Flypaper

I always feel happier whenever I’m on empty trains. But it’s been hard to ride them nowadays. In fact, I personally consider it a luxury whenever I find one. Most of the time, MRTs are cramped, it’d be a lottery to board one without experiencing a significant degree of struggle. We are running out of roads apparently. Too many cars, lesser good roads. Where there are too many people, there is not enough urban planning in place. I was on my way home when I bumped into this frustration. A faint reminder that disappointments are a troubling part of living. The dead have it easy.  I was reading a novel. Sometimes, I think that my only saving grace is fiction. Or it’s a sort of a consolation I guess. A disappointment cushion. A fucking doll.

I checked my phone and read a message from a friend. He asked to meet in Cubao. I said, what’s it about? He said, nothing serious. Then I asked, what the hell for? He said, he needed to talk. I said, okay.

When I got home, I took my dad’s car. I had enough of trains for one day. The ’76 Galant was craggy but still reliable. It needed some washing, but I thought the filth added character. Driving it was another joy of my life. No matter how tough the drive was, the ride had always been an escape.

Later, I realized that finding a parking space was as tough as surviving traffic. After the treasure hunt, I was able to smoke my first cigarette for hours. I got out, stretched my legs, and jaywalked.

I arrived three hours late. I needed a cold beer. Luckily there’s plenty. The city breeze that night was fresh. The rain just let up, but sadly it was only for a few minutes. It rained again. I showed him the manuscript. He read it. He didn’t like it. He said it was shit. He ripped it apart. He called it friendship. I called it my classroom.

We skipped the main reason why we’re there in the first place. We ordered some crispy Thai noodles. We talked about the monsoon and the countless rains. When you run out of things to talk about, you talk about the weather I suppose.

Then he spilled his insides out in the open.

For a man who was not meant to win anyone, he yearned for symbiosis. Long after then, he still had her picture tacked on his wall.

I wanted to console him. But I knew that there are some things that you can never win. I didn’t think he could drown himself with all the drinks he could buy that night.

“Just walk away.” I urged him.

“My legs are gone.”

“Just move.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“That’s unfair, scoot over. But I get you.” I said earnestly.

My mom had always told me to always see the good in people. But I couldn’t tell him that that night.  I guess no matter how much bearing the truth had, the pain can still shatter it through.

A Jeff Buckley song played on the monitor. We tried to sing along on the easiest verse to remember. We were both a bit tipsy and a whole lot out of tune.

I checked the news on my phone, the traffic was still bad. I guess we’re like insects stuck on flypaper, unable to move.

We both looked outside, the rain continued on, this time heavier. We can’t do anything.

Some of the rainwater seeped through the window. I suppose staying indoors was the right thing to do, at that time.

I suppose it’s all for the better. My mouth was still dry. I needed a cold beer. Luckily there’s plenty.

Uncut Strings (and that problem with catching sleep)

While one might assume it as given, I, on the other hand never thought it mattered then as it does now. I never knew that it was coming for us — I honestly didn’t. We stayed up late at the balcony, since both of us were smoking, while we finished off what’s left of the night. The kids were already sleeping inside and she said it’s going to be her last beer but I don’t think she’d be able to catch the last train. It was beginning to be a slow night, and the kids would definitely look for her by the time they woke, so I convinced her to spend the night for old times’ sake. There was a yellow moon that accompanied us. It was full and the breeze was cold, it wrapped us in such a way an old lover would.

I am not what you would say a happy man. But by the time I got married, things started to fall in place as it should be. There I found order and a pattern that made sense. And when it happened, I couldn’t bring myself to pick up after the pieces.

That night, I climbed up the bed and climbed up her. I was home again. A week later she wrote me a letter and told me she was all better now with the apricot trees in her view in the mornings except that sometimes she’s woken up by the drip from the tap late at night. But with all things considered, it was certainly a jubilant dream like in the song, she said.

We didn’t exchange numbers and soon the mailing addresses kept on changing and we stuck to just writing emails instead. We figured it was way faster although it felt strange not seeing her handwriting but I got used to it eventually.

“Where are you going?” It took several exchanges before she finally hinted about it. “There’s a vineyard I want to see in the south-west of France while it’s still spring.”

I sent her a map of the region where she was headed to from a reliable travel guide. “I looked it up and marked the places that should help you. I hope it checks out.”

I opened a can of beer and sat by the nightstand. I was listening to the music that played on TV. There were lanky Koreans dancing to some upbeat music, and they seemed to be really happy about their little routine. I wished I could play music. I always wanted a beautiful butterscotch gold Telecaster. I wished I could be Tom Waits that night. I wished I could write music like he did, sitting in a lonely bar somewhere.

Up until now I still do not know why I still keep in touch after all that had happened. I can still feel that the string that connects us will never be cut. The thread was too straight and that was the same problem that everyone else saw.

Not some two years ago I was visiting a friend for drinks on a weekend night. And on the way over to his place, I saw her in the passenger seat bobbing her head over and under behind the dashboard of David’s car. I didn’t know what to make out of it, and I couldn’t erase that image in my head.

It was said that Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms over forty-seven times. I could only hope to do the same just this one time.

But since that’s not going to happen I guess, I would settle for some sleep at night, just enough to function in the morning. Except that sometimes I’m woken up by the drip from the tap. Then I’d remember her, and I would lay wide awake and dream about that jubilation dream of hers or alter it the way I would rather be, but then I’d snap out of it.

She called upon me from the bedroom and her voice streamed through the narrow hallway. The light from the lamp was dimmed and there was a gentle rustle from the trees outside the open window. Although it was cold, there was a faint light from the night sky that glistened on the bed sheets that silhouetted the leaves and the crooked branches. It didn’t do anything but it helped make the room appear warm. Her breath smelt of spring from the vineyards she visited and mine was a stench of burnt wood — of strong hard liquor, old American. She told me that I was in her dream, only I was not.

Only I was not.

Almost Famous

I never did well in a crowd. But I tried to stand there in a half circle with the boys watching the girls in their miniskirts in some friend’s party. I was particularly drawn on how detailed they were with their descriptions of a woman’s anatomy, about their psychology, on the time they spent to study that universe. I was so intrigued, it was like a complex algebra problem to me. I could never get it even if I tried harder.

I could very well be mistaken as a wallpaper. I was awkward and mean and dull. I guess looking back we all were at some point but I never got past that. I lacked personality and patience for any human interaction. I was a cockroach that everyone despised.

Luckily Bianca was fool-proof.

Bianca lit up when I showed her the book. It was another eight-hundred peso purchase on my second Bukowski that month but it was never a question to spend on well-written treasures she said. I wasn’t interested in his books about poetry, but I find his short stories particularly moving.

It was a long summer. But we got through it just fine even though the heat of the sun was of no help when you’re trying to put things together.

You use the material that you have, Didion said.

So I put my dark glasses on, drink coke straight from the one-liter bottle while placing the words on the electronic paper.

Font 11, Calibri (Body).

The phone rang.

B: “Hello?”

D: “Hi”

B: “How was the writing?”

D: “What was that?”

B: “I miss hearing your voice, how was the writing?”

D: “I’m sorry the reception is terrible, it’s quite slow, but I got past the hard part

— first two paragraphs — I think I’m making progress.”

B: “That’s good to hear!”

D: “How’s Kafka?”

B: “He misses his Dad”

D: “Tell him I’ll be home soon enough”

D: “Hello?”

B: “I can’t hear you, can you move to a better spot?”

D: “Tell that to the president.”

B: “Let’s talk later, maybe the service will be better then.”

D: “Okay.”

B: “See you soon, I love you.”

A few days ago I saw the president on TV.

I also saw a cockroach that landed on his shoulder and squirmed a little in my seat.

I also laughed a little, cried a little, but paying close attention I realized that the cockroach was me.

It was a long time ago, but it was still me.

I guess I am what you call a celebrity.

Cats Smoked the Souls of the Dead

At the funeral of a friend, he saw her helping out, handling over cold tetra packs of juices and repacked green peas and peanuts to the guests. His relationship with her was as dead as the one lying in the pine casket by the electric candles. He thought about saying hi but hesitated and felt it was completely inappropriate to do such a thing. It wasn’t the place or the time to rekindle with old romantic acquaintances, even though what he only wanted was to ask her one question after all.

It was a cool and damp night. She was wearing a comfortable-looking knitted cardigan over a strapped blue top and a pair of her usual outfit, a square pants and worn down sneakers. It was close to midnight but it was still quite a work finding his way through being noticeably visible. When he was young, he was made to believe that funerals are big farewell parties every time a relative died. “And that cats feed on the crematorium smoke, that’s why they have many lives” His uncles would tease the kids. But it wasn’t the case when his dad went when he was only eleven.

He thought about what happened between them. There was that problem she one day declared to him, turning the other way as she sat in the passenger seat. It was all a blur to him, but he can remember very well the humming of the car engine while she was at it. He wasn’t worried, she still had the seatbelt on.

What could have been said more often was reduced to mere incidentals, and what should have been felt as something natural eventually became a matter of opinion. A cause, and a consequential effect to put it simply. In the movie Interstate 60, James Marsden was told that all relationships were a reaction of the previous ones we had. It wasn’t the point of the scene, but that was the message that stuck. That night she just left in his sleep without saying goodbye. He always thought she’d come back for her stuff in his place, but still hasn’t.

“I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought I was seeing the wrong ghost.” There was a soft chuckle when she said this after many of the guests left. “I was surprised to see you here.”

The night was filled with stars, there were only a few thin sheets of clouds scudding across. The wind was cool, it was such a good night for a long drive to the coast, what he truly wanted to say. “It was such a beautiful service.” He said after a while.

“I’m just glad it was over, peaceful. You know?” She replied without looking.

A week after he was at the door in front of the house, feeding a stray cat with milk and a corn-flavored cereal. Then it hit him, cats didn’t feed on the souls of the dead. They rip them apart until they were completely gone.

Tall Glass

While we were at it, I threw in all sorts of questions on how it was like to be up there. He gave a picturesque narrative of the life in the camp during the summer with those kids from the private schools and how exciting the first year was. My brother tried very hard to be as detailed and brief as he could possibly be on the phone, but there wasn’t enough time so we bade goodbye and agreed to keep in touch before the new school year started.  I was pressing the receiver hard on my ear, it left a slight redness afterwards.

As natural things could get, we weren’t able to contact each other over a good period of time when we were supposed to. He was living in the city while I remained recluse back home.  I wasn’t able to keep track and assumed he was preoccupied himself that it didn’t feel it mattered then.

And as the gap widened while the silence grew, it haunted me all the more. Every time I was finished with the day’s chores, I would always try to imagine how it was to be up there with him. I would begin waking up in his room, in the all-boys dormitory making the bed before heading out, always making sure I was on time for each class. I thought about the faces of his classmates and the professors, what sort of people were there in the university, even the pretty girls he would have chosen to pursue.

The more I delved about leaving, the more it felt real to me. The more that I did it, the more it felt that I needed to move away from this zany town of ours.

There was no way around it I concluded.  It felt exclusive, more than the sensation I felt the first time I tasted caviar.

She insisted to take me all the way as far as she could make it. And as all things must end, the day was also coming to a close. She rested her head on my arm while we stood on a crowded bus on the way to the terminal. I looked at her, and she did the same to me — she had her hair just above her eyes and she was simply wonderful.

But I couldn’t help feeling that even after all that magic — enough to favor prejudice — still, it arrived quite dry on the surface.

I always faulted myself for that.

Up in the clouds, it made me forget all there is about on earth and it allowed me to bask in the soak of twilight. The sky was overcast but the runway was filled with outlining lights when the plane was about to land. It resembled a mid-summer night sky in a tropical coast island somewhere far away. I was drawn to it like a moth to a fire.

It felt like it was calling me, I wanted to hold it in my hands so bad I wanted nothing more.

I guess you’ll never know how disdainful the fire is until it burned you.

This could happen to you too, I told myself.

I waited for the green leaves to turn.

I hope I could help it.  But she didn’t want to bring it up.

I was sorry for the weight, I told her on the phone.

“I was staying in the Honeymoon lodge this past few nights.” She retorted.

I was pressing the receiver hard on my ear, it left a slight redness afterwards.

It Was Like Catching Flu

It’s late in the night when we took a cab ride around the outskirts of town. We picked up some supplies on the way at the local 24-hour convenience store near the bay and paid extra on top of the fare. He was sorry about waking me up, but he didn’t know who else to call at the time, he explained. Of course, I didn’t mind one bit.

We watched the smoke lingered in the air under a street lamp. It was like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  This made him forget for a little while, which relieved me in a way, for I was putting on a terrible performance consoling him.

We didn’t talk about it much really. I didn’t know how. The ebbing of the tides in the moonlight did all of that for us.

I guess that was all he ever needed, what both of us did.

“I don’t think we could ever prepare for these sort of things.” He started.

“You’d know if it’s good when it’s scarce.

All the good ones are.”

I didn’t say anything.

We waited until dawn before heading back. He wanted to catch both the last light of the night and the first of the coming day.

At the end of it, he knew that profanity is the cheapest means of revenge.

“Think about something else. “ I urged him finally.

“Like what?”

“The good days.” I knew I was doing worse I wanted to puke.

“I want to see that try bring down all the xenophobic ideas in the world.”

Then the warm rays glimpsed upon us suddenly with the breeze blowing from the direction of the sun.

And it went on in my head. I could still trace him.  My son’s scent on the pillows.

I think it’s painfully blissful, sometimes I couldn’t stand it.

It was like catching flu in the rain.

The Invisible Man

Jupiter was no bigger than a five-centavo coin when it shined that night. Thrilled, he placed it inside the hole he made with his fingers and peeped through it into the sky with one eye. He took a photograph of the sighting but his phone camera failed to deliver justice and so he decided to just discard it.

Overhead, its glow was diluted by the increased display lightings of the bookstore. As he stood outside, he then watched the storekeepers and the customers raced — like lab mice — the mazes of the bookcases inside. Uninvited, he crushed his half-done cigarette and went in and did the same. He started with the selected features and trod along the modern classics section until he slowed down when he reached the aisle between the Russian giants and H.G. Wells. He decided to procrastinate venturing and opted for the latter instead this time. Besides, he figured that reading Tolstoy or Dostoevsky would not sit very well with commuting on public transportation and discerned that he doesn’t want another unfinished book.

He had plenty of time, he tried to convince himself. But by the year he reached thirty-four true friends had enormously reduced to mostly dead writers and fictional protagonists. It was as if living people were only worth trying out if their thoughts and general interests were first proofread and edited like any publication houses would do.

This he thought about and the million things that could potentially take place in his short lifespan. But who would dare care? After a while, people would eventually move on with their lives. He confronted himself with the thoughts of unreciprocated love affairs and unfulfilled passions. What if they discovered that the only thing, he could ever love unconditionally was the rain? The time of the monsoon was coming, and it would be cooler soon. The thought began to console him. It was not necessarily of importance but for him, they were like the soundtrack of a very good film and the foams in his drink.

They say that life flashes on by without you realizing it. And oftentimes we miss it, especially when it counted the most. But in his case, there were no flashes, no theatrics — Just a series of random movements and intermittent pauses.

On the escalator going down, he bumped into an old colleague from the University. They exchanged numbers after going over a crash course of where their lives had led them since they last saw each other.

During the dialogue, all he was thinking about was the Irish coffee he was dying to have.

He never thought that the idea would ever touch his ugly mouth, but it did, he blurted it out, he felt ashamed.

At that moment everything else sounded broken to him.

It was a beautiful reclusion of the heart.

City Tour

H narrowed his eyes, squinting at the three-hundred-year-old enamel chalices, spoons, and ladles sitting inside the glass case.  As he read the inscriptions, the professor was observing him quite amused with his growing interest for the Spanish colonial artifacts.  “Now that we’re done with the kitchenware, when can we see the replicas of the Manila Galleons?”  H half-jokingly mused but the host paid little attention to him and continued on with his private tour.  Their heels clacked raucously against the linoleum tiles until they were seated inside a study, where the curator usually entertains visits from historians, politicians, grantors, and special acquaintances in the scientific socio-sphere.

The professor scheduled the tour on an early morning of midweek, which meant the city tours were on low key which worked perfectly both for them and the host.  Education was essential to move forward, but the past was an integral part.  “You see“, placing the boater hat on his right knee, “The tales of history are always best told in such fashion.  True appreciation depicts demeanor, so bring some of that home with you.”

But H was daydreaming.  The lucid mind receded.  It was a terrible habit.

After a few, he asked earnestly “But how do we know we’re making the right kind of history?”

This came out of nowhere but the professor welcomed it anyway.

“Well, that’s tough.” He repositioned and crossed legs.

“But I guess all good ones are.”

The old man commended H for his potential, for his innate artistic brilliance.  He felt responsible for him — he was but a ship that was imperative to build.

That night at the ball they were in their double-breasted amerikanas, surrounded with great pieces in the Amorsolo gallery.  “It feels quite absurd wearing uncomfortable outfits in such scorching climate” H complained.

But like his fathers before him, who shared the same streams of aspirations but unable to shine on fully, he was willing to submit, basking in its symphonic reception.  The corners of his lips widened as the smiles beamed.  By and by the crowd has been able to separate the two, until arthritis got the better of the old man.

The General Council on Cultural Development had taken interest in the works of the young aspirant.  They consist mostly of middle-aged men, of scholars and intricate critics who busied themselves buzzing on and about, clinking champagne glasses and exchanging small talks here and there to no end.

A woman in her fifties approached H who was now standing by the tribal shaft ornaments.  The powder on her face traced the wrinkles on her temples, while the yellows of her teeth emphasized by the redness of her lips.  The laces of her evening gown appeared uncomfortably itchy to him.

He felt like a young buck drinking water from a murky shallow swamp.

It made him feel worse he wanted to change right away into his regular clothes and lay down by the awning thatched windows of home.  In his mind, he would sail the leagues of his imagination where he’d set out on a trip on-board the Manila Galleon bearing great treasures of gold, ancient jewelry, and rare

spices of the east.  Then at nightfall when the skies are clear enough, he’d be under the stars, gazing in his hammock suspended as it sways to the gentle motions the ship.  And as it bobs on the cradles of the ocean, he’d wonder on further to even greater depths to where the giant squids are lurking, rare sea creatures reign on the decks of sunken armadas.  He’d be there where the midnight blue outlines the darkened earth of the mountainsides, while the waters like dark ink with splinters of glass mirror the cloudless sky.

He pinched his nose as he walked out of the gallery. Both teacher and pupil started the road again.

“There are always dark days ahead.  In my case, my arthritis.”

“I was just here for the relics.”  H grinned.

“So did you sign the job offer?”  The professor sat at the park bench and fed the koi fishes in the pond.

“Well, I placed an X mark on it”

Photo by: Biankitty

Notes on Fighting a Good Fight

I drew the shower curtain and found her there, curled up in the dry tub.  It was days now since the time she last spoke to me.  I could imagine her resentment against me and I couldn’t blame her of course, how could I?  In the soft beams of the afternoon sun, I bathed in its modesty, lending me the time for myself outside to catch some air.  Time is a friend that catches on.  And when it does, it leaves you behind uncompromisingly.  Its passing does not protrude to hurt.  Its manifestations need not be heralded.  It makes its own course through the passages of being and existence.

We took the train and exchanged the snuck whiskey during.  I held her close enough to remember or not to forget and snatched some shallow sleep in between stops.  It took several hours to complete the draft.  And I had her read it out loud, so we can both comment on it.  She suggested not changing anything.  It’s always best unadulterated she would say.

In the evenings we would walk up the streets to talk about it — what’s philosophical and objective — on how she would always support me, love me, until we reach the fork of our ways.  I knew It could be that even in the stillness of her voice I heard her say those silent encrypted protests for the unbecoming.  Let’s be like Ed and Anne for good — to be in a place where the roads never end, licenses never expire, and the rides go around and roundabout.

The news came one day.  A friend committed suicide.  Connie took muriatic acid, it was immediate.  No other details shared apart from that.  We haven’t heard from her for a while, we just didn’t realize.

A country musician from Illinois was playing on stage by the time we got there, making use of his larynx as the main instrument in his repertoire.  People who knew Connie were felt compelled to keep her alive until the bar closed at four.  The musician paid tribute to Layne Staley, Lou Reed, and Sinatra too.  It was fitting: life is a life, nonetheless.  It was years after when I saw some of them.  The rest I wrote letters and postcards were mailed back especially around the holidays.

Over rounds of drinks, we were reconciled, at least for a while, in this tragedy we were bound into.  Subtlety always resided with sobriety, while indiscretion and truth were found on the side of the night, always.  Back at the apartment, I phoned a relative just to be sure.  A doctor-on-call was scarce.  Discretion was the key, Intervention was next I suppose.

It’s never going to be perfect, she said.  It’s going to be ugly, and mad, and hysterical.  Her arm was filled while the spirit high.  But flowers wither, rivers eventually run dry.  The colors fade, if not, most eyes will turn the other way.   And if not for these fleeting moments of transcendence, life will never be appreciated on the pedestal of grandeur. That glory, courage, and wisdom, these fragments we hold onto – not reluctance but a mere recognition, a fight if you will — of life not ending but transgressing.

Photo by: Biankitty

Walls

The white walls were all there were.  I was sitting in front of it. At the bedroom table, I was surrounded by all of them. White walls on all sides. Plain as it could get, except for the outdated calendar hanged limply on the southwest side that was about to give out in the faintest blow of the wind. The room was still. Even with open windows, there was no breeze entering at all. No rustling coming from the neighboring trees, neither whistling nor visits from the birds that usually perched on the window sill. The smoke of the cigarette followed the pathless hike, ceiling-bound as it curled in front of my face.  Everything around me was silent as if we were all waiting together for something important to happen.   Thin sheets of clouds were covering most parts of the sky like an oversized gray patch so dull it resembled a clearing of a lahar aftermath.  I decided to rescue an empty coffee container made of glass, to use it as a spare mug should I have visitors coming over.  But I was not expecting anyone that night, or any time soon I figured.  Still, I washed the damn thing anyway and placed it on the drying rack next to a microwavable dish plate.

It was not always like this in fact.  Especially on weekends when the halls outside my room were packed by children running up and down playing and yelling until twilight when their parents call them in for supper. Or at Christmas when my mom and sisters come over to have lunch with me before heading back for Noche Buena, or last summer when I dated someone from work who also lived nearby the sea.  In this vacuum of time I remained, in this void, I lingered, over expanding in the thoughts of my consciousness boundless. I thought I belonged there, it was like a homecoming.  I began to snap my fingers to break the chain.  I could no longer stand the silence.  I walked towards my reflection and saw the lines on my forehead.  Deeper than the last time I remembered them to be, even the placements had changed, it was uncanny.  I didn’t realize that my wrinkles were well-traveled.  And when did they decide to move was unknown to me.  When one was asleep perhaps?  It should be that, lest I would have noticed it moved.

The cream firmed up. I stirred and stirred before it lost warmth.  I leaned over stretching my head to see the other side of the wooden fence below for an acquaintance resting my arms on the balcony.  Then I heard a heavy knocking on the door which caught me off-guard.  At first, I thought somebody saw me peering at the neighbor’s and ran up to my room to tell me off.  But that was too fast of a reaction it was impossible.  I didn’t know who it was behind it, as I said I wasn’t expecting anyone anytime soon.  As I turned to approach the door, I thought it could be the caretaker, or someone from the other units probably borrowing some tools like a Phillips screwdriver or an electrical tape.  People always forget to buy electrical tapes ending up asking the neighbor for some.  And as I came closer, I remembered all of a sudden that I was still in my sleep clothes and thought of putting on something more decent.  So, I did that, throwing in over a sweatshirt although it’s thirty-three degrees that afternoon.

When finally, I turned the knob to open, there stood in uniform a guard from downstairs panting, catching his breath while wiping his massive neck with a face towel.  He has a wide body, probably too big for his shirt and hat, who also was taller than I was.  I gave him a moment before he was able to say that there was a phone call for me at the reception.

“I don’t understand, did the caller leave a name?”

“I’m sorry, I neglected to ask” he responded, finally regaining himself.

“That’s fine, does it sound urgent?”

“It was a woman’s voice, I can’t really tell”

From the living area, I heard the first arrival of the birds perching on the tufts of the sofa.  The leaves rustled for the first time that day.

I invited him in to drink a good glass of cold water and joined my perched friends on the balcony.

Photo by: LJ Jumig

The Steep Climb over the Ridges

She got out of the shower and stood by the doorway soaked. It was hard not to watch her body glisten in the light. She asked me about the fight, on why I over-reacted like that. Obviously, she was upset about the whole thing and I did not want to make matters worse, so I turned the other way. I told her that I didn’t mean to scare her and all, but it’s something that I did not have control over like how I was when I am around her sometimes. Like the polar caps in the heat of the sun, I guess we just simply melt away.

Lightheaded, I asked her if she can go to the front desk to get some fresh bandages and anesthetics. Miles Davis’ Blue in Green was on the static radio. I looked outside and noticed that the moon was a bit distant than the usual. It was turning out to be a really slow night.

When I was about to reach a complete state of deep slumber, I felt a sudden jolt which pulled me right off from respite. And in her softer version of a whisper, she said that we had no time and we ought to be going soon before the sun rises. “Movement is life, and there is no telling what the road holds for us today.”

She was always the wiser one.

I looked around trying to get some grip on what’s going on. My head still felt woozy from the sedatives and vodka I took. On the newsstands, some guy from the government was causing trouble in the south. I then skimmed the column and memorized the name on the byline and thought that the writer was one tough guy to be able to say things like that. And I wished wordlessly, that someday I could be as brave.

We sat down along the roadside by the line of shrubs under the canopy of the trees. The heat was gentle, and the dews were still present on the soft landings of the open leaves. We waited for the first bus trip while drinking cool stale water from our canteens and watching the day unfold. The wound from my head was starting to dry off, a bit painful still, but it was better. Across the benches, there was a sidewalk vendor selling herb oils and healing mantles, who signaled to me for a remedy, but I rather self-heal.

We bought a local wine to get us through the cold by the time we reach the highlands. This helpful advice was taken from an old commuter, whose business was to bring farm and household supplies to the villagers up north. He was a light-hearted fellow with a pair of shiny, rosy cheekbones. We thanked him for the tip and offered if we could buy him a bottle as well, but he respectfully declined and said that he does not drink while working. Instead, he offered his home to us in a couple of days during the cropping of the harvest. And then he added that we could also help out should we want to earn a few pesos or just for the experience. We said we would definitely consider that and thanked him once again for his generosity.

The day was ultimately different compared to the last few days. As if there was something grounded governing those mountains. I never felt so still in my life. And in those moments, I genuinely heard the voice of silence speaking to me, as the waves of the wind carried its message across, it was like an endless cradle of fleeting conversation with nature itself, it was inexplicably serene.

Then I surveyed the scenery around us, from the line of trees with their broken shadows cast on the road to the uneven terrains of the hillside, heaving deep breaths as I began to wonder if the thought of staying has ever occurred to her. And in the midst of this wandering contemplation I suddenly arrived at the conclusion which I have always known, that she was a runaway, and like the great mustangs in the west, she is always meant to run.

And so, I hid these and leaned against her shoulder thankful still.

Internship Paper

I was at the receiving area waiting under a bamboo ornament, for the Colonel — who I was interning for at the time — was concluding unofficial business matters in the other room with a tarot card reader who was also his lover. I kept on looking at my wristwatch hoping it would wind up faster. Earlier that day, he said he had received a phone call from the lady and demanded it imperative that he must come by her place at once. But he couldn’t really say why and therefore I couldn’t, in turn, determine which role portrayal she was on that afternoon. The Colonel was not always this superstitious; matter of fact, he was quite critical and sensible. His decisions have always been based on his years of extensive military service and never believed in anything supernatural. Word was, a few years back, he saw an apparition in the mountains and for days he had fallen ill and had serious episodes of convulsions which ensued from this chain of events, him being rather delirious and “undetermined”. According to the rumors, once, he snuck out of the camp, climbed over the steel fences and was found by roving soldiers talking to barks of trees and wandering about in the shadows. All of these, of course, in respect to his rank, were not stated on the official routine reports.

Flipping through a magazine and chain-smoking, across where I seated were four comfortable looking armchairs each decorated by carefully embroidered apple green throw pillows, of which the designs represented the celebrated animal zodiac of the year. I preferred to stay near the front door where I amused myself with daydreaming and brewing empty, sobering thoughts. The place was always lit red whether it was day or night, and the embellishments on its interiors were limited to beaded curtains, fortune plants, oriental figurines, and wind chimes, which I suppose for the purposes of being economical more than being spiritual. The lady across me was fourth in line and she appeared to be accustomed to the culture of the queue. She was right about mid-forties, had a good posture, and still had good set of teeth. She was with her daughter who appeared to be oblivious on where she was and was absorbed watching videos on her mom’s phone.

I was about to doze off when a fast pacing movement caught my attention and saw the Colonel and the fortune teller crossing the street getting into a white taxi. And it flashed to me the instructions I had received from one of the high-ranking officers to not lose sight of him. Hurrying, I looked over the counter (to make sure), peered through the slightly opened reading room, and figured that they had used the back door.

I saw the Colonel look back from his side of the backseat as if motioning with his expressions that the future has been foretold and everything was out of his hands. I witnessed the slopes of his discontent vanish in the light of the sun that glared on the glass window. In his eyes, I saw the greenest meadowlands on a perfect summer day. I turned the other way, and with earphones on, I walked up those festive streets warm on the eve of Chinese New Year. I turned around and the vehicles behind me were reduced to blurry hazes and bylines. I couldn’t tell where they turned, but in the absence of, something from within welled up, as if a part of me was working again.

Then I remembered the moment I first met the Colonel. It was my internship interview when he started talking about cigars eagerly, about the types of wood, and how the Ilocanos traditionally made theirs. I knew nothing about these of course, but I caught myself nodding between these expanding points. And I thought to myself that I knew him, that he must have had a familiar soul.

Nowadays I still wonder about the Lady and the Colonel. On how she undresses and tucks herself beneath the warm sheets underneath the pale moon. And how the Colonel would watch her and think to himself how beautiful she is especially when she cries. Not that her grief amused him, but it was more about the honesty that shaped her. It was like an encapsulating shell that preserves every piece of humanity that was left there for us to feed on. That fate and luck must have decided to reconcile this time around, amidst chaos and the inevitable misalignments of our limited capacity.

Photo By: Bianca Osorio

Crash

Manuscript

It was cold and windy when he stepped out of the publishing house. While its appearance was uninviting, its cragginess still appealed to him, nevertheless. Although its elevators no longer worked after the last world war, the staircases were wide and generous, while windows were tall, quite suitable for thinking and writing.

He thought it was indescribable what he felt holding the manuscript finished in his hands. Links of sleepless food stalls wailed, and prolific choreographed routines of evening companions for hire flooded the atmosphere. Artists of all sorts stood around at the corners performing, while middle-aged men who’d rather refer to themselves as aficionados lounged in wicker chairs on narrow alleys.
It was four days before his birthday, exactly two weeks after the car accident. And although the doctors told him he was lucky, the experience still attracted him. It gave him something to look forward to, a journey to profoundly aspire for.

 

Accident

He was driving west in the rain when the car swerved off the freeway until it tumbled off the cliff and dived. It was a hard rain, he couldn’t see. Half conscious, he thought it was beautiful, how the dark, electric blue flashes in the patches of the clouds would entertain him while he waited for the sirens to come.

 

Haircut

When he got discharged, the first thing he thought about was getting a haircut. Nothing grand, just good old-fashioned clean haircut. Grooming was after all his pilgrimage back to civilization. It was how humanity saw it, he wanted to compromise.

 

Train

As he strolled there was a hint of rain in the air. A few swelling beads of raindrops crackled onto his leather coat just about when he reached the turnstile to catch the late-night train.
In this pluvial darkness he pulled up his collar close, and the lapels which overlapped across his chest warmed him. A few celebratory drags then he flicked the cigarette half-done to the puddle, staying with it as he watched it hiss before entering the station.

Just the same, even after all, he still thought it was a good time for a drive, but he could not. Instead, he imagined steering the wheel in the darkness through the same night until he catches the first light of the next day. As he stood on the platform, he thought about how the rain will wash away the world clean as it always did. There were a few lines that he wanted to write her, regrets even. But he couldn’t. His hands are failing him.

Photo by: Bianca Osorio

Fender Bender

A friend once told me “do not try to fend off the good” apparently this has always been my problem according to her.  Given that it is non-clinical, and it has encroached upon the merits that it is all based on pure alcohol-induced speculation, I guess, I should believe her prognosis.

“Everyone is a character, in a plot of this book told by a satyr or a romantic.  You could either live lavishly like the Divers or die tragically valiant like El Sordo defending the Spanish hilltops.”

But I was not anywhere near any of it.  I could no longer see fit to entwine myself to the life of a poet.  Sure, I still believed in desserts and an occasional ticket pass to the pictures, but I seemed to have lost something between the sweet taste and the closing credits.

From a table napkin dispenser, she withdrew a couple of sheets that she used as a substitute for parchment paper.  She could have written an entire volume on them had it not been for the limiting light from the blue screen monitor overhead.  I can’t remember what exactly she wrote there, knowing her, she could have probably written something about the cooling waves under the moon in those sultry nights or something about a duck.  She wrote happily, and lived, and coyed with the boys her age, she did it all.  She was a God.

Until one day she ran away with an older boy whom she met in a smoky room.  I can still remember that night quite well; they were smoking by a dying fluorescent lamp under a frameless Joan Jett poster taped on a wall.  I never had the chance to talk to her about that in fact, and I reckoned that we must like we used to in the past.  There was an occasion when I saw her in the middle of a crowd somewhere in Cubao, I knew it was her; she had a Mao cap on, carrying a canvas tote.

I guess for now I will just have to see her in our conversations, in her stories, or perhaps this time, among the pages of my fictions, until then.

The Visit (homage)

It echoed to her, ringing into her ears.  Circling, hovering in the air suspended.  A thought that lingered, a shadow cast, a return mail, or perhaps in this case of her’s, a puzzle piece that she’d rather not complete. On the side table sat a half-filled glass of water and a mat of aspirins accented by the crumpling of drugstore receipts.  She got up but not quite making it and leaned against the two giant pillows propped on the wall. The day was not over yet, the soft glow of twilight brimmed across the wide horizon making the sky flushed up in that gentle orangery burst.

Her body was warm, a leg was bent, and both arms sagged across the bed. The wrinkles of the undone fitted sheets gave out, it was almost dark, and she was turning into a bat.  A familiar musk of which only a man could produce made her senses and her entire anatomy felt defensive.  She dabbed on her side hesitantly, lips were half open, curious words stifled by this uninvited ambiguity. She can hear innocence and lightness in the breathing that accompanied her. It was dry and rhythmic, almost melodious in tone.  It got louder as she leaned forward, causing her head braced.

She then dragged her fingertips quietly forward until finally, they had contacted a crooked body.

“It is not a dream” She thought. “But I do not know this man”.  She pricked herself again and again – for sometimes she would wake in a dream and would wander off in another.

“I slept the day away. But why aren’t you scared silly? Alas! At the very least weirded out by all this, stupid…” She gasped and slowly moved back to her side and tapped her left sole first onto the floor to get into her bedroom slippers.

Half an hour past she walked toward the table that stood by the open window, dragging a trail of blanket behind her, covering herself to the chest.  She waited there staring at the burrowed face on her bed, behind the mosquito net beneath the moonglow that showered through the faint curtains. This woke the crooked body and arose almost in stealth, propped on its arms on the sides.

This time she can see him, but not entirely.  Half of his chest and most of his being were concealed, unshared. But there was nothing to show, it spoke finally. “It is I, Juliana” his tone low and suited the sultry tropical weather.  He was just a faceless man, not of the flesh but made of stencils, and paints, and narratives – a figment of her imagination, an absolute manifestation of her mind.

Surely, she was not running a high fever to cast this delirious persona she checked.

The dream if it were, was surprisingly placid, she rationalized.

Behind the scaffolding, a grimy mirror on the mahogany closet held her reflection.  And she traced the light of the night outlined her shape, the slope of her forehead, the swell on her chest, and the rugged top knot of a painter’s panache she was sporting.

She was humbled by what she knew – She saw the sketching of the skies, the molding from clay, a creation of someone else’s dream.

She reopened a note she retrieved from the drawer and read:

“Let us linger in time before things disintegrate completely before us like paper in the rain.  Perhaps it will help you remember.   With complete vigor and youthful view round the backseats, as we drove up north, and decided on how you and I should face each other, now, then, in front of, or miles apart, we will always be the same people who we chose to be.  Like our favorite characters in those films.  So, I’ll see you there, amour.” 


The Visit

Photo By: Bianca Osorio

404

The wind was all about him. Kerosene lamps lit the huts, while generators for the volunteer canopies.  He got down on one knee and felt the lifeless ground beneath his palm.  The earth was frozen, gray, and forlorn, as if barren.  It labored the imminent misery that it will carry for the remainder of its time while the quiet and the unbidden tears, all the faithful disobedience – to not go this time – will be forcibly tucked to oblivion. No, not this time, or perhaps he was wrong. There were no second chances there he thought, only a time for reclusion, to mourn, and to dream infinitely in solitude. In the soft cradles of midnight blue overhead, and the casting light in the drowsy river, gentle and sparkling, overflowing champagne in November. Square miles of farm grass yielded their blades – in pine or in the shade of moss – glowing in that blue and deep night. It called for him, and it did not hold back. It was restless like how the sea waves submit in the time of the monsoon. And the black hole, and the super-clusters and the entire universe held in reverse in the eyes of those who lay half-awake in their sleeping bags by the fire.  While the scudding clouds pushed by resentment, and indifference, and incoherence. Dancing the waltz or celebrating a solemn procession during Lent. However so, these days were his, for the first time he knew for sure.  When he felt the pounding life force on his chest when his veins were streamed with perpetual devotion to just breathe, and lead, to command, and write, and work with his bare hands, with ink, and thoughts, and sheer brute, and absolute resolve.

Lest the world will crumble away easily.

Slow walking, he made a promise to himself.  To never return, for it could no longer, ever, reclaim the innocence it once had.  The cold north breeze crept beneath at the beginning from the foot of the brown hills, now patient and almost still. It won’t be hurried; a mother nursing what soon will be morning dews. As if it was a craft, or poetry, a prayer for the divine.

She walked behind him, sidled and handed him the canteen. He drank from it and he felt the warm liquid gushing through his insides.

He had to get some air he said.  As he looked down to his feet, he thanked her for the thought. Half of her face was shrouded by an emerald light from the east, and you can see hair tufts on her nape. She crouched on a slight slanting, overlooking the patches of shrubs across the plain distance.

From afar, the moon gleamed over the tent canvas and the red nylon textiles were tender, subdued. On the mountainside, a significant clearing has been made to open up pathways for the recovery plan. One can barely make out the remains of the clipped bird.

He felt this overbearing weight in his lungs. Perhaps it was the residues of the stench, of dead rats mixed with the smell of cold rusts.  He was flying back to Manila before sunrise.

“You did really well.  You should take that with you, always”.  She consoles.

“But the weird thing is, and you must forgive me for saying… I think I have only known you now after all these years. I can’t really put a finger on it, but it was as if you were someone else.”

“The meeting of parallels” He retorted.

“Tell me more about it, when we’re done here.”

“That’s for sure.”

The long ride back was fast and smooth as soon as they reached the national highway. She drove him to the free airfield in a service truck, also to fetch the succeeding waves of rescuers flying in. The thick blowing winds muffled their ears and preferred not to talk much all throughout the drive. And when they reached the guard post, she waved her identification card at the officer to open the barrier gate, pulling over to the nearest parking space by the tarmac.

He tucked her hair behind her ears and kissed her on the forehead. They both felt warm as they wrapped arms around each other wordlessly and smiled before turning around.  He saw her leaning against the grill, looking sunward until he can no longer see her.

Back at the apartment, he sat at the corner by the telephone rack. And he looked around the room filled with words and labels from household appliance brands he rarely uses, stacks of western shoe-boxes, construction company calendars, double-ply toilet paper, a notepad and a courtesy pen from a hotel.

Behind the glass window, he stared at the conniving sky and wished for it to fall.

Film Debut

Power lines and phone cables decorated the streets, outlining the power grid, exposing how hideous the entire city planning was done. It was as if a severe case of varicose veins has decided to show up on someone’s leg. Overpopulation or just good old apathy to decongest caught in a time warp — this underdeveloped third world country is stuck in the past; its economy relies heavily on taxes, and the promiscuity of the moviegoers, who also prefer reading current events on sleazy tabloids with monochrome centerfolds. The strands of this electrical network which hang suspended across the intersecting roads of Manila resemble the humorless tangles of squid ink pasta.

A young man is casting overly animated shadows as he walks out through the sitios. Careful not to disturb the unsuspecting underage delinquents sniffing solvents in plastic bags, he deliberately stays on the other side of the street. And as he makes his turn to the back alley, a thick invisible body of stench welcomed him. Cat or human piss (or probably mixed) and what seemed to be a byproduct of decomposing manure occupied his nostrils.

His backpack is fully packed that it suggested to anyone seeing him that he is going somewhere real far.  A second bag was slung over across his chest, on his right shoulder, as he also wears a trucker hat that conceals his face. As he trod along, he felt this unadulterated fixation to get away. He fidgeted an unlit cigarette on his thigh as he waited for the next bus trip in the terminal. Flies swarm around the flickering fluorescent light above the ticket booth, as the stout cashier behind the window is watching the late night news, just waiting for the night shift guy to take over. An image of a young Jesus with wilted sampaguitas strung around its neck is standing next to a jade frog with a coin in its mouth.

The looming darkness is like the devouring of the world by a giant fish god and Adam is beneath the ceiling of its mouth.  Adam stared blankly into the night sky and thought about Jonah from the bible. He imagined what it felt like to stay inside the belly of an enormous fish.  If had it been true, Jonah must have felt really bored from all the waiting to be digested that he must have counted the number of rib bones it had to kill time.  His theology teacher Mrs. Paraiso insisted that it was probably a whale that saved him.  It would have been such an exciting book if it was a Megalodon or the Lockness creature instead. This he playfully mused until a long-legged prostitute walked on by and signaled to him to employ her.

He could have said yes to her, not because he wanted her but because he was dying of boredom. Instead, he lit the cigarette and welcomed the quiet. He closed his eyes and can almost hear the thick whooshing sound of the sea hurling itself onto the shore. He imagined in awe the continents and the golden beaches they visited. He saw the sun basking Africa and wondered if there were lions walking on the shore.  And between the crashing of the waves and hauling of the winds, was this lingering beat within him that stretches on so.

All of a sudden the night was so tranquil that it appeared that the world is on Valium.

He decluttered his mind and found no trouble reacquainting with loneliness. He is used to the transient nature of human beings. People leave all the time. And even if they did not, he always felt alone.  But the reason for his ongoing departure has got nothing to do with clinical depression or some weird existential crisis even. For him, the night is a friend that dismisses away scars, who truly never minds, and he appreciates that. And it dawned on him as if it was a feeling of joy almost forgotten that finally, he has escaped his life. “Freedom” he gasped with relief.

This decision just came to him like some divine apparition. He just woke up one night from a dream and decided that he wasn’t going anywhere unless he was to do things his way finally.  When he reached the port a dark-skinned man was standing on the gangplank counting the passengers coming in. His face was so oily you can sauté something on it. Adam approached the man and asked to be admitted and paid for the fare. Now that they are standing face to face, he thought he resembled Seal for some reason.  A porter sidled through the passing crowd and asked Adam if he needed help with his bags.  He refused and told him that he can manage his carry on, and this has caused the porter’s reaction to distort a little as he departed to chase another passenger.  Even if he wanted to, he needed to limit his spending after all.  He went on board and climbed the stairwell to the second level and found himself a bunk bed by the railing so he can smoke whenever he decides to. He then placed his bags against the steel bar, strapped it securely and placed the pillow to cover them.

His parents always knew what’s best for him. Took care of everything he ever needed growing up. The dad is one of the most decorated generals in the armed forces while the mom owns a chain of uprising salons in the metro. Through the years, he lived under the strict patriarchal regime of his father. He always did keep outstanding grades, to avoid the litany on how his father worked his way up doing manual labor for just about anything to finish school.  Adam did as they told him.  But he didn’t feel close to them at all.  He felt that he was just a responsibility to them. Or perhaps just another life project that needed to be fulfilled.

For the most part of living together, they let him watch too much television in exchange for the assimilation.  Adam has fallen in love with films.

Adam’s discovery of his fascination with cinema happened when he first saw Jaws airing on channel 5. It was the feature blockbuster Sunday movie.  The voice from the television box said that it was the best way to cap the weekend. Good thing it was scheduled after the evening mass, giving him just enough time for the family dinner, to brush his teeth, and change into his night clothes.  Locally aired programming normally takes longer than it should be because of interrupting advertisements for product promotions. His dad said it is the only way that broadcasting networks could make real money. Adam hated these.

Somehow, watching that great white unleashed its merciless tendencies helped him dispense his own inhibitions and all the frustrations holed up inside him.  For him, the shark was not the monster, it was something else.

Rows of uneven waves calmly rally across the surface of the sea with faint midnight moon-gleam wrapping over them. White foams are trailing behind the ferry, and the refracted light heralded the arrival of the new set of migrating waves. He looked around from the deck view and noticed that the night was blue and dark and it was also patient.

Right across the island, Sammy de la Pena is standing at the harbor waiting for the arrival of the eleven o’clock ferry.  He has a receding hairline and claims that his relationship with his hair was just a summertime fling.  He wears thick-lensed glasses with heavy black folding frames to make people take him seriously on the right occasion. His revolting checkered cardigan made him visible to Adam from a mile away.  His assistant named Pierre is waiting in a boxed-type sedan and was told to keep the motor running. Pierre has five kids and a nagging wife. He sidelines as a security detail for Sam, sometimes a temp lover to earn more money.

Sam met Adam as he walked down the ramp and reached for his bag. This time Adam allowed to be helped. He finally cracked a smile as the excitement was brimming out of him.  He took the back seat of the car and quick introductions were made by Sam and they drove to the nearest coastal pub where they serve fresh crabs and delicious buttered shrimps.  At the bar, Sam ordered two beers and a platter of sizzling minced pig ears and a glass of ice.  The barkeep nodded and placed a ceramic ashtray between them. Beads of sweat were noticeably gathering on Adam’s forehead as he scraped the paper napkin onto his face.

“So, can I see it then?”  Sam asked.

Adam reached down under the table where his bags are and pulls out a clamped manuscript. His face was flushed. “Here, but it’s not finished yet” He modestly injected.

“What’s it about?”

“It’s a story about the struggles in a war period”

“Is there a love scene in it?”

“The protagonist has a romantic interest, yes, if that’s what you mean.”

“There should be at least a couple of those in it, that’s what sells. Anyway, I’ll have Pierre take a look at it. He knows what to do. I mean he knows my taste.” He grinned audaciously at the subject of reference.

Pierre looked away, his jaw closed tight and his hand pressing onto his leather clutch bag sitting next to his leg.

Photo by LJ Jumig

 

The Crude Process of Manufacturing Sunlight

The newspaper was already wilted however a bit damped when he picked it up from the bricked doorway, as moisture and its current state were gracious enough to provide a little dose of personality, if not, originality for once.  He turned to the better side of the house, where a huge window and its shutters are always left open.  He carefully laid the paper flat on the marble top table by the industrial fan, where his old collection of fiction also stands.  An ornamental indoor plant on the window shaft was portraying a role of a desperate 8 to 5 employee, ready to jump, who has nothing else left to live with.  Until now, for some bizarre reason, or just a mere lack of concern, he still does not know what that plant is called, in the same order wherein he subconsciously decided a long time ago to not bother to know about anything trivial anymore.

So the information about how this plant has never bloomed for over a year now will not be of useful information to him anyhow as well.

In the sun the fine prints of the paper were like an impressive army of elite black ants in formation without his reading glasses.  And when he looks around the study and his living room, the place appears to be translucent, like an over magnified cooked onion.

For him, a true meaning of an idea or a tangible mass, its actual physical tendencies, everything about it is always going to be arguable, therefore.  Either we accept that or we turn to the crude process of manufacturing sunlight.

Through the passages of fiction, he took the time and lived there for the time being.  He has lived many lives in varying folds, characters and colors. He had discovered infinity and had access rights to polygamy.   His leftover meal has gone cold on the white ceramic plate, and he has skipped to dessert apparently. Wooden shutters slapped against the facade of the bungalow, on its broad porch as he was also tuning in.  He tapped his shoes along with it, to its rhythmic syncopated beating that for him was real jazz.

Neighbors can’t get a good read on him.  For them, he was odd and overly peculiar.  His wife left him be for most of the time, and would rather talk only over supper and breakfast.

But kids are genuinely fond of him. In fact, they treat him as equals.  He was in every truth of the term, “one of them”.  He wasn’t the mentor type or someone who would dispense life altering profound advices.  He just taught them how to put just enough grease on their hair, how to fix things like simple water pipes or how to build wooden pushcarts and change deflated tires.

He wasn’t an important man in the community, nor decided to be one.  In fact, whether or not he believed it to be, he was just a romantic with the obvious knack for indifference.  He currently lives in the past and through the pages of his magazines, newspaper, and paperbacks.

Just another ghost like us.

Over the Blue-Tiled Roofs

I went out onto the main street where I breezed the sidewalk on the opposite side of where the sun shone. Rose gold rays warmly set in through the apartment windows and the narrow concrete walkways were relatively empty and yet to be bustled. Sure, a few cars jostled across here and there, but the town was sleepy considering, while breakfast cafés were putting up menu signs for the day and folding gazebos were set up at the marketplace beneath the shade of the trees along the hedges. The unloading vegetable jeepneys and meat canter trucks pulled over and went, as people shook hands and chattered before bidding goodbyes.

Summer has just begun, and another school year has ended.  Kids help out with the chores at the nearby fruit stands and novelty thrift shops. I know most of the owners by name, and some are considered dear friends.  As I watched them go about their day, I settled in under a cool shade, reading an overdue paperback from a local library.  I figured I had at least an hour before the scheduled rendezvous, so I took my time leisurely, drinking a cup of creamed coffee.

A flower girl held a basket full of mixed banaba and yellow gumamelas as offerings to the virgin of the grotto. She held the hand of an elderly, whose I would assume was of her grandmother’s, while lanky male tourists wearing board shorts and loose shirts walked past by me, peering through the food stalls at the corner street. They appear to have been around for at least a week by the looks and tone of their tan.

Over the blue-tiled roofs, the sun is now higher into the horizon, outlining the sky. The wind then picks up, as I walked up the slanting road, until leveling off onto the commercial part of the district. Standing on a tall escalator, pairs of lower limbs in jeans and skirts tripled before me through the reflection on the glass balustrade panels. I elbowed the rail as I ascended to the upper landing where I was bound.

When I approached the reception, I was told to sit down on the couch, under where a huge abstract painting hangs. The lady behind the desk was nice enough and made me feel I was being expected. Her warm accommodation was very much complimented by her soft voice. Somehow, I just couldn’t remember her face anymore, as if what was left is just a memory of an embroidered crest on her office jacket and the apple cut hair that she was sporting.

I stared at the enormous painting to kill time, examining it the best I could and thought about what it meant. I never quite understand what abstracts were all about, or how one should feel about them particularly.

When the time has come, I was led to a room at the end of the hall.  The decorative paneling was made of oak and the lighting was elegantly positioned and unnecessarily excessive.  I was behind the receptionist when the door was opened, and a man was waiting for me inside, leafing through some paperwork as he went to me and reached out his hand. He always had a good grip.

University certificates were delicately framed, not a hint of dust on them.  There was a fabric ward divider that stood at one side for changing and paper brochures neatly spread out atop the receiving table, with a picture of a happy looking couple on them.

“Let’s get on with it shall we?” I suggested.

“Lots of good things to see today”

 

Cake

A heavy downpour was reportedly on its way, but we reckon that we still have a couple of hours to discuss the matter on hand.  Well, he first saw her on a crowded elevator, midway to his floor.  He eventually braved the odds and spoke to her after a few more encounters which turned out to be a positive thing that he did.  He was always proud of that and would boisterously tell friends at dinner tables or after a few rounds of drinks during the weekend literature meetings held at his place.

He would occasionally talk about how it went on down to the very last detail and how this series of pleasing events would make him write about her. Unsolicited, he also does recite poetry whenever he feels like and claims that the taste of rice has just become sweeter. Clinical or not, I think a sort of madness has stricken him.

It was exactly a month from today since the last time I had cake.  I have almost forgotten its taste; how soft the texture is like exactly whenever I gorge a mouthful while smoking a stick of cigarette.  And so, I agreed to go out today.

We live near to each other, practically a good stone’s throw away. He was at the door for a good fifteen minutes before I reluctantly answered back.

I crammed my pockets with keys, phone, and a few changes, quickly pulling a jacket on. I took a deep sigh as I braced myself before stepping out.  In the sun, I can see more visibly the tufts on my coat and the highway lines of my skin. Invariably despising this idea almost immediately, but there was also a hint of mood that stirred inside me. All of a sudden, I became somewhat excited to see the moonglow and thought about spring.

On the reflection of the glass, my eyes followed a line of ants marching across the pane until I could no longer see where they were heading.

We were standing in the cold, at the front of a jewelry store.  This younger friend asked me to choose which one he should buy her. Our hands were tucked deep in our pockets, nursing to their feeble quakes.

I told him he was stupid, and we should buy cake now.

Photo by F. Osorio
Photo by F. Osorio

Telegram

An afternoon coffee was served at exactly 04:30, precisely how it was done ever since the pension house opened. But today they were serving 2 for 1 to compensate for the low foot traffic.  She was alone by the sea breeze and mused about the other dreamers who sat there at the same table over the years and wallowed about the tides that had brought to them.  On the prints of each page, she graciously borrowed a steady meaning and sipped the reflection of the setting sun from a coffee cup.

When other couples have regular date nights, this was hers.  For her, she was married to the sea.  They never did celebrate anniversaries, nor have consistent birthday dinners, but never once did she skip their summers together.  Here, they exchanged glances for the longest time while tasting its kiss through the salt in the wind.  She lingered in its arms, longer than most men she slept with, and they made love so endlessly in the enveloping formation of curls and foams.

She will not grow weary of her.

And she wondered how she got there, and she thought about her mom.  Her parents raised her well, gave her good education, and taught her that grace and humility far exceed any talent in the world. And for her, their most precious gift was her well-traveled feet that led her shadows home.

One of the guests walked through the beaded blinds decorated with seashells and surveyed the sunburned faces in the room.  Her face was veiled by the shade of the baseball cap brim and her temples were draped by her long dark hair.  She was carrying a messenger bag and a gray hoodie hanged limp on its sling.

The guest walked past her while calling out her name.  Her complexion was mid-toned.

They caught each other’s eyes and locked for a while.

From afar, the lines of their lips broke apart in turns. The words fell out so silently and there were no movements apart from that.

Life was not perfect, so she realized, but so is the cratered moon.

She was introduced to contempt for the first time.

sea

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.

Under the Kindness of the Dark

The pictures rolled past by me suddenly like some distant, familiar memory that kept on coming back only they were not mine to take.  An inkling of white foam now forms at the corner of my lip as I drowsed.  I must have dreamt some good dreams then.

Under the blanket of the deep black night, it arrived at me that my body felt quite differently.  As if lifted and cured of its illnesses, it hardly felt any pain, relieved of its mortal weight and protracted weariness after not sleeping for years.

The wipers thud swinging back and forth like clockwork while the rain pelted the pane relentless like splatted kamikaze pilots.  The howls of the wind seep through my ears, taking me while I sank in the backseat of the car with my knees held a little too close to my chest.  My half-opened eyes leveled with the chrome window sill as they pried into the gush of the rain.

A million and one headlights drew towards us on the highways.  Lights brighten up wide upon each approach as if a production line of salutation and courtesy.

She sang along soundlessly with the song that came out of the FM radio.  She had her face on, of faint rose petal red, evenly toned on her cheekbones and a bit heavier on her lips.  Her black laced eyes were crawling over their lids like beautiful insects in the night.

Behind the glass, the world was colorful and opaque, and imageless.

Studded with red hexagon lights, golden circles and pulsars of bright greens, they lined up neatly at the same time blurted in random.  There was poetry in chaos after all.

Residues of droplets obscured the view on all sides.  It was of another universe.

The seats smelt of cheap pine car freshener, lazily covering the stench of uncleaned upholstery.

She leaned against my left shoulder and pressed her face against it, as if lifeless.

She must have had preferred the smell of cigarette smoke on my sleeves, it felt safe.

And at that moment, I could almost tell her everything and more.

Then it would not matter how terribly things went.

She cradled a thermos for coffee, for the light of the sun and the little things left forgotten.

So, we may never have to close these wandering eyes anymore.

Not anymore.

wp-1476562596835.jpg

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 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

The Wanton Club

They ended up sitting around at the corner table under the collage of 11×14 black and white photographs taken in random, but the pictures were more ornamental than art.  The corrosive sea salt carried from the ocean nearby, turned the wooden panels on the walls bleak yet somehow complimented the rustic ambiance the place was going for.  And from time to time, a cool heavy wind wafted outside, chasing away the sultry remainders of the afternoon sun.  There was an idle sort of atmosphere in the motorways, making its way through the open windows of the establishment.  On the background was the occasional thin clanking sound of coins dropping from the insides of a pay telephone and there were thick drizzles throbbing against the rubber canopy roof spread out over the restaurant door, suggesting that the hard rain will arrive anytime soon.

The place was in a residential area, standing between the surrounding towering trees that grow around the vicinity. Invariably there were just quite a few customers who went there.  The tall windows were locked shut but usually left open when the rain is out, to entice people to swing by for a meal or a nightcap.  The wooden ceiling fan slowly spun above the patrons, suspended in the center of the room. The four friends ordered wanton soup as always.

As they waited, they can’t help but pay an occasional glance at the direction of the runny window pane.

The pluvial night sky was a usual sight, especially during this season. No reported storm was coming in though.  None of them spoke after the ceremonial chatter and catching up, the four of them fell silent, lost in their own thoughts but it was not the kind that was thick and indifferent. It was a natural thing for longtime friends, especially since they have discoursed about everything going on with their lives to the point that there was nothing to talk about anymore at the moment.  It was not a pact or something they have imposed as a rule between them. It’s just that they can’t seem to keep any secrets from each other.

There were even fewer guests that night.  There was an overweight guy mulling over a saucy steak with a beer mug at the bar area and a couple tourists with their nine-year-old daughter quietly having dinner.   The guy at the bar was used to be a professional swimmer. He was supposed to compete in a regional tournament, but during an uneventful twist of fate some years ago, on the eve of the qualifiers after practice, he was caught in a car accident causing a severe and permanent injury on his right shoulder.  This has prevented him to compete ever since.  He works as a lifeguard at the nearby beach and occasionally coaches aspiring children.

The couple was relatively young, still in their twenties. They met during a party on an island in the south.   Life was tough, and so good money was hard to earn.  Consequentially the husband worked longer hours and even did double shifts if it need be, that it has gotten to a point that the two hardly spoke to each other.  This trip was supposed to be their chance to fix whatever was left broken.

I rolled up my sleeves and peered through a nearly empty beer glass tilting it a bit sideways.  The beads were all over its cold sweaty surface as I gently wiped them off using my fingertips.  And through the glass, I see the reflection of my friends blended in the low stream of light dawning softly onto its body causing the images to distort.  The only thing that remained unchanged was the hot soup filled with sodium, which we were about to devour.

TWC

The Night Express

It was by this time that the thick evening sky has completely draped the entire city as if a giant palm has cupped the world to a close. With only a part of the moon slightly showing between the bisecting portions of the clouds, other than that it was an odd dark night comparing to the others.  While a cool drowsy breeze from the direction of the sea was gently wafting onto my skin, I pulled the collar closer to the nape while walking around back to the side of the building where employees go to smoke. I had no complaints; it was the next best thing to anything counted as a good dessert, capping a well-deserved late-night meal after a long tiring shift at work.  I work nights during the weekends, probably- subconsciously happy about it, as there were not many people there and it is a lot tranquil and I could play music without putting my earphones on.  I did not mind the short strolls around the retired empty streets of the business district whenever I need to; in fact I like it better as it is now than how they are during the day when rushing pedestrians on autopilot crowded the streets like fire ants on a mission while the sidewalks flooded by real estate agents and other sorts of company representatives handing out brochures that people don’t really read about.

The lamp posts gleam with a faint orangery hue that made everyone walking under them look a little better than they should be. It was some sort of an emboss to add a thrilling texture to the characters from a movie. Add a little mystery to an ordinary story and it will be worth telling.

This is why I like nights better.  Think about it, people are a bit more honest at night than they truly are during the day. Ever wonder why it always seems easier to confess a feeling to a lover at night? Or why the conscience is always there lurking wide awake during the wee hours of the dark?

I struck a match to light a cigarette and puffed out a train of smoke to the ground. A gloomy looking guy in his Pink Floyd shirt appears from the corner where the brighter side of the building was.  It was an old friend that I haven’t spoken with for a long while.  We used to go home together when taking off from work, but he got transferred to another department which meant he also had to work on a different shift.  The only time we get to see each other is during the weekends when I get to work on the same shift as he is. But even that prevented us to talk since we hang out with a different set of friends which we both don’t really like, or too busy with our work assignments that time did not allow us to.  At first, I thought it was to be a complete drag, being on your own, but it was what it was, and I got along quite well with solitude eventually.

We did not need words nor do anything to express that we were glad to see each other after some time.  It was an implied understanding between two longtime friends.  We practically grew up together.

I could not tell what if it was age or the night itself that diluted us to be this glum.  We used to be a lot louder when we were in college.  We were in our late twenties now, and we should not be acting this way, at the very least not yet.

“Remember the time when I used to work as a delivery guy for a fast food chain during summer some years ago?”  He laid his back flat against the concrete wall beside the stainless ashtray while staring at the towering condominium columns which stood two blocks away from where we were.  They were like in competition among themselves.

“You’d be surprised how many of those people up there are placing orders every night.” He followed.

“I don’t know what exactly, either they just like to stay up late, or they live reverse lives as we do. But it’s quite strange just the same; the phones ring off the hook for delivery orders. There was a time that we had to hire extra night riders just to cope up with the demand” He says, as he reached for the pack of cigarettes in his pocket and lit one.

There was a strange sullen look on his face for a moment, and he quickly gave out a huge laugh finally breaking the silence and threw a soft punch on my left arm.

“Glad you are still there inside that shell, how’s everything back home, how is she?” I responded.

“You know we are not the type who talks about this stuff right?”  He replied cracking a half smile.

“Right.” I affirmed.

“But do you reckon that people just simply like your food? “Returning to where he left off.

“Uh-uh, I don’t think it was that at all.” Shaking his head.

“Did you know that there was a study that we may be physiologically programmed to eat cookies at night?”

“So, are we like monsters after dusk?” I asked smiling.

“Sort of.”  He flicked the burnt butt towards the direction of the bin and fell silent for a while.

“Hmm, interesting, but aren’t we all?”  I asked aimlessly.

The dark of the night seemed to have added a colder heavy temperature as we stood there.

I placed both hands together while holding the almost done cigarette and we started walking.

We crossed the road where the PED XING sign hangs over the island of the intersecting streets.

As we were threading on midway, a fast single-delivery motorcycle zipped on by behind us.

Night Express

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.

Crimson Spectacle, Over Blue

You once told me that you wanted to run with me, across the tree-shaded slopes, to the hilltops just to have a taste of what you would always refer to as a real lover’s breath. I remember you doing an animated reenactment of what was going to be like when you pouted your lips kissing the clouds in the sun. You readied your pack and slung it over your shoulders, convinced even without a map or a plan, as you stood by the open door warming your palms with your own breath.

And the new day was breaking, your face was shrouded with the dark remnants of the night.

“Let us forget all about last night” you said.  You looked so beautiful like the dawn.  I knew I’d follow you.

The last nail was hammered down shut, we hear.  Nameless boxes will be buried in the backyard for now.  Salt will preserve, eventually.

For today will be like a tourniquet, it will be just like before you promised “no added preservatives”.

The funny thing about faith is that you lose yourself sometimes in the process or most if you are that lucky.

A solace, I would say.

I finally got you talking about it, for me, that is always a good thing.  To talk.

More when there is not much else to converse about.

And in that amazing display of human feat, we almost believed that it can still be overturned.

Despite of apathy and miseducation.

And you whispered like it was an open prayer, that you hoped for your camera could capture cancer, truth, and suffering.  All the time.

I leaned closer, sitting next to you on the steps of your front door, and looked at the universe which was inside of you.  And it was vast, expanding.

The space between us allowed me to heave a deep sigh.  And I was grateful for the chance, to leap without accord.

But I guess we are knit together by frequency and attuned with pure will.  So, we went uphill, marched to muster courage for acceptance and discernment.   We stayed up for hours where the sky hangs and the clouds glide.

Tonight, the city waits, and we will swift through beneath its feet and overhead, like a breeze that will fender off the dust that blanket the roof decks and the muddled streets.

It is time to wipe my glasses clean and replace the blunt pencil with ink.

Baler

 

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

Buoyancy in the Stillness of Everything

“Forget about the charm, just seize the quaintness of an aging photograph. “– Everything was so still, life in suspended animation.

I held it with me with a date written on the back to remind me of a distant time.

As I looked forward to the next morning sun on my face, I packed a few clean shirts and a container with just enough water in my bag.

The universe mocked, as the sky scowled a crooked thunderbolt ripped the horizon in half. “Tonight, the sky is a misunderstood friend.”

Of a prayer to disintegrate into a thousand-word declamation blemishing on paper, I heard a feeble shush from the faint rain. So, in the tides of the sheets, I went back, to wrap this inability to hold a vessel.

With all the leaps and the summersaults, all the remnants of the night, and the unheralded voyages to the slumber permissive night, my indecision was there to await me in the morning. But I guess the days will decide for themselves, however it is.

For people do not change much. We always think that we do, but truly we don’t.  We are merely the different versions of ourselves, like a book, today is a chapter, tomorrow is another.

I have seen this before, I knew this from somewhere very familiar. On a cold windy evening, I once placed my head against the table next to a drink.  In shame, my body curled voluntarily. But in a dream, she chose to forget about my crimes. “No need for tears tonight.” She assured the frail.

And that made me feel better for a while — a momentary relief. I could almost taste again the salt of the ocean. I knew I heard it, and I was glad and yet reluctant to indulge as if I was held back by something.

I called upon the falling stars twice, along with the long howling of a mutt outside the window. I guess she was cold too, the moon revealed finally.

The satellites and the fireworks began to dabble, bleeding into the skies playful, while the girl on TV in her black-laced dress was smiling upon the blinding flash of silver nitrate.

Just for one more incendiary sight.

They made love by the frenzied colors of lights made of transparent glasses and endless promises. The romantics feast on the unspoken sonnets and unpublished narratives. How it was different from the nights before was never made known to me, nor it was spelled significant.

I clung onto this ideology as if it was an imperative biological necessity.

I was up before dawn. The pavement held glittery fragments of the stars.

The rain must have shattered them on their way through.

Clear Blue Passing

As I was walking out the door, I looked back and turned to ask if he wanted anything for me to bring back. But the question thrown was unrequited although he was facing toward my direction. The stares were hallowed, but definitely not empty, as if his thoughts were elsewhere distant, undisclosed and unknown even to the visitor himself.

On the bedroom side table sat a perspiring glass of cold water that resembled a window pane on a cold rainy day. Its life was refuted by the stack of past dated panorama magazines, sandy old newspapers and the emptied coffee cups with their stained ceramic coasters.  And though it appeared that the drink was only fitting to remedy the hot afternoon weather, the readied beverage somehow implied not to be needed at the time, that the quench yearned for was not to be passed through the drought and the landlocked throat of this weathered bedridden character, but instead, of another it seemed.

He had a decent height, he came from a good family line. The soles of his feet were callused by resolve and the red baked earth of his heritage. And his proud appearance still surfaced despite his aged and battered state. Though often times visited by pain, he still held his head high above the stained pillows of saliva and antibiotics. He remembered his youth, gawking at the ceiling beams — his own time machine — reliving the years of working every day on their tangerine farmlands, as he found solace in these dire achievements that nobody but him ever celebrated.

The air was filled with the smell of antiseptic. The lazy wooden fan blades cut through the spaces under the plywood ceilings, and the grimy mirror held no reflection.

His hands and arms were tired, the skin was sallow, but built strong by time.  His shoulder blades boasted like the wide-spanned wings of an eagle’s, imposing that they can withstand the discerning winds of the open skies.

“Oh, how time swiftly takes away what was lent.” He feebly exclaimed.

Through the half-open door, I took one last look at him. It was just a split-second glance really, but it felt infinitely stretched.  And in this timeless vacuum of space, I lived through these flashes of fond memories I had of him.  It was like listening to a two-minute song that carried all the answers in the world.  I set sails to entwine with the days of yesteryears, on how perpetually dependent I was on him, growing up like a seedling inching my way towards the blue ocean skies, how my ears were sculpted like wooden dippers for wisdom, and how I was emptied to refill.

And as I pulled the door back, gently twisting the unpolished brass knob clockwise hoping not to make a sound, my flooded eyes bade farewell as this view narrowed, knowing that his vessel can never anymore hold in together the entirety of him.  For he is a lot more, more than this world could ever have prepared for.

Blue

Rearranging Past and Chess Board Pieces

Of cheap beers, and late night cab rides across the dimmed concrete highway tunnels of the weekends, I plunge into the deep abyss of the free-falling but not looking down, always never looking down.

To rearrange, a new theoretical standpoint to take, stirring the coffee cup, as I see now the sun in the swirl of the milk.  That breakfast is more than just a morning routine, and evenings compensated more, not just to conceal the stench and the scars, as we all go back to the end where life started.

The summer smiles, and the leaps, and those wide open arms for the rainfalls, when bulbs of daffodils finally bloom in their yellow sun rays, ringed in white, orange, and their reds. Those beckoning warm afternoon laughter of children playing after taking siestas, and that morning walks before the day wakes for its poetry.

Upon the layers of overlapping leaves, the sunbeams break through like a subtle rainfall.  A whisper pointed me to their silhouettes, and it talked about palettes and all the universal colors, how these all meant to find one’s place in the hushed Sunday skies.

Oh, tell me what do you want to do today? And we will draw a treasure map maybe; we are the Goonies of our time after all.

I washed my face after watching a good film. I have seen it a hundred times over, and I will do another hundred it seems.  Then l lighted a cigarette to cap this delightful feeling, a silent kind of happiness instills in the crowd of the crumpled papers.

When we are shown to entwine threads and copper wires, to hear the stories and to just relearn, nothing more, and when saying yes is all that ever mattered, while everything else will just follow through in place.  And we roll away, like boulders and round stones on the slopes.

We are shapeshifters, we over speculate before passing out, and made love with sunsets.

And after all of these realignments, all the moving parts and the rest of the things one has been working on for years, the delineation between respite and the time to embark has been drawn.

While waiting beneath a willow tree, I was thinking of this word that could paint the raptures of these descents and arrivals.  And I can’t quite catch it. Maybe someday I will somehow.  And if I finally do, I will never have to write about science fiction and farewell letters anymore.

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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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 that 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 guitar 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

Perched Birds and Safe Travels

The sky was brimming with so much life, while it sets on its final act the canvas of the horizon was painted indigo over the orangey crown of the sun.  The open road bids goodbye to all wanderers, for all who took the time to pass by, to say hello and stayed over the weekend, lost or found, its arms beckoned all, those who tiptoed to see what’s on the other side of the wall, to come back real soon.

The way back to the city was clad with towering billboards, of their streaming invitation to indulge in its optimism, from the layouts, and the huge arrays of video boards.  The flickering lights draped the bleak concrete façade of the neighboring buildings and the battered roads on their feet.  I sat at the back of the van, while elbowing the backrest with my right arm, also drumbeating my temple.   I was looking at the setting sun, we all were, and as the credits roll, as this may have appeared to be the last scene, everyone was singing along to the soundtracks of our lives.

It was time to go home.

It ended as fast as it started.  The feeling was like going after a wisp that you saw somewhere in a dream, maybe outside of your bedroom window, that you have decided to follow. You know you can catch it, you can almost imagine how it would feel within your clasp.  And when you are about to, when your fingertips are almost there to make contact, you wake up, to this blinding flash of white all around you.  And it is morning, and you are somewhere else. You remember, but not all.

Then you sat right up, sluggishly positioned your unfit body right on the very edge of the bed.  You wonder on, and taking your time to collect those clattered snapshots of the wonderful subconscious adventure you just had.  And you ask yourself why you can’t have it all, these dreams from start to finish.  And you realize, maybe it is not the point, maybe it’s not what you can remember nor the length it took you, maybe it’s something else.

Cars bled with red tail lights, as I brush my hair from the forehead, down to the back of my head.  I pondered how we miss out on the best things even if we were there.  I thank the scribbled memories that stayed in my head, as I sang along with the rest of those who mourned for the end of the weekend.

I remember the sun, how it streamed through hatched houses that lined up by the side of the road, the gold and green fields that heralded the arrival of summer.  The swelling humps of the mountains that shook hands with the sky.  I remember the excitement we felt when we inhaled the very rustic air that flooded our lungs.

We shared a scarf that we sat on by the shore while watching the parade of the rushing waves and took photos so we may remember.   At nightfall, we perched like birds on a wire, listening to the whistling of the wind, as we hum along with the guitar plucking on that cloudless evening.  We stayed up late and listened to each other’s stories. We were like Troy Dyer and Lelaina Pierce, in that “you and me, and five bucks” scene.

We peered through the window pane and caught the sun’s beautiful yolk that waved farewell.  And one by one, we hugged and bade “safe travels”, hoping to see each other soon.

And we knew that it was going to last more than just a weekend, for we are the tireless crashing and the disintegration of the waves of the sea.

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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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Before the Interlude

The plot thickens, and what was once blur and smeared was replaced by the rainfall of bed pillow feathers around me during the flight down. My head was tilting upward, while the rest of the body was falling on its back in slow motion into the fitted sheets surface of the bed.

Ten thousand words and the fingertips were swollen. The protagonist was sitting in the rotating swivel chair. Stares were fixed at the plywood ceiling, the blades of the fan cut through the rush of the air, while his mind went across, over and beyond, his chest was inside a tortoiseshell, waiting for the predator to walk on by.

All the anecdotes were meant to cloak the meaning, and so they decided to defer, just to watch the sunset instead. The lines that may have seemed senseless at first, proves to be as unblemished as the summer blue skies– their rhymes the gentlest of whispers. They are finally here.

A long and steady minor chord whistled out the trumpet’s lips, followed by the subtlest melodies which glided through the breeze. They were as light as the dandelions sailing the horizons, and he tried to catch each playing note when she also agreed to close their eyes together, “do you remember?” He asked.

“When you poured in my drink and I was grateful, then I said thanks, so you poured in some more.”

“I remember.” She promised.

And then they danced and danced some more. Afterward, their backs rested against the wooden bench by the sea to watch the descent of a God.

In respect, they wore sunglasses throughout the funeral of the day, and it was perfect. Nothing could ever beat that feeling, they thought.

Halfway through the fall when I remembered the time I went to see a fortune teller to get a glimpse of the future through a crystal ball. A failed attempt, as my stars ridiculed me when I saw only death. I think somehow I understand why, and so I decided to stay awake for as long as I could, to never close these wandering eyes.

And everything around me started to move, took pace and eventually carried on. I envy the bees that swoon over and courted each daffodil and sunflower. The stillness of the earth was so reassuring, I feared the sudden jolt of the quake.

We defied sleep when it was time to, just because we did not want to miss out. Coffee was an ally, poetry was the defense.

We were stubborn as we were also discerned, fools as we were also blissful.

And as this fragile body reached its destination, when all limbs landed perfectly still against the cushions, I couldn’t help but feel, that I am falling still.

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If Dogs Knew Poetry

“Make sure that you don’t burn the house down”.  That was his only instruction.  He never minded anything else other than that, not even the broken dishes, all the books that were made scattered all over the living room, nor his ruined fancy floor rug, for his instruction was simple, and direct.

He slings on his leather bag over his shoulder, crams the front door keys and the cigarette lighter in his left-hand pocket and takes one last look in the mirror to check on his neatly combed hair and his color matched buttoned shirt and jeans.

The housekeeper wags his tail, pants a little, but breathing quite calmly.  This is not the first time his master is going to leave him of the keep while he is away.  The entrusted one runs and jumps on the couch to watch his old friend get in the car to start the ignition.

He barks a couple of times behind the dusty window pane.  It hasn’t been cleaned since the last time she was around.  A thought circled inside the mutt’s head.

But it was not his job to clean the house, for him, he was given something more profound to do, nobler, a far more dignified duty.

He does his rounds, walked down the halls, past the family photos that lined evenly sitting atop the old narra drawer. Some of them were colored, but most were taken in black and white.  He will see them all again maybe at the end of the year, but today and the rest of the coming days, the halls will be quiet.

The patrol keeps on, the gaze was fierce, but his movements were silent. His pads matched perfectly with the wooden floors.

Across the side table and the leather chair of his master, strolled down the pathway between the living room and the dining area, surveying consistently, turning his head from side to side.

He reaches the kitchen, snout laying low, his forensic tool.  He circled around the tiled plain, in the corners and finally rested at the backdoor. He was looking at the green yard through the spaces.  He knew something was going down. He just didn’t know when, but he intends to be there when it does.

He may be over-anticipating, but it is always good to manage your expectations, his master would say.

For him, he was knighted with this solemn duty and the instruction was simple.

Don’t burn the house down.

And as he rested his muzzle next to his paws, his brisket laid flat against the floor.

He closed his eyes for a while and thought of the older times.

When his fuzzy golden fur was sandy on most days, and his cold nose was warmed by the early morning sun.

On how the wind from the waves of the beach sailed the rivers of his hair and cradled him to sleep.

He will never learn how to read and much about literature.

But that was the poetry he knew.

He relished those collarless days.

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Over the Plains and the Slopes 

And in an afterthought, she finally sees, with all the affection given, and all the poetry recited that only in that moment of trial it will all be weighed.

Besides, the eternal beauty of the skies is always hidden beneath the clouds.

And she is but a tree, waiting for her sunlight, waiting patiently, standing very still with only her branches moving from side to side.

Back and forth, back and forth until her lover decides to finally come home in the morning.

But in some days, the sun could not offer some more, its rays could not pass through the thick monochrome skies.

And for every reader, it is like the pages of a book, a story with a familiar beginning and a hopeful end. After the story has been told, after all the pages have been leafed through, the book is meant to be placed back in the shelf.

As the writer takes a sip on his ginger-beer drink and lights up a cigarette, he takes one last deep breath before he hears the typewriter bell.

No songs will be written after him, no poems recited for him, just a paper to finish, a story to tell.

“Let me bask under your sunlight.” He pleaded.

“And if ever the sun doesn’t shine anymore, I will wait until nightfall and go bathe in your moonlight instead.

Should the moon refuse to give its light, I’d bribe the stars to be more forgiving, so they can relearn to lend some of theirs onto me.”

I looked down on my feet and saw my shoes cracked open.  My worn-down pair reminded me of the days on the road. My breath was constricted because of the altitude, my mind troubled by the sharp turns taken on the mountain cliff side, however, dazzled by how each shoulder blade rested against each other for support, like the trees we passed by.

With clogged misty lenses, my eyes can hardly see.  I have tried to wipe them clean, but the moisture only smeared the glass. The fog was more pronounced out here, boastful or was it just overly playful and friendly?  As they touched palms with the bright conservative greens of the rice terraces, bed-swallowed across the slopes and the plains, my sight was struggling to keep up with their magnificence.

I attempted not to say anything, more not to widen the gaps between my lips.  Words were restricted for I knew they would fall short.  I tried to lie to myself and pretended for a while. But the sun was too discerning to cast away the shadows of my predicament.  The path was cleared out for me, now unhidden from my sight.

I felt compromised. The heart beating faster than it should be and my eyelids couldn’t hold still when they shielded my pupils from the stares of her sunrays.  The unfolding circumstances forced to be witnessed. It deserved nothing less.

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.

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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In Between Stops While Listening to the Tap Dancing of the Skies

As seasons change, so as the people that transit through the arrival halls, filling the once emptied coat rack of the living room closet. Now draped under the welcoming embrace of the rainy weather, tailored fit for the lovers, dreamers and the poets, we ready the coffee cups and warm clothing for we had just found another reason to stay home. Clutched and folded, underneath the comforts of the thick warm blanket, enthused by this slow-moving weekend morning, to be just lazy giving in to that perfect excuse to daydream infinitely.

And for a while, as the marsh of clouds provides a soothing reminder to pause for a while, through the drizzling and the stillness of the cold, I learn to rightfully consume these borrowed subtleties as I sailed the thoughts of my consciousness and what’s inside of its universe. While one attempt to be an eyewitness, slow pacing to just watch every graceful leaf and tree branch sway from side to side, indulging this sweet correspondence with the monsoon winds.

My love affair with this weather is like an unconditional monologue.  It needs only the sky as its stage.  It’s meant to be watched and appreciated only by staying indoors.

No sudden movements, just staring blankly through the runny window pane, while it holds a million and one raindrop marathons across the entire neighborhood, waking everybody up with soft whispers of hellos and happy tap dancing on every household-roof.

On the parallel view, I finally see children playing in the rain, running barefooted while paddling bicycle tires with twigs, keeping each rolling and balanced, up to the end of the street and back.

And in a way, I was sold. Not just because we are here now, but also for the long wait that had become a variable. The journey on how we got here I think is what made it all worth it.

If words were to be weighed, I would have been drowning by now. I mean, my mind, chest and my toes and its soles, are now filled with excerpts and anecdotes, as the wind brushes through my hair and the entirety of my face. These random thoughts had now posed as my life support that keeps me afloat in the middle of the wide-open waters that will keep me buoyant for as long as I always find that gleaming hope hiding behind the thick cotton fields in the skies.

As these seemingly endless lullabies of streams lay me down across the soft continents of my sheets and cushions, it had also reacquainted me once more, with dreams about my tomorrows and with what was, beyond and what’s under, in the quiet of my own collaborative chaos made up of carefree wanderings of lose perspectives.

And what had struck me were the things of the plain and of the ordinary, of what was there all along, like a long time next door neighbor that I had never bothered to spend the time to get to know.

I guess everything that is dear to us is like sand in our hands; we lose most of the grains no matter how hard we try to hold onto them.  And when it is time to open them, as we have our palms facing upwards, we are reminded to be grateful and we are made humbled, for what’s left is more than empty.

With my eyes closed, listening to the rain outside, as I have my fingers drum-beating on my forehead, I am waiting in time not minding on how long, for that thousand-word letter to be mailed.

I am memorizing every detail of what is being consumed with this pit-stop of a rest.

And while I am here, maybe you’re out there somewhere on a journey.  I hope maybe someday, on some random weekday perhaps, you will also share the joys of stopping for a while and write me about your adventures. On how you went about and got to each, every beginning and all the messy and complicated endings.

And when you do, when you find yourself in between stops, while standing there on the train on your way home back, may the grace of these renewed days find you. As you listen to the conversations of others, may you be inspired to partake, to play a part and to be a borrower of momentary lives, only to find the rhythm, to create something that you can call your own.

Beneath the Glare of the Pulsar from a Neutron Star

“When a star explodes, that is when I am the happiest”, I heard her say. With my favorite drink on the side, next to the ashtray, sitting across from where the feeble yellow light was, with eyes crossed with cigarette smoke and the most beautiful sight on the peripheral.

She told me stories of a traveling satellite that drifts patiently across the nebulas and the distant, uncharted clusters of stars from the far stretch of the grid. Wildly and vividly taken, she took the words and carried them out from her storybook of the cosmos.  Page by page, I listened, never minding the flailing bodies from the intoxicated crowd around us.  She told me about milkshakes and cupcakes and runaway shooting stars, cartoonish dreams, and constellations. I leaned closer for the promise of clarity and to capture the whole celestial delight. It was almost morning and our wrist watches were nothing more but a bodily décor in those vacuumed moments, a time warp of its own, a moment from when a supernova turns into a neutron star approaching the collapse to become a black hole where time stands still. And her grace was the pulsar, stretching on.

Then she whispered, “When stars die, they leave a bright trail across the blackened space, and it stays on for a while for everyone to see. One of the most beautiful goodbyes I think”.

As I held her thoughts like it was mine to own. I made sure that I nodded every time to encourage her to say some more but the silence were filled with so much to spare. Her moisten painted lips were so close to my left ear, yet the gaps were too far still. Of course, this is just all a dream, I thought.

They say that the universe is infinitely expanding, that the space between each matter widens, scientists also concluded that there is not enough dark matter to hold everything together, but humanity and philosophy had termed it love that was lacking, that we laymen understand more easily.  It is the very gravity of life that pulls every molecule, and all of the atmospheric dust that makes up the blue skies.

“It expands, and we can’t quite catch up.  Maybe we’re not meant to anyway”, she figured.

We stood on the tip of the cliff near the banks of the shore as we held our heads up toward the planetarium over our scalps. The pale moon gleams as we also watched the foams of the waters crash gently on the soft bosom of the earth, as they remind us also of what we had there beneath our feet.

We were happy to have awakened before the sun rose. Before it had stretched its limbs out of the horizons, before the unfolding of the leaves from slumber.  We have exhaled the air, of what our lungs could give and inhaled sharing the same air between us. Despite the unspoken reassuring words of poetry and romance and all the formulas of science that we once have written on the blackboards with colored chalk.  We were there at that right moment, gazing through the pellets of what appeared to be a gathering of faraway candle lights, meeting together for that blue dot from a distant galaxy we call home.

These days are to linger in my mind.  A dream of a journey towards one’s arrival to consciousness, the immense feeling from within the rib-cages with care and compassion, its axis.

The magnetic field of life transcending to the blotting of the ink on paper. The literature of childlike musings, of what’s carefree or just plain silly. Through the slow waltzing dance of the cosmic flares in the night sky enjoyed through a bedtime telescope. For just a fraction, a dose if you will, like a nightcap while exchanging proses and bubble gum theories in those half-asleep conversations. For an aurora of glistened dreams on our night-clothes.

Dark Blue

In The Fullness of Empty

I am a bent study lamp on the floor with legs folded and crossed in the presence of the terraces of keys before me, while my arms are behind my back serving as main poles of my aching body, leaning for support against them.

And from a lingering transcendence within my shell, I marveled staring blankly through the stained metal grills between me and the sky that blended with the bright hues and the nicest alibi I tucked behind the sunglasses.

From afar I see a color arc over the leveling concrete columns but there was no one there to wave at.  I took a long drag, it was almost a summer kiss, from the cigarette that was dying so quickly from an ashtray beside me, and as the smoke passes through my throat and down to my lungs, so as the words that fill my mind.  I then closed my eyes, surrendering to the chemical reaction funneling through the compartments of my musings, I then pulled the knob of my wristwatch to make time stand still for a while. It was only during these silent moments that I was reminded that for one to actually dream, one has to rest.

I was bribing each ticking hand to take no pace, and hope that with this morning prose it would accept my invitation to take a short nap.

As it heeds my request with enthusiasm, also comes a lesson of reality.  That it can only make it appear slower, through the glances from one’s memories, but nothing more than that. I then responded with courtesy and tact, as a grateful response I said, that I will take whatever it would lend me. Like the silence that peace gave me when I was asking for answers, or like when the pages were found empty only to mean patience until the words dawned when they are already ripe for the picking.

And so I went to the bed and laid down for a while, facing the open windows to my left.

I curled my legs up placing both of them closer to my chest while the morning warmth cloaked the rest of my body with beautiful promises of respite.

I watched the different shapes of ether line up for the parade, and the drift of specs passing through my fingers, from the feeble cloth that swayed in portrayal of the curtains. In a way it is like a musical fountain show with colored lights in slow motion, they complimented the existence of each other and the bright blue skies where they whirled.

It then took me to a not so distant memory, when we were on our way to the high terrains when the altitude starts messing with our ears as we take on each ascend. It was a reminder that we are in a different place now, as it also allowed our imposition, to relish the grandeur of life.

Then her face was magnified and made clearer by the distance. It made no sense, I couldn’t see her but I do in a way.  A warm unreciprocated embrace to my pillow until it hurt so badly, with the wind chimes played like a pop song in a loop.

I guess, missing someone is like looking at the stars.  They are all there, but they are also light years away.  You then wonder, and you check your pockets hoping that you’d have enough change to spare, for all the wishes that you would be making, whispering to the empty spaces between the earth from where you stand on, and the layers and layers of widened openness made of dust and faith above your head, wishing that it is more than just a bedtime story with a happy ending.

You would then yearn for reality and your dreams to be one and the same, as you have found a place within you, a cabin where you can rest easy with your thoughts and all your worries and high hopes, that the margin of probability is not that thin after all.  That it is okay to hope and long and ask, putting your consciousness at bay, placing your palms upward facing the sky.

While lying there, I borrowed some of the sun’s attention, and I was resting finally.  At first, I had a little trouble in convincing the words to do its part, thinking to myself that I got nothing if they won’t participate.

But the wise sun understood what I was trying to enunciate. Even without words, just sheer nothingness it heard me, the voice from my lungs that was struggling to come out. And I was put in awe when it finally did, asking myself how can that be? And the answer to that, until now I do not know.

I woke up a few hours after and my mind held nothing. It was then I knew that it is in our empty state that we can really dispense. We are the vessel, not the water that fills it. And like a fern growing out of a typewriter shell, I was enriched.

And I never felt more fluid.

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Gliding over the Tides

From the soften beach floor bed, cradled a local dog resting peacefully in the early morning sun. He had his snout facing seaward, out to catch the cool combing embrace of the morning breeze through his sandy copper fur. And even though his paws had already aged, the pads were soft still. He had lived each breaking day in this tranquil state all his life.  And for a moment there, I envied the mutt, for I have forgotten how long far ago I had slept like that.

The sun was just about at the right ascend when the wind-driven current was gesturing its invitation to come along into the sea.  The air was oozing with excitement as both locals and tourists marched unto the stretch, with their hoverboards pressed between their sides and their arms, as they have their gaze fixed outward to the vast openings of the ocean.

The agenda was to stop, to watch the crashing of the waves, and while the waters breathed briskly through each white northern collapse, against our feet, the ocean’s pulse found its way to the homey banks of the shore, where the solace of wisdom sat as it waited for their safe return.

We then lingered all our inhibitions, on this rejuvenating view before us. The mutt was right to stay, and we followed him through in silence sitting in the shaded parts of the beach.

And as the browned and baked bodies were about to go under against the unrelenting white waters of the north, they held their breaths before each plunge, they paddled out to make their acquaintance with the ocean’s entirety, as they entwined their bodies with each exhaling current until they were finally welcomed to share its world.

Graceful on their gliders, the sun-induced melanin lingered in their now crisp and darken skin. Their hair was bleached by salt, preserving their youth in a timeless compartmentalized memory they hope to keep.

As their fingers ran through the tunneling waters, they wait patiently for that perfect one — a marriage of some sort — like a romantic getaway may be, and when they finally did, they took off on that wave, over the pilgrimage of the herd, without any sails they moved beautifully through the current, drifting in clouds, they sailed in their dreams wide awake.

The waves were rushing in from the entire stretch, and in their varying motions, they charged just to disintegrate upon each collapse.  And from this unchoreographed parade, one realized the truth that was being carried in each crashing — that there are no plans beyond the uncontrollable and the unseen.

That we just paddle out to meet whatever kind of waves we are there to catch. We plunge our way through head-on, to meet with each swollen-embossed tide that we brave to shake hands with, and with humility, we try to hold a steady pace for as long as we could, while it last, until the strong waves decide to wipe us out on our sides.

And from a faraway voice that echoed as a celebration of the waves, its familiar roars of tunes made it sounded so near. A version of its hums or it must be a prayer for the celestial, we hear the words form until they are finally made and forged.

And soon, answers will be then dispensed; neither for the eyes to read nor for our ears to hear. And in its modesty and simplicity, we hope to take refuge, in its utter silence through our rib cages and arteries.

IMGP0079Lonely stride, but not.

The Fall of the Dandelion Seed

She is a dandelion seed drifting across the midsummer sky. During the days of when each tree branch sways easy.  One of whose time finally ripens from the subtle release influenced by the permission of the morning warmth and a little convincing push of the wind.

She then paddles against the invisible waves through the horizons.  She travels the world for the first time. And she is perfectly happy.  The breeze then picks up the pace, teaching her to dance without using any legs.  The castaway leaves from the neighboring trees waltz with her, they take turns doing patterned and synchronized motions as if they have done dancing together before.  They are her Romeo, wooing her to glide with them throughout the ball.

The little dandelion seed was putting on a show, impressing the entire vegetation from below, across the rice fields they were her audience. They waved in approval or was it an attempt to emulate the motions, if only they could also fly, they thought to themselves, but in a way, they actually did somehow.

And from the open household windows, send a soothing familiar invitation to stay for a while. To spend a little more time at home, on a Saturday morning, to have an early lunch perhaps, with iced lemonade and daisies as center-piece in the family table.

The weather was on her side, she was grateful for her captain. The breeze has taken her far already, and through this ascend, she was introduced to the varying views and feelings, letting her see the world from another perspective. And from each climb and height, the world boasted its grandeur and its seemingly unending beauty. The horizons claimed eternity, imploring her to dream some more.

But she was just a mere seed she thought, how could the world care so much she asked? But there were no words found between the question and the utter silence, only episodes of continuity and the line in the horizon that separated the wanderer from the dreamer. She started to funnel the grace that went through her. And she hoped not to disappoint.

She soon realized that life is not stagnant, but it is change. It is the unfolding of a flower after the long cold night. Life is carefree and whimsical, yet it is forgiving and patient, daring yet respectful, adamant and stern but at the same time gentle.

The day was on her side, it did not rush her. And when the sun was too hot, the clouds connived to carefully place shade over her fragile body.

Then something changed.  The once strong wind is now feeble as it tires.  She slowly descends, as if the cold earth expects her arrival.  She prays for mercy to let this invisible force beneath her linger.  But she will not be answered.

The dandelion seed as she was known to be is no more.  But instead, she is life realized.  She learns as soon as she had hit the ground, that the very fall was not her demise, but rather the start of her real life.  That she had to take the journey, to let the circumstances dictate her place in the world.

After all, we are the jigsaw that fall into place, to complete the puzzle of our existence.  On our own, we are nothing but little pieces that make no sense.

And as the day was coming to a close, she dwelled very still, lying on the ground beneath the stars. She had promised herself to be fair to the moon that rested in the cradle of the evening breath that lingered as clouds. That she would throw the same kind of smile she gave the caring sun.

And she is perfect.

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Whirlpool Kite Flying

I pushed down the play button of the cassette tape player while closing my eyes with these brewed thoughts beneath my consciousness.  I was on a cryogenic sleep inside a bubble, traveling in a timeless vortex between the layers of the blanket and the sheets. This rest was long overdue, now forgetting all the report deadlines and the fractions, the entire math problems, all the cable subscriptions and the power bills that need to be opened. I had my hands up as I turned myself in as I learn to relish the journey through the impossible with the Nautilus of my raptured thoughts.

I stood behind one of the half-opened doors as I slowly started with a sneak peek between the gaps.  I was overwhelmed and yet made ready for an adventure by the light that passes through the frail vessel I call my body.  I took my time sitting on the front steps while being accompanied by my newspaper editorial columns from the current events while trying to balance these with comic strips and a cup of hot chocolate.

Looking for the sun behind the slope of the hill, the search alone fills me with a thousand episodes from a grand magical carrousel of seahorses and cloud rafts, as I wait anxiously for their magical reveal in each turn.  A merry-go-round in an Indian summer dream, like the time as I remembered it to be when I watched a very good friend flew to the moon on a runaway trip, as I stood alongside with everybody else, seeing him on TV, waving farewell behind the sun-gleaming-window.

I was an instant fan, and while watching him go, I borrowed some of the excitement I imagined he might have had at the time.  It had a similar feeling I said to myself, as I turned the newspaper into a kite, letting it fly across the stratosphere over the castles made of cotton filled with condensed water vapor and ether. I found a very good spot over the hill, perfect for loafing around or just spending the afternoon with a lover. I threw my body leaning against an old mahogany tree, as if it was the softest bed in the whole world, finding comfort while holding the thread with my right hand.  I then rested my left arm in consolation against its proud roots that had emerged from the very soil where it still stands.  And without hesitation, my newly found friend had whispered me stories of its might and its victorious alliance with time.

The skies then swirled, around and all over, a whirlpool had just opened its mouth to devour the world. What was left was a wisp of courage to let the kite flying, long enough to let it fade away into the marsh.

Then a lingering beat, and a memory flashes by.

I remember the day when I had the privilege to spend a morning walk with a wise man. It was very windy but the skies were clear and the sun was giving at the time.  The conversation started with questions that you normally find in your job resume.  Not long after we then found ourselves exchanging anecdotes and life stories. Some of them were sad and some were happy ones.  Apparently, he was too tired talking about the political killings, and the bickering editorials, the war loop, still life art, the millionaire spoiled brats, and what’s left of the conspiracy theories.

At that point, we decided to lend time for zombies, Jake the dog, the breakfast club and a bunch of stupid and wildly carefree stuff that we almost forgot to talk about

As my sleeping eyes behind their coverings were caught amused and bedazzled by all the wisdom, I hear my brother playing the guitar from across the room.

In my sleep, I threw a line I captured from a film, a soundtrack plays along in the precise moment as the space between each particle widens, the universe expands and lets go of each electron and proton but our souls bid a humble disobedience.

And in the middle of the chaos, the wise man reveals that he was the same person who arranged the chartered flight to the moon.  And apparently, he also visited a space island between the neighboring unnamed stars he now calls home.  And when I asked him on why he had returned, he scratched his scalp and smiled away.  He has empty hands he says, nothing but lines and old narratives of his adventures. And what good would it make if there was no one to share it with.

As this frame simmers, the camera takes one last beat inviting along everyone in the audience to fly at the height of their chests, as it then gently floats into the horizons like a kite fading away into the whirlpool of credits and score.

Renditions: Year End Thoughts

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The lights from the lamp posts were painting the late night pavement with dreamy colors from a childhood memory.  I was standing in the middle of the road, between the past and what seems to be a snapshot of a not so distant future, not realizing that I was in the crossroads of my grown-up life.

I sat down in the nearby shed, waiting for the first trip of the bus, as I held in my hands a map that I got from one of the standees at the airport lobby. Somebody was supposed to pick me up, but nobody came. I’ve waited for one and a half hours until the jewelry stores of the night sky were all finally opened. Their display windows of billions of diamonds made the elegant black of the night even darker, raining down on everyone with the feeling of hope, magic, and romance as if everyone was ready to spend the rest of their lives in spontaneity.

As I was waiting in the cold alone, the time had lent an opportunity for me to spare.  And after a few, I decided to walk and amuse myself with whatever I could see and what was there to dispense. I was wandering around, past the park and the trees with the stray cats looting the trash bins, camouflaging the noise with the music the crickets were making, as both species connive in their ninja-like stealth.

After the short stroll, I went back to the same shed placing the backpack by my tired feet and the typewriter case on my lap.  I then rested both of my elbows against the wooden bench, tilting my head back looking at the pellets across the night sky.

Time treats my solitude with the imagination I never thought I would regain after that. I thought of windmills by the rivers, and parading gazelles running in the wild during spring. I was pretty sure that I have used up all my childlike musings during those moments. The world I painted in my mind sculpted a lingering smile on my once weary face.  I was in a way making up for those years I spent as a grown up.  Suddenly I wanted to go back and be Marty McFly on his hoverboard even for a little while. I would go gliding towards the unknown and reliving the best days there were.  And I was excited more and more, on rediscovering what else was out there in my mind waiting for me. As I now punch each key while setting the sails of my mind afloat in the drift of the oceans that I have to travel.

Time couldn’t be more perfect, I know that the winds had brought me here for a purpose and I believe that I am on a mission to rewrite the history of the skies in the pages with my own storylines.  I guess I owe the night and its stars that I borrowed for a friend.

I woke up the next morning sitting on the very bench where I had my last musings. It was only then that I realized when the daylight had soft-landed on the ground, that there was a nearby fishing dock that would remedy my ever restless mind.  I sat on one of the benches putting on my sunglasses while chewing nicotine gum.   I handed over my unfinished notes, all the rough drafts to the winds as each page found its way gliding through its invisibility, then waltzing into the open arms of the ocean. As I relish each goodbye, I wait for the gentle breeze to portray the words through the flip and the somersaults of each parchment paper, then diving and plunging their entirety into this deed of complete surrender. The view warmed and raptured the cold breath I exhaled from these mortal lungs while my gaze takes me to the lemon smiles of summer.

And there were no words in between, I mean there was nothing left, for it was all emptied by the silence and those textured moments of that midsummer feeling.

I wanted to stay; I guess I need the feeling from this scenic view to linger on.  For my sake, I thought that this medical help was the cure. I wanted to remember and memorize each heartbeat.  I tried to bribe the sun and its skies to stay, but they would always go each day.

I was made to realize that everything is borrowed, that there are repetitive moments but one can never own. I guess we can only live to create a rendition of these things to ink the paper.

Through the words and awes, through the rivers of our souls, and into the ocean of our dreams, we attempt to stretch these hopes up to the skies so we could be reminded that we travel these paths not to get away but to be found.  Not a right to claim, but just a humble gesture for another chance to relive a moment, if not a plea to always remember.

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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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Sunlight Supernova

It was like a black and white photograph that you see along the staircases of your home, a happy memory captured in time slicing through the open spaces of the realities and the nine-millimeter frames.  I woke up realizing that I have dreamt something beautiful this morning, something that took me to the bluest skies that one would see in a canvass of sunflowers and daffodils, tangerine fields and golden mango summer days. I wandered off, over and across the horizons with the feathered pilots in flight, doing their routine of salutations, passing through and by the cloud formations that were tasked to do a portrayal of the world they see below, a beautiful imitation, a sculpting rendition from the shape-shifters of the light. The white paint of the ceiling, the walls of the bedroom, the slow dancing of the curtains highlight the sun showers that invited themselves just to help out, lending a hand to magnify the unfolding of the hopeful summer feeling stemming from within.

Lying next to me is a warm, beautifully placed tanned body with all the white sheets and the cushions that cradled us into slumber the night before. And for someone like me, it is only fitting to throw the most fundamental questions of how and why it got there in the first place. As I found myself dumbfounded, she slowly opened her brown almond-shaped eyes, then a long lingering look directly aiming into my prying eyes. She then surveyed the rest of my face, from the forehead down to my buttoned nose, on the sides, chin and the cheeks while taking her time and breaking this gentle smile as she then rested her gaze right back to where it all started.  She then whispered something in my ear, some thoughts about cotton candies and marshmallows and vanilla ice cream and brewed coffee while tucking her face between my shoulder and my jawline, as I now feel the warmth of her breath on the left side of my neck.

As I give in, I suddenly felt the need to dispense this undeniable sensation, sneaking my right arm around my universe, wrapping my present and my tomorrows within the reach of my arms and my left and right hands’ fingertips, holding onto my supernova.

I suddenly got the feeling of when you are on the beach, raptured by this unsolicited fulfillment, sitting and listening to the crashing of the waves against your feet. The warm welcome of the inviting ocean, plunging in while rediscovering and relishing the sunlight on your imperfect skin and stained shirt, as the saltiness of the waters and the powdery promises of the sands of time are all you ever needed for the remainders of your days.

I took a few drags after lighting a cigarette and opened a book reading a couple of chapters from where I left off.  It took me a while to realize that it was the world I am living in that the words were describing. I held her hand next to my chest. We were slouching and care freed by the open windows with our sunglasses on, with crossed legs and our weekend smiles.  Coffee and Vanilla ice cream, Root beers and Jack Johnson, conversations after conversations, we talked about finding answers and an aimless attempt to look for an escape and what solitude really means, on how to outlast father time and getting the most out of each conscious moment and decisions.  And from the openings of her brilliance, she made something out of the blowing winds and the subtleness of the ether as she paints the canvass through her imagination of life brushes and watercolors.

Some would prefer to throw a peace sign and be on TV all greased and combed up, neatly dressed and all buttoned up, calling out everyone to put out a flag but for me, I prefer her way.  Just an honest display of what was and what we aspire to be at.  I guess all we ever needed was our sun, and a few bucks to get us by with our words and cigarettes.

But life most of the times is not as colorful as the stories we read from all the pages we encounter.  In a way, what we get from these dog-eared pages is just the fuel that help gets us going from one town to the next rest stop for another gas pump.  And after paying for what’s due, there’s always this invitation to make a phone call with a few spare change that we have got, to give thanks to the ones that made the journey possible and true.

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Chapter 2: A Conversation with a Peculiar Friend

It was 09:30 pm.  I was watching all of the outlining lights of the city from my apartment terrace view while finishing a good bowl of freshly heated ramen from the microwave. Something caught my attention. As I moved my head upwards to my right, just across from where I sat, I saw what appeared to be an audience.  There sat a frog, smoking its long and lean wooden pipe. Apparently, it was not just any ordinary frog.  I could tell from the prints and the design of his robe.  He was sporting a well-maintained facial hair growing from his small chin, the strands were grayish white, telling me that he’s been around for quite some time.  He had his legs crossed together, while awkwardly dabbling his webbed toes in the air.  He was sitting on the edge portion of the neighboring roof and he’s always been doing the same routine for years.

Of course, I never knew this since my family just moved into a new home.  We had financial difficulties since my father died and wanted to start over.

As a matter of etiquette and good manners, I signaled to him if he wanted some of what I was having — raising the bowl chin high and directing the chopsticks towards it.

“I had flies. Thank you.” With a mischievous smile on his face, the frog politely declined.  He then followed it with what you can say an offensive remark.

“You’re not the neighbor I was expecting to have.”

I had to ask why of course, almost choking on a string of noodle.

“My dreams told me that the next neighbor is the one who’s going to help me with my mathematics. I was observing you these past days, and I can’t see any signs at all that you have what it takes.  I think you’re a slacker, you just stare at photographs in your phone and you have a nasty habit of picking your nose.”

For a while there I felt very insulted. This is not the type of conversation you have at first meetings.  But I know his kind. Old folks tend to speak this way. They would go about it as if it is their inherent and social right or something.  My old professor spoke like this frog and it kind of reminded me of him. We were good friends until he went abroad for his treatments.

As the hundreds of matchbox lights from the façade of the buildings paint a mosaic landscape, the frog and I had started conversing.  We talked about a lot of interesting things.  My favorite was about the undiscovered colors that he dreamt about. These were colors that this world hasn’t seen yet. And it had something to do with our eyes he said, preventing us from really seeing.

The cold September breeze on that silent Tuesday evening called for it, I guess. While the hot broth slowly loses its warmth, replacing it with the oddity of that night, I was taken to places in my mind that I thought never existed.

The stranger then opened about his long-lost love. He began by telling the story on how they first met.

He was in his younger self squatting on a pond leaf under the biggest moon of that year. The fireflies that lingered about, just far enough for him to reach were the brightest stars that night.

He was instructed by his mother to hunt for pond flies that nested on the very surface of the still waters.  “Be one with the leaf” she said, “and hold very still to have a successful hunt. Have the required patience.”  He was waiting for hours for the right timing when a more experienced frog easily snatches his prey away.  She was hunting from a tip of the tree branch just over the pond. And from the moment he laid his eyes on her long, lightning-speed whipping tongue, he knew that she was the one.

As he was going over the story, I went inside and poured us some ginger juice and got something to smoke. And when I came back, I pinched a fingertip of tobacco from my cigarette into his empty wooden pipe and offered him a light.

“Have you met yours?” he wondered staring blankly to the sky.

I said I was not sure. And even if have, it wouldn’t matter. She was gone already and there was no point of remembering a tragic story. It would only bring you regrets and keep you awake most nights.

He smoked his long wooden pipe, blowing feebly into the air and nods.

I scratched my bearded jaw and rested my numbing head placing the whole weight in the open palm. And from time to time I was unconsciously nail-biting and dozing while the neighbors were watching their endless drama anthology on TV.

“Are they always like this every night?” The old frog just smiled away. I knew that he had learned to accept it, the same way that he had accepted the loss of his greatest love.

I felt sad for him. As if I was in the singularity of the black hole of his loneliness. It felt like I was never going anywhere, at the same time drifting away.

“A once healthy body is now starting to deteriorate as the numbers of time are catching up. You’d realize just about before it ends that your life as you know it had already passed you by along with all the unspoken questions in your lifetime. The answers had sailed far away into the oceans of the wandering and the forgotten.”

It was almost a mumble, but I heard the old frog’s every word.

Then I responded by saying that it was not my intention to make him feel sad, but I was so glad all the same for the chance. For these are the exact words I thought had slipped away from my writing hands fifty ink cartridges ago.  And I never had the opportunity to hear the reading of these lines out loud.

“And all the anecdotes and old love letters may seem nostalgic now, but I hope you’d agree with me when your time to scribble has finally come.” It was almost an attempt to cheer him up. But I couldn’t tell if it was working or not.  He just repositioned his right leg placing his knee right next to his shoulder and puffed on his wooden pipe, displaying his mischievous smile while the subtle whistling of the eastern winds and the throbbing percussion of the monsoon rains started to come and drenched us hopeful and drunk.

Heartbeats in the Life of a Sardine

I found myself in the middle of a room full of people as I was beginning to get this slight nauseous feeling from my erratic claustrophobia that was starting to creep in. I was on a train roaming past the landmarks of the metro, on my way to the place I call the safest for me. We were squished like sardines in a can. I could feel the throbbing beats from a vein that was magnified, residing on the right side of my forehead and the sweat dripping like lava from the surface of the scalp down to my nape. My whole-body mass was depending on the athletic abilities of my toes to keep me from getting out of balance. And in every stop upon arrival at each station, these brave toes of mine were constantly at war with the unrelenting inertia.  No handrail was near enough for the rescue and the only available consolation was the blowing of the feeble breeze coming from the small opening of the air-conditioning vent.

It felt like I was drowning, keeping my head above the waters of the crowd, as our bodies were waving back and forth and sometimes in these almost circular motions during abrupt turns through the sea of rail tracks, electricity, and concrete.

I rested my aimless thoughts on this moving view that I got from the window just below the vent. And after a few moments, I noticed these whimsical formations of dark clouds in the sky starting to connive.

I hurriedly took a quick survey through the open spaces available on both sides of the train, between the bodies of the sardines to see how the skies were. I was worried.

All of a sudden, just like that, it started to drizzle. And surprisingly it felt like the world was the skies’ grand piano, each raindrop was a musical note gently keyed in by this invisible hand.

In that silent moment, I was convinced that each living soul was part of the melody and the verses that made up the entire piece. That we mattered.

It began with a slow dance of the countless raindrops on a mission to make everyone feel overly romantic. In a way of gently saying that a little delay was on its way, and it was okay.

Home was approximately 14 kilometers away. The circumstance was telling me that I had plenty of time to be lost in this void within me. I was beginning to be numbed by the motionless state of my consciousness. Then, I was drifted towards the compartments of my mind, finally finding a soothing memory, reliving the entire experience in my head for six more times just enough before finally getting to the next station.

Then the consciousness took me to the episodes of climbing trees, listening to really good music, fishing by the sea, travelling probably with someone really close. I began to think of the closest people I know, on how little time I spent with my family and friends. I thought of changing that, I thought of falling in love, the possibility of marrying someone soon and settling down for good. I also thought of getting lost somewhere really far perhaps, enjoying a glass of whiskey in the night time — a quiet time for myself. Then I remembered something about borrowing a book from a good friend, also considering buying a copy if I liked it, thoughts of the things that really mattered.

Maybe I was over thinking it, but I got this feeling that we were trapped there for a reason.  I felt grateful for these realizations. And despite the initial display of reluctance, my legs were no longer minding the pins and needles sending me back to reality.

Then I was pulled back to my consciousness and the once full coach was beginning to free up.  The sardines were rushing out of the exits of the platform going their separate ways, swimming past the reefs of this vast ocean of life just to be willingly caught again to the promises of tomorrow.

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

skies

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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Last Day – Northern Star

We strolled up the empty sidewalks of what could have thought to be an abandoned zombie land in its much later days when the once flesh munching dead are now hunted in extinction, leaving the vastness of the highways and the city to ourselves.  It was around half past the hour of 1, and our consciousness now forgetting about abstinence and sobriety as everything around us swirled over and swaying sideways, we couldn’t tell what was what and from a calm steady pace we picked up speed, in her heels and in my trusty walkers. We were runaways in the night.

We glanced from time to time over our shoulders, always on the lookout for what else was out there. From a stick that snaps, or from a sudden movement of the shadows, to a howling watchdog, for us, each was a potential threat. Luckily the pavement we were running on was a good friend to us, leaving no tracks but our lungs, on the other hand, were not able to deliver. We ran, only as fast as we could. And we panted hard, we thought we were about to die yet we smile as we catch every breath grateful, scared and feeling free.  The police in their size forty twos are too lazy to go this far of the stretch this time of the night we thought.  But we knew it was a different story altogether in the morning.

We were outside of a convenience store, sat down on the gutter, and administered caffeine, nicotine and what was a beautiful blunder between us. I took out a flask and dashed a little into each cup.  The space in the middle of our casting stares was just an imaginary line, our equator.  There were no stars on sight, a proxy, however, was gracious enough to share its blessings, coming from the lights of the commercial spaces, glowing out of the towering boastful skyscrapers and from the budget conscious government installed highway lamp posts which accidentally imposing a mood-setting feel for the tranquil and the peaceful.  And from this, we borrowed a warm and sublime feeling and placed it through our rib-cages inside our chests, our lives on a silver platter.

She began to open her lips, as she also started to utter the words that are now passing through the upper and lower openings of her mouth.  I couldn’t remember what exactly they were about, but I knew it was something relatable to a timeless anthem or an unwilted flower in the summer. After throwing a few, she tires and fell very silent but amazingly the conversation never stopped.  The peaceful night and the surreal drowsing wind that brushes our hair and what else there did the talking for us.  And we listened and translated each unspoken moment in silence to ourselves, and by and by we break a smile and inhaled. Her camera was confiscated earlier and it was smashed into a million pieces against a concrete wall. We tried to salvage the film but it was no good as well, and so we took mental pictures instead of what was there to take. And there were no thoughts to be withdrawn we figured. Just forward gestures of positivity, testimonials and wishful thinking.  We heard of this place somewhere north, where all great poets and the dreamers go; we talked about it for a while, escaping for good and living there and all.  But she only wanted to take pictures for now, and write.  She’s not done yet, she says.

We fill the ashtray nearly full at this point.

A condensed thought and asked for another. It was almost morning lying on a field of grass under the trees. I was trying to understand what she meant as I try to get a chance to recover and to steal a final glance to help me remember. Turning to her side, elevating myself on an elbow hoping for the night to linger on, to hold still. This was ours, the night we stole from the world but one can only throw a prayer. So in the final seconds we decided to put on our sunglasses as the deafening sound from the blades of the helicopters and the wailing sirens are now coming to a close, we thought of St. Peter and the rest of the saints waiting at the pearly gates. We smoked the remainders of our cigarettes while eating apples, tucking away our northern star, our way of surrender in the early morning sun.

From a Time Travel that Rescues

His fingers travel, hitting a slide note across the fret board of the maple wood. And with all of his heartfelt might, it implores a gentle bend towards the end of what appears to be a decent soundtrack for a short film. The notes from the verses were taking their time drifting past the universe of my ever wandering mind. As I was sitting there slouching on the kitchen chair with so much ink in my head, I was chasing off the day when I first met her on Mars through the lenses of a telescope. When we held hands on its dotted surface, the day when we made Saturn the most envious across and all, and the lingering memory of how my eyes tried to hold on to a rocket ship flight, memorizing all its reds and its silvers, the comet painted across its wings and the flaps, a single journey with the knob of the volume turning notches higher, amplifying this sunburst feeling from within.

Got me a clean white page to begin with, then a cup of coffee to limber up these senses to wake. Scribbling across with a free hand with whatever thought that comes in mind to finish the blueprint for the machine I was building.  I had my body bent going over page by page, prepping up a map for the series of time and rest stop destinations I was planning to visit. As the first of the many sun shining graces came in, sharing a little act of compromise, it took me back to when the younger days seemed to be a little bit longer, when learning about the final frontier and day dreaming about fighting in an alien invasion were still a bit romantic and all you ever needed for energy was to look up to the space and the constellations and your endless imagination will never fail you to nourish.

It was hard to play pretend so I decided to go down into the basement and put on my time traveller’s suit.  I was back peddling in time, checking the gauges making sure that there will be just enough fuel for the return trip. But unlike Doctor Emmett’s flux capacitor, mine was powered by bourbon.  A glass, submerging myself as it found me peace amidst the clutter. It was surprisingly quiet.

A whisper to oneself, landing a long summer thought in slow motion as I sat there dumbfounded in the cockpit of this time-craft staring at the most colourful lights that flicker. I was trying so hard to remember what each switch was for. There were blue lights and orange, red and some yellow ones. An ejection metal lever, a navigational stick in front of me and the driving wheel with easy to push ignition accelerators for both thumbs. It was a crazy science fiction I would say. There were also the high-tech monitors that surround me, dashboard after dashboard, and of course, a big round red button that I dared not to push, but really tempting to.  The only thing I got right so far was putting the seat-belt on. I was about to hit on the state of panic, when my peripheral vision made a sudden breakthrough.  There laid beside the pilot’s seat a sealed envelope that was addressed to whoever was going to encode the starter pin for this vessel with a writing that says:  “No rush, it will come to you”.  With the entire child’s curiosity in me that was screaming to do what was obvious, I hurriedly opened the envelope, tearing through what was inside and what awaited me.  It was a mixed tape, reminding me to relish the inevitable and the course I was about to take.

The song plays, I was ripped, an eject and rewind to repeat routine.  I turned my head on the ceiling light beams from the digital stars that rest over my head. The ignition starts, I was leaning my head against the headrest of the well cushioned seat, covering my eyes just enough to have a glimpse of the sun shining that breaks through the time machine’s wind shield and side windows as the time machine started to ascend. I was hoping that somewhere between the memorized lines of this two-minute soundtrack, that the notes from the chords initiate an easy-going para-sailing through the vortex of the past.

A lingering mental picture of her face in the sun, I remember the smell of daisies in her cheeks, throwing the words and punching the keys, uncompromising this time, as the first lines were dispensed, they  talked about lemonades and the skylines, taking me back somewhere beneath the shade of the coconut trees, road trips and the speeding cars that raced against fate.  All the slurring drunk romantic thoughts, all the fondness inside that grew, as they leave a familiar line across the chest.

I tried to take it all in, as I was in search for the excitement that once kept me going, of whatever was there to take, of what I was allowed to, as I opened the time traveller’s starter kit user manual to get me going. The subtleness of the lights from around me were painting hues of the different impressions of the world outside, they were like stage actors, with their theatrical portrayal of the sunlight in the early morning.

I was going back in time, the world around me started to stretch, I was on hyper drive. I was traveling in the speed of light with a subliminal velocity. Funny that I can go back but never can touch to alter what was there in front of me. I was like a ghost that nobody sees. But It was a good thing though.  One should have the humility to take the binoculars when the world hands over the opportunity to take a sneak peak to the grand miracles laid outside our door steps, emulating these lessons well taught, taking the time learning to breeze through the dog eared parchment pages of each turning moment, a chance not to change, but offering a new start to just rescue the words for another rendition.

As it dawns nearer, approaching the prelude of the second verse of the inspired song that plays, the cigarette now rests on the mouth of the ash tray while I race my fingertips to descend upon kissing the keys.

The symphony from each touch on a collaborative motion of what seemed to be random, was a gathering of these far-fetched thoughts somewhere deep down, going back to the romantic biases I keep.

Coming around from the corner of my thoughts and towards the end of the last chorus that plays, I remember on how everyone would always sing along to this song in those days, while clutching on to our chests with eyes closed and an open lung, taking in a well dispensed advice from an inanimate friend, the shadow of the day, to always brave the distance of these unfolded tomorrows, embracing the truth of the co- existence of our yesterdays and today, that no matter what , we will always have one another, a beautiful tradition of how everyone was.

Crumpled Origami Crane

I have been back and forth in my mind, going through trying to remember the countless dreams that I had this morning. The harder I try the lost I more become.  A sore loser, I am now pressing the palms of my hands against my eyelids, as I blame my aching back for giving up on me- being too tired to go back to my lost euphoria. The heat from the daylight tells me that I should be up even though my will tells me otherwise. Slowly, I opened my eyes just in time to find myself realizing that I am too early to be awake for this Saturday morning. It was as if my restless mind has a life of its own. All I could do now is spoil and just give in as it glides over and through the bluest horizons, leaving behind the rest of my no-good-for- any-outdoor-activity-body motionless, awkwardly positioned and thrown like a crumpled origami crane lying in an ocean of the whitest cloud-like sheets and the most reassuring cushions. My make-believe strong limbs are now deemed useless. The imagination that was once dependable felt like it was all forced. Slumber is too far away yet my consciousness is deep under. I am on a desert looking for the oasis of hope, ever desperate to be quenched by sleep, to be overwhelmed and to be wooed by its promises. A real romance I would say. Easy and true, like reading the words from a bedtime story, singing midnight lullabies. No more pretensions, now believing in fiction and magic, to every nostalgic meaning and for these softest pillows, I clutch.

I am polygamous for loving one and all.

The warmth lingers as it gently moistens my ashen skin and cracked lips. The rays from the sunlight indulgently playful passing through the window. Microscopic and magnified, they appear to be dancing having the time of their lives in a parade, as they waltz their way through the thin glass. And as they enter we can see that they have willingly committed their entire existence just to shatter into splinters of gem-like formations.  A color mixture of intangible ruby, diamonds, and emeralds with golden sunflower hues. They collaborate with the traffic of specs that gently sailing through the air, gliding and floating adrift, drawn to the sunbeams like a moth to a lamp – the only light in the room. They had brought life along with them, greeting the frailty in me with this renewed day.

I found a thought suspended in the air, and then grabbing a hold of it as I try to be more comfortable by placing one heel on top of the other foot against the window sill. The porcelain ashtray lying next to me, parallel to my cigarette hand while my left hand is tucked-pressed between my head and my trusty pillow.

I did not want to get up. I felt the guilt whispering in my ears. Finally, sleep has decided to make up for lost time. She is the jealous type-  the more you ignore the closer she gets. She’s like Morrissey in the song.  No will can turn its invitation away even if one comes to be real focused on the thoughts of greater consequence. The fractions and the equations will make no sense. Every known law in physics will remain written in textbooks, but not all will apply.

“Just for ten minutes then I will have to wake up” I told myself, but I knew I was over committing.

I could see every thought twirling over and under, from my mind to the chest they were overflowing, a hodgepodge of familiar and the strange. Each episode was like a paper note tied to a string – a kite taking its flight sending messages up to the sky. A strong pull to let it go that is the trick. And through the clouds each went, higher and higher until they can never be seen. I knew I still had them, it felt I still did. But suddenly without warning the reel full of strings went berserk, rolling loose, rushing, so I tied the end of the strings I had to the wooden posts of the bed. For a second there, I thought I had all the kites anchored, but I was proven wrong when I felt the bed started moving.

We went crashing through the wall.  Attempting to find cover behind the headboard, we went through the concrete and all the debris, shooting up to the morning sky and out we went to the blackened space of comets, supernovas, and what seemed to be a body of an outer space aurora. Everything was going fast as it happened. The pace of this dream was off the charts. I could see the landscapes of greens, the polar caps and the watery blues of the world below. Morning never looked so alive as the current and the waves run the whitest of white. While the other side of Earth glitters with city lights, humbled in the blanket of the beautiful night. As the man in the printed pajamas was sitting on the edge of the crescent moon dabbling his feet in the dreams of those who rest below. He turns and waves hello. Careful not to fall, with one hand holding the wooden headboard, I tried to balance my body to repay the courtesy. I then realized that it was not I that was looking down on everything, but it was the stars that did. They are the audience, not me. I felt stripped of my clothes, naked in front of heaven’s prying eyes.

I am in between the skies and the earth, now fearing that my flying vessel may snatch a sudden jerk waking me up from the dream that was ending way too soon. Now keeping both eyes open, consciously trying not to make any unforgivable mistakes yet relishing, I looked over my head as I decided to finally close my eyes for a moment to feel the air brushing through my hair. I was letting go, accepting the fact that I might not even remember any of these things when I wake up. But no worries, for the mind may forget but the soul never will.  And for as long as we dream, even though our minds are not conditioned for these sorts and our expectations are not cut out for anything as spontaneous as she is, I’d say, ride out anyways.  For dreams are like faith, it is for the believers, for those who have nothing to possess, for those whose hands are bare, for the astronauts and the cloud watchers in us, for the ever hopefuls.

Old Typewriters and Flying Pages

INT – Room, Morning.

Pushing the words in an ever-open-envelope, influenced and kissed by this sudden need to dispense.  As I was looking outside, the morning was about to break. With my arms hanging loose while the window was carrying the weight of my body, my senses were ready like a child from a storybook waiting for that summer inspiration to pass by hitching.  I guess on this height I could say that I was so sure that I was about to take a leap. I was holding my breath in turns while skimming the pages looking at the illustrations from the elegance of this morning view that melted all the ice particles it could find in my once anxious mind.

I decided to detach myself from all the things they taught you in history books and from the cosmos.  I was gradually letting go.  I started punching the keys, I was as fluid as the running water in the river you could say. I was bedazzled and I was subdued.

Sometimes chaos works and the randomness and the chopsuey of events will just do.

I got a cigarette from my secret stash, my right-hand pocket to be exact. And while lighting it, I am seeing all of space through my smoky morning lenses.  I then readjusted the frames for comfort and a better view as I was holding a book that supposedly teaches you on how to be a master of your own consciousness. But one could only hope.

Beats, I then tossed the book out of the window watching its pages flap, taking its first-ever flight in the open.

The warmth it brought me was incomparable, far better than reading the damn thing.

I was pretty sure and could have sworn that it had taken its time, gliding on its way down.  I think it enjoyed the fall and smiles as it hits the ground.  It was golden I told myself. A scene to be filmed; I regretted not catching the flight on my camcorder.  I guess most treasured moments are.

I then vacuumed my thoughts with nothingness found and then suddenly out of nowhere the light refracts. It bent landing a sudden turn on the watery pavement as it hits. It was changing its direction in a way. And as I found myself lingering in this moment, I relished this peaceful state of time.  As I elbowed the base of this old wooden window frame with my left palm now finding its way resting against my cheek (an opportune place to take its camp, carrying my head’s weight) I was also careful not to be burned by the nicotine stick it held.

As a kid, I believed in happy endings. I guess nowadays we call that Algebra.  Does it always have to be that? Can it be just air guitars and water guns?  When imagination still allows you to live for years in the icy polar caps with only Eskimo kisses to keep you warm. I miss the days when you could still play in the rain without catching flu. When everything was still analog, and saying hello to a friend was still flesh and bones.

“Clickety-clack” my old typewriter used to say.  With my blistered fingertips and the bickering words, they were from the unedited, unbarred thoughts I call home. Mistakes were snow painted, it was very human-like. Messy and yet it was okay. Everybody was fond of cassette tapes and real literature.

I miss those days. I guess time is the greatest thief there is.

The wind blew and my cigarette was almost done.  At last something real had said hello.  I turned to where it came from as I plan to repay this much-appreciated gesture; I thought I heard it whispered something very familiar,

I thought it asked me to come out and play.

“Sure” I said. It needed not to ask.

The Boy from School

How can such beauty exist? As he softly pressed each key trying, just trying to paint a small picture of. Trouble was, she can no longer hear it anymore. For she had sailed on a ship light years ago. For the notes were kept hidden and were never put into record. It was of a twisted fate that had dictated it to be so, not to meet those longing eyes anymore. As the boy had looked back and all of these wanderings were done within a thought, counting the stars on the ceiling, on the upper deck, as the curtains swayed, dancing as if it had empathetic feelings for a friend.

I took a hold of his curiosity, of how such a grand and limitless wonder in such a place like this could ever have lingered.  Many pages before a boy in school was looking forward to the summer. Rushing towards the streams of his unrushed dreams, bearing this brand-new feeling of awe as he held for her, daffodils with sunlight he hoped.  The park of his destination was silenced when the church bells struck six. All his chances were hanging loose, but it was a time for a beginning to blossom.

Has he ever played real music before? Has he given it a thought to sit down on the other side of the piano bench just once? Has he ever learned that it is not for the heart of a fool that he must play? Has he learned in time that it is for and only for the cradles of her memory to be laid it all down? Stubborn was he I know, but I confess that I too have not seen it for a very long time. That such a reminder should keep me in. I hope the skies would still endure me anyhow, like the days when the caring rain would still let me brush their words. Long time coming, I am yet to write the saddest tales I know.

His fingers numbed, they were still not of age. He was no more than four and a half feet tall, yet his heart was as immense as the bluest ocean that no bucket can fill. The innocence surreal, only butterflies can peel. As he had found the strength just in time before the sun sets, storytellers they keep on striking the keys for as long as she is around the least. He could never ask for more, she came in her velvet ribbons with buttons, yet he has but an ounce of courage left in him. Draining as she approaches, yet he felt he had so much to give.

I found a small wooden box underneath the case cabinet, it was old.  I found stained pictures but happy ones.  I saw the tire swing that was once tied to a sturdy branch, and I heard the voice of the old ocean calling to me.  It seemed like a postcard you’d get during the holidays. I have seen these before from another lifetime I knew, as I tried to entwine those days with all the colors in me.

All things must end but surely it was not for that boy. He had lived long enough before turning into the man he is right now. And when time had convinced him to finally let go, the milk has gone bad, left on the side table for the wind to waste.

And one couldn’t help but ask, has he written enough love letters to make her stay? Has he remembered to take his old man’s advice to take her climbing trees?  Or bought her ice cream and asked her to take a swim into the ocean perhaps? Has he told her about all the adventures of the imaginative Tom Sawyer and the biting wits of Huck Finn?  Or was he too young to have done it so? Take us back oh father time for one has so much to do, so much to say.

The Fool on the Yellow Balloon

credits to getrealphilippines.com

Strike a pose, go ahead and wear your pearly whites clean as I would try to open my mouth and sing.  But why is it that I do not see you singing along? Have you gone tired of me? Instead of hums what creeps in is the frown under the golden crown you call your real man’s hat.

We were sitting on the sidelines once, watching what seemed to be an old marching band approaching towards us as they were playing the tunes of those whom you may call once free.  The funny thing was, their old red parade uniforms did not fit them anymore. Tailored no pockets for possessions and it was not washed either. Yet they brave the stares cast upon them as they make their way towards this dead-end street.  They were the poets of their time.

I turned to you like a child and asked what it was they were singing about. But you said it was nothing of great importance, that I should not pay any attention to.  I guess it pained your feeble heart that you had to throw them the first rock you saw.  I tried to stop you, but you became something else, a giant eggplant. Your head almost exploded.

I go back to the days when we used to write our stories together. Had we told about the meowing dogs, the barking cats and the other animals that learned to talk and rose to save their forest?  About the struggles they had fought for? For the never-ending sunrise that came anyways in the morning. The uncharted deepest sea, to Atlantis, that no man had ever gone to before and the immeasurable ether we used to call faith. I relish the episodes when you used to love your drunken train of thought. I respected you for that.  And when carefree was not yet careless, you always had me each time you slurred. Those reckless words were beautiful in their own light and it was really messy, and it was true, it was our saving grace, we were indestructible we always thought.

“My ghastly September” the red moon has yearned. The barrel of the rifle was left unclean, the blade was stuck stiff to its sheath and sometime during one’s surrender when I had fallen to rest my shield, you snuck out of your shell and had taken off on that magic yellow balloon.  And from up there as you looked down on everyone making your smooth escape, you yelled and called my name to say goodbye.  As I woke and see you through the midnight window pane, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as you took away my words thinking to yourself that I could never remember to rewrite them on paper. As you leafed through it all, crossing out the lines and then crumpled all the pages, turning them into fuel for your floating vessel for fools.

We are endless you see.

Ramblings on a Moonless Sunday

Once in a while, we are all able to wear that strong feeling that everything is alright that nothing in this world could ever take that glorious, invulnerable feeling away from us. A very good friend has once told me that we all have this capacity to turn even the loneliest moment into the most memorable and happiest one. It is sort of turning a piece of paper into linen or silk. A person who is able to do this could live his borrowed life, turning it into his own.  It is as if an opportunity or some kind of invitation that was long forgotten by man. Well, most of us sort of did. Our existence is like the pages we read, a story waiting to be told. The question I guess is how you would want it to be written. I’ve read somewhere in a film script, setting it up as a punch line in a joke that was being thrown to another character, that good writers are those who lie the best.  Maybe, but I guess for those who live in real life, as we all attempt to make our own stories to be soon told by another in our eulogy perhaps, if we are that lucky, that our journey can be defined by those who had the opportunity to walk with us in this very short and humbling existence that was lent by the one hand who created everything.

All of these ramblings perhaps came from oversleeping and too much sugar from cupcakes and chocolates that I had eaten this afternoon I don’t know. But to be able to realize such, may it be scientific or cosmic in nature had made me nonetheless learn that every step that a mere mortal would take has a corresponding end result that would affect another human being. If we are to use and insert the subject of physics in the matter and relate the aforementioned to what one is about to say, that the concept of Newton’s third law of motion is that,  as the textbooks had ever so defined it  – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This was the guiding principle my high school teacher had once insisted us her students to memorize sometime in the 3rdquarter of the senior school year.  I never thought it could be of use outside our classroom and it took me many years to even pay little attention to it. In college, I would then hear it in a group discussion, of drunks, trying so hard to be philosophers in their own bold ways. One quoting a famous figure, a cynic one, who said that dreams are for those who choose to live their lives with eyes closed.  Another would then concur, just to please, but twists the premise and sort of explaining to disagree, “yes, and when us fools dream with our eyes closed, that is because we have got faith”.  Funny, that in the morning, these poor slobs won’t even realize what they have spoken about. They are what I would like to call, the world’s most “humble philosophers”.

And that had struck me thinking to myself that we can pick up these fragments of wisdom in almost everywhere, during whatever circumstance we are into. Most of us would work all our lives to just grasp that higher learning and to just live a better life – based on how we would define it, and we would travel great distances just to discover that what we are looking for is already within us. We would literally kill ourselves by slowly out work our bodies just to taste that free air. A dream to achieve most of us would enjoy in our graves, as soon as we are all forgotten in time.

What is it really we are in search for? Have you ever stopped in the middle of your busy life and asked yourself just that?

Maybe you would probably say that you have got everything figured out, maybe you do, but an invitation still awaits us all to reevaluate.

On this moonless evening, it is like walking with eyes closed. But it does not matter, I have got more than one sense to help me out. I guess the things that refuse to be seen are those that matter the most. Like the air that we breathe, or the softest whisper from a loved one before we rest to sleep, the warmth of a friend’s companionship that can be felt in a degree further within during the cold.  The funny thing is that all of these can also be seen if transformed. In fact, it can be written on a piece of paper or in the sand if one wishes so. So that it can be read and shared in different ways without having to lose its real form. It is like the water bedded in the strongest river, the same as the still when poured in a glass.

I guess we are but each chapter attempting to finish this book we call life.

An Epilogue for a Memory

They say I spend too much time loafing around taking my time in almost every opportunity, sleeping and dreaming my life away. I guess I’m just fond of spending my day typing around a thought. From an inspiring photograph or from a line that I came across from a film or from a split second memory that lasted longer than it should, always trying to make a rendition that would fit into the frames of these realizations, taking my time finishing the first draft just before anyone could ever have the chance to say anything about it, owning those short-lived moments.

I got out of bed, sleepy still but feeling too tired to rest. Hopeful to find warmth outside so I tried to walk off the boredom that stemmed out of nowhere. Perhaps I was a lyric or just an octave short. Something inside was telling me that I was almost there, as I wandered around asking myself what would happen if inertia lost its momentum and soon, I would eventually be out of my pacing especially when procrastination makes it really easy to stop. Ever since way back, I came to live a life having no grand plans, no blueprints, I was never really picky about what went on in both my short and long-term activities. I was never good in any of those. It was never because I chose it to be so, nor going against the current kept me afloat, no, nothing like that at all. The thing was, I did not know what I wanted to do until every time I got to where each was. That is why when the world spins twice as fast, I would always sit in one spot and just take a time out. Probably not a very good option to pattern your life with, but this was where I came to see the things that worked for me.

I remember just before the dawn in the passenger seat while watching the world fly by — as the crescent moon was just about to say goodbye — my head was slumped against the half-opened window as I stared at everything between the light and the dark. I’m not sure if I was really awake or if I was dreaming — I could not tell the difference. The headlights and those red tails in front of us contributed to the abundance of a feeling as they draped the road photo ready. While the wind was messing with my sixty-peso haircut, I simply enjoyed each feeble breath, spending the time being lost in those thoughts in tranquility, frozen in time, while the world was still asleep.

To help relieve my bad leg, sometimes I would tie my shoelaces loose.  I like that light feeling and I complain much less.  It is as if I am being taken back, looking right at her face in a glance of memory, in those few seconds every time the passing headlights from the other side shine right at her.

Those days are like a pop song in my head.

It was like doing a flip-flop. Somewhere within the mid-flip, we realized that the real paycheck was what we had there on our laps. She was right, nothing is ever good enough if you are still alone though. And how we knew it mattered did not pose any significance. We never got that far anyway. Not being ready did not mean I was never up for it. I guess I was just slow, like dripping honey on a jar. Waiting for something is already hard enough, much harder if you had forgotten what it is for.

After the rain, when the wind called out and sent its invitation, we would always stay up late, after hours of cassettes and cigarettes hanging by the open living room door, staring at the seemingly fallen stars on the gutter as they glittered around while the ground was still soaked, thinking to ourselves that the world was clean once more.

I remember the night when she tore a page from her pocket journal that she always hid and carried in her pack, writing a two-liner lyrical dream that she could have sworn to have caught everything that I wanted to say in my lifetime. Then she threw the note in the bathroom sink turning the water blue with a haze of black. “Colors at last” She said.  Well, I didn’t know about that, but the words are flowing now that those days are gone. But we never really cared if it really did, or why the coffee stains on the sheet was there in the first place. She said it was for good luck and so I kept the memory tucked in my chest.

Not the sentimental type but in that silent moment I thought to myself that for as long as we kept our headlights on, we would always smile and drive our way into those tunnels in an exit song just before the credits. As the stories and the metaphors go on, I would sip my way through this aimless journey attempting and taking my time not owing anyone an explanation. Maybe it is just me, but I think, a slow fade is the way to go.

Arguably, the Best Mom in the World

You would probably say and argue that your Mom is the best one in the whole wide world, now if you’d do that, you can bet your armpits I would disagree and brag all the nicest things my mother had done for me, and probably you would do the same and we would be at it the whole day and nobody would ever win. Imagine that.  Not to mention the rest of the world that would want to join us, in this endless contest of whose Mom is the best.  So let us not go there Okay?

Today is Mother’s day, and we would all want to stop and remember that person who carried us in her belly like a kangaroo for 9 months. And I know that you too, do not say as much.  This is an attempt to do just that, an attempt to be able to send the message across, I hope it works.

My Dad passed on when I was 11.

It was right after the summer when he left me and my siblings in the capable hands of my Mom.  She is tough as nails, I remember the day after my Dad left, she spent the entire day crying, but in the next morning, she stopped worrying and started finding ways on how to earn money just like that.

She was never been employed all her life before that dreaded day came. My Dad wanted my Mom to be the traditional housewife, keeping an eye on the kids, making sure that all 5 of us were being watched and taken care of.

We never saw that day coming.

If I were to choose between my Dad and Mom, I would, without hesitation would pick Mom. Please do not get me wrong, I loved my Dad and miss him as much. But I have this personal belief that all children should never be left alone without their mothers and that is non-negotiable.  A mother would always know what to say when her son came back from school crying from a fight, she would even call up the boy’s teacher and raise that concern during the PTA meeting.

A mother would never leave her child, under whatever circumstances through the cold dark night when he is sick, she would, without thinking twice take a leave of absence from work since she would be ridiculously worried all day if she won’t be able to.   I love that about them.

During our ordeal, without any experience or the background, just to make ends meet, my Mom ventured into the “Party Needs” business. She started really small. And what was funny about it was, she never had a business partner or the people to help her.  If there was an event, she would always call me and twin brother out, most of the times when we were busy trying to be romantic teenagers and would ask us to carry 50 to 60 monoblock chairs and 8 to 10 party tables, four to sometimes six blocks away from ours.  To share the humiliation we would always drag our reluctant friends over to help us. I lost count on how many times, but it was quite an experience nonetheless and we would always laugh about it.

What I really liked about it though is the part when my Mom would single-handedly makes the balloons herself. She would be up the whole night just doing that. I remember when the first time it happened when I woke up with all of those colors in the room – it felt like I was in Balloon wonderland or something. She would always make hundreds or sometimes do over a thousand when she got big projects.  Just imagine the kitchen, the stairs, and even our rooms were filled with them, with Mickey Mouse prints on each, some of them helium balloons, some requested on sticks.

Those times were really tough, and good money was very hard to earn, but I must say, waking up in those days, for me it was like living in a playhouse.

My Mom believes in culture, more so in Music. That’s our family mark. In 1996, my Mom bought us our heritage guitar which we shared since we smashed the first two when we were still little. It was a junior sized acoustic from Lilang’s. It was made in Cebu. She knows a good one when she sees it. After that, came the legendary 1984 artist series Ibanez, and the Yamaha electronic keyboard.  She plays both the guitars and the keys and encouraged us to learn. She thought, to keep our sanity together, we needed spirit.

I really admire how she sees life in her perspective. When I rant or complain about something, she always has this way of making me see the good in everything. She’s like a descendant of Mother Teresa, and she never gets tired. She works 6 days a week and every Sunday, as her routine, she would always do the laundry and cook lunch for us. And she only sleeps 5 to 6 hours a day. And it sort of freaks me out at times when I see her do that.

I could only hope to be as wise as she is. I wish I could be as good of a parent as she is to us.  Every day is like a step forward, an attempt. And I have a hundred miles to take. She is as untainted as one could ever aspire to be, the most wonderful person I know. My personal hero.

Shoe-Stringing at 28

Another year has passed by, and it’s my birthday once again! boy how time flies, and now, I’m really getting there, getting older.  Looking at some fifteen, twenty years back, I would have been really excited I mean, celebrating your day as a child was just priceless. for those who do not know me, I was born in April, on this date, at exactly 7:48 am. Maybe that’s the reason why I am so fond of mornings. I remember, during our early years, me and my twin brother had always been celebrating our birthdays outside of our home, in our compound, always basking in the summer sun. We would always start the day by waking up really early, racing and hustling down the stairs in our PJs, always expecting for those color-assorted-balloons, party hats, and the noises our childhood friends make, while they play and wait for the party outside.  As the Pabitin (filipino pinata) is being set up, we would always find ourselves on the sidelines, already eyeing for the prizes that were being tied and hung on a grid made of kawayan or bamboo, 2 to 3 hours before the party.  the stuff being tied there were nothing expensive actually, they were just cheap toys, like a couple of 20 buck water guns, a pair of plastic tennis rackets, some plastic toy soldier figures, and repacked sweets like Serg’s bars and Goya gold coins, some several bags of the famous candies back then like the Haw-haw, Tarzan, Bigboy, and the legendary Mik-mik the powdered milk in a sachet that kids really loved.

The Pabitin had always been the highlight of the party. And as each year went by, and when the budget for our kiddie parties had to be cut short, we always made sure that the bamboo wonder stayed, until the day that we were all forced to grow up.

I miss that 30-second bliss. In those moments, when the grid is finally being lowered, we stretch our arms up and reaching, bending our knees for that big attempt, jumping as high as we could. Our hearts stopped every time.

Snaps, and back to the now, no longer a child anymore, I soon realized that this is the first time that I am spending my day slouching in front of my computer, staring on a blank page, counting the number of blinks the cursor is making, waiting for my fingertips to finally decide and spell their first words.

This day really sucks.

While working on this literary project, something nice and familiar suddenly caught my attention. By the way, I am at home inside my room, making the most out of this early morning, while this, very stimulating cooking aroma, from the kitchen downstairs, is inviting me and sort of taking me back to those nostalgic days that I was telling you about. Honestly, I was kind of excited.  I can only imagine what’s in store for me, I do not have any idea what my mom is making, but the smell of the sautéed onions and garlic somehow gives me an idea.

So I hustled downstairs, as I used to do when I was still a kid, now, no longer in my PJs, but in my boxers instead. Of course, not expecting balloons and party hats anymore, my attention now draws from a mindset of a 28-year-old, with an empty and very discerning stomach. My mind shoots in food suggestions basing it on the smell that woke my senses up and shook the boring mood out of me. I was thinking, Roasted chicken, or maybe pasta, My mom’s world-famous Nilagang baka (beef) or her chicken and pork adobo perhaps. The suspense made me more and more excited, I’m young again I said to myself.

But like in the movies, a sudden twist in the story.  To my surprise, when I finally took out the food cover, instead of delight, I saw 3 pieces of hotdogs and some heated sotanghon from last night. the surprise quickly turned into a very funny epic fail situation. haha.

While enjoying the last remaining bites of these tasty treats from my new age Pabitin, and puffing the life out of my cigarette serving as my birthday candle, as every year nourishes me in this solemn seconds of prayer, I am counting the blessings realizing that every day should be a celebration.

And with all the unnecessary ramblings made, from the child in me, I guess all I’m saying is, thanks for shoe-stringing with me.

Talahib – A Review

What makes up a good record? Should it have a good melody? Probably a very good body and lyrical content, should it be timeless? How about the riffs and the arrangement, have we considered the packaging? How should it be marketed? Should it follow the favorable branding colors, maybe strategically pleasing and easy on the eyes? Or during your gigs, should you see the crowd wave matching glow sticks while doing a synchronized rehearsed movements they call dancing?. I guess all of these things are very essential; of course the artists behind these pieces should be able to capture their desired audience. Who does not want that?

Well, if you’d ask me, I prefer a more subtle answer, but before we get to that, let us look at the last decade, hmm, not much to offer, in my taste, probably most of you would disagree, but there were only few who offered quite a good lasting kicks if you may, and on the top of my list are – Beck for sea change 2001, Bright Eyes with his I’m awake, it’s morning in 2005, of course Radiohead having 2 entries, Kid A 2000 and In Rainbows 2007. And most of the songs in these compilations have that very rich blatant honesty right through the bones. There I said it. I guess the real answer is, having that one most important key ingredient, – that it should be effortlessly true. in the old days, before you could say that you have actually written a good one, you have to actually experience what you are singing about if not, you must at least be genuinely inspired. Only a few have successfully able to do this nowadays, and you can actually tell by simply listening. And to know that you have, there is this thing that you call epiphany or that eureka moment that most artists call that can support and help you on realizing. But now, oh boy, it’s all about what pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I get that, really. Everyone has to eat right? But to do it for the sole reason of vanity? My premise stems from the fact that, these artists kuno have chosen a career path, a career path? really? It is blasphemous to even mistakenly consider it as one. Please indulge me as I wear the hat of a critic.

So what’s the ranting all about? Well, if you really must know, I am writing this piece as my way of saying sorry to my twin brother who is in a band named Talahib. The band has been around for 10 years. And in those years, I have been always searching for new very good materials to listen to, and without me realizing it then, that one of the members of the future, probably one of the most well-formed Filipino bands is living under the same roof as I am and has the same frigging face.

Me and my twin brother, we have our differences, as kids, he always liked Red one, and I’d be Green two from Bioman, get the idea?. Even back then, he always sported that long hair of his that he still wears now, only way longer. Back then we called it Keempee. I tried to relish the idea of it but I did not get why he wanted it, until now. It came to me that when a person really loves doing something, it will come out of him no matter what. My brother is a Natural I guess.

We have our differences, but we never had that in music. Sure there are some minor preferences here and there, e.g. Content arrangement and his super extended guitar adlibs, but nothing massive.

Now his band, Talahib came out with their debut album – “Mga Awit ng Pag-Ibig at Digmaan” on December 09 2011. And It took them 10 long years to release it. You may think that their time has already passed them by, and was too late for this thing to actually happen, but in my book, judging it from their patience alone will give you this notion on how scary careful and detailed these people are. From every lyrical verse to the right notes and the insertion of each riff, to that inviting groovy, spicy, powerful yet collaborative symphony of beats coming from the drums, and other indigenous percussions, the very compelling voices behind each song. they are, without a doubt, a musical force to be reckoned with.

Talahib – or a tall wild grass that can withstand and adapt to almost any conditions, anywhere for as long as all grass stand together. Their roots are entwined, making all of them, in a sense, one. So as their music, as their listeners embraced it, they define it as a breath of fresh air in the Philippine music industry. As they represent not only the generation’s artists, musicians, and poets, but so as the past and current social cry of the public. They take upon themselves to act, through the most effective medium, through the songs of love and war, aiming straight through our hearts.

But I think, all of these will not be achieved without the listeners, if we decide to just relish and sit around, the equation would be incomplete. Apathy is not it. Reading the leaflets and singing along I guess is not enough. Not to take arms nor to go rally the streets, but to simply believe. Hope if acquired is a very powerful thing. more so if it is amplified through the numbers of its believers. We are amidst changing times, and this revolutionary band is obviously, directly singing this to us. I may be over thinking it, but I think they are throwing the right question back at us, – what should we do then?

The band is composed of 10 members. The Album has 11 tracks. Nearly 20 musical Instruments and it took them 10 years to release it.

All we have to do is 1 thing. Believe.

Hand Pocket Sunshine

As I was entering through the revolving door of my wandering mind while watching one of the best shows in the sky with rum-shake, of a grand spectacle free of admission capturing whatever inspiration I may find, attempting to have these sachets of collected interpretations stemming from my very poor and receding memory be translated through a meaning, aiming to say that it is not always about the symmetry in plain view all the time.

Borrowing some rest, away from my lucid habitat made of stacked concrete and plastic decors.  One invites hope for a few offshoot-random encounters which I think are sources of this sudden and periodic influx of Hand Pocket Sunshine.

To get a hold of some I thought to myself, a little wait wouldn’t hurt. So I decided to sit there on the edge of a wooden plank, by the peace of the wind, pondering on my newly found packets of wonders and making friends with time.

Never underestimate the power of eccentricity.

With the right amount of insertion of this odd and unusual behavior, you may find that it is not that bad after all.  It may not always be peaches and lemonades, but to see things from a different view, of life as you know it, well one could say that it is one way to live.  A friend once told me that it is a skill of some sort that does not depend on the conditions of being normal. What is normal anyway?

Every little experience is perspective based.

In the pursuit of clarity amidst the rubble, I remember that it is about finding the good. It is about when to pause and the positioning. It may be difficult to commit to the entire concept of it and it is foolish to rush either, that is why it needs a little reason and isolation on the side.  Recognize that it takes time, the farthest distance one could ever travel I suppose. Respect and let the ingredients simmer and understand that the responses vary.

Mornings will always be there to renew.

Like the lines, we borrow from the parchment pages and poetry, with humility singing for hope, so as sunsets giving way to the next morning. A constant reminder that there is this undying belief that there is always warmth after the long cold night and that everyone should share the same.

I would like to define this argument as – relishing the inevitable. That there will always be this unconditional fondness. That even most of the times it is unspoken, it is what it is. Every day when we connect linking the dots in this unfolded space, whenever we find that perfect color to brush, it is there somewhere between the fine lines and the strokes never fading, always being whispered in its vague and powerful shapeless form.

As I find shelter from phrases and rhymes.

Sleeping for days, the words swirled over, running in circles. Catching my breath then I was caught in that moment and stored the thoughts away. Stolen from a very pleasant forgotten dream, one of the very few things I can say that I can paint a picture of, each time I think of that one early morning in front of my reflection, of a person that once spent his days bending sunlight.

I will miss listening to my nightly anecdotes.

As we attempt to weather blue skies and golden beams, I will always be out strolling with the cool northern breeze enjoying that crystal-like ether from the morning rays on my tanned skin. My chest sways, taking in this easy feeling from a long throw as I go back to that once nightly habit, listening on to the rhymes and storytelling.

I guess we all have our sunsets. Of what could be seemingly an end, may also turn out to be just the dark before the dawn. Do not worry, everything we do it is all half chance.  And as it sets you will see that the shadows and the silhouettes will always be there to cast its play of scenes from real life, portraying how it supposed to be lived.  As we rest our heads in faith, we find surrender in our dreams under the sheets. As we learn to let go, sleeping our lives away, singing that our pockets are not that empty anymore.

Entry # 12: Defeating Rocket Science

Somebody told me that life is an accumulation of experiences. That no matter how short or how long each interaction may last,  may it be with a stranger or with someone you know, no matter how random the encounter is, the sum of it all plus the value of connectivity, these are the fragments that make up the definition.

As this was laid down to me, I realized that it all makes sense come to think of it.  I then conceptualized and applied the very basic method of asking questions and noted down questions like the whys and the hows that make up the experience, etc. Then the study began.

At first, your body may start coughing enzymes of happiness from within. These are complex proteins that produce specific chemical changes in your body. Also, you may not notice it, but your molecules may also start to shake before each encounter. You would then telescope your view and measure the optics. Your vision perceives the stimulus and sends light like signals to your brain, processing it before you can actually see. Please note, However, that what you see and what you perceive stand apart. There is always a distinction. Sight is an acknowledgment of the raw materials that your eyes capture, while perception is about not only how an object looks like or how your mind physically sees it, but how it seems to you, overruling the literal meaning. This is where the different sensations come into the picture.

Towards approaching connectivity, there is also the factor of speech that you must consider.

There are a lot of very intelligent people that do not know how to express themselves even though they have a lot of things to share.  And most of the times during their encounters, there are wasted, lost opportunities for both sides, for the speaker and the listener. The potential of very fruitful exchanges was hindered by unable to say what you really want to express. There should be an abundance intake of oxygen in the body for brain activity and blood flow and it is also imperative to do the necessary preparation and planning. Profiling is another accepted technique that one can consider. The characteristics, the demographics, and the statistics can provide a forecast that one can use during an attempt to land rapport.

With the smart combination of what you have seen and perceived; injecting it in your exchanges finding common ground and the right formula to your conversations may help produce a more favorable response from your subject.

Also, consider gravity. Acknowledge its presence. As it sets a reminder, that your toes must stay where they are supposed to be, as where they are meant to be, on the ground, and as it pulls you down, let your sense of sight soar with the solar beams and sunrays while turning air into poetry and delight.

Then you improvise. Do not be too impulsive though. This may be the very key ingredient of it all, with love songs from shoegazing and a little dash of Britpop, singing sequels and good reviews, from nothingness you would then create a film scene of moving pictures of vivid colors and amusement. Then perhaps you could say that everything is alright. With no grand plans just hope for saving grace and surrender.

With support thoughts of daily dose of afternoon cartoons and letters, you would then cling on to these exchanges for dear life. As our days have always been there to bless us with coffee, sugar and Saturday mornings, we try to earn each fragile moment to take home.

And as we find each morning as an opportunity to turn each cycle and repetitive encounters into a definition, in time, as we get used to the experience, as we wake each morning, we would realize that we never have to mind the cigarette burns and the ash stains, that all the theories and the blah blahs are just there to give frame but not really a component to our interactions. That the real and tangible property is about what lies beneath our skins, the desire that cannot be calculated nor weighed, the acceptance that we are the sum of the life we are all in.

And in the end, we would realize that we never had to complain, but instead, to move forward, all we ever needed was just humor and to display our chubby smiles. Filling ourselves with wisdom not from TV but from real human interactions, taking on the journey as we stride and ocular the skies, relishing the search for that morning slumber. No matter how random, as each interaction translates into happiness connecting the dots, finding out that it is not rocket science after all.

Believing in New Year’s eve

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“Believe, that you are about to steal this moment with her. Running away with the little things, just the little things, with the belief that there are still cheap movies to watch at least. Never getting tired, the excitement ridiculously there all the time, and I bet that even without these words spoken, you’d do it anyways. “

I found myself sitting on an old wooden bench, waiting, a commuter, alone in a shed which stood on a fork in the road, on my way home, one sunny afternoon.

Seeking shelter from a dire shed with its chipped off paint and tilt posture, its once reluctant concrete pillars now wrinkled by the cracks. As its wounded soldier stance tells a story, of its scarred but proud appearance that was brought about the changing weathers, I spared time and listened by leaning against one of her seemingly tired pillars. This old beauty still remained to be the centerpiece of that place though. She was surrounded by an overwhelming knee high mantis fields, with each green grass bowing down to its queen, each time the wind passed by.

On my right sat a dust-covered backpack, resting next to my feet — my only companion in this worn down shelter. I almost forgot this feeling, the abundance of the season’s grace, of the little things around me had taken my eyes away from me, of all of the nicest things and more, that almost simultaneously, I hasten to rest my biases onto these wonders that soon to be morphed into just a mere memory that I alone had witnessed. As I closed my eyes taking deep breaths, of swollen-inflamed entwined feelings of guilt and desire, digesting the stimulus, feasting on the most colorful view, taking mental pictures to make sure that the feeling stayed on, at least for just a little while. Something has to give you away I guess, the addiction translated into something profound, from worse to better, just like that, for your very own sake, just to keep you alive, you know that you need to go back to this place eventually soon.

And soon, youth will be replaced by memories of spilled drinks from plastic transparent cups, of the million conversations you had on those sleepless nights and the laughs and the promises during your days with her. As you clench, as you take and entertain, the feeling inside just burns you alive. But no matter what, no matter how many lines may appear on your fragile skin, for as long as you are in that universe, as you fly that kite of the memory, you can say that you’d feel like you are still in your twenties still willing to run away even with heartburns and that irremovable stench of nicotine in your lips.

As each passing day comes by, as you look at your reflection in the window pane, you’d say that true romance can still be felt these days. Nobody could tell you on how really, but you know it is out there.

As I inhale the last remaining souls of these wonders, I try to capture the feeling within. Having the hammer of my memory to be cocked back, without hesitation, one tries to be awake for the next episodes. Finally ready to take that ride back, hoping that you’d still believe, and holding hands by New Year’s Eve.

Summer draft

No more airplanes just speedways, outdated maps, and crumpled flown itineraries. Panoramic views, paper cup thoughts, and backpacks; it was a romance with turquoise blue and cocaine white, as we follow the sand-tracks of the giant rolling maleta, singing along to the endless strums of our summer acoustic guitars. While most of us were trying to remember the words, some were doing their best just to be in tune. Imagine us in falsettos in the morning sun. As we find sobriety, there were no more zeros and binaries during those days. Just tropical igloos, nicotine lips, and sunglasses, along the shoreline, we were weekend bums on foot.

So this is how it feels like, I told myself. As I strike every key, writing a promissory note of scribbles and shorts, to always surrender to the integers of life. The idea is to take the ripples far, refilling my usual morning routine, putting the words together while tuning in to my old radio.

It is an idle Thursday morning, the weather is fair. It is an easy going day so far. You can actually see the clouds blocking the sun; news report from the radio says it is a windy 24 degrees Celsius. The monsoon is at its peak but there were days during the season when the mercury hits 33. I dream of Laing, our first meal on the island, the brilliant mix of Taro leaves and coconut cream with pork, fish, minced garlic, onion, chili peppers, and ginger. It was the first taste, a preview of what was in store.

A fine lesson, to always remember to throw a smile back to what visits us, a yawn then out of nowhere, seeking for a companion, the playful breeze invites itself into the window screen. Quite an entrance for my intruding guest, as it knocks over the stacked books as it enters. Maybe it was too quiet outside for my bored friend. Whiskey was out of the question, it was too early so I went for orange juice while hitting a couple of my trusty reds. My thoughts were cluttered by rhymes and illustrations from what I have just read. Skipping breakfast, I was caught trapped, trying to shape this overdue draft.  Tried to overrule the idea of writing about last summer, but the delight of the perfect blend of all the good things, the taste that lasted longer than it should, the goodness of it all were too overwhelming for my paper to ignore.

I am yet to make back up copies of the photographs taken of that summer. Memories stored for safe keeping.  As we keep up with the seasons, we cannot just bank on our neuro-capacity to remember.  Youth captured in every snapshot, stolen from time, I remember, during the Sunset, we were our silhouettes doing artsy photograph poses. Making the most of everything on what we had there as the sun held itself proud; it had a different strength compared to the wariness it displays this cloudy morning. And when darkness fell, the universe conquered the night, our planetarium in thousand folds.

We were captives of our own freedom, with carry on lights on our foreheads, our bodies lay, resting, throwing wishes over comets and shooting stars crossing the sea of twilight and glitters. We were fanboys of happy endings and of spaceships and submarines; we were time traveling through our storytelling of hopes and what-ifs with our burnt skin and sandy pockets.

Always out to look for answers, learning, and understanding to see.  I took an early dive, head first into the ocean. I could not find anything; the water was still murky and unsure. As if the ocean was waiting for something. It will not wake without its father, its bright skies. Its humility was based on something beyond compare, it was a wonder.

Trying to figure out, the immeasurable distance above; I am discovering what is in between the empty spaces. The gaps are the bridge we build every day, a connection to the person next to us.  Realizing finally, that it is alright to say that we are all but small ripples in the water, taking on to make a difference, a humble attempt to change the course.

Hits and Misses

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It has been so long since the last time I stepped outside just to feel the sun on my face. This was never part of the itinerary of the day.  The plan was, just to be as lazy as usual, glue the control in my left hand and watch the world in a tube on my wall.  Thinking of it now, catching myself a realization, I used to love being out here, to be in the same neighborhood, living as a kid, without any pretensions, to just wander aimlessly without any plans and direction, to just contribute to the traffic of random movements.

Lately I have never been good in doing things continuously. And in the way things are going, I think I need to put up with that fact. Reassessing, my principle now is of a grown up’s.  Now, I would always say that, the end of something is also a start of a beginning. And over the years I have conditioned myself to believe that my life is a series of changing cycles that one has to catch up with, every time it restarts. I guess that’s how things really are, but then, at times I still ask myself otherwise.

I remember as a child, I was fond of merry go rounds, and what I would always do was lean back, sticking my tongue out of my mouth and taste the sweetness of the wind. Silly may it sound, but there was something about the air when you go fast that I really liked.

We were in 1st grade when my Dad taught me and my twin brother how to ride a bike.

We would go biking around the neighborhood, buying pandesal every Saturday and Sunday mornings, passing by the same houses and never got tired of it. We used to race with the bees at the park. Sundays were even better with our Mom’s turbo-roasted chicken and for me; it just got sweeter and sweeter every week. Our family turbo roaster retired last year.

During afternoons, when the Duhats and the Alatiris are ripe enough, we would climb the trees to feast. And as far as we were concerned, the Duhats and the Alatiris were all we ever needed to survive. We steal Kamias from our neighbor’s for spice, and most of the times caught but it did not matter, we were just kids anyway.

Even in our early years, we had our way to out play the grown up romantics. Instead of buying a dozen of roses, what we would do was make bubbles out of Gumamela.  Pounding the slimy juices out of the leaves and petals, plus ground detergent, we pretend to be the pilots of zeppelin bubbles with rainbow striped glare that would wow every girl in our street. And when it rains, instead of staying indoors, with our air cool sandos, we would peel off blank pages from the back of our school notebooks, and instantly, we become captains of our own paper boats; our fleet sailed in the rain swollen gutters.

One morning, my son and I took a walk out of our front gate and saw the same gutter where I used to play growing up. But now everything looked different. We then paid a visit to where the Alatiris tree and the Gumamela plant used to stand, but they were both gone.  I told him of our stories and adventures with those trees, of how we caught the biggest spiders on the branches and lizard eggs laid in between the hollowed blocks of the wall behind them.  Dylan was all ears.

Luckily the Duhat tree was still there but it no longer bear fruits. Maybe someday it will again, maybe when kids start to play and climb trees again. It saddened me for a while but felt thankful right after.  I realized that they will always be a part of what was, a story of the past and of the kids who played and out grown the life.

And I guess this was what listening to all of those plastic records was all about. It was never just to read the leaflets or just to sing along. It was about something else. As I write these words before hitting lazy mode again, before resting my aging legs to rest, I would try again to relish these collisions with the kid in me, may it be solicited or not, to just crash and see what is carefree.  Hits and misses.

Caffeine, Love, and Sleep

I remember having the conversation of our lives as if it was happening before me. Her pale body now colored by the dim light from the lamp across the room, the shade was just perfect from where she was. Her painted eyes gazing with grace, she had her left arm supporting her head elbowing the cushions. I was sitting on the edge of the bed with leaflets of old cassettes, burning cigarettes and magazines, I had everything there I needed. We were scientists with our bubblegum theories and shooting stars perceptions, the wall clock made no sense- as if the night will never end.

I was aiming my attention looking past the side table through the open window. I was staring outside, but my mind was way off somewhere beneath the experience of lullabies and hums. Not my intention to, but my tired back gave in, the comforts of the sheets and my trusty blanket were overpowering. And as she brushed my hair to sleep, I was sold to the treats of slumber. I was out with the stars over our heads.

Somewhere beneath my dreams, I was being carried. With helium balloons and flying watermelons, I was afloat with the clouds – up into space I glided. I knew that it could only last for so long, but it was cosmic, nonetheless. It felt right, with nothing beneath me, only stardust, tiny heavenly specs of wonders they were. The beams of oranges and samurai blues hazed mixed streaming by the rings and the moons. Funny, that even in my sleep I could still hear her breathing. I knew that she too had fallen to sleep, subdued tenderly by the whispers of the lateness of the night.

Rewinding the episodes, it was summer when it started. The warmth of the season had just begun to settle in. With our drunken smiles, we found ourselves playing through the honey coated fields – it was endless. She had her ways, I had mine, we were incoherent she and I. Learning how to forget about our tomorrows, we wandered aimlessly through our days. It was like we knew where we were heading, without roadmaps nor directions, we braved the crossroads and the highways. We were renegades, with our bandanas and leather jackets, having no expectations in our pockets.

In those days I was looking for the answers but what I end up finding was the soundtrack of my life. A little dose of her in paper kept on striking the keys before the cold with caffeine on my side. I was on my way to my thoughts, to a place where I always go to find her. I went rushing to her doorsteps then a sigh. As I held the words within, about to slide in a letter under her door, having second thoughts, but it was Inevitable. It was bound to happen anyway I figured.

A couple of hours before dawn I turned to my left now facing her, “My love defined” I whispered in her sleep. Our night light flickers, we shared one bed, travelers in different worlds. My love was both inches and miles away from me. Half asleep, somehow, I see her smiling, thinking to myself, what magical dreams she was on. Moments, subconsciously we both hear the speeding cars outside, sleepless in their roars, from yellow over the white lane, recklessly they follow the tail lights before them, the architected paved routes they are on. And as I held her close only to lose her, Jealousy kicked in, as the sandman’s charm creeps in, it was more compared to mine.

Sunrise

Waking up from a dream I can only wish that the clouds were clearing up outside. I tried to get out of the bed, but as always it took me quite some time to even make it sitting down. Still in bed against the wall, I was still zonked but I could tell that it was still early — feeling the cold concrete on my back. As I rubbed my eyes to open with an aching head — had too much of everything last night — I realized that I have not had a cigarette for hours, so I lighted one in celebration.

I closed my eyes several times wandering off in my thoughts walking here and there, in the shapeless dimensions of my own universe. I did not realize that I had fallen back to sleep. Lately, I have the habit to narcotize myself by sleeping when things are not that amusing. After a while, finally getting up, way too early for breakfast and still in last night’s clothes, I took a look through the misty glass of the window checking on the weather. I stepped outside then sat on the sand, too lazy to do anything, just chewing gum while the others were still sleeping, as I waited for the sun to bleed beams on me.

Early mornings are still the best. As I watched the waves kissing the shoreline again and again, it was through waiting that I completely understood that the then and now are not that different from each other after all. Waiting to be there and to do what is now. While the wind did the same with me, as it graced onto these passages, as we decided to take a stroll through the corridors of our deepest thoughts during so, we found black and white Polaroid’s moving in slow motion and at times in overly animated shorts of how things were and are.

We learned to let things be. So, we sat and waited for our sunshine. The virtue gave us more time to ourselves. It somehow expanded the short time we had, supported precision on analogy, while process carefully observed.

Guarantee was not an ally though, but hope is.

Drizzles dropped, ironically, I still had my sunglasses on. Ever hopeful for my sunshine to come, I had no choice but to move by the tree towards the shade. The fruity taste of the gum started to fade. Thoughts of what ifs and could have been came in. Sometimes even if we are exactly at the precise position, things still fall short. But those days were all about second chances, so one chose to wait still.

I found and opened up a note from my left pocket reading it to myself. I could not recognize the handwriting at first, but it was mine. I must have written it the night before — I could not remember. Writing to imitate, I tried to make it my own. Wanting to be original, a conventional fool, the words we found beneath the hums and the pages were the ones we sang to the people we woke up with. We watched the sky unfold from monochrome until it slowly turned into butterscotch gold. Blissfully sedating with hangover, we took a dip down under into the ocean’s arms. Washing away our blue Octobers while ceiling us were the vastest horizons lined by white rabbit clouds and giant seahorses. We watched the sunrise to always remember that there are always good days to look back to. Binding and overwhelming us were the waters and the skies.

We were in between with sands on our feet.

The sensations of turning the tides, the now and then to be one and the same, bending space and time, I had my legs folded against my chest. As the sun finally showed its magnificence, its rays revealed the stains on my plain white. On the sand, never minding, as another day brakes — I was still there waiting, in celebration.

Post-Note Confession

I have my body stretched between the spaces and the cushions, facing up, staring blankly at the ceiling, with my thoughts pushed backward; the room seems a little different this time, maybe I was away for too long that things are seemingly new to me. As I get reacquainted, my mind is somehow stuck somewhere elsewhere. Funny that this thing in me lingers, the microbes are getting way too closer each time. An exhale and a puff more, as the ether running through my fingers, feeling the warmth, trying to stay conscious, between asleep and awake, I realized that I have yet to unpack some of my things from the trip. A second and back to thinking, convincing oneself that things are the same, still waiting anxiously for the rain, trying to put sense out of everything, a poor attempt to squeeze in algebra back to the things that once were.

It was still dark when we left; the calmness of the night subdued everyone, an invitation to sleep. The glittering pellets shed light over our heads as they also reveal our tired bodies resting, the wind offering its share, as it whispers its lullabies from afar, cradling us, off to slumber most of us went, the silence with happiness hitting cold down to the waters, a cigarette and a match, standing to stretch my legs, being cat-quiet about it, careful not to wake the others, I placed my back leaning against the bamboo brace of the boat. I was caught up by the silence realizing that the chugging from the motor had stopped. Looking around, then accidentally, bumped into a thought as I glance upwards, I was taken held by the overwhelming vastness of the night sky.

It was around 3 in the morning, the mountainsides walled our route to the port, and apparently, the boatmen had a little trouble with their little ship, stuck in the middle of nowhere, somewhere, having the habit of taking the good out of everything, now I have my attention fixed to what I think I have fallen in love with.

And as one clutch on the moment, when everyone was in their sleep, I snuck out my feelings, a travel between my mind and my chest. Probably the farthest I have ever taken so far, dazzled by the innocence, never uttering what was meaning to, one can neither let it go nor hold it too tight, frosting glass it was. One has been caught in a trance at the moment, then a revelation. The wooden raft and the waters offer an analogy – why is it that most of the time we need to know where to stand and feel something constant under our feet? When all we need is buoyancy to stay afloat. Having my own conversations, but not losing it (see Microbes). then a counter:  We need to have something firm to stand on, to reassure ourselves if we rely on buoyancy alone, eventually our legs will tire and drown (quantifiable factors – see The Simple Things).  Being stuck out of nowhere in the middle of the night, with no life vests and a failing motor, out with the stars brings me back to the story of the people of the desert, who relied on the skies for answers when lost. Doing the same, reluctant at first getting any, I began stopping analyzing too much. My eyes went off way up and just appreciated what I have there at the moment. One cannot remember how long my senses were out, and then suddenly I am beginning to finally see the answer. And there it was. Staring in front of me, – What we feel needs not to be reciprocated, the romance we feel is the love we want to share with the people we care for, and when we share, it is giving. So In conclusion, one realized that what we hope to inspire is not a reaction. We don’t want that, but instead needing another is like turning your love note into a one way- paper airplane, throwing the words and letting it all go.

Back to the apartment, I am now sitting by the window, realizing, what was seemingly a long wait has already come to a halt. And as each raindrop hits the pavement, it was like watching the rain dance.  A sip and a puff, with happiness, felt, now I can probably say that I have seen the goodness once again.

A Perspective

Rolling down the window, now, I have my head out to feel the sun. A passenger with my sunglasses on, filtering the noon rays, I relish the eastern breeze that bids farewell. Looking up, I see fluffy cotton candies, infinite blue skies swirling over and over, mirroring the sea, the tree-branches reaching on to each other, casting shadows, as they offer shade for those who may want to rest.

As one tries to capture every detail in prints, memorizing each honest breath, and transcribing the feeling on a canvass for words, my notes are filled by crossed-out lines and incoherent phrases. As one stumbles, not really caring of what color-paste to use, I am now overwhelmed by these scenes rolling before me.

Funny how we get from one place to the next, with ease, my once tired mind is now ready to have this skipping pen moving along, to have it scratching on my scalp before throwing a few wrong and a couple of right ones, I think I may have found a new perspective to finally begin with.

One of the best things while being away is the thought of you having something to go back to. While most of us are more than willing to drop everything, taking on that great escape, a vacation perhaps, being so darn spontaneous because we are young, or at least feeling like one, without really thinking about it, we are yet to realize that, what we are out looking for is already within our reach, inside the confines of our walls. Sometimes, all we need to have is another angle to see each day a new.

Drive down the interstate or have the curve taken, when you are tired of the usual things, try another route on your way home, or walk in the rain sharing an umbrella, seeing the city in full length in different hues.

As your body tires, you miss the scent of spilled milk on your pillow during sleep. Having those conversations in bed, heart-stoppers cheese eggs for breakfasts, and as the morning beams intrude, shining through the window pane, reading, and storytelling, with too much caffeine, you lie wide awake listening to cassette tape records. – that for you is one of the most profound things in life.

Daydreaming, I have my attention stuck on the ceiling cracks in the backseat. Halfway to the city, one can’t wait to have my first cigarette for hours, I turned my head back looking outside, ever longing to see her again, to hear her read the words out loud, promises, throwing those arms around me, now conscious, with my backpack stuffed with used clothes and a few bucks to get back, wishing to be in her sugar rush embraces soon, listening to her love stories, to be home.

The Simple Things

Sitting outside my door, on the steps reading the sky as it writes, its narratives across and over the day line, sharing the sunshine on everyone down here.  Pretending to be up there, I have my mind set imagining that I am taken adrift by the winds over the plains and the greens.  As I have my Journal with me, I am lost yet surprisingly felt found in the experience.  You can probably see me closing my eyes as I do this, opening at times to have that pen moving, writing down a list of what good things I may find inside my wandering mind.

So I take the time, then pouring coffee in a stryro cup. As I carefully do so, I hear my neighbor singing; probably making breakfast, the smell of garlic takes me back to Mom’s home cook meals and Sunday childhood laughs. – Then I go thinking, on why most of us at a certain phase of our lives tend to fall far apart from our child selves. I mean, we tend to focus too much on our careers, on how lavish we can provide, focused too much at work, so in preparation, we weigh things too much in almost everything that we do, that we over calculate things. In doing so, we tend to rule out the most important variables because we think that these things are not quantifiable factors, therefore, cannot be part of the equation. What I am referring to are the simple things in life. Think about it.

I am too, is guilty of this, I forget. That’s the problem, I miss watching cartoons with cigarettes, and have that pillow on your back, placing the ashtray on your chest while you enjoy the comforts of the cushions of the couch, brushing her hair, while she has her head over your lap, capturing each moment, striking the keys, writing, overflowing and hoping the words are enough, a humble attempt to paint the feelings, not stopping, reenacting the moments in magnification and detail. To have those moving Polaroid pictures taken, while still in bed, under the heavenly sheets and cloud-like pillows, white over the wooden base of the four-poster bed.

Remember those yesteryears of kite flying in the park, Jazz records-vinyl playing and reading old newspapers as the music echoes across the yard, spider hunting with lollypops, afternoon street games and puppy love.  We drift back to our past, but only during the split seconds of our hectic lives, not the way we used to, not the same way anymore, not like when we were still fond of colored-gummy bears, summer golden haze with iced candies. We only remember the simple things in life on the train ride from work, or during our coffee breaks. Seconds, we spare for these variables not part of the formula to success. For what matters now are the paper works and beating of deadlines. We drown ourselves with the things we thought important. We are bound within the shackles of this reality.

So I say, that instead of thinking so much of those sepia days you once knew, why not start trying to do something about it now. We have got plenty of time to ring a friend, and hang out all day, go out to try the best ramen house in town, have that wacky picture taken, watch ballgames, sword fighting with your son, afternoon naps and travel. The simple things in life are the best ones you see. And just in case you have troubles on getting started, you can start by counting your blessings. It will work, definitely.

Travel by definition

May it be flying or just a bus ride, just plain walking, or climbing mountains, it is in our nature to travel.  I have friends saying that at times when they feel bored or just think that they should do something different, will jump on a train, and go around the metro in circles, doing their reading for hours (their version, instead of going to a coffee shop), some enjoy the ride with their music on and have the tunes encrypted in their chests, some will fly to Cebu just to have Brian ribs to go or have lunch in Dumaguete, just for the heck of it.

Come to think of it, we travel all the time. From home to our schools, to our offices, some of us travel for fun or for work. Every time we get that phone call, receiving an invite to go to a friend’s place for an inuman, every time we carry our lazy butts to the store to buy cigarettes and pancit canton, we travel all the time.   Even an amputee can do his share of traveling, through his thoughts and words; he can break barriers, stacked walls, and opinions. When we read and explore words, when music writers make music and when we sing along.  Now, this kind is more profound, for it transposes to journey already, a greater degree of travel.

For me, it is best when we travel in the simplest fashion and doing it with romance. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen this already in movies. On a train or a bus ride perhaps, you see a couple sitting next to each other. You can’t really tell if they are interested in or in love with one another, maybe they are, or maybe the screenwriter just wants us to believe so when actually they are not. Nobody knows. The scene puzzles you. Let us asses further.  The actor has his hands holding the steel bar of the seat in front of them. The girl, on his right, holds her hair, not wanting the wind to ruin it, slides it tucked beneath her shirt. While the boy is trying to stay conscious, she kept on holding her hands together. And with reluctance, eventually, allows the boy to hold it anyway. She has sweaty palms whenever she is happy, she explains. The boy loves her happy hands. The boy then placed his head on her left shoulder, onto her arms, like a child he clenched. He relishes her perfectly matched scent on her sleeve. The girl looking at him, inside her she feels a silent kind of happiness.

We continue the romance.

 

INT Bus – Night.

She wears her Brit inspired sneakers, white trimmed with red and blue.  He wears his wristwatch on his right. Then the girl shoots in her analogies on why he likes it that way.

The camera zooms in focused on their entwined arms.  With their bags on their laps, they hide the sweetness, camouflaging it.  They were neither going fast nor slow.  They did not care anyway. Traffic is the last thing in their minds now.

Traveling goes beyond physical, it transcends.  Out of words, I turn to my sister in law, as she utters these words – “Traveling elevates you to higher plane of existence, that you are able to see things in top view”.

Many write about the coherence of Love and Travel. Maybe because of the celestial bliss it brings. May it be for answers, for wisdom or for love, may it be for stories or laughs or out of sheer boredom, we travel because we have to move along, and above all, to share. To borrow Ol’ blue eyes’ words, – Fly me to the moon!

Microbes

Every day you always hope for that perfect day going for you that everything goes your way whenever you are near her.  I mean, we try so hard to be cool and steady in her presence that more often than not, we end up smacking our heads with our palms, behind her back because of some silly things that you’ve said that may accidentally have taken her off, or at least you thought it did, especially with friends, that cross the line, but you know you can’t be angry at them on the same way. The point being is, even if you have that much of experience you always end up taking pauses and take time just to clear your throat whenever she walks by. You are powerless. Legs not working, you can’t get them to move. Microbes had eaten your chest. You are infected.

I don’t mean to pry, but it is an outbreak and there is no cure. Most of us are in the same pair of shoes, just a matter of preference of what size and brand of shoes we’d be wearing. I don’t have the answers on how you can sweep her off her feet, nor the ‘one-liners’ and ‘come on moves’, none of those. But I know songs.  And I know that songs have the same effect as that microbe we were referring about. Not to help pursue her, not to help you understand what you are going through, none of those. Again you are infected.

It’s like an incurable disease. You’d start noticing every detail about her, what color she usually wears, is she a lefty? those Mickey mouse ears, childlike ways, her stilettos, her hormonal mood swings that you are unusually obsessed about, then there’s the teasing but for you, it is normal, for now. Then you’ll feel that things are getting pretty scary, and at times you may think that you are losing it, but you’re not. Believe me, you are just fine. Those are just the microbes working. Most of the times, just to hide your addiction, by this thing called pretension, you feel like an actor in a play, convincing your audience, her, that you don’t care. Won’t work, it will boomerang. It is math. Expect that it is accurate.

Now, there is nothing left to do but to just tell her how you feel, but you just can’t. As a remedy, you’d then turn to heart amplifiers. Every day you’d put on those headphones, hoping to find your saving grace, you’d correlate every line in every song with those entwined days that you’d wish to spend with her – sitting on a bench, tangerine fields, rabbit clouds, and coffee stains shared morning views, breakfast. And as you listen, as you take on that curve, and the stretch of an avenue from your office, to the bus stop, everything around you are like moving pictures, a film and your playlist is the score.  And as the scenes in your head roll, you turn your head from left to right, looking at the city lights and the highway hues. And the immovable feeling will kill you at every end of each song. Darn microbes.

And before you know it, you’d be listening to way too much of Thom Yorke and his bizarre ballads, finding yourself in strawberry fields, looking at Lucy’s eyes, ever longing for those Fender imposed C minors and B flats, waltzing away, with her thoughts, trying to find the words between the lines on how you can finally ask her to have that first cigarette with you. Darn microbes.

The Fine Art of Sulking

Spending Saturdays in bed online, finding one’s frontier, reading romantic screenplays with cigarettes and junk food has become a weekend routine that starts in the first light, and stretches on till dusk, midnight until slumber hits you and takes over. In between the activity, are the daydreaming and the short naps, it is best with ice creams with cigarettes, an odd combination, but for a romantic, I’d say the stale taste and the sweetness of the experience will surely take you back…  Now focus you.

The mixture of all the sour things that happened and the few good stuff that filled your days with her will definitely hook you up with this kind of a weekend ‘hobby’, so to speak. As if you have any choice.  The sheets and the bread crumbs, the long hours of browsing online for that perfect Sunday afternoon song, reading lyrics and screenplays, certify you to be at it the entire summer.  You won’t survive without TV, – your HBOs and Nat Geos, and most of the hours awake, you are watching at the same time you are surfing the net, and listening to overly saddened British pop music, writing some of your thoughts, doodles, crumpled papers everywhere. And yes these are definitely possible. You’d be surprised how easy it is. Most of the people I know will drown themselves in the bathtub with alcohol, for some, antibiotics. But actually the art of sulking is a complex mixture of everything, except of course drugs, this option is way too extreme even for my taste. Overdrinking will not do it. Alcohol will overpower the romance in you. With bathroom medications, well, you don’t want to go that far of the line my friend.

Mind you, I am with you with alcohol, drinking is one of the few things in life (alongside with cigarettes) that are honest and will stick with you even if the night is over – I’m referring to hangover. It is just that, over drinking takes the sense out of you and makes you say and do things that you will definitely regret in the morning.  So I say do it right. With cigarettes, the pack brutally and honestly tells you that it causes cancer and ‘dangerous to your health’ – isn’t that something?

If you have to be alone, by all means, do it, I recommend before doing it, go to the grocery, get yourself a bottle Jack Daniel’s, (please drink within your tolerance), of course, cigarettes and a gallon of ice cream.  – You might also want to grab yourself 2 cartons of OJ, just for the kid in you.

Read.  Brain activity will surely help. Logic can provide you with a clearer picture of what you are into at the moment.  Music also does the same effect, only it is too emotional. But one can’t help but listen anyway because we long for it. We need it.  That is why it is imperative to balance it with logic. So read.

This kind of a weekend routine will last for about 3-4 months or so, depending on the severity of the case.  But it is normal.  All I am saying if you are to do it, do it right. You’ll know that this phase is over when you find yourself somewhere elsewhere doing a different thing, and doing it regularly. We’ll save that one for next. For now, enjoy sulking!