor morning kisses, just a glass of cold water, and that morning message from her phone to get her by.

She recreated the world before her, as she saw in her dreams, asleep and awake.  Her hands were oftentimes beautifully stained by oil-paint and charcoal.  Her heart was a mass made of Bukowski, Whitman, Plath, Hemingway, and Neruda. Their words poured out of her mouth, and her delicate lips were chopped by heartaches and their promiscuity with literature.

Their muddled love affair with relevance.

She was a passerby, like the changing seasons, like summer and winter.  Traveled a lot through the seas and the skies, in heartbreaks and through each sad song and nighttime prayers.   She reminded herself again and again, that it is not for her, but for those who are barren and blind, for the lost who could not find north, for the unsung catalysts of our time, whose footprints were swept off in the sand.

Her fingertips rallied across to choose the best parchment paper, not in contention against the hands of time, but to withstand for as long as.

Oh, she was on her way, taking on the distance between her mind and her heart. Shaking hands with new found friends and tasting the lips of other men.  No penance here, nor guilty trips, she was as bold and unrelenting, and yet remains gentle just the same.  A rose with its thorns, the dark that makes the moon brighter in the night.

As her hero stole the show, the crimson curtains fell feebly over his head. The act was nearly approaching its end, the audience was on the edge of their seats, hoping to be swooned.

He took out his gun, the pistol given to him by his father before him. With an engraved dedication on its ivory grip beautifully written in script, he held it tighter as he crowed,

“These Hands were clean empty, and yet we were robbed of our names still!  A claim undeniably ours, oh it must be I say!  One insignificant sacrifice is all it takes, and we are there, oh how close we are to the end, just a little while now, and this right here, everything, will be back to its rightful place!” He sneered in the pouring rain.

With great numbers, in the utmost imposing intentions, the strings were hit hard by the bows.  As minor notes instilled chill and power, reinforced by the crashing thunders from the cymbals and the percussions, the organ, all the trumpets, horns, and the saxophones had shaken the halls and reached all corridors.

It was the world ending after all.

The master perspired, his sweat flew off like raging bullets on every turn of the head and in every swing of his arms.  He moved and instructed, measure after measure, note after note as if it was the last performance.

Beats, a long profound silence as she wondered about. She slid back, widening the gaps between her fingertips and the keyboard.  Her chest was pounding, and her throat was a bit dry.

She turned to her side looking out of the window — she could hear the chirping from the trees.  The light of the morning sun was still in her eyes, the wind touching her face, and the rivers of happiness flowed in her hair.

The world was so clear.

along the lines