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, the exclamation point at its 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 that people said to have some hidden imagery that once found, your mind makes room to accept the realization that absolutely, it's always been 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. 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.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

eye, lid.

We each have a dark thing that only comes to us in times of great depression, and mine came some Novembers ago. In the time of the year when the weather could not decide between being a punishingly hot rainy season or an annoyingly wet summer, it came to me in the form of a man, claiming to be my true father.

“Son. Son, son, son,” there was considerable tremor in its voice as it told me this, its dirt-rimmed fingers digging hard into my shoulders. In a voice bordering on screaming as if he was hard of hearing or wearing headphones, he said, “I... see you.”

Breath that held Death and Decay captive for centuries hurled storms onto my face. Panic was salvation, Panic kept me awake.
The noontime crowd flowed around us as water would navigate around a stick stabbed in the middle of a stream, heedless to my nightmare.

It was wrapped equally in rags and its own hair, and all the dirt both parts have amassed over a long time.

Its eyes, though. Specifically, the wounds in place of them, a pair of gaping doors to the same abyss housed in a body mistaken as human. Empty pools rimmed with torn skin, long-dried blood blackened by time, infection with all that pus. All the grimy hair could not curtain, or refused to.

“Take those off. We’re not them. You're not them. See me, too, son, see me, too. See the universe,” it told me in haymakers of breaths, right as Fear shoved Confusion aside, thundering in like a god to lend me a moment’s strength to fly. I pushed myself out of the thing’s grip. I picked myself off the initial stumble. I ran a long time until the last gasp of breath abandoned me. No, I did not dare look back at it, but I knew. I could not unsee it. A permanent streak of spilled ink, blackest ink, running across my memories.

But the truth was I have not seen it. I have not experienced it. Not then.


Depression peaked when I lost her, but it had been growing over the past years. I could have let it take over every cell that was I, I could have had my true self take his leave, have Depression put on the entire body and run the Life. It may have been easy to let it find an exit out of all this.

But no. I did not want that.

I picked one of the thinner spoons out of her silverware collection. It seemed like the one we used to taste soup as it cooked, never one of those that made it to the dining table.

Could you have imagined such a mundane eating utensil to have such an extremely good command of pain when applied onto the human eye?

The first bloody globe finally rid itself of the last stubborn nerve and dribbled around the sink. I thought of a fish plucked off the water, the nature of draining energy from the living body to synch like dance and song heading towards the end of their mutual existence. I wondered if this was a dream. If it was, I remained asleep.

I started on the other.


Darkness, then Light.

It began with Vision.

How do you describe color to someone who had never perceived it? I could start with pointing at a small portion in the sky, telling you it was “less azure” than the portion on its immediate left. But each centimeter of expansion would demand a new measure of comparison, and I would have to name each new color for you, and after a couple of million I would have given up. It would be comparable to building a network of religions, and I do not have the motivation to instill Faith, the one ingredient required for anyone who's not of my kind to believe in the Truth.

The world itself was a welcome party to my birth, the sights a glorious parade not unlike a mesh of a thousand years of Sinulog.

Sound followed: the horrified voices coming out of the shells of what I used to call fellow men. But even then, all their emotions dispersed across waves of music vibrating from everything, even from every wisp of air hanging, hovering, floating around.

Scent and touch came next, the elusive couple harder to define, and you know how it is. Man learned to record sight and sound but never scent nor touch. I began with feeding a lingering human hunger to try, to let you know, but Pity came to me in a wind pattern of three thousand, nine hundred, and eleven different colors, twice the number of different tunes, and in as many scents and textures. I knew then that all I could give you was a sad look barely masked with a slight smile.


It came at the summit of my birth's celebration , shearing through the shells of who, or what, I called fellow men: you. Unfortunate creations with only darkness beneath your spherical blindfolds.

It was pulsating with a billion sights, patterns, melodies, and everything you thralls never could. Amplifying all those and surrounding elements as it got closer.

I called out to it. My voice, my words, were alien, but familiar, and deliciously richer.

“Father. Father, father, father.”


‘cause you wrote a confession on her palm when she wanted your name; better yet you should have written the plan instead

i. alternate ending

Twilight, spiked with sake for the gods, did not have the magic to have her take his memories.

The price that took form of losing each other’s name, at what purchase was it attached to, then? Certainly not the blueprints of his terrorism. Or the fate that befell a city bicycle that took her halfway to here, while having to suffer a trail beaten down for mountain bikes and people on foot.

She was confused. How could one hang on to sanity when your last memory before this dream-like dusk was of the festival of falling comet shards over windswept grass fields? True, their minds had taken turns at driving each other’s bodies, but as dancers do - weaving across the floor, deftly flowing out of each other’s way, guiding the other, but always with a chasm separating them, never together on the same precipice.

So she stood there at the lip of the crater, behind her the lonely green paradise it encircled, the rock shelter of gods. Before her, the breathtaking lake whose beauty she had grown to take for granted. The town she always wanted to toss over her slender shoulders, all of the first some-teen years of her life she could not wait to leave behind.

Death. Death was falling upon her world, her mind nagged at her. But her now-questionable memories confined her where she stood, the uncertainty stemmed from him living as her on that day she had already lived. It threatened to overlap and mock whatever is left of her reality. For instance, the question of how her hair got cut short that day: was her memory false now, had he overwritten this day but left it clinging to her like a phantom only she could see? Or, was it even the same festival day, was it even the same comet?

And it must have took him forever to get her up here. The exhaustion it taxed on her body kept her rooted where she stood and demanded she gave in, and it was just too easy to fall to her knees, and wait for the end of the world.

ii. alternate epilogue

She was not where the rocks from heaven landed.

But the lot death had taken from her, abetted by her psyche’s state of already skating over the slippery ice of this mind-switching mistaken for romance, had broken her. They found her sporting an empty gaze, wandering around the edge of the water where her town used to be.

No, she did not return to his city. They found her a comfortable bed where they cared for her and others like her, until weeks later when no one was looking, she went into the younger of two lakes and walked to the bottom to sleep and rest, knowing in three years he would come and restart the torment.


This was from last year, when I was still bothered by the plot hole in the ending of Shinkai Makoto's anime your name.

Monday, January 29, 2018

hum to the tune of sirens, move to the motion of flames

nearby, another inferno breaks out,
the latest city fire.
we select firemen, firetrucks,
from our collection of humans and human artifacts.
we send them scrambling through hopelessly
congested city streets, hopeful
they’ll get the work done before 5PM
and not add to my homebound traffic jam.


i’d like to think of these as eruptions.
disruptions on the cityscape norm.
i’d like to dream that one day these outbreaks
can be more like volcanic eruptions
from the ocean floor, hear me out -
wherein each one holds a chance to spew
a mountain into existence or maybe,
islands above clouds,
a continent in the sky,
a new world by installments.


Monday, January 22, 2018

second is the perfect place under a full moon

you were down, because,
you lost in the finals, again,
and no amount of chocolates, or flowers,
could console

and so i came over.

i told you not to feel that low, that,
“in the event of a werewolf outbreak,
you can melt your silver medals
into bullets. or shurikens,”
since you hate guns but
love ninja movies.

i thought a hint of a smile
crept up by the edge of your lips,
though not quite fished
out of the water, yet,

and so i said,

“that bitch who beat you (again) can go
find herself a stick, it’ll be handy
in the off-chance the werewolves
would like to play fetch.”

and so i got a full smile,
out of you, dare i think even
a little laugh, out of you,
you little perennial
loser you

and so i was glad.

and i was so glad
i could not suppress the howl.