Monday, April 27, 2009


It was a wonder why clouds were so gray
Despite the brightness of the afternoon, and
No one knew that you left on the three o'clock train

A surprise why the clouds burst into tears
When all around a dry and static air prevailed, but
I did not tell anyone of our parting

I am perplexed by clouds huddling in narrow corners
When the azure expanse was so wide and endless, yet
They could not have known of my despair

Mindless and mushy floating jumbo cotton wads
Seemed to commiserate and provide comfort, merely
Wished for by the conceit of abandoned men

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Last March

The summer sun shone exceedingly bright
Struck harshly on old men in a mid morning parade
Made the marching lane seem wider than it was
And, also, made it seem longer than they can walk

A late shutting lamp post cast its light feebly
A toothless veteran pointed to it and cackled
Mocking the uselessness of lamplight on a bright morn
The rest of the men understood and nodded in agreement

Old men out on a march on a hot cemented road
Dragging stiff legs and scuffing shoe toes with each step
Moving funny in a rhythmic shuffle caused by
An uneven gait of stubborn and unmatched legs

Little kids on the curb laughed heartily
To see a gang of elderly men marching to
The lilt of a marching band they hardly hear
Half bending stiff knees and stomping sore feet

Feet that have walked the long mile
Of death marches and humiliating retreats
Feet that carried comrades dead and dying
Midst the brutal prodding of ruthless bayonets

In the grandstand the local town officials
Sipped lemonade and munched crumbly cookies
Grinned amusedly as the old marchers passed
Their hands full of cookies, unable to wave nor clap

What a hilarious sight, they thought
Old men in raggedy faded unmatched uniforms
Gamely jerking tired legs offbeat with the drums
Kept pace with young maidens riding a floral float

Amidst the pomp and flourish of a glorious parade
Less than a score of decrepit derelicts of forgotten wars
Hobbled and plodded looking proud but hurting
On a hot and sunny day in the month of June

Marching to a band with faint drumbeats and muted fifes
Struggling to look smart midst the gaiety and glamor
Looking laughable to an amused crowd at the curb
Stepping in earnest to the beat of a remotely heard band

True heroes marching through indifference and apathy
Onward they moved, gallant and proud, yet, pathetic and comical
Through jeers and taunts of children yesterday born
And of uncaring men and women with amnesic minds

In a year their numbers would have dwindled and faded
No more heroes to take part in the celebration of our independence
Now spared of the unkindness of forgotten heroisms and won freedoms
Of the derisive fun and unwitting ingratitude of children and countrymen

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet Smell of Success

The sun on its descent
Bade the flowers
To unfurl their royal capes
And through the disappearing light
Shafts of fragrance beamed
Casting a shine unseen but felt

Through the graying scene
A lad waded through barbed thickets
Fighting off the heavy shove of branches
Tracking the delightful draft
A frivolous breeze pirouetted
There he sat waylaid and discomfited

It is the fragrance of laurels, fame and riches
How familiar it was to a learned nose
An opulence that conjured images of palaces
Of harem rooms and reclining odalisques
Magical concoctions brewed by apothecaries
For fortunes paid by potentates and kings

It is an evanescent grace that he desired
How vainly he pursued the elusive prize
Through uncharted courses and perilous treks
Braving other men's hostility and nature's whims
But don't we all, stake a princely price, going after
Holy Grails and sailing to portless Odyssies


I give you three guesses and more, but
Even the oracle cannot make me out
The sphinx uses my mystery in riddles
I am dove, I am eagle, I am the sun
The forest is my son, the sea my daughter
I am the bread that you denied the hungry
The water you dried up to spite the thirsty
The gaping hole in the sky is my legacy
The polar ice caps sweating is my doing
I am the one here and over there
History is my handiwork, the future, too

I am the numinous, the ineffable

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Boyhood summers went fast
Passing through woodlands
In search of wild fruits and berries
River crossings and sandy beaches
Keeping cool from a torrid sun
Spider hunts at first light
Matchbox condos overfilled
Rites of manhood bravely faced
Tearful dips into the river
After risking a barber's cut
On the budding manhood

At the end, a thorny threshold,
A one way portal to an unknown,
A gate creaks close just this once

Merry Month of May

Lovely month of May
Lasses’ hearts aflutter,
Lads gather in the plaza
Watching the flitting moves
Of young maidens flirting
The swains eagerly show off
Glistening sun tanned bodies
While the girls coyly turn away
With reddened cheeks
And tinny giggles

It was the night of the “lutrina”
The girls dress up as
“Sagalas” in the barrio “santacruzan”
Hosted by Ate Delay, the “hermana”
The lads in freshly ironed shirts
And thickly pomaded hair
Huddle together underneath
The “palapala” playfully
Teasing each other at
The sight of the girls with
Rouged faces and false lashes

The procession went five blocks
Past the banca crossing station
Into the main road where
Houses opened their windows
With kids waving from the sills and
The elderly “manangs” thumbing rosary beads
Others watch from their thresholds of the yard
The village gossips having a grand time
Spreading rumors about the Reyna Elena
And the handsome escort, a guest from the city
While an irreverent scream of religious songs
Blare from a hitched megaphone behind a cart
Loaded with an electric generator for
Lighting up the Reyna and “sagalas” up front

A block away from the “hermana's” house
Little boys ran to announce procession's return
Neighborly womenfolk help make ready the
“Talyase” of thick “atole” and the “bilao” of “luglog”
Helpers with beads of perspiration paddle vigorously
The rice porridge, stirred and steaming
Now ready for the arrival of the marchers
After the recital of Hail Mary's, Our Father's
And Glory Be's three times over
The queue at the table builds up, chattering children
With bowls in hand waiting for their turn
At the “sandok” to scoop the steaming treat.
Some of the more daring boys edge over
Towards the young lasses and with awkward
Opening lines utter stammered introductions
With sweaty brows and sticky palms offered
Hands in acknowledgement of each other

The merry month of May in our barrio
Ushers in these jubilations year after year
Religious piety and pagan practice, flaunted
By the elderly folks mixing with the gaiety
Of young swains and maidens daring to shed
Timidity and defy parental admonitions
Answering the call of adolescent proclivities
Happening at the longish day of the summer solstice
Instinctive and mindless in the sweltering heat
It has gone on for as long as I can recall
A life's celebration the barrio folks never tire of doing
I'll be back next year in the merry month of May

Cat Woman

Wipe that sardonic smile off
Your teeth are showing through
Jagged and glistening
They grind exceedingly fine

I could make out the
Shape of malice in your mouth
Forming like stalactites
Threatening fangs sharp as razors

Still you smile, as enigmatic as a Cheshire's
You hate and still show love
My mind is mushed and befuddled
What is it really?

Purring and stretching
You sidle up and jump on my lap
Resting your padded paws on my arms
Hiding treacherous retracted claws

What's a guy to do?
I am tempted wring your supple neck
Or smother your innocent and trusting face
I tightened my embrace,but then, fondly

A Highland Hymn

White clouds rise from a patchwork lake
Soaring fast as if racing with the sun
My thoughts are of you at this sanctified hour
Only you and of the fishnet waters below

I saw you at the creation of the lake waters
You were there when they sowed the first wild flower
The mountains were sculpted from your silhouette
Waterfall cascades were copied from your tresses

I claim you as my soul's friend and bride
The mountain breeze echoes this declaration
Tiny songbirds fill the air with joyful song
In harmony with the resonant timbre of my words

My voice carries over the orchards, the waters of the lake
Past fruit pickers, fishermen, fishwives, horse riders
Bouncing off evergreens, fruit stands and diners
Proudly bannered, rising and falling on the steep ridge

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Summer's End

I imagined the Bicol Express zipping through
the patches of billboards crowding each other
and I saw you seated nonchalantly by the window
oblivious of the hazy strobe of faces, trees and high wires
missing frames like a derailed film from its sprockets

did you have to leave earlier than all of us?
every hour gone from the time you left
were precious sands from a shore of memories
collected as keepsakes but now spilling in a waisted glass
as streams of regrets fast receding, collecting in tidal pools

now, there you sit on a fast moving train
nary a thought of the stretch of sandy dunes and starry skies
shared a few cherished days ago in a sultry beach in Legazpi
did you have to leave earlier than all of us?
I missed my chance to say what I wanted to say all summer

Saturday, April 11, 2009


high atop a hill
the world looks bright and cheerful.
worms creep up to see
what mankind has wrought,
rebuilding stately edifices,
laid to waste just centuries ago
by early vandal worms,
now creep lively,
there's more ruination to be done

Village Secrets

long kept secrets
lay beneath a placid lake
move with scurrying fish and
into a brook they flow,
washed and cleansed by cascades
still the brook babbles through the houses
now the whole village knows
kept secrets of long ago

Into the Night

the blurry light of dusk
turns the world into slate gray,
a cold night treads on soft shoes,
ushering a scaly night sky
that hover over the city,
casting dread and gloom.
bats empty dark belfries,
singing the witches' evensong

I Behold You

The acacia tree
rained shimmering jade
below its bowers
where you and I slept the night
on soft ground, on a blanket of ferns.
Last night I chanced to see
the radiance of your face
in the first glimmer of moonlight
and in early morn the splendor of your bearing
imposed on the glorious light of dawn .
I wonder now if you are prettiest
in sunlight or in the glow of a full moon.

Caged Flowers

flowers caged in a glass
bouquet imprisoned within
then crystals shattered by
a wayward hand
a sunburst of fragrant beams
scattered on the wet doily
announced the felony
but repressed joy
now released to bring
wonder and pleasure to all
look away now
for once abet a sin


hush now and be still
listen to the hustling ants
leaves, kernel, grains
busy lugging and hauling
beams, planks and mortar
to rebuild a squashed community
flattened by hobnailed boots
not once but over and over
but man will tire of his malice
and the hill will be built
a testimony to the ants'
indomitable spirit

A Lovely Place

what a lovely place
and yet so cold and forlorn
warmth and light soon comes
let us frolic upon its coming
tramping down wild flowers
jumping low bushes
scraping your knees on sharp thorns
I will be glad to kiss away the sore

Wisdom of the Mountains

the mountain wind blew
whispered wisdom, uttered truths
from leaf to leaf then tree to tree
bounced from the rugged ridge
to the lofty mountain crest
settling on the pine covered glade
here is where I’ll camp


I was sucked in by an eddy of raging lava
An infernal hole of blinking redness and darkness.
My soul groping for some outgrowth in the rim
Of a gaping caldera brimming with toxic fumes

A wreath was tossed by a kind specter from an overhang
Brightening for a few moments the evil mouth
Some spark of hope before the engulfing of the light
Before the obliteration of all that is good and right

You were to redeem me from my wretchedness
But like an evil boil on the land's face
You only caused me pain and anguish
A throbbing ache on a quivering flesh

I sailed through treacherous straits
Via the doldrums and the lake of the Hydra
Into the mythical triangle of the Sargasso
You devoured and sunk me a thousand fathoms

You drove me with your feigned affection
How commiserating you seemed of my frailties and woes
The shamness of it reeked through shuttered portholes
As I viewed a false parade of masquerading sneers

I have loved you much, too much to my undoing
You were the words of my song, the furnace of my loins
My magic box wherein stowed my dreams, fantasies,
My creed and my joys, where dwell my passion and salvation

You have cast me to an oblivion of your creation
Oh woman loved, but heartlessly not loving back
A place of ungranted desires, of pain without remission
My soul in ruin and my heart pathetic in cold chains

I turn my back on you now, woman!
Whatever foolish notions I had harbored now departed
I have sobered up from a mindless stupor held so long
Worms neath the bark now exposed and evasive of the light

While ugliness have now sprouted from your brows
I look back with gratitude for all the momentary pleasures
Crushed but ecstatic in your grasping tentacles then
Relieved at last, gaining freedom from your stranglehold

Monday, April 06, 2009

Little Freedoms

Some freedoms will be late in coming
Not this afternoon nor tonight
Not ever hurried through resolute effort
Nor through exaction, nor imposition

We all cherish our little freedoms
Unfettered, not hemmed down
By strangers from ourselves
Proudly we stand foursquare on this

Forces abound around us
Other people's strong assertions
You cannot do this nor that
Why not, we shout back lamely

Freedoms are urgent
They are burgeoning forces
Throbbing in the heart
Wanting out from confinement

Easy to say
I want my freedoms
Whoa! hold it, keep your cool
It comes on its own accord

The Sea

One sullen day on a beach
I spread my beach towel on the sand
And posed as if in deep musing
But nothing came to my senses
Except the hiss of the sea breeze

I thought the cold of the water
Would stir me up from my lethargy,
I dipped my head twice
But it only numbed me some more.
I could have drowned in its iciness.

Instead I looked at the sea in the eye
And spat out an obscene oath.
If you couldn't solace a spent soul,
You are inutile, you over-rated majesty
Not able to assuage a man's discomfiture.

A Wake In the Barrio

Funeral wakes in our barrio
Are simple but picturesque

Amidst boiling cauldrons of
Rice porridge with strips of tripes

A gathering of mourners intone their grief
While downing jugs of native grog

The sakla master shuffles the deck
Cards bearing luck not auguring death

Children past bedtime hours scaring
Each other while hiding under the casket

Wilted floral wreaths line up the walls
Like sentinels with nauseous breaths

The honored one somber in slumber
Indifferent to the homage paid him

The widow worries about the collection
Fingers the knotted hankie bulging with coins

Will there be enough to pay in the morrow
The brass band engaged to liven the sorrow?

Oh, but her eldest will arrive from LA tonight
Bringing dollars, then there's nothing to fear

Picture yourself behind the coffin's misted glass
A life well led but ended with trifling ceremony

Funeral wakes in the barrio will always be the same
As if I care, but I wish I can do better on my turn.


A tune and its refrain hauntingly crooned
While a guitar is strummed in soulful rhythms
A mellow leitmotif for a kundiman
Plaintive words from an ignored swain
A lad emoting as only a lovelorn can

As if obliged the moon shone bright at
A night that was quiet except for the chirps
Of pesky nocturnal winged creatures
Thoughtless of the pain of a boy in swoon
In sympathy the dogs did not bark at the moon

The kundiman played on and on
While the strings struggled to keep pace
With the erratic rhythm of a dragged out tune
Sang by a smitten singer looking at a window
That stayed closed hiding a fair maiden's face

Oh, the promises were high and plentiful
The sadness and the sting of rejection heavy
For a moment even the mocking nocturne of chirps
Subsided as if relenting to the heart-rending pleas
Ever eloquent in words and in song

The nacred windows stayed unopened
All through the cold and hostile darkness
A song that can soften dark angels' hard core
Fell on unhearing ears and an indifferent heart
No matter, the harana will play on as it always did

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Your words inspired the letting loose of the ogres of spite
From your feigned naivete the silencing of a thousand flutes

You widened the chasm between me and my paradise
The gap between the eastern and western strands

A hint of betrayal in the guise of affection loomed
Enraged brightness that blurs and blinds totally

A nuclear head riding a blazing rocket running berserk
Carving its imprints of earth dents and bottomless sinkholes

Obliterating the clam diggers and the sandpipers on the sand
While I lie on shore with blackened and crinkled skin

Bleached skull and big bones emerging from crumbly ash
My soul flying off without bidding goodbye from the residue