bicol express, manhattan stop

cycles_deleon

The saddest line of the night, apologies to Neruda, is this: I don’t miss home anymore.

I think about home sometimes, usually during the ungodly hour of the night when souls are at their most fragile. And when I think of home, I think of the past, of memories lived and now cherished, of regrets nurtured but now tempered. I have learned to nod terms with my old self, apologies to Didion, and I am now at peace with my decision.

I don’t miss home anymore, but I still call it as it is — home, and always will be.


bicol express, manhattan stop
Marie Bismonte

no geographical coordinate can pinpoint
a word that embodies a concept:

home is not a location, remembered in distant lands.
nor is it a journey from the road to Mayon,

where all beginnings take root invoked in sepia,
nor an arrival of an express train to the Upper East Side

in Manhattan, people ask me what i am.
all answers lead nowhere

in my head, i am neither a citizen or a national
but a transient between memories, moving through

post-it-notes and found postcards
to forgetting what cannot be remembered.

home is not a word.
it is a language of the sense:

an approximation of ingredients
to create the right mnemonic

in the pan, bicol express simmers—
the steam of bagoong and gata rising

to a smell abhorred by neighbors
who call it too ethnic, but to me it is

decoding the landmarks of my past,
the sili burning tracks

on my esophagus, a combination of words
that defies expression—

my tongue incapable of speech
as it recalls the taste tugging at my throat:

the loss of what cannot be recovered in
each meal, the comfort that makes my eyes water.


The poem above was published in the the anthology Crowns and Oranges: Works by Young Philippine Poets (2009), edited by Cirilo F. Bautista and Ken Ishikawa.

The featured image is Cycles by Dawani de Leon

“And then we cowards”

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We parted with a hug, a text message, a smiley face. I told you I will miss you, and you said same. No promises, nothing else — we remain slaves to silence, and that’s okay.


“And then we cowards”
Cesare Pavese (translated by Geoffrey Brock)

And then we cowards
who loved the whispering
evening, the houses,
the paths by the river,
the dirty red lights
of those places, the sweet
soundless sorrow—
we reached our hands out
toward the living chain
in silence, but our heart
startled us with blood,
and no more sweetness then,
no more losing ourselves
on the path by the river—
no longer slaves, we knew
we were alone and alive.

The featured image is Julie Mehretu’s Dispersion.

Flying at Night

It’s 2am and I refuse to sleep. There’s nothing much to share, really, but here, a poem:

Flying at Night
Ted Kooser

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
his.


The featured image is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Reckless Poem

Here, a Mary Oliver poem that I keep going back to and which I am sharing in the off chance that some other soul may find solace in it too

reckless


The featured image is a Mary Oliver photo lifted from Tate.

First Draft Poetry

The following poems are all serious attempts at poetry. Unlike “I Missed Supper”, “You Alone”, and the shitbits that I post on Twitter, these drafts were written to hopefully create something that would resemble even just a skeleton of a semi-decent piece.

Continue reading “First Draft Poetry”

I missed supper

Tonight, I forgot to feed
myself. I blame Barthes
and his Mythologies,
also Rachel
and our Friends.
Skyflakes truly
is a godsend
heeding prayers of achy tummies
since the 1960’s. Viva
Monde MY San!
Should I make coffee too?
But it’s 10 and my
tomorrow starts at 7.
I will skip breakfast,
meal for the wuss not the tardy
Hunger is for the weak—
oh shit,
I’m hungry.
Now why in the world
am I writing in verses?
Is it the hunger that pushes me
to pull—rather desperately—
a Ginsberg or a Bukowski?
Or even an O’Hara
‘cos I’d really like to have a Coke with
or without fries.
I suck at this, I know,
but even Leav’s bangs has fans
so who knows.
Reminds me of a windy Friday noon
September of last year
when I cut my hair short
really short the strands dangle
like hushed wind chimes
a nervous inch atop my shoulder.
Straight too
no layers
expecting to be the cherubic
yet sultry Lauren Tsai
only to find in the mirror a child
a 10-minute shower later
and she said hola soy Dora
the Explorer.

 

Variations on the Word Sleep

by Margaret Atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.