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Reading outdated editorials.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

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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, and 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

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.

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.

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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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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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 of my left hand and the rest of the elbow against the wooden arm of the chair. 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.