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.

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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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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.

Summer 1988

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I don’t really believe that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Letters from a Passerby

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

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

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

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

“You are a stowaway, aren’t you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes.” The boy finally understands.

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

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

“I get it.” Says the boy.

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

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

“I also wrote the play by the way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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