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.

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Just in Case (Don’t Wait Up)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by: JJG

Departures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flabbergasted, I smacked your head real hard and sneered.

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

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

I wrote war stories instead.

Yours and hers.

Had I known, I would have done otherwise.

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

Photo by Denvie Balidoy

Photo by Denvie Balidoy

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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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.

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 and a Tupperware of mixed cheap local chocolate candies inside and peanut butter bread.

“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. 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 me, 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 ironic and plain silly that most people are convinced that by doing nothing and just minding their own business and just complain and bicker all the time while holding the remote control watching the news will do these things 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 to save the world.”

“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 its 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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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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