Anxia: A post-holiday poem

I tell you that I don’t want to go to work tomorrow
That I’d rather stay where my bed meets my blanket
Sleeping away this cold January weather and oh
What a day to be had on my back, disconnected

But I also tell you that I’d rather go to work if only not to miss the calls
They will make to my number
Because some questions need to be answered and
Some deadlines are dying as I type and
Some things have definitely gone awry
And that should I let a day go by at home
I’d really just be standing by the phone

And so I tell you that I’d honestly rather go to work because
There are people to meet in the office
Meetings will be had and my boss will ask for me tomorrow
Just for tomorrow, solely tomorrow, and
She will wonder why I’ve not come and look back to the day
She first told me to “be responsible for these people”

You tell me it’s alright, that I can skip just one day
That I’m 27 and human
But I’m already halfway dressed and waiting for the bus
It’s 3AM and I’ve no sleep and all desire to vomit acid
Really, I’d rather close my eyes and wait for an oncoming car
So I can send a text saying I can’t go to work because I’m dead

Instead I tell you that I’m in the office already
Mushy brain and stomach-sick
Counting cigarette breaks until 5PM

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Ang Ginoo sa Pag-iisa: Subok ng Salin ng “Gentleman Alone” ni Pablo Neruda

Silang mga binatilyong bakla at malalaswang mga dalaga,
Silang nagtatabaang mga balo na pawang bangag sa puyat,
Silang mga bagong maybahay na tatlumpung oras nang buntis,
At silang mga pusang naglalandian sa aking hardin tuwing gabi,
Mga nagpipintugang buhay na talaba
Sa palibot ng aking munting tahanan
Salo ay muhi ng aking kaluluwa,
Mga demonyong nakapajama
Na ang palita’y maiinit na mga halik, kunwari’y lihim na mga liham.
Sa tuwing sasapit ang tag-init, iniiwan ng mga nagmamahalan
Ang kanilang matatamlay na rehimyento,
May matataba, mapapayat, maliligaya, at malulungkot na mga pares
Sa ilalim ng naglalakihang mga puno sa tabi ng baybayin at buwan
May enerhiyang kaakibat ang palitan ng pantalon at panty
May huning kasama ang pagtatanggal ng stockings
Pati ang suso ng mga kababaihang tila makikislap na mga mata.
Maging ang padre de familia, matapos ang ilang sandali,
Matapos ang isang linggong pagpasok sa trabaho,
At matapos ang walang kalatuy-latoy na mga nobelang binabasa bago matulog,
Ay tuluyan nang nakipagkantutan sa kaniyang kapitbahay,
At ngayon sila’y naghihipuan sa madilim na sinehan
Kung saan ang bida sa mga pelikula ay kabayo o magigiting na mga prinsipe,
Dahan-dahang hinahaplos ng kaniyang sabik at pasmadong palad
Ang mabibilog at makikinis na mga hita.
Ang gabi ng mangangaso at gabi ng mag-asawa
Ay tila balumbon ng kumot na sa aki’y sumasakal,
Maging ang oras matapos ang tanghalian kung kailan nagbubulyos ang mga pari at estudyante,
At walang pakundangang nagkakangkangan ang mga aso sa daan,
At ang mga bubuyog na amoy dugo at hindi magkandaugaga na mga langaw,
At ang walang palyang paglalaro ng bahay-bahayan ng magpipinsan,
At ang mga doktor na nagnanasa sa mga batang pasyente,
Pati ang bukang liwayway kung kailan sumisiping ang propesor
Sa kaniyang asawa bago mag-almusal,
At kung hindi pa ito sapat ay nariyan pa ang mga taksil na siyang tunay na nagmamahalan
Sa mga kamang sinlaki at sintaas ng mga barko:
Paulit-ulit, walang hanggan
Ako’y unti-unting dinudurog ng baliko at buhay na gubat na ito
Kasama ng kaniyang higanteng mga bulaklak na wari mo’y bunganga at ngipin
Pati kaniyang nangingitim na mga ugat na tila ba kuko at takong.

The young maricones and the horny muchachas,
The big fat widows delirious from insomnia,
The young wives thirty hours’ pregnant,
And the hoarse tomcats that cross my garden at night,
Like a collar of palpitating sexual oysters
Surround my solitary home,
Enemies of my soul,
Conspirators in pajamas
Who exchange deep kisses for passwords.
Radiant summer brings out the lovers
In melancholy regiments,
Fat and thin and happy and sad couples;
Under the elegant coconut palms, near the ocean and moon,
There is a continual life of pants and panties,
A hum from the fondling of silk stockings,
And women’s breasts that glisten like eyes.
The salary man, after a while,
After the week’s tedium, and the novels read in bed at night,
Has decisively fucked his neighbor,
And now takes her to the miserable movies,
Where the heroes are horses or passionate princes,
And he caresses her legs covered with sweet down
With his ardent and sweaty palms that smell like cigarettes.
The night of the hunter and the night of the husband
Come together like bed sheets and bury me,
And the hours after lunch, when the students and priests are masturbating,
And the animals mount each other openly,
And the bees smell of blood, and the flies buzz cholerically,
And cousins play strange games with cousins,
And doctors glower at the husband of the young patient,
And the early morning in which the professor, without a thought,
Pays his conjugal debt and eats breakfast,
And to top it all off, the adulterers, who love each other truly
On beds big and tall as ships:
So, eternally,
This twisted and breathing forest crushes me
With gigantic flowers like mouth and teeth
And black roots like fingernails and shoes.

Salin sa Filipino ng salin ni Mike Topp ng orihinal na akda sa Español ni Pablo Neruda

 

Love Letter to Greece

He said she was like Greece
At the time when the Euro debt blew up
A balloon that wouldn’t fly away
But sank deeper and deeper
Despite austerity, protests, and prayers

He said she was the Euro debt
A black hole sucking in Western Europe
Her long history of fiscal responsibility
Turned to Germany’s terrible investment
Saving her was trying to piece together egg shells
Because every sad person demands to be sad

But she had slits longer than her arms
Irrigation for the flowers of black and blue
Home-grown on paper-thin skin
All those years of training hands to withdraw from hot pots
And learning how to cross streets
But no one ever taught her that box cutters
Are only for cardboard boxes

No one else recognized on her face
The aftertaste of last night’s alcohol binge
No one saw the absence of Facebook posts
Something about the people awake at 3AM
Only I saw how she stretched her soul to fit her skin
Struggling for some semblance of comfort
Only I heard how she wished she were a puddle
A stone, a bed, dead, anything but feeling

He said she was like Greece, the Euro debt
I thought she was my mother
That one time she wore a necklace of ropes
I thought she was my brother
That night he carved his arms with a broken ruler
I thought she was someone I loved
I thought I saw her face before
I thought her eyes were mine a lifetime ago

He said the EU would be better off without Greece
So I wrote a letter of dissent
Followed up with one after the other
Tried to form my words into the shape of a blanket
Tried to form my words into the shape of her salvation
Tried to play god and hero
But only because I thought I knew
How it felt to be situated at the bottom of a sinkhole

He said she was a waste of time
At a time when she was asking me to wait
And I thought that if it weren’t in me to find my own place
The least I could be is someone’s safe space
So I wait

__

I was asked to participate in this spoken word activity in support of mental health awareness in the office. I remembered a friend who likened another friend to Greece.

Pity (the girls)

Pity the girls who haven’t felt like
Shedding magical virgin tears
Who haven’t felt like daughters fucked by their fathers
Whose secret caverns remain far from the waters
Parched and barren

Pity the girls devoid
Of climax as Japanese waves swallowing Fuji,
Going over the moon, pushing stars
To surrender their bodies to the sea

Pity the girls who never felt like
The earth bearing herself in her own belly
Unfeeling planets at the edge of solar systems

Ah, but pity, too, the girls
Whose eyes sparkle at the prospect of apocalypse
Their breasts shining like headlights in darkened streets
Lips drooling with lust
Pity the girls
Whose skin your mother told you to never touch

Oh, these are not places for girls
Only spaces for pity

__

I was asked to participate in this spoken word activity in the office in commemoration of International Women’s Month. On the day of the event, I was drowning in deadlines so what I did was pull up a long-sitting draft in an almost forgotten folder and crafted an ending.  

our space

there have never been parents more proud of their child than us as lovers
looking at the cheap plastic dresser we pounded to entirety with our hands,
squatting over stained tiles, space for miles. we were building hopes
on weak dividers and mattresses an inch and a half thick each; making plans
of making arts with stomachs fed with tuna and Lucky Me

when nights grew quiet and car lights dimmed to turn open roads, as if reminding
Quezon Ave. that it, too, must rest, on nights as quiet as ours, we reached hands
over bodies, like sprouts seeking sunshine in each other’s breasts. i remember
as nostalgic dreamers do, warmth in the darkness of our dusty patched up room

our plates, we lifted from the floor with a bed tray we called chabudai.
my mother, she pitied with a mini-fridge, a mattress, and a washing machine.
the wide room, which grows even bigger with your occasional leaving, is now shrinking
in square feet. can you count, my love, as I do, the foundation of our romance
in the things we told ourselves we needed: one dining table, two creaking chairs,
one couch that is now, as I write, cursing our combined weight, four pillows, two bed
sheets, four towels, five shared shorts

one cat. except no one ever really told us that cats multiply in heat and that our family
of three will grow into six, then five, then eight, then seven and i would just watch
as our intertwined lives take shape at midnights over ashes and conversation

and i thought at second year, i’ll have realized that i’ll never be happy with a lover
and that i will always be ready with the certificate to prove that i am the cats’ mother;
and that warmth will always give way to the cold when we’re sleeping
and that some people are better left writing poems over things that once were,
counting furniture at a quarter past eleven. but looking over my shoulder only
to have cheeks meeting your lips, talking about whatever, i will
throw away all the money to fill all of this space until we lose the way to the door       

Searching for Winged

The elders kept chewing their words
Someone cut the children’s tongues

Memory played: pebbles rubbing rough
The soles of the feet, a body of water, and blood
The blade in her macopa hands slipping
To slice the silence with a clang

I feel wings but neither see nor hear them

All was written as legend
Yet as forgotten, almost unsaid

I never thought I’d

Your arms, your arms

I never thought I’d
Not hold hands, not
understand the ways you
believe, exist,
hurt,

          I
          beg

End the night,
Sleep, see again, tomorrow
Trade chances, I
think I’d want to
Stay with you

Your arms, For a while
I never thought I’d

Miss
the most

*Words plucked from someone’s tweets, rearranged for someone else