Do you where all this ends? The ropes of cable cars, the underwater current, the breath we exhale turning into mist – we only look back. The indecisive typing of other things in different categories: the weaving patterns of abaca, colored orange, purple, red, and blue. We turn it to a fan, and below it the charcoal grill blackening the barbecue meat. There is no season to long for here. Natives do not know about the cycles the others had to go through, the freezing of water droplets into snow. We name places after saints, in their Spanish form. I would never think that the knife can be sharper using candlewax. The end of this all, I don’t know, too. Conquer me, passion, conquer these invasions of language, as if my entitlement to describing things against each other are not enough. I cannot own everything, the herbs, the pyres of Varanasi, the streudel, the river in Krasnoyarsk, the canoes roped by the riverside in Christchurch. I have not even been there, even at the point of entropy. Do you know? Do you know where this is heading – this sick reimagining of places? The bodies lying next to mine with hearts beating quicker than the slices of washed carrots using a samurai sword. The Faberge eggs are not yet stolen in a museum, and a beggar is flying over the expressway, and you’ll be jealous about the feat. And he’ll bring a colorful quilt, without having to use it as cape. A tsunami will hit England, but all of it will be spectacle for the Englishmen as they will ride the waves and settle in Iberia. Have you walked in your dreams? Because I was an acrobat there and I am travelling counterclockwise, every map diminishing back to the start of civilization, to the origin of sin. I pleasure myself with the prospect of losing grasp of the trapeze and falling into the safe wilderness of a safari – zebras and mountain lions crowding over me, proclaiming me as the king of their newfound salvation, I don’t want to look forward. Forward means the end and the taiko drums are beating their hard rumbles of c’est fin–
nagdadala sa dagim–
papalabas ng hamog
dagat kay lawak
mula sa paparating na koleksyon, 改善
17 Mayo 2013, Quezon City
His clothes were filled with tickets to past events
so he could hear the orchestra tuning up again
and the airplane landing near the diving cliffs
in Acapulco where the boys leapt into the known
unknown in Speedo suits. All travel was continuous.
Time was ceaseless in his pockets. The piano recital
played forever in its aftermath, its tides of notes
surging and retreating according to a lunar mood
for which the children had no table. The matinee
was screened over and over in the balcony of
his thought, specifically the part where the hero
realized he’d been pursuing her and was being
pursued in turn as they reached the precipice
of no regret. And then the fiery night called out
to them and said no ticket would be needed.
na mga paa
ng mga unang
na hindi na
ng murahan sa
pautangan kaya buwis-
katawan sa sugal
ng paguran sa pagawaan
sa semento at alikabok
maglulusak sa palad
na hindi pinalad
makahanap ng bakal
hindi patas tulad
ng kanilang balikat
na papasan ng tambak-
tambak na alalahanin
sa mga kalsadang
ng walang humpay
ng mga ulan sa mukha
From a plane
window becoming observatory,
the gaze turns into language
even of speechlessness. Cloud
the doubts and dreams
of people dreaming about
flying. All we can do
right now is breathe
sighs of amazement
and fog the mirror
of the atmosphere,
reflecting our own
versions of the cosmos.
constellation of streets,
and each one of us
the same bright star
one wishes for.
We will only know this
when we are suspended
in air, the horizon
widening and changing
in front of us. The future
we will become until we are
as high as we want to
Imagine where you’ve always wanted
to be. Point there: perhaps a desert
that erases pasts: quenched thirsts,
planted footsteps, buried skulls
in its hungry mouth. Point where
no one spoke of yet. You must have
died on your land of dreams alone.
Don’t forget to die again.
This is a monarchy: you are The Little Prince and I am Princess Die. It’s a bit awkward, actually, for a girl and a boy to switch places, have our own versions of adventure. We actually exercised diplomacy, and strong relations: I would have wanted you to be with me in this constant circumnavigation, so in exchange for that, I helped you understand calculus. You thanked me for that, and I might have took it the wrong way. Everything became an obsession on patterns. For instance, our projections as these figures, the imagined lives we are now having for our own, my illusion that we need to be together to keep the bloodline purely royal.
The problem set about blood mechanics and dynamics must be related to your goal to become a cardiologist, my heart beating so fast I was so amused that what I taught you applies on me too well, that you might have your first patient right in front of you. I was suffering from a heart attack, and I can’t move my hands. It was so close to yours.
I always think moving away and letting you be free was the right way. I never stared at you again so intimately when you were uncomfortable that we are actually seated again next to each other, arm rubbing against arm, on a tricycle with 087 as number, going back to the dormitory. Of course, I will not assume that every instance will develop into a relationship right away. I need to tell you what’s really happening to me in order to be clear and make sense. And I will be the first one getting hurt about distancing. Of course, I would not expect you to feel it. So I hate the feeling when you chat with your bestfriend over the Internet, your best option for a crying shoulder, and someone else being with you on a very stressful night in a place where mosquitoes fester your arms and legs.
And for the record, I won’t be insecure about those legs. There will always be a way to make it smooth, and for whatever reason you don’t want to show it, I allow it. That doesn’t make you any inferior. It may even be just me, and my constant degradation session with the mirror, that I do not deserve to be next to you and help you. The future is not as bright if I force myself to have you with me.
Still, I will be stubborn and try. To think about our little princes and princesses spoiled in a home we built for our own. And we own the land we live in. And we reign over the monarchy of ourselves, as free as our hair. I am going back to this style of writing so I can remember, even the worst of affairs.
Like you crying and I am not doing anything about it. Like you shouting at me because I insisted you to eat because you are still feeling stressed out. I never forget, and I don’t have the strength and pride to forgive myself for that. Maybe because I simply care about you. This is madness, in a way. And maybe you’ll never mind me saying this on paper. Again, because I never put it into words.
We are explorers, and I feel that I am too coward to let it out. So as far as the monarchy pattern stays, I will always be sitting at the throne, and I won’t wage war soon enough, until I can handle it.
J’ai peur mourir toute seule. Showers tend to keep my heart racing, the cold water flowing from hair to scalp to forehead to eyes, the pressure resides. Like before, the usual drowning every attempt at avoiding to think about it, the other side, the blank state: that final surge of blood like a river struggling to get out of the desert. It snakes its way through every nuit blanche, the pain of it a poison streaming in me, while the restriction a moment of drought, seeping out what could have been swelling. What could have been alive. Maybe I actually died alone. And I wanted to die again so I’ll kill the lie l’eau n’est pas vivant.
Chestnuts roasting in an open fire. You told me that’s how my green crochet jackets feels like. It is already January but the cold front still keeps the windows of buses northbound to Manila foggy. I have tasted chestnuts once, they were roasted golden brown. I take a bite. It was hard. It was bitter. You told me you never had the chance to buy something similar in a department store. You weren’t satisfied with what you just bought. It’s fine. I like what you’re wearing actually. Like four seasons juice on a white sand beach sunset.
I admire acrobats. I saw a digital painting once, “Power and Grace”: two acrobats demonstrating the title on the flying trapezes. The human repression to fly and if ever one wants to fall, one imagines not to fall to death, it will always inspire me to transform. I hate Icarus, then, because the passion was not enough. I hate to become Icarus. So at the end of the day, I imagine my feet on the asphalt road as if I were Jesus hovering, walking on troubled waters.
I write my depression away. I write on the bus, at the café, amidst the tons of things I need to do. A couple in front of me is studying together. In this state of depression, I wish they would have just broken up, hurt each other, and be depressed as well. It’s about time I rewrite my reality, into something I wished I had. This itch to write inviting me over to tell at least myself about the alternate narrative, the fantasy I can believe in. That one day, I would be like Midas, owning everything I gaze upon. I want their souls so that they can bring their bodies to me, too.
Hold me. This longing for touch is now turning into desperation after two decades. I am telling you this in lieu of what I might say, especially when I fear they will (always) turn wrong. It doesn’t matter where you’ll hold me, it will suffice for now that this text is being held by your eyes. I am satisfied, but I think I will never find love. Because it is just madness that’s swallowing me whole.
Mainit na naman ang haing putahe
Sa may karinderyang tapat ng palengke.
Babad sa mantika ang bibig ng bibeng
Ating tatawagin sa ngalang T’ya Bebe.
Kakak sa katabi: “Alam mo ba, mare?
May narinig akong umuungol kagabi!
Si Pareng Vicente, nakikipaglandi
Sa putang Makati sa kabilang kalye!”
Pumutak ang manok na si Aling Nene:
“Hindi na nahiya! Aba, sa garahe
nagkahubaran na. Nakita ko ang dede,
nilalamutak na parang pan de leche!”
“Kaya kanina lang nakita ko ang Ate,
Mukhang humigpit ang ikot ng liyabe.
Paika-ika na, basa yata panty!
Ay, amoy na amoy! May tulo! STD!”
Nasamid ang lahat sa mga nangyari.
Sabay nagtalsikan ang laway sa diri,
sa mami at goto, sa lumpia at lomi,
pancit canton, bihon, sotanghon at miki.
Nagkahagikhikang hindi na mawari
kung pinakawalang mga kalapati
o baboy sa koral, o dagang pusali.
Umaalingasaw ang amoy-tanghali.
1. Mag-abang ng paparating na tren. Hamakin ang dilaw na linya. Sumaibayo.
2. Sumama sa hangin at buksan ang bintana: mangarap maging maselang saranggola.
3. Gumawa ng siga sa gitna ng mga nagtatagpong lakaran. Silaban pati sariling paa.
4. Lumundag mula sa tuktok ng gusali. Masdan ang mga tala habang papahiga sa aspalto.
5. Manawagan sa ibabaw ng balustrada ng tulay. “Ako ang pinakamagaling na sirkero ng siyudad!”
6. Punitin pababa ang mukhang nasa tarpaulin sa billboard. Isukbit sa likod na parang roba.
7. Gawing palosebo ang poste ng kuryente. Gawing alambre ang tatawiring mga kawad.
8. Pumustura habang naglalakad sa kahabaan ng isang highway. Suotin ang paboritong damit.