Saturday, October 24, 2009

Career Girl


Concha Heredia was a product of the Aloysius Gonzaga University, a prestigious school run by the Jesuit fathers. Excelling in her scholastics as well as in extracurricular activities she was held in high esteem by the faculty and her fellow students. As a result of her leadership in scholastic work, as well as in-school activities in the various campus guilds and clubs, she graduated magna cum laude in the class of ’76 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

A multinational company was quick to recruit her and coursed out a management development program which would culminate in a management position either in Marketing or Human Resources. The final assignment would depend on how she develops during training. But at the end of the program it was made clear that it would very much her choice. Her counselor would just be there to advise, although, the counselor being with personnel tried to influence her to joining HRD.She chose to go to marketing. Marketing did seem more fast track to her than going into HRD which was in the services area of the company. She really proved her worth and a year after her brand assignment she was given a brand group to manage. Under her in the group were men who were about two to four years older than she.On her initial year in marketing she was wooed by several guys in marketing. Later on one of the brand managers became her boyfriend. As a result of her promotion, Ado Reyes, the boyfriend, was a management level below her. At first they were not disturbed by this difference in rank because he was in a different product group.

Concha was a beautiful girl who matured into a confident lady executive. Ado knew that even if Concha was already his girlfriend there were still a lot of ardent suitors not only from the outside but also from within the company. A mounting insecurity was welling up in Ado and he acted quickly to stem any threat to their relationship.On Ado’s insistence they decided to marry. It was company policy that husband and wife cannot be together in the same department so it was agreed that Ado had to get out of the company since Concha’s career in the company seemed to be on the take off.Ado went to another company which was also a multinational but smaller and less prestigious than his former company. Ado’s career progressed in the new company but Concha, whose career rose quickly, clearly outpaced him not only in management stature but also in pay and in a bigger company at that.

“Ado, I wish you could join me in tonight’s cocktails at the Mandarin. A lot of your former colleagues will be there. The brand guys have been asking about you, Jeff in particular, he’s been promoted recently to Marketing Manager of the Paper Products group, you know and the cocktails are in his honor.”

Concha was talking with a coffee pot in one hand and the newspaper in the other offering both to Ado who seemed to still have cobwebs on his face.

“Want a refill? There’s still a cupful. You can have it…I’m on my third already.”

“Just put it down on the table, my cup is still about a half full…”

Ado sounded a bit annoyed by Concha’s unexpected solicitousness.

“So, finally the pompous pain has gotten what he has long aspired for. What a stunning victory for the toadies of this world.”

“Don’t be so mean, Ado, he thought a world about you. Wasn’t he one of your best friends in school? Besides there are others who have missed you and they have been nagging me to take you along to tonight’s cocktails.”

“A regular snake in the grass…whatever respect I had for him has gone down the drain a long time ago.”

Ado Reyes and Jeff Uson were buddies from high school to college. Both have been in the honor’s section since second year high through to college. There was good natured competition between them as they tried to outdo one another in leadership and studies. Ado was on the varsity basketball training team and the ROTC Corps Commander on their last year in school while Jeff headed the debating team and was the grand archon of the honors society. Jeff graduated at the top of the class while Ado came fourth.

During a job fair both of them were invited by a big multinational company to attend their company introduction, a two day affair which talked about the company’s vision, the extent of their business, and the various posts that a recruit may look forward to once taken in. Their applications for the management training program were accepted and both happily entered the concern.

“I don’t understand you…weren’t you the one I married? Don’t take it against him if he tried his darndest. It was flattering the way both of you tried to win me but I’m disappointed and sad that it ruined the beautiful friendship you both had.”

“It was a friendship not worth saving. I’m glad that my eyes were opened early enough to recognize his true ilk.”Concha looked at him in askance,

“You didn’t look so infuriated at him on our first year of marriage…why now?Ado just shook his head and didn’t seem to have a ready answer to Concha’s question.

“…there were things he did that I could not mention, besides I was so happy having married you then that it simply obscured all the animosity I had for him at that time.”

“C’mon Ado, what about the things you did to him then…all’s fair in love and war, you used to say.”

“Do I have to listen to you? Why don’t you take my side for once…seems like poor Jeff isn’t so pitiable now that he has made it to Marketing Manager.”

“Jeff was never the pitiable one, he really would have made it in due time.”

“What does that make of me then? I could have gotten that position if only I stayed…”

Concha cut short Ado’s assertion, “Now you’re sorry you married me, you’re sorry you had to leave the company, you’re sorry we decided that I was to stay behind instead of you. My god! Aren’t we finished with this yet? When will we ever have a closure on this one? I am getting confused…it seems to me that you are angry at us rather than Jeff.”

Ado slammed the newspaper on the table and hitting the side of the cup’s saucer sent it flying onto the tiled floor and with a tinny crash shattered into tiny white shards. He didn’t really mean to be violent about it but the seeming fury of the act managed to have held him back into making a verbal counter assault. Concha just stood there petrified. She was unaccustomed to outbursts like these neither in her family nor in her a little over two years of married life. Ado stood up and made for the door.

“I will call you from the office later,” he said as he closed the door guardedly, fearing another unintended show of hostility.

She stayed her gaze upon the strewn white shards before putting both hands on her face to stifle a sob. Her temple throbbed and her eyes welled with tears that have now flowed profusely. This was the first time they had a quarrel that was left unresolved…left hanging with one of them turning away.Somehow she had a presentiment that something like this was soon to happen. It was Ado’s idea for him to leave the company in deference to her career which was, as a prospect, a lot better than his. Even at that time she could sense that Ado wasn’t exactly ecstatic about sacrificing his career for hers even if it was the sensible thing to do. However, she thought that Ado was mature enough, strong enough to accept her success and not be threatened by it. But now Ado’s behavior seemed to have taken a different turn. The new thing that surfaced into the state of things was quite obvious…he was jealous of Jeff Uson.

In her mind she knew that there could have been probable cause for this. It may have been in her behavior, manner of talking about her job, colleagues, and the frequent business trips and perhaps during an unguarded moment, talked about Jeff admiringly. These might have signaled something was amiss.It has been more than once that she and Jeff had traveled together to regional conferences as well as to trips to New York for consultations in the head office. There was more than one occasion when she had to rebuff Jeff’s advances. She just dismissed them as a natural tendency of the boys in the yuppie crowd…always testing the waters, so to speak. Also she was used to this kind of workplace demeanor as a kind of competing that the guys employ on her, to put her in place…chauvinist games little boys play.

During off hours in these trips they went to museums, the theater and disco dancing and a few drinks in bars. She never told Ado about these since she was confident that she can handle herself well in these circumstances and that she was just being companionable…going beyond that was never in her mind, besides it would only cause unnecessary resentment. Jeff had been gentlemanly enough in all these and had never forced his intentions on her. She was comfortable with that rationalization and never gave it a thought until now that she felt compelled to think about it much more.

Of course she turned down Jeff when he made those silly moves, but there were times, now she remembered, that she wished that she should have been less vehement in her rebuke. Nevertheless, whatever rejections she made to Jeff’s attempts lacked finality…no ultimatum, nor threat. She still loved Ado but the recognition of a problem crept slowly and innocuously on her until it accelerated disaster bound with all the events coming to a head like two renegade freight trains on a collision course.

It was nearly quitting time when Concha realized that she hadn't heard from Ado. She just got back from the ad agency to give a brief on a new product development project and suddenly remembered that she owed her chairman notes for his quarterly report to the home office. Melissa, her secretary informed her that the chairman called an hour earlier but would not leave a message and also that Ado had not called. The draft notes were on the top drawer of her desk. After scanning it she gave it to Melissa to type a copy.

She called the chairman and told him that the report will be with him shortly.
Concha left hurriedly even before Melissa could finish typing the notes.

“Just send it right away to Mr. Bartlett...have to rush home.”

Luckily for her the traffic was unusually light. It took her just twenty minutes to get to the gates of the subdivision, a quarter of an hour earlier than the usual.

She expected to see Ado's car in the driveway. Not finding it there she could not suffuse a mild oath and absentmindedly screeched to a halt nearly hitting the wall at the end of the driveway.

With her shower cap on she turned on the shower knobs at full strength and the torrential crash of cold water hit her breasts forcefully. It hurt a bit but the cold splash gave her relief from the tautened sinews from a hard day at the office and the resentment over Ado's no call and no show.

After some hurried primping she slid into a red pencil cut dress. She bought this dress about six months ago but has never worn it because Ado didn't seem to approve of the color and that it was a bit revealing because the décolletage was plunged just a bit more for comfort. Despite the little care she took on putting on her makeup she came out stunningly beautiful. The imperfect eyebrow lines, the smudgy redness of her cheeks gave her the aura of innocence of an ingénue.

“The hell do I care if he disapproves...shouldn't he be here to stop me?” she muttered to herself.

Arriving by herself at the front of the Mandarin an alert and over solicitous parking attendant was quick to open the car door for her while obviously ogling her spread legs as she slid out of the bucket seat.. It was the first time she had gone to a social event unescorted. There never was a dearth of eager young beaus to accompany her then, but now, there was always Ado. How strange the feeling, she thought, as she glided into the foyer trying hard not to mind the stares, the turning of heads of the men who looked admiringly, others longingly. Rather than being embarrassed she felt at that moment an unexplainable elation and she acted with a haughtiness of sorts. She returned their ogles with an almost stare down look yet with a smile that could have signaled a come on.

At the reception line she could see Jim Bartlett greeting the guests as they arrived at the entrance of the ballroom. Beside him was Mrs. Bartlett and Jeff Uson, the honoree of the occasion and in a row were the company directors and wives flashing welcoming smiles at the guests streaming through.

“Good evening sir, ma'am.” as she made the obligatory buss on their cheeks.

“How are you my dear?”

“I'm fine ma'am”.

After complimenting Mrs. Bartlett on her gown she turned back to Mr. Bartlett.

“I hope Melissa was able to give you my draft…a bit late because I was taken up with the agency guys with the new ad campaign for the restage of Glee.

“Got your write-up late this afternoon and I must say an excellent one, as always.”

“Thank you, sir” she said a bit embarrassed about the generosity of the praise.


“Congratulations, Jeff”. She offered her hand and gave him a quick buss on the cheeks.

“Where's my good friend Ado? I'd really wish him to be around to share this moment”.

Nothing prepared her to answer a cursory question like that. Ado was always with her at times like these, besides she was so engrossed by the resentment towards Ado's not calling her up and his inconstancy that it didn't occur to her that people would ask.

“Aah...aah Ado has been kept in the office, but...but he will follow as soon as he frees himself from whatever it was he was doing”. She was angry at herself for having to lie like that.

Without even waiting for a reply from Jeff she went on to greet the smiling directors and their wives at the second set of the reception line.

She then proceeded to the guests and officemates who grouped themselves according to internal office alliances and then some according to school groupings. It always happens that sometime later there will be regroups surrounding individuals with reputations of power, but that would be later once the bigwigs are through with their chores at the reception line. Each director will have his own power circle with his underlings cozying up to him.

Concha joined the marketing guys. It was easy to locate them as they invariably cluster around the nearest bar. She joined them for awhile, engaging in inane chit-chats, comic posturing, bad jokes all the while displaying well cultivated speech and diction worthy of the schools they come from.

Concha has an acute social savvy and knew her cocktail strategies well. She had a roadmap all planned out for the rest of the evening.
She was not going to confine herself to the marketing bunch and fritter away the evening exchanging hot air and bombast. She had always believed that company cocktails provide opportunities widen her influence in the company by creating good relationships with all the functionaries in the concern. As a Marketing Manager she needed the cooperation of the technical and the commercial people to be effective in her job. After moving away from the marketing bunch she joined the divisional groupings who were more than glad to have a pretty lady in their midst rather than hear more shop talk about scientific breakthroughs in soap making, the ultimate deodorant, washable paper products and, in another, about econometrics, interest rates, forex unpredictability and the rise and fall of the company's share price. Her last cluster would be the group where the chairman himself holds court towards the close of the cocktails.

Milling around Mr. Bartlett were the company directors and important overseas guests. It would be difficult to crash this exclusive coterie by anyone who would be less than they. There were few interlopers. Those brave enough to get into the circle did not stay long. They could not stand the cold shoulders, the icy stares and the snide remarks at the intrusion.

The chairman's group settled near the center of the buffet table where a tacky ice sculpture of an over-sized heart with a floral flourish at the crown, all rendered in clear ice.
Sliding gracefully into the group she playfully said “Sir, you have deprived the party of its gaiety by hording all the exciting men into this congregation.”

“Why Concha, thanks for coming to the rescue. The conversation here is beginning to deteriorate into an exchange of medical woes and the boasting of surgical scars.” Jim Bartlett really sounded relieved with her intrusion.

“Come join us, nothing like a smart and pretty lady to liven the talk. Step lively gents we don't want to give Concha here the impression that we are old farts and fogies” he teasingly cajoled the directors.

“Of course I didn't mean you, Jeff. You would be of Concha’s age” he added.

Jeff Uson, being the honoree had the right to be into this exclusive convocation. He didn't know how to react to what the chairman just said. He looked at Concha who herself could not offer any rejoinder.
The margaritas kept coming and she found herself unable to refuse each time the waiter walked with a trayful.

There was a lively exchange of banter from all around. This was mixed with business talk, politics and even some snippets from showbiz gossip which to everybody's amusement was a contribution by the chairman himself.

It was nearly ten in the evening and as printed in the invitation card it is “carriages at ten” which in British etiquette meant the party ends at ten o'clock. As is customary, a last round of drinks were served and guests linger for about ten to fifteen minutes then leave to complete the exodus.

“Is Ado coming at all? I am afraid everybody would have left in a few more minutes.” Jeff asked.

“Of course he will, why wouldn't he?” she resented the question as she took a quick glance at the rest of the group then cast a sharp look at Jeff. The directors were busy bidding goodbyes and the question was completely unheard or ignored. She was relieved that she didn't have to respond to it to the group.

With the chairman bidding goodbye, the group dispersed leaving Concha and Jeff by the half melted ice sculpture dripping away. Jeff then ushered her to a nearby table for them to rest their weary legs after long hours being on their feet. Concha, with uncharacteristic lack of poise slumped in the chair with legs set apart visibly spent and the effects of the inordinate number of glasses of margaritas taking its toll.

“I didn't mean anything by that question” Jeff said “I really wanted to see him”

“For what...to gloat?”

“Hey, that's not fair, despite our rivalries in the past I still consider him as one of the best buddies I ever had. We could have continued to be the best of friends if it were not for you.”

“We have been through this conversation before; I do not wish to talk about it.”

“Okay, let me keep you company until he arrives. I cannot leave you by yourself at this late hour.”

“You know you don't have to”; I am quite capable of taking care of myself.”

“But I want to,” Jeff said firmly.

Concha was never this testy before. Somehow, Jeff knew that something was amiss. He has known her well enough to sense that something was bothering her. Her eyes turning evasive, her hand gestures becoming jerky and the tone of voice which was usually warm and friendly has turned acerbic and terse. He thought that Ado might not be coming at all. He knew Ado well enough to be certain that he could not allow Concha to go to parties alone or even keep her waiting past cocktail hours.

Ado was not coming and this person beside her seemed determined to stay till kingdom come, she thought. Despite her strength of character she could not fight off the emotion welling up from her chest besides the alcohol had weakened her effort to repress the tears which have been on the verge of spilling out even much earlier.

Jeff looked at the slumped figure on the chair. It had no resemblance to the Concha that he knew or that most knew. There she was hair slightly mussed, lipstick and rouge smudged and tears streaming down her cheeks with traces of mascara with it and breasts heaving convulsively with sobs. Never had he seen her looking this vulnerable. She didn’t look pathetic at all. In fact her vulnerability had a certain attraction to it which evoked thoughts that he tried to push away from his mind. They were persistent thoughts that could not be ignored.

Concha woke up with a terrible headache. She was in bed at home. The late morning shaft of light streaming from the east window was oppressive and she shielded her eyes with her left arm and as she turned to the other side of the bed her other arm brushed the sleeping figure of Ado. She looked at the inert body by her side.

Despite the throbbing pain that drummed on her temple she was completely sober now. Flashes of last night’s episodes blinked intermittently in front of her like blurry screen receptions. She remembered clearly Jeff’s assisting her into his car, garage doors closing from the top down, the ornately designed bed, he tacky heart shaped pillows and the blurred figure of Jeff, the brusque manner she was undressed and the frenetic movements of a heavy mass on top of her. Then moving out of the motel as fast they went in Jeff drove her home. There was no conversation that ensued between them on the way home. She took a hurried shower which somehow cleared the stupor, and then she eased into her night clothes and fell into a deep a deep slumber.

He must have come home very late, she thought.
She stood up from the bed and went to the wash basin. The cold splash on her face was refreshing. She smoothed her hair with a brush and from the mirror she saw the shirt that Ado carelessly cast off from the night before. She picked it up from the hamper and noticed that it had lipstick marks all over the front part; the top button was missing and the button hole torn. She placed it back on the hamper taking care to bury it under other dirty clothing.

She didn’t seem to be so pressured to have an explanation for her car being left at the basement of the Mandarin Hotel. She will think of one later.

She looked at the face in the mirror and saw how pretty she was.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Souls In Waiting























The nether world looms big in our consciousness
Yet it remains to be unexplored and unproved

We regard it with baseless dread and terror
Very much a place revealed only in reverie

Dark valleys and abysmal chasms though imagined
Seem vivid and real in location, and all too palpably felt

A place where the recent dead reside as in collocation
It has to be there even it does not please us to think

We cannot countenance legions of the dead displaced
It is a must that we invent one where there is none

Too many restless souls loose on earth searching for
A comforting lodge to rest before the final reckoning

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Death At Sea














The sandy delta, as always, was overrun by urchins
Even before the water set in to wash out their foot prints
It is the children across the beach who laid claim to it first
Ahead of the predictable and often tardy tide
But now with the water ankle deep and rising
The little ones with perked up ears caught sounds
Threatening them to cross the bar now or else
Words screeched at a frequency even clogged ears hear

It was a noisy and raging night at sea
The roar of angered waves dominated the din
And the blistering slash of briny water stung mercilessly
At hands, arms, a thumping chest and reddened cheeks
He did not hear the chanted prayers from a seaside hut
Nor the muffled cries of wife and children huddled
In his mind he heard a remembered warning at shore
Wife beseeching for him not to sail an ominous sea

It was as if he was reborn upon waking from a reverie
He floated in the stillness of a pacified but listless stream
Sea gulls flew overhead shrieking for edible flotsam
Now he was one with derelicts cast out by an enraged storm
A cruel sun shone mercilessly with searing ferocity
He could hear faint sounds carried by the easterly
Was it children’s laughter or a mournful dirge?
He doubled up into a fetal crouch to get back into his dream
The cold water slapping his sides made him aware of his demise

Scarecrow


















The scarecrow with fluttering hands
Thought he scared away the blackbirds
Cawing in feigned terror, they dart about mockingly
The tattered suit, the dotted grin
Remained as timeless as the stacks of grain
From the paddies marking time by shadows

He only moves by wind, the only one
Trusted by heaven to be its witness
As the silent monitor of the passing of time
And all the human bumblings and errors
Lost to the pecking of ravens and rice birds

Ah, forlorn monument in the paddies
Who placed you there is the real fool
You cannot even scare away the tiny mice
Frolicking about your ragged hem.
Are you the stalwart sentinel designate
Who has concern over all?

Leave Me, Muse



Hey Muse, Get off my back!
Leave me alone now that I have reached my door
I have escaped your relentless pursuit abroad
Pestering me with your endless lays and lies
In the solitude of unfamiliar towns and climes


Why could I not lose you in winding streets?
Not outrun you in wide avenues in traffic?
You are a persistent hound with a flawless nose
Seeking me out in thick heaths and endless marshes
Always at arm’s length away from your clutch


Must you talk to me of love and heroic deeds?
Inspire me with quests I know I could not attain?
Oh, what a wretch am I to even dare think
Of glories and fame unattained by anyone mortal
Leave me be Muse, sing your song to someone else

Foreboding

















I flaunted faded glories in the still air
Like the banderitas of last year’s fiesta
The leaves of the big acacia tree by the wayside
Also waited for a cue from passing breezes

There is no slamming of front doors
And window shutters on the second floor
Are slightly ajar as if the slats had eyes
Peering expectantly at a desolate street

But the wind hung like heavy drapes
Despite the whistling of an urchin
The dust remains settled on the ground
Only the shimmer of the heat is seen

Even mangy dogs did not patrol
The narrow lanes of the interior commune
Cats did not move from window perches
A girl stares blankly at the stillness of life

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Love Letters In the Sand















Ah, the serenity of daybreak at the strand
With you and a scatter of little birds at hand
Early morning sea breeze's amiable touch
Still without the harsh sting of a late day sun
Caressed and livened your reddened cheeks

I dared express sweet thoughts with my toes
Etching them on the sparkling morning sand
You rushed to trample on the words with bare feet
Conspiring to erase with the oncoming foam
Racing water rushed with frothy leads
Taking with it words and foot marks on the sand
As it ebbed back from whence it came

I thought that I would immortalize the nonce
Oh how briefly the moment savored
My love written on inconstant sands
Flew away with the sand pipers
Even before the end of the dawn

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Yellow Letter Day


















With quivering lips we muttered “there goes our hero”.
Her harp made silent by destined mortal passage
But her song reverberates over the mangrove trees
And on white sandy stretches of countless strands.
The regal crests of this country's mountain heights
Intones in the breeze a requiem of a million bird-songs.
Yellow bells trumpet incessantly a heavy hearted eulogy
For the people's beloved one, for an irreplaceable loss.

But the lady knows no death, her legacy is etched on
Peoples' faces; hopeful and happy, proud and uncowed
Carved on the granite walls of justice made available to all
The spirit of this heroism lives on despite the unkind climes.
But the flame will not be doused by evil men and evil deeds.
For as long as there are the just, the brave and the good
Who will rekindle by a hundred, a thousand...a million fold
The gift bequeathed to the people of these restless islands.

What Will I Wear Tonight?



What gown will I wear tonight? she mused,
As the early scatter of the fading light settled and
Gray banners fluttered in the twilight air
Festooned over an elegant black and white horizon
What fineries will be fitting against a classic motif?

Will she wear a cape dotted by a million sparkles?
Or gems formed by light years from distant blasts
Made more brilliant by the absence of the moon?
Would she dare wear a tiara of a burning disc with
A backdrop of dying light from flickering candles?

A sturdy rack sagged with the weight of arrayed vanities
Each one hopeful of being blessed by the lady's choice.
Her gaze moved from one brilliant creation to another
Oh the quandary she faces though not only this once
But never apologetic for such an embarrassment of riches

Monday, August 03, 2009

Moon Glow






















How bright the full moon shone that night
Reflecting a chalky whiteness on public squares
Furtive movements uncovered by random light
Revealing silhouettes in the bush of lovers in pairs

Its fullness stirred compelling demented dreams
A breeze scattered stardust into a shimmering glow
All stood moonstruck by the sprinkle of brilliant beams
The world, on this bewitched night stood still in awe

Lines






















My life has been spent drawing lines
Thick and threatening, a warning to others
Not to cross over lest they be thwarted
Demarcations that shut out people and dissent
Straightest of lines to get somewhere fast
Rigid and orderly, a fine way to think
Never meandering nor considering other paths

I drew a line that excluded all, a narrow lane
Deeply rutted through countless hours of pacing
Fixed strides from one point to another, back and forth.
How much longer can I walk the straight and narrow and
Break out into the light from the dark cages of my lines?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dead Stars












The star that so inspires many tonight
Has long been an emptiness in the universe
Yet it shines prominently, ever lively
Dead yet alive, what a wonder
Is its inspiration of any worth?
A dead brilliance, a fake shine
Magnificence that doesn't exist in time
A holographic icon, a cosmic mirage

I heard a politician talk today
How truthful he seemed to be
With glittering credentials to match
A studied honest face and mien
Does his history hold true
Or the idealism he once had
Been tarnished and smudged
Swept behind an ornate tapestry
A rich textured arras
Woven with craft by masters
Of design and sleight of mind
In looms of lies and deceptions

Dead stars how pretty you are
Shining bright in a firmament
Made of tarp, a cyclorama pasted
With bubbles, sequins and glitters

A Day In August













Today the rays of the sun lost its radiance
Flew away with the winter birds to kinder climes

The breeze no longer warmed, instead, an alien cold
Brought in by the August rain hang clammily in the air


A few runted fruits clung on lichened branches
Abandoned by a beneficent sun of a summer gone

Nothing to reminisce by the glorious time of plenty
Or of the gaiety of summer’s floral celebrations


Newborns once romped and leveled wild flowers
In robust green spreads of curling fields of grass

Today they huddled in the shepherd's wooden shed
Shivering in their sullied and stringy fur covers


Through the abruptness of seasons, the bleakness of days
One ponders pensively life's inconstancy and whimsy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Morning Manila
















I pulled up an errant leg from bedside
Back into the safety of the mosquito net
Digging a pointed finger nail into a swelling spot
The itch made more cumbersome by the summer heat
Night shadows like moths chased lights on the wall
Fluttering and blinking white splashes and darkened dots
A broken reverie, a serenity disturbed suddenly...rudely
Mind wakened, every rustle, every flicker felt at the window
Light from the lamp post piercing the framed capiz squares
Dry leaves from the Macopa brushing the wooden panels
Skittering of mice feet and crinkly sounds of nibbled wrappers
Reverberate like thunder in the still and vacuous space for hours

Sitting up from the bed a street scene emerges...a momentary relief
The glimmer from the east now easing dark shapes into light
A new day comes with an annoyed welcome by sleep deprived eyes
The metallic scratching of many sparrow claws on GI sheets
And the honk of the early bread monger's horn invited the
Howling of a dozen hounds as if responding to a primal threat
Jeepneys revving up spewing noxious fumes into the morning air
Another day in the city is born, just so, with typical fatuous fanfare

The Spin
















Comfortably surrounded by familiar chimeras
Snugly rested underneath a self woven tapestry
Depicting grandiose deeds and epical conquests
The thinness of the fabric given rich texture
Only by the magical spins of prodigious spiders
Giving sheen to drabness through lustrous webs

With the vision of a thousand reflections seen
Magnified and multiplied by a house fly's eye
A glorious brilliance of a thousand cut-glass reflections
Beyond the ersatz dazzle created by self conceit
Conscience shakes us from our illusions and scatters
The notions created by our futile and inane charades

Monday, July 27, 2009

A God At the Intersection













He has the power to stop the flow of life,
To hold the pulse with the wave of a hand
And resume in stop and go the motion,
Humanity in suspended animation.

Unruly wheelers are held on their tracks,
An impudent hack, a road menace stilled
And hurtling pedestrians freezing in mid stride,
All eyes on one wielding the magical might.

What godly power is this
In the hands of one so mortal?
Suspending life as he pleased
All for so trivial a notion.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rest












 Come sweet rest, soothing rest midst tremulous leaves
Stirred by mountain winds passing through a wall of pines
Close your eyes and your mind...be deaf to
Rattling brittle branches clawing smooth rock faces
Mind not the noise of scraggly bush pines shaken
Scattering brown and green needles downward
Like long grain raindrops spiraling as wispy blurs

Take a walk by the foothills, walk beneath the stars
Unravel the knotted neck and ease the stiffened sinews
Get out of the tyranny of the daily the grind and incessant rows
Be lulled by the serenity of nature's fond embrace

Where Eagles Fly













Below, a never ending canopy of green
Filling the vastnesses of two horizons
A celestial reserve where intrepid eagles soar
Aboard warm winds circling in gallant glides

Oh to be with eagles in exuberant flight
Testing the heights then daring a measured fall
Screaming and zooming above majestic trees
Rapturous moments in a royal raptor's convocation

Envious of their fiefdom, the eagles’ realm in the sky
Green parakeets beat with puny and frazzled wings
To keep in flight with a jubilation of eagles
Just content with the thought to be where eagles fly

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Savior's Eyes



How I closed my eyes to deny as if not there
The stare of someone coming from my blind side
I have always felt the numinous presence
Palpable through the blur of peripheral sight
He gazed with such kindness accosting me
To see Him now, to know His sacrifice and
Bear witness to the promise of redemption
Through His mangled body and blood
Copiously spilled for the fulfillment of salvation
Yet I have avoided the accusing aspect of His face
Turning away when He beckoned with pleading looks
I hurried on with downcast eyes muttering... later Lord

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Passage
















The very young must be really blessed
To get through the ignorance of dangers of
Careless play, no-no foods, pets' feral instincts
Laughing and toddling over dark cracks
Of untrodden paths, unaware of the pitfalls
That await each tiny step gingerly taken

It's a wonder how we all go through the blur
Of childhood unscathed and unaffected
It's as if an invisible hand with a fairy wand
Has formed a screen that shuts out the evil eye
A magic that clears paths of thorns and stubbles
Clearing the way towards wondrous discoveries

As we succeed along the way, learning bit by bit
The knowledge gained by experience opens up
A new world yet to be explored and enjoyed
But now the scheme of things grow even more subtle
With a wider range of knowledge to put together
Sometimes disjointed patterns seem to make sense
Leaving us more bewildered and utterly befuddled

Going through undercurrents and tangled kelps
We struggle to surface from the confusion of adolescence
Reaching for the strength of experience but hardly succeeding
Seemingly impotent against a new milieu and unfamiliar beings
Conflicts and vagaries of life are all too new to a fledgling mind
But these are the challenges and the assaying of one's mettle
Out of the crucible into the tempered metal of man's maturity

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bells of Barangay San Jose













The bells of Barangay San Jose
Rang against the din of the windblown rain
Struck from bell towers from four directions
The wet July weather deadened the tolling
Unable to reverberate in the thick as soup fog
Eager acolytes swinging on strong bell ropes
Coaxing the brass cones to clang out loud

The bells furiously called out the faithful at dawn
Loud summons to attend the eucharistic celebration
Nuns in white with colorful umbrellas stepped lively,
Matrons with missals tucked in braided belts
Waddled through the half opened seminary doors
Rosary beads dangling, in quickened half steps
Hurrying before the wet fog turns to cold rain

A blessed Sunday morning in Barangay San Jose
My love and I eavesdropped on the early birdsong
Of hummingbirds atwitter on newly wakened yellow bells
And red mayas chattering on undulating cogon blades
The mellifluous sounds blending with the suffused peal
Of brass bells hardly heard above the foggy veil
An orderly chaos of diverse sounds melding in symphony

We paused at our wooden gate to listen to the concert
Disregarding the urgency of the muted ringing of bells
A grand performance fit for kings was being played out
At my very gate, heavenly sounds filling a misty morn
All of a sudden a wave of baritone voices broke in song
A robust Gregorian chant rode the fog within hearing
The mass had started and to church we had to rush

The Beasts Will Inherit the Earth














Somebody up there has a list
Fateful dates to reckon with
For sure each day he crossed
'Bout a foot long of names
But each day the list grows longer
By a meter or more than before

Man, the destined master of all God has wrought
Each day more of him are added to reap His bounty
Each one slashing and burning with impunity
Never content with a harvest for immediate needs
A maddened scramble for scarce resources will ensue
Soon the crossed out names will far exceed the new

Long after the added names have ceased
Will the earth be a barren and forsaken place?
Or will it flourish in pristine and primal glory ?
Without man to meddle with God's creation
The divine plan unimpeded in its course
World without man, a paradise for God's others

Redemption















Alone, a man burdened by humanity's frailty
That bore its weight on intersected boles,
Struggled to a task of dragging the fatal rack
To consummate a divine promise made.

Bloodied brows and tortured steps,
Climbing towards a destined fate,
Midst shouts of a stirred up rabble
Braying like a herd of prodded mules.

A tortuous trek on sharp granite blocks,
Each drop a deep gash on weakened knees,
Quivering muscles at the stabbing pain,
Keeping the mortal charade to the last.

Centuries have not assuaged the suffering
Inflicted atop the tallest knoll of a hilly rise.
Mankind's ingratitude impaled deeply
On a martyr's side and open palms.

More than that of the grieving mother,
Man needs to bring down by himself,
The mutilated lamb from the impious rood
As an expiation of sins before redemption.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Love Has Wings













You live in the east of the ocean
And I, west of the mountains
And yet with a providential swiftness
We are lead willingly by glad wings
Across the vast continental expanse

Weaving through latitudes and longitudes
Across equatorial spheres and tropic zones
Through the portals of datelines
With unerring precision speeding
Towards an appointment of kindred hearts

Oceans and mountains made near
By mystic signals winging through space
Hearing familiar and loved voices clearly
Seeing with fond heart a loving face
How fortunate man is for clever inventions

Erewhon












The roads we have trod
Never become familiar
The dusts of alleys remain
Pasted on our worn out sandals
Unknown and unnamed lanes
With signs marred by graffiti
All market places have fetid smells
Cemeteries grow same crosses
Churches mere crumbling stone
People with gauzed-up faces
Meet you with whitened eyes
It's frightening to feel silent footfalls
And hear blankness of corners
As we walk past shadowy gaps
In a broad avenue of blurs
Nowhere in time nor place

Friday, July 10, 2009

Glass Walls












I'm always a pace behind
Can't seem to get going
Each step is one taken back
My nose is pressed on the present
A moth fluttering against a glass pane
Facing a flickering, tantalizing flame

The wind blows hard behind me
I feel it prod and urge me forward
Yet with all its gale-like impetus
Nary an inch did it move me on
Oh what a cruel destiny decreed
To be denied even just a step ahead

How sad not to know tomorrow
Only the past to be relived over
Like a seascape without horizons
Or a flourish of buds never to bloom
Refused the solace of improving one's lot
How tiresome to know that it will be
Yesterday again and yet again

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Love's Road Map


How familiar the road towards my affection,
A clearly mapped out route without meanders.
The stately mango tree starts the walk,
Then the old stone house before making a left
Past the ancient stone-walled well by the gate,
The moss covered azotea will loom into view and
I will be there, waving to greet your coming.
How unerringly we find each other in familiar
Country lanes and land marks constant as the sun.

A Midsummer Reverie

















A tower jutted out from a sun-browned hill,
Seemed like miles from where I walked,
Yet its shimmer beckoned with an alluring light
Daring me on to venture the daunting climb.

What awaits in yonder hill? A rampart of historic note
An ancient ruin wherein mystic runes may be found,
Or maybe just a pile of crumbled relics in dire neglect?
Curiosity and fancy took the better of me so I trod.

On a child's delightful wings I climbed,
Tortuous trek towards a goal of uncertain discoveries.
Finding the Grail, or an infidel king's scimitar seized.
Oh what noble finds and deeds atop a sun-browned hill

But at the top nothing but the mockery of small birds and
The harsh sting of hot dust borne by a midsummer wind

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Somnolence

















It's the fourth time he woke up today
His pillow flattened and streaked with silver gray
Groping for his glasses relying more on touch than sight
He reached his chair now rocking, and he tottering


I remember his manly poise, the arrogant strut
Acclaimed by those who sought favor and gain
I wondered if anyone then was truthful in praise
Would there be a man now to show a similar faith?


As he bent to pull up the warmer to his lap
Cursed a little the pain that stabbed his side
Finding relief and sliding into oblivion again
His fifth even before the dark of twilight came

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Crying Sham











A woman weeps and intones a harrowing dirge
A loved one lost, she holds on to flitting images
Suffering more than she can weep, needing more tears
To wash away memories now encircling like gadflies

Others obliged and shed tears in sympathy
Rubbed their eyes out of conventional propriety
Snorting and clearing noses from welling mucus
Scented hankies now mushed and dampened

Teardrops cause ripples on Niobe's pool
Rush like tidal swells on indifferent strands
Surprising sand dunes helpless from the rush
Useless wrath for an unknown woman grieving

Unfounded tears gather into streams and torrents
Furious and raging, Oh what sham! Oh what hypocrisy!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dear Heart












Today I conspired with my heart
To erase the memories, the thoughts
Of the thrill that quivered my toes
The benign warmth that filled my chest
At the sound of her distinct footfalls
And the electric aura of her presence
That sent my heart and I in panic

No more of these, dear heart
My mind will not be addled
And my knees will not buckle
But heart, promise me to keep your cool
As for me, my instincts are not to be trusted

How Little We Know


















Like the storied boy combing the strand of a vast ocean,
With the shoreward Habagat slamming my blushed cheeks,
I wondered about the precise undulation of tidal waters.
In my palm shifty sands fall off between my fingers,
Calculating how many handfuls of these make creation,
Determinedly guessing, trying to grasp reasons for it all.

It is enough that I was a witness to God's grandeur
All the beauty of this world streamed through my eyes
It sufficed that I sensed His majesty, not thought it,
Felt His love rather than understood it.
He made an awesome and glorious world in my time,
But, then the world was not that beautiful at all times
I do not need to know why, really I don't. Do you?