Poetics of Language


(para kay VC)

Ikaw ang bulong ng puso ko

na pumipiglas sa haplos ng kalungkutan

Na bumabalot minuminuto.

Puso na hinahanap ang 

iyong mga halik

bigkas ng iyong mga salita

tindig ng iyong katawan

yapos mong walang katumabas.
Nasaan ka noon?

Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhay ko?

Ito ang lagi kong tanong sa mundong malupit na

ipinagkait ang kasayahan sa akin.

Ito ba ay isang biro na maglalaho muli?

Dadating ka ngunit aalis sa isang iglap?

“Sana naman ay manatili hanggang sa wakas” – iyan ang sigaw ng damdamin at isipan ko.

Ikaw ang nagbigay ng kulay sa mundong napalamutian ng itim;

ang nagbigay sigla sa aking matamlay ng paninindigan.

Ikaw ang nagbigay ng lakas

na tanggapin ko ang ibibigay ng mundo.

Ikaw ang dahilan sa pagsikat at pagbaba ng araw; 

at ikaw di dahilan sa pagbibitiw.
Kung ikaw ay lilisan

magdidilim ang mundo ko;

ngunit kung ikaw ay magiging masaya

sa piling ng iba

ikaw ay malayang kong pakakawalan.

Sa aking pagbitiw kasama ang tahimik

na nais: “Sana naman ay manatili hanggang sa wakas”.

Sa tabi ko o sa malayo

ikaw ang laman ng damdamin ko,

ikaw ang nasa loob ng isipan ko,

ikaw ang bulong ng puso ko.

Poetics of Language


Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
You spoke of the spark 

that you feared I was repulsed by the night after we met.

Au contraire – 

I felt that spark a long time ago.

I recognized it again when my gaze fell upon your face – 

a sight that I longed for since I lost you

23 years ago.

The familiar butterflies fluttered,

a palette of colors splashed across my world,

my cheeks suffused with bright red hue. 
You spoke of the spark that you feared I was repulsed by.

I denied its existence then

manacled by the society’s rules

restrained by age and naivety, and

cowered by trepidation.

Would you laugh? Run away? Shun me?

You went your way

and I went mine, yet you never left my mind.

Your full, baritonal voice filled my ears;

your strong ghostly presence

eclipsed others;

the word ‘panache’ never failed

to trigger a glimpse of you.

You were, after all,

 a wordsmith among a sea

of Philistines.
Now, our paths have crossed, and

you spoke of the spark 

that you feared I was repulsed by the night after.

Emotions are roiling – Aku akan merindukan,

Aku merindukan – with the imminent separation.

The fear is there, but not of the spark.

Poetics of Language



For a time

I was a canvas of pallidness;

eyes dark abysses of nothingness

when they used to dance, glitter like stars above.

Lips curled down,

the blissful sentiments eclipsed by

pitch-black, morbid thoughts;

breathing raked though the chest

where pain sat comfortably.

My heart?

I wondered if I still had one – could I have?

It stopped beating the day

your well-kept secret of eternal love given previously 

walked into my rose-color reality,

shattering it into smithereens.
People cast me friendly smiles,

unsure of what to say,

wary of probing but ultimately 

annoyed at the dark cloud in their midst.

For a time

the world revolved around you – 

you with your grin that catapulted me to the stars

you with your saunter that sent shivers up my spine

you with your endearing awkwardness 

you with your stubbornness that piqued me

you with your own obsessions that niggled me and

you with your cockiness that put me on edge.
Blind to your cavalier ways,

You emptied me – you cast my heart into a void and frayed my soul into nothingness.

Prayers to heaven to open your heart were

met with silence while copious tears were shed

in my room.

I sat in a corner for a time, a mere shadow

of my former self, not daring to stir.

For a time

I grieved when you vanish for no rhyme or reason and

wallowed in self-doubt.

Absentmindedly, I caressed the silky texture of pain reposing on my empty shell;

I hurled recriminations at my ghost, cursing and shouting until I was hoarse.

I was a wreck and alone with my withered self.

I viewed Time with enmity – it was my foe.

Or was it? Was my judgment clouded?

Had I dwelled in sorrow for far too long that

I couldn’t see right from wrong, good from bad,

positive from negative?

Like a magician with another trick up its sleeve,

Time dealt me another blow,

revealing its impartiality in Eros’ petulant games –

He is his mother’s son after all.

Bad as a cliché might be,

Time did heal all wounds- gone were the dark clouds,

tears, recriminations, and searing pain.

Your ghosts still traipse through my thoughts,

beguiling me, 

taunting me

but now, unlike before, I watch with stoic detachment,

at the two hazy figures in my past.

This time is different, as Time is on my side,

a steady guide and mentor in Venus’s senescent 

game of hearts.

Shall I fail? Shall I succeed? 

Que sera sera.

I will let Time steer the course – for this time.

Poetics of Language


Your pictures flashed through Facebook

looking like the good friend that you’ve made yourself to be.

No we’re not FB friends – I chose it that way;

they were posted by a common friend.

I should have not looked but curiosity got the best of me much to my chagrin.

Flashes of the past marched right in

and a black hole settled in my middle.

You looked like an angel but I know what lies behind

that pseudo-beatific facade.


The memories came fast and furious, whirling around me,

suffocating me,

smothering me in gloom and despair.

You pulled at the strings like a master puppeteer

bending people to your will

your petty whims,

pushing them to give and give

while you took everything without a soupcon of remorse.

You left nothing but a bone-dry soul

and a gaping hole in the chest.

When pleading eyes looked at you for mercy

you flashed your signature Cheshire cat grin

and sashayed away.


You weaved stories endlessly

tying them together to suit your need.

You carefully layered lie after lie

until there was no way to know the truth.

You demanded loyalty but turned your back on it;

you demanded respect but belittled everyone, buying their admiration

with a few dollars, a well-place comment, a ruby-red pout and a Zara-inspired décolletage.

You stood for sisterhood,

rooting for collective cooperation only to disparage it behind their backs.

Your lexicon only recognised narcissism.


They saw you as a beautiful angel but I know otherwise.

I’ve got my own set of pictures of you.


Poetics of Language


A broken heart is simply a heart that has a
chance to become stronger.
It’s a heart that is more self-sufficient,
more open to the truth, and more capable of
lasting love.
– Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star &
Expecting Adam

Lover, friend or stranger?
You talked for hours on and off in a week
of trips together
of meeting up when work time allowed
of visits solely for you
of elation running through your heart on seeing her
of how good to hear her voice that
erased the heaviness of your heart

Then an abrupt 180-degree turn &
the connection was severed.

You of the fickle mind & heart!
Feelings are platonic you say,
that lust wouldn’t cut it at all – but your mien betrayed something else

What was she to think ?

What was she to do?

Leave-taking was her option yet you asked for reassurance of her
not leaving you again – – your eyes pleading as you held her arm in a vice grip.

Then another arrow to her heart:
“You can’t escape watching Sex & the City with
your girl if she wants to watch it  together” was your latest Facebook status.

Poetics of Language


No matter where you hide

whichever country you decide to set up camp

they find a way to your doorstep.

Just when you thought it was all right to draw the blinds,

to open the windows

to breathe in and feel the ray of sun on your face




You’re nose-to-nose with the ghosts of the past

alongside the beadles of regret,


disappointment and


Mine never strays far from me – they’re like long lost friends

making themselves at home in my soul.

Not too heavy,

not too light

just this steady weight inside;

not too big

not to small either

just right to quiet the verve within;

not too noisy,

not too silent

just a muted presence – not even a word for idle banter.

They daub the emotional landscape in stark grey, black and white,

eclipsing the postcard-perfect spring scenery.

They clamber up the walls made to stay the hurting,

scurrying towards the golden box neatly wrapped in black.

Without ceremony or qualms,

they release the long buried secret pains.

They loom in ethereal clearness upon her fuzzy vision –

the two smiling devil-angels who left her raw and empty.

Poetics of Language



Office hours are over, but he bangs on the gate

asking to see his former teacher.

It’s urgent he says, but he’s not in trouble.

He just has a wee problem with his student visa application.

He says he’s too lazy to read through and hands him the papers.

He can’t understand the language yet he’s dead set

on going Down Under for higher education.


The martinet’s edict:

A deadline is a deadline.

Miss it and suffer.

No one dared to defy her authority until one Friday morning

She – with the stance of a fighter – floundered.

She pulled out the big guns instead: a text message

from mother pleading at the first instance,

enumerating her daughter’s hard work, of burning

the midnight oil segueing into, with an FYI, that

her hard working daughter was drowning in deadlines.

She must understand, the mother pointed out.

She does understand so her decision stands.


They all harbor lofty dreams of making it abroad,

of bagging full scholarships,

dazzling parents and contemporaries,

blazing the halls

of the academe with their brilliance.

Yet something is askew:

Essays are incoherent

Books left untouched

Punctuation marks are missing

Questions are left blank.

Self-reliance is unheard of

while foresight is forgotten.

But FB and Twitter are

Updated by the minute;

texting perfected and

iPods well organized.

Poetics of Language



The sun sought shelter under her skin

as she crossed the distance from office to cafeteria.

It’s not 12 yet the blazing heat struck ruthlessly,

stifling the air

rushing the feet to seek shelter quickly.

Except for the idle chatter and

threatening yells at ravenous felines,

the canteen was half empty.

A group huddles in a circle mesmerized

by sleek gadgets

masquerading as phones on certain hours

and game consoles in some.

Reading is only for the serious and focused.

The rest were chased away into the comforts of the cool

walls and hum of the machine.

The meows turned in to a yelp

and a foot darted out from the periphery of her glance.

Her stern warning, “Leave the cat alone!” was

met with a meek smile and perplexity in the eyes.

“Dullards are everywhere!” she muttered under her breath.


Conversations between them flowed like

champagne into elegant flute glasses

despite the distance and work schedule.

Talks of holidays, scheming colleagues, love life

family and dreams were routinely

then the eerie silence descended.

He’s venturing into his new life.

It hasn’t started but he’s on his way, he once said,

training 25-8, getting up at the crack of dawn and journeying

home at twilight, to become a world-class server.

She keeps it alive with occasional e-mails and text messages

channelling positive energy and good vibes through

the cold curtain of silence only to be met with

less alacrity than usual,

less warm than before

and stillness most of the time.

His new life is his and his alone.


His episodic histrionics rolled and ebbed

like the waves rushing to shore.

It’d begin with little narcissistic tales

of his recent acquisitions segueing into his unparalleled

achievements, moving to attacks on the system

and how it’d be better with his plans at the driver’s seat

and, finally, zeroing in on the bugbear of all his bugbears.

They were opposites:

vertically challenged vs. Goliath

chocolate vs. milk

East vs. West

secure vs. insecure

responsible vs. negligent

team player vs. lone rebel without a cause

diplomatic vs. tactless

doer vs. slacker

thinker vs. whiner

He derided her presence in the academe

where he, like the useless monarchs of the halls of history, should reign.

She was the usurper who stole his crown, his right to the throne.

What crown? What throne?

The people are suffering but that glaring fact is glossed over.

Efficiency is not pivotal; his megalomaniac desire is.

He has units in education he bellowed in her face.

It should be him, not her!

Didn’t he have the utmost right all over the rest? He was, after all, the fairest of them all.

He eschewed protocol, proudly proclaiming

“They’re a waste of time” and, as if to confirm its correctness, growled

“My father and brother never used them to!”

Him not her!


Scorched by the sun, cast aside and antagonized

She moves forward, jumping the hurdles

sidestepping the puddles and parrying the blows.

She’s at that cycle of her life again when she has

deal with the knaves, smooth talkers and what not.

She knows what to do; she will not bow down her head, naturally.

She is, after all, the daughter of her parents but

she’s in no hurry to don her armour and swing her staff.

She’ll have her Starbucks drink first – the cold vanilla latte with jelly bits.

Poetics of Language


Is it because it’s the month of love that

your face resurfaces from the crevasses of my mind?

you play peek-a-boo when we should be playing hide-and-seek

a pair of black sandals and that quirky gesture

from your doppelganger hurls me back to the time our lives were intertwined

a little smile tugs at the lips for a few seconds

the phone that rang and beeped ceaselessly now remains achingly silent

tears have dried up but the heart still weeps every now and then

I steel myself against another wave of memories

quietly praying that the walls and flood gates hold

and I don’t crumble along with them

Poetics of Language


Of all the voices that float in the air

yours resonates above the rest

soothing over the cacophony of angry, sad and somber tones

it rings with the smoothness of satin sheets

and sweetness of creamy ice cream

yours is the rhythm that dances through the staidness of a routine

and the weariness of the world

yours is the song of joy that wafts through the air, lifting my soul to nirvana