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


 Come sweet rest, soothing rest midst tremulous leaves
Stirred by mountain winds passing through a wall of pines
Close your eyes and your 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


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


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


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


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?

Garden of Evil

Little kernels, hard and rough
I planted them in the shade of the stone heap
They were seeds of spite sown to cling
On walls of old hurts and unforgiven wrongs

The little stalks pushed their bulbous heads
Unsightly growths on hard ground
Grotty green brown stains on the garden floor
Malevolent seedlings with haughty bearings

The fiendish vegetation thrived in dark nooks
Unhappy for the sun to touch its leaves
The tiny branches had threatening spines
And oh, a redolence not known by any man

Each morning I went out to see
How the dark of night have nurtured
The budding menaces they were to be
Verdant mottled green now covered the wall

I espied little beady growths in between
Hairy spines, crinkly leaves and rough branches
The evil flora was in bloom and I was appalled
A disgusting sight of clustered monstrosities

There I stood unmoving, scared of what I have sown
Primal evil seem to creep out of the crevices
As if taken by a demonic spell, knees weak, I knelt
And pondered on what I have sown and reared

Hours passed and like a mesmerized prey
I suffused a panic burgeoning from my chest
And sought help in prayer firmly resolving
A change of heart and to uproot the evil sown

I uttered a fervent penitent's prayer
Determined to stunt the evil growth spawned
Before the coming of the dark of night
Where its evil finds sustenance to evolve

With desperate haste I took a rusty hoe from the shed
Strong determined arms struck with impunity
At the evil plant of my own design and doing
Mangled and crushed before the fading of the light

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Mariner's Homecoming

Be ready for some rough and tumble, my love
Tonight I come home as the wild man
Home from the legendary seas of yore.
I sailed the Doldrums and the dreaded triangle
Through the Somalian pirates' trapping lanes
Have survived the harshness of tropical storms
And the numbing cold of the Arctic waters.

Batten up the oaken bed and bring out the best linen
The wild man from the bowels of Neptune's depths
Will be back from perilous peregrinations.
I have crossed the River Styx on credit,
Navigated the grinding gap of Scylla and Charybdis,
Braved the inhospitable Eastern ports of call
Denied the clawing allure of the seediest fleshpots

Bring out the sheerest of your lacy lingeries
Home is the mariner from the wind tossed seas
Escaped the insidious curse of the Albatross
Enduring the loneliness of being in distant climes
Away from the comforts of connubial and familial bliss
Steeling the heart from the gnawing anxieties of absence

Be ready for some rough and tumble, my love.
Forgive me for I will be a wild and lusty Golem
Deprived of the heat of your torrid embrace.
The fury of my pent up desires will rise to the brim
And will hiss like a flaming caldera, a crucible to weld
Anew the ardor of our love made cold by callous seas

A Lover's Complaint

Never have I scrimped on the love
I bestowed on you from the start.
How now you doubt my ardor?
Even the gods would have envied
The delights I have placed by your side,
They were no less than the fealty they exacted.
Would you have asked for my soul?
But it was yours before you thought of it
The residue of my being willingly ceded
All for the dream that I might dwell
With you in an uncertain Paradise
Only fools are destined to know.

Mortal Notions

My cousin Del was obsessed by death
Saw maggots playing on tattered shrouds
And scattered rib cages topped by meatless skulls
Feigning smiles to those who looked
Tulip blooms growing from the eye holes
Searching intently at a seemingly infinite sky
Relishing morbid scene after morbid scene
Enjoying the thought of lying in state
Amidst mourning kin and friends

A moment of recognition to be seized
A time to be honored and praised, no matter
Dispel the fear to be hollow of bone,
The dreaded loneliness of insensate existence,
The hardness of the fleshless,
The disconsolation of the ungrieved

Good Morning Vietnam

On the curb of Don Du Street
Sprawled early breakfast eaters
Men in undershirts, women in crumpled aodai
Slurping urgently at blue and white pho bowls
I am reminded of young urchins in Rizal Avenue
With scavenged sustenance and relief in plastic bags
On the moist pavements, shivering, relief, shivering again

The early yellow fog in Saigon is no different
From the Manila one, only clammier, heavier
It rises from the ground assailing the nostrils
Faces of curb people anywhere have the same blankness
A look of silent desperation and fatalistic resignation
Slurping pho, refilling blue and white bowls
Spitting out blobs of unwanted off-taste morsels
Missing my newly shined shoes as I jumped
They laughed at my surprise and at seeing such sport
The hilarity of the scene evaporated into the damp air
Rose and vanished into the skyline of electric posts
And into the row of rusted shop awnings
On an early morning stroll in Don Du Street in Saigon