Tuesday, October 15, 2019

negative thunder

for my third and final wish
i wished you were god for seven
days and you rested for six.
still, you did not disappoint,
on the last day you created
negative thunder, a deafening
silence that preceded a pitch
black lightning, mute
and muting, it absorbed all
the unnecessary noises of
the world, and it is the perfect
gift to me, i cannot ever
ask for more


Monday, June 3, 2019

i do not remember ravens

i do not remember ravens
perched or flying overhead,
cawing at my steps, each twice
as heavy as the one before.
shrillness weaving into song-like laughter:
haaa. haaa. haaa.
so unlike -

i do remember rain,
light and forgiving
but absent these days,
weeks away.
i am yearning for -

i remember some words,
reinvigorated on my tongue
like rediscovered treasure,
they taste like the season,
a middle-aged spring,
of melons, cherries, or -

of other words i remember slivers,
they resemble dismembered notes
at the tip of my tongue -
unrealized like a bell frozen
at the midst of pealing,
a wind left to fill a sigh left hanging.
they taste like ash,
fragile paper crumbling,
insistent as you,
to remain unremembered.

.:. Osaka, 18 years later, sequel to a quiet wave farewell


Thursday, February 14, 2019

godson, i was an hour

... too early for your baptism.
I shall tell you of the world-state at these times -
these times when you could easily fit into
the crook of your mother's arm.

It is the infancy of 2019. It is 3:37 PM.
Cebu traffic deteriorates, yet somehow
I overestimated it, here too early,
though without worries: church yards on weekdays
are premier parking spots. Near-empty,
uniquely peaceful, possessing that hanging
sense of divine security -
who would steal a few steps from God's front door?

If this was the 90s, 00s or even the early 10s,
I would have found an empty pew on which
I could sip into the solemnity as if it’s liquor.
I would have sincerely tried to make
sense of my soul, again,
I would have tried to fit my jagged faith
into that perfect Christian mold, again.
Justify my fate,
to adhere to the rigid parameters of religion...
I still would not have found answers, again,
still it would have been fine, at least
I would have assembled a poem or two in my head.
I would have freed them into paper sometime.

But it is an infant 2019. It is 3:39 PM.
I've long made peace with my jagged faith
and its cold relationship with religion, and
there's not much drive towards writing, these days.
Instead I entrusted my Ford to the church, to all
its divinity, I sank feet, alternating into a few
hundred footsteps towards a cafe.
In minutes, I had the day’s 3rd mug in hand,
coffee in mouth, bitter numbness in spirit.
Soon after I had exchanged a half dozen
messages with your father.
My muted phone was a harlequin, juggling, dancing
in binary, its games and entertainment laid out for me...
I scrolled down some in Facebook and Instagram.

All while encouraging time to crawl,
this child year, second after second
further inwards

Monday, December 17, 2018


She planted an ice cube in the ceiling and in time, it grew into a fine stalactite. She named it Elsa.

The lizards from every room from all of her house came over to visit. Each tiny reptilian face enthralled by the cold crystal, alien to this world that only cycled around four different summers.

They brought tribute and they brought their faith. The birth of religion was inevitable.

Soon, the altars and the chapels appeared across her house's ceilings. Shortly, the churches and the cathedrals followed.

She realized they had to invent a devil, just so they could run a few inquisitions. She had to keep fire extinguishers within reach.

She planted an ice cube on the floor and it grew into a fine stalagmite she wanted to name Anna, but the exiled lizards whose Exodus led to her floor insisted to call by it another name: The Beast, the one to bring the final conflict on Armageddon (it's a couple of adjacent boards in her kitchen ceiling, just above the stove).

They prepared for war.


Thursday, December 13, 2018


I heard her ask, from a table away.

"Do you ever feel the world stalling for time?"

It was a Thursday. Its slow morning saw a sparsely filled coffee shop, caught at a time when most of the working class in this part of the city were either asleep or headed home.

The seconds pass and her question hung in the air, its question mark at the tail behaving as it looked: a hook, stalking the catch.

I glanced her way, and as I feared I found her by herself and her eyes locked in on me. A grin as wicked as that question mark. The catch, I realized with dismay, was me.

I wasn't prepared for this and I didn't want this. But social demands demanded it. My lips rebelled with a half-smile.

She knew her question still hung unanswered. Abandoning ranged assault tactics, she leaned forward. Melee attack detected almost immediately: it alarmingly cut off a couple of inches from the distance that kept my solitude secure. This breach terrified me.

"I know the look. Your calendars and phones and emails tell you what day it is. But in the back of your mind, there's a voice that objects. It's in the exhaustion gnawing under your skin. It's Wednesday or Thursday but you just know you've gone through a week already."

Ah, so it was the worst kind of question, after all: the one with the answer nailed at the end. A right answer.

The kind that demanded a polite, reserved, "Yeah..."

Seemingly satisfied, she withdrew her gaze back to her mug of tea. She inhaled the steam like bounty for bagging my Yeah...

She gave me just enough time to feel that false sense of things reverting back to normal, to safety, then, even without the stare this time:

"Today's a Helsday,"

The gentle pull in her voice, quiet and unmistakably the lure I could never resist.

I tried to slow down the way I clutched my cup, the feeble attempt to make it come off as deliberate rather than instinctual panic. This cup, the last branch on the cliff face, impossibly there for me to dangle onto before falling anyway. A cruel ray of hope for my introverted kind.

Then the cold seeped into my palm and I wished I ordered a hot drink instead.

Yet beyond my social ineptitudes, she made sense. I was bad at peering into those optical illusion paintings, back in the days of the old 3-floor department stores. Those cheap artwork said to have some hidden imagery that once found, your mind made room to accept the realization that absolutely, it was always there. There she sat telling me there's a Helsday somewhere in the middle of the week, and absolutely, it's the only reason why a Tuesday always went slower than a Friday.

Does the how matter? On the concept of hidden truths, it is deep waters I don't want to dive into. On the specifics of a missing day, this was what she told me, straight up, like the most bitter wine unwatered:

"She fell for him, but he would not love her back. It was the last Helsday. She asked the universe to take away all Helsdays from weeks gone and from weeks that will be. Her love and heartbreak cannot be anyone else's."

It was true. Absolutely.

She must have been long gone when I finished my cup, by then the liquid was more melted ice than coffee. Like a truth lingering through long measures of time, it's still there underneath all the great lies and all the lesser truths, and barely showing.

As I stood, I consulted my phone and the clock on the wall and the position of the sun. Still it was Thursday, a slow morning.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018


how else could i hold you,
other than like sea?
resigned to being,
unable to hold all of you,
most of you,
any significant amount of you,
in an embrace,
resigned to being,
unable to comprehend,
all the depth of you,
all the silent dark mysteries
underneath your shimmer,

you may think of me,
as wave.
often in need,
to crash out of you.
i need to surface,
i need,
a gasp of air,
a gasp of shore.
but in a moment,
rolling back to you,
unable to be,
without all your complexities...

call me tethered.
call me chained, locked,
name me imprisoned, captive.
if i confuse us with the many things
i am to you,
ask me, love, to fold that,
all in a word,
ask me, to elucidate,
and you will find no great depths,
no curious mysteries to unravel:

i would settle in the world
wrapped in the moment you
call me yours.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

vitamin sea

grant me permission to imagine tying
tiny kites at the end of each
of the thousands of your hair

i will think of you as anchor,
harbor to your kite fleet warring
with the continental winds;
i will have you stand knee deep
by the edge of an ocean

the waves will lap at your thighs.
your hands will cup around your mouth,
sea water brimming over your fingers;
i will not stop you, nor your dress,
from drinking your fill.