Poetry section, 2011

Sadly, nobody buys poetry books
anymore: they all stand on the shelf, unopened.
Here, listening to bad bossa nova covers,
I wait for you. You say you’re putting on makeup,
brushing your long, black, curly hair.
This is a bookstore. See the twentysomethings
browsing through vampires, the hipsters,
pretending to dig Foucault. I’m tired of reading
of ballers’ weddings. Please come.
Maybe I can read you a poem. Ask you
to marry me for the tenth time. Maybe this time,
the speech will turn out right. Who knows?
Maybe I can even write you that poem, the one
you’ve always hoped someone would write for you.
This is a food court. See the rabble milling about.
No need for makeup or wi-fi. Just a straw.
A spork. A clean false-marble table.
Don’t forget your ring, just in case I kneel
and decide that the loneliness is killing me.
My hands are tired, too, from not touching you.
Please be here soon.

for Jana

It’s been a long, long, long time.

Octobers used to be dreadful.

Octobers used to mean one more month added to my age. The last (and the most powerful) of storms, almost sweeping me (and the world) away. The month between my birthday and my year-end bonus and all the self-pampering it entails (which reminds me, I have yet to buy stuff for myself this quarter). Come to think of it, I may have not written any poems in October. In any year.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe October was self-doubt, the knowledge that my wallet was too thin; that people’s patiences, too, wore thin;  that the cold was starting to bear upon us; that everything else had to take a backseat to everything else; truth, beauty, and a picture of (who). There was no aphrodisiac, indeed, like self-imposed loneliness.

October was when I felt I had to settle for just about something, anything; there were so many things that passed me by while I was trying to justify the way things were, the way things presented themselves. October, the scene of some of my biggest mistakes, my biggest heartbreaks,  (what I thought were) my biggest sacrifices. Farther down, the song says, I am desperate for you. Only, it turns out, I was desperate for myself, to get my bearings back, to get back on that road again, to start feeling and loving and closing my eyes and feeling nothing but joy and mirth and all the warmth and fuzziness they entail.

It’s been a long, long, long time.

So many tears I’ve been searching back then, oh October, so many things I’ve been wasting (away). Here, a stray note; there, a stray crash cymbal. Now I can see you be you. Oh October, you will never be cold again. No storm, no road left untraveled. No more what-ifs of grease-men in winter jackets being fought over by grease-women in almost nothing, no more Modern Masters of Time in blue Arial, 600 pt., no more of the streets. The streets. All I walk on and ride over. All streets leading to you, all the right places and times, all days leading to then, I cannot tell you when then, but I can tell you it will.

I no longer think of pain, thinking about going farther down; all I think of is how farther down that road, I thought I took a detour, met a dead end, then burrowed through to light. It’s been so long, so long since I saw truly.

How can I ever misplace you?

Lyrics, people!

It’s been quite some time since I posted anything on this blog. And in that span of time, I’ve finished reading a few books, recorded three or so songs, run five kilometers a day in my dreams. Things haven’t been all rosy, though; I’ve been through tough times too.

So, what does a guy with a load to carry do? Picasso painted Guernica. Hemingway wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls. Ginsberg breathed out Howl. Brokensauce recorded “Watermelon”. And since I trust that a lot of you, my readers, are lyrics people, I leave it up to you to find deeper meaning in these words:

Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon

Watermelon fresh from Spain
Watermelon aeroplane
Watermelon it’s insane
Watermelon leaves a stain

Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon

Watermelon is my cry
Watermelon hear me sigh
Watermelon run and hide
Watermelon deep inside

Watermelon gives me pain
Watermelon place the blame
Watermelon drum and bass
Watermelon in your face

Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon

Watermelon girl and boy
Watermelon Chi Ming Tsoi
Watermelon praise the Lord
Watermelon laser sword

Watermelon, apple pie
Apple pie, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon
Watermelon, watermelon

(Video can be accessed at http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=457837861453&ref=mf)

A plea from a good friend

Christian Salvan is one of my good friends from college. I remember hanging out at his dorm room after classes. He was one guy everyone would be lucky to have as a friend — always had an opinion about everything, had a ready laugh, clear and incisive insight.

Lately, though, he’s fallen on some hard times. He lost both his parents in the span of four months, and was recently diagnosed with both diabetes and cardiomyopathy. I haven’t been in touch with Christian lately, and when Aaron broke the news to me this afternoon, I couldn’t help but share Christian’s cry for help:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”

Matthew 7:7

Life is a continuous battle. People often wake up in the morning to constantly face the challenges that will come as the day progresses. These challenges makes one seek or give help, gain strength or weaken and experience failure or success. More often than not while most people would try to deal with the challenges alone, it would always require someone else’s help.

I am Christian R. Salvan, 28 years old, a native of Lucena City , Quezon province. Recently, I was diagnosed to be suffering from nephropathy (chronic kidney disease) and needs to have a kidney transplant as soon as possible. This is the latest complication I am experiencing since I was diagnosed as Diabetes mellitus (DM) Type 1 in June 2007. Yes, I am diabetic.

From the time I discovered that I am diabetic, I already suffered a lot from its complications. My left eye underwent an operation due to vitreous hemorrhage brought about by the retinopathy in August 2008 (a complication in the eye usually found in diabetic person). The doctor also performed a series of laser treatment in my right eye to keep it healthy. After being found unconscious on the floor of my room in February 2009, I was diagnosed to be suffering from cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart) brought on by a virus I got when I had a flu in the last quarter of 2008. This has cost me my work as I need to resignto get my much needed rest. My endocrinologist was quite surprised how fast I had experienced these these complications from my diabetes.

Loss of vision, weakening of the heart and now kidney failure…it happened too fast. I have yet to fully recover from the tragedy that had taken place in my family in 2003 and here I am again in a dire situation. My father passed away in New Year’s Day of 2003 due to multiple organ failure. Two months later, my mother died due to aneurysm. They never got the chance to witness my graduation day, the very day our family was looking forward to. My parents see great hopes in me for a brighter future for myself as well as for our family. They sacrificed a lot and do away with so many things in life to be able to support me going through college. My father was a government employee with only low salary and my mother was just a plain housewife.

Although, I am blessed to have earned two scholarship programs: one from the Ateneo de Manila University and one from the Department of Science and Technology (which made it possible for me to pursue my studies in Ateneo), I still need some additional financial assistance to get me through each month. But I am very thankful for these two scholarship programs because if not for them, I would not be able to graduate with Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree at the Ateneo in 2003. I was enrolled in one of Ateneo’s double program, BS Chemistry with Computer Engineering, but did not pursue anymore the second program (computer engineering) as I need to work immediately to support my 2 other siblings (18 and 6 years old back then). I got my license in 2006 and was able to get a job in the booming mining industry. Finally, things are working well for me and for my brothers until I discovered that I am diabetic. Everything is going downhill again.

All throughout these hardships I had experienced — still experiencing, I have drawn strength from the Lord, my aunts and uncles both from the father and mother side. Since we become orphan, they have supported me and my brothers physically, emotionally, and especially financially. They have become our parents and treated us like their own children. They had financed all the hospitalization expenses I had incurred due to my illnesses and still supporting me with the regular medicines I had to take each day. I am forever grateful for their unconditional love. But they too have families and responsibilities to their own children. However much they wanted to support me in my current predicament, they do not also have enough resources to do so. Kidney transplant is just way too expensive for our family to afford.

There were times I just want to give up and just let the Lord decide on my fate. But looking at the people around me — relatives and friends, they are not giving up on me. Instead, they readily lent their hands and have been with me every step in my struggle with my illnesses. They give me something to hold on – they give me hope.

I am still young. I wanted to live and live my dreams. I wanted to get back to work and someday be one of the successful chemists in the country. I wanted to be able to support my brothers and provide for them. I wanted to have a chance to  help others – especially to help my relatives as much as they have helped me.

That is why here I am humbly seeking financial help to any person or group that will be willing to lend a hand. I am also still looking for a kidney donor and I hope to find one as soon as possible. I am doing this with all humility and faith. Please give me one more chance to live.

For those who wants to help:
  • For inquiries you can reach me at 09217655033.
  • For donations you can deposit it at the BDO account # 5030084410, San Pablo City Branch.
Please forward to your friends. Thank you.

Spa Music

Cue gong. Somewhere, a man is making
believe: He is in Patpong, watching tongues
of fire, or Pattaya, listening to waves.
Then, a minor chord. Sounds familiar,
he tells himself, tapping on the pillow,
breathing to some not-so-hidden beat.
His head sings along. Some dance to remember,
some dance to forget
, only there are gongs
and cymbals and extra chords, none
in pentatonic scale. The masseuse shushes him
as if by way of command. Stop that humming.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Groan. She pulls
on one arm. Groan. She pulls on another.
He closes his eyes. Pretty soon, he’s back
in Pattaya, fruity drink in hand, listening
to the waves, looking at the shadows
in the sand. He does remember the song.
He sings, aloud, and the women in bikinis
sing along in pentatonic. The jellyfish
pull on his toes. Somewhere,
a man is screaming out – all he wanted
was to forget. The song pulls him back in.
Soon enough, he’s back in Patpong,
watching tongues of fire lapping up his back.
Cue B minor, cue F sharp major. Those hands
are steely knives and they just can’t kill the beast
coiled inside his back. He runs out the corridor.
He changes back to outside clothes, leaves the envelope
at the front desk. He checks out
before the time he liked. He will never leave. Gong.

An attempt at flash fiction: Westridge gets its first death

The silent bustle of Westridge Heights, a new upscale residential-commercial park, was broken by the wail of sirens at 10 o’clock last night. March being Fire Protection Month, the business park held an unscheduled, unannounced fire drill, making call-center agents and condominium tenants alike go down their respective buildings’ fire exits, then assembling at the Central Plaza.

Outside, a crowd had gathered around a fire truck, while Quezon City Fire Department personnel showcased their rappelling skills on the 30-storey CyberCenter building. Smoke from a machine drifted through the air as firemen staged a daring rescue using a mannequin borrowed from the Zaara boutique inside the building.

At the outskirts of Westridge Place, though, another rescue, this time belated, was going on. Thirty-year-old businessman Ellington Chua noticed a curiously-marked Kia Besta van going up the Olympus Place condominium building. He had previously noticed the same van attempting to enter Westridge Heights via the front entrance while he was having dinner at Il Duce, a restaurant located just beside the entrance. “I saw this van trying to enter Westridge, but I saw the guards waving it away. That van had something like a big “Q” with laurel leaves at the side. When I saw it again, I was walking back to my unit at Olympus. This time, though, it had a huge tarp with “Medical Mission” printed on it.” He was not aware of any other entrance to Westridge.

Milo Parungao, a worker at the Elysium Residences, noticed the van go through the back entrance beside the chapel. “The van had ‘AMBULANCE’ written in front, but I didn’t hear any sirens or see any lights.” Traffic was stalled at Oxford Drive, where the fire drill was being held. With Westridge security guards guiding the now-negligible traffic, the ambulance cut through Dartmouth Avenue, went up the Olympus Place on-ramp, and went down thirty minutes later.

Chua was making his way back to Olympus Place when a Westridge guard stopped him and directed him to go back to the Central Plaza: “The guard was telling me, ‘go back, go back’, since the fire drill was mandatory. I’m an engineer. I thought they only held fire drills on individual buildings?” It was around this time that he spotted the van in question dashing towards his condominium.

In the meantime, the crowds that were gathered at the Central Plaza were getting restless. The ChicoSci concert that was scheduled to start at 9:45 PM did not push through as planned, meals were left unfinished in the mad dash to the fire-drill rally point, and not a few call-center agents were getting irate.

“I was this close to making my first sale,” a visibly-pissed off sales representative from GatewayServices, Inc. was heard ranting to his colleagues. “The guy was about to say ‘yes’ to a DSL upgrade when this stupid fire alarm suddenly sounded.”

“Plus we’re stuck here with all these jejemons,” he added, pointing to a crowd of adolescents in black that was waiting for the ChicoSci concert to commence. He then popped his collar and took a drag from his Marlboro Blue.

At 10:33 PM, the van made its way down the Olympus Place ramp and merged with the Dartmouth Avenue traffic that was moving freely now that the fire drill had ended and the Central Plaza crowd was dissipated. Ellington Chua suddenly remembered that he had left his takeout cannoli at Il Duce and got back just before the restaurant closed. Milo Parungao bumped his head on a steel bar and was taken to the field clinic, where he was pronounced stable and fit to return to work. GatewayServices, Inc. resumed operations and the sales rep in question was finally able to get his first sale, this time on a new subscriber. He later attributed it to his smashing good looks, Missouri accent, and powers of persuasion. The band ChicoSci took the stage to shrieks of applause. Westridge Heights security personnel apprehended a couple of youths who were caught sniffing rugby from a bottle; the concert itself, though, was generally orderly, and lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

The body, identified as that of a certain Stephen del Monte, was brought to the nearby Funeraria Quirino, where his remains are yet to be claimed. Police suspect no foul play in his death, which appears to be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

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