April is National Poetry Month! I did sign up for NaPoWriMo to get myself to write poetry everyday for the whole month of April but… well, I’m not very good at consistency. Besides, I feel as if treating poetry as an obligation in the name of its celebration contradicts to why I grew to love poetry in the first place. Which, a few years back, spoiler alert: I didn’t.
For trips to bookstores and people lending books have become increasingly scarce, Twitter became a lifesaver with two tweets that linked downloadable PDF files of two poetry books: elsewhere held and lingered and Dark Hours, both by Conchitina Cruz.
Poetry is good when the answer is yes to all of these: did it make me think? Did I have to read a line or a verse twice and know that it was to haunt me for nights on end? Did I feel a weight that made my heart seem heavier; was I breathless because of incoherent emotions? Did I wish I had this writer’s hands and mind; did I wish I was the poem’s creator instead?
With Conchitina’s poems – all of these questions were answered with a resounding yes.
I was literally whispering the words under my breath as I read, and felt entirely enraptured by them. Instant imagery forms itself in your mind as you read her poems. What concept I spend sentences and paragraphs on to fully embody she does in a few spare lines and I am entirely blown away by how powerful it is.
In Dark Hours:
You never know when somebody will walk away from you on a bright day on a busy street, never looking back and you cannot believe the slow disappearance, cannot believe what is moving away from your reach until the busy street no longer needs its presence to look the same, because it is the same.
And the city offers you its fruits and fish, and the churchgoers lift their veils as they step out into the open and you know the picture is incomplete but it can stand for itself
and who are you to ask for more, who are you to insist on hunger?
In elsewhere held and lingered:
It should be enough
It should be enough to wake
from the dream
the doors still opening
into the wrong rooms,
the keys still hanging
like tongues from keyholes, the staircase still
leading nowhere, the shelves
with indecipherable titles. It should be
enough, the eyes
in photographs restless,
the birds tugging themselves
off the surface
of teacups, the curtains
poised for migration, the roaches gone
to the neighbors. And still, we insist
on staying, flicking the switches
on and off
in the dark,
heating the leftover rice.
Stay we must,
nodding our heads,
our fingerprints on every object, our signatures
on every page.
Passages where I am held breathless; passages that are like gossamer strands of spider webs that lure you in and traps you inside it. All I can say is that I cannot wait to discover more of her work.
In frame: Conchitina Cruz
She is the sole witness to the whispers in the dark,
The fire of guns, the shadows and silhouettes Hidden from sight – growing
Larger, advancing on a victim –
And the blood that stains the streets
That reeks to the heavens;
She is the sole witness to the cries of children
To the wail of a mother, to
The panicked scream as a door is struck
Down; bodies clad in blue sworn to
Secure the safety of the masses after
Their lives, heroes of a society
Broken, never to be mistaken; to the
Sick and innocent dead by the hand of
Their own people, their lives reduced
To a statistic and scorned as the
Disease that rots away civilization,
Better off dead for progress, the
Hypocritical progress that is supposed
To grow but kills and is lost in the
Lines blurred between justice
And ethics and the rights of every
Human being turned into a punchline instead of a priority and
By God, she watches every night,
She does, she counts the minutes till
Dawn, she wishes the clouds were
Thicker to hide her,
To stop her from giving them light
That aids them – but in darkness too in her Absence they are all the more aided,
And the glowing streetlamps of the
Country bathing the pavements in orange
Are brighter than she is – and she
For the sun
Perhaps it’s all the arguments I hear whe crossing the hallway. Maybe I merely blow up when I’m fed up. But here we are. Excuse me if I go off on tangents.
I don’t think I even need to bother with a run-down of what has happened the past week. It’s been everywhere: the sudden burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, the arguments, the debates, the rally during Bonifacio Day. Until now I have too many pent-up emotions over everything.
Or they might just be. In writing this, I’m adding up to the number of posts musing on the Davao explosion in the Philippines on the Internet. It’s the morning after the explosion at Roxas Avenue left 70 wounded and 14 dead. Fingers are being pointed, from the government to even a TV show, and there are those who used the incident as a means to justify their political stance. Both are already expected to beget ridicule, so here we are, in an exasperating state of affairs in the face of tragedy: provoked, we retaliate, engaging in heated debates; all solidarity forgotten; playing tug-of-war with the bodies.
With no absolute reality, with all of us experiencing the world in our own truths and perspectives, if we all see that we are quite distinct from one another – why is there such an overwhelming amount of anger at our differences as individuals? To disagree is one thing; to cause discord and have blood slain over it is another. We can only come so far in being in accordance with and influencing the people around us, but for this to be kept in mind, and moreover, for us to stand in unity despite distinctions, we must first have acceptance.
Tomorrow, a decision will be made by the nation.
It is one that may or may not be radically changed with the choice. With it, there will be a new leader, a new regime, a new system – and hopefully, a new Filipino. One that mends the ties broken because of clashing opinions, for he lives up to the principles and standards set by his choice, decision, and his motive in doing so. One that believes in the change and progress that can and will happen, whether or not his candidate wins, for the change we all call for starts with ourselves. One that, however the system might be, continues to be the best citizen he can.
I have written no political pieces all throughout the month. I saw no point in repeating the same warning, the same persuading manner to see the good or the bad or the justification to be in approval or support of a candidate. I didn’t know how to disseminate awareness through words when I was still grasping it myself. I could only say much and comment on what I knew little (though while we’re at it, that doesn’t mean I, or the youth in general for that matter, doesn’t get a say on anything just because of our age) but this is a general reminder to all of us. We tend to forget that we can be the beginning to what we want to have for our country. This a reminder, that though a new leader will be chosen by the Filipino tomorrow, change does not have to begin only then.
It can begin with you. It can begin with ourselves.
“It is interesting to observe with what singular unanimity the furthest sundered nations and generations consent to give completeness and roundness to an ancient fable, of which they indistinctly appreciate the beauty of truth.”
“…This fond reiteration of the oldest expressions of truth by the latest posterity, content with slightly and religiously re-touching the old material, is the most impressive proof of a common humanity.
All nations love the same jests and tales, Jews, Christians, and Mahometans, and the same translated suffice for all. All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning.”
– A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Henry David Thoreau
Quote above is one of the paragraphs I’ve highlighted whilst falling in love with Thoreau himself. However, it did remind me of a certain nagging thought buried deep in my head on complications of distinctions of humankind. Skin color. Gender. Race. Religion. Distinctions that somehow puts you on some hierarchy of humanity and of value; distinctions that some seem to think as dents on an otherwise uniform and perfect truth, that some think necessary to be weeded out, when in reality, and ironically, these distinctions are simply mankind being mankind, different, evolving, changed and changing, unique, seeking out the same truth as everybody. The fight against prejudice is still not won, for that is humankind, too; or rather, what humankind has come to be, with inheritance of a deep-seated prejudice with some caught unawares of it. It’s funny, really. We curse the ones that are different from us and yet we praise the one we believe made all of us with the same lips. We curse their different ways but choose to be blind on what makes us all the same. The same tale sends us to bed and wakes us by dawn. The same questions nag at us and force us to seek answers for our own. The same joy, the same sadness, the same complexes. One humanity.
It’s all that really matters.
I know it’s a bit late to post about this, but it sure is dragging and I’m getting frustrated.
There’s nothing wrong with having your own stand on same-sex marriage, supported by your beliefs or not.
But it is not wise to use what you believe in to remove others of their own; to impose your beliefs on them; to dehumanize them.
Especially as a politician, as you are deciding for the good of all. It is not about religion. It is not about your beliefs. It’s civil marriage in the first place. To get married is a right, regardless of gender, for it is not just about the ceremony, or building a family; it’s for the civil rights that come along with it.
To go into the murky waters of religion and personal beliefs is beyond me. It is not the time to take his beliefs against him, beliefs that are believed by a million others, beliefs which of conviction varies from perspective – no, this is not the time to be a hypocrite and say things against him of the same nature that he had uttered. It also isn’t the time to drag entertainment into politics, or to compare Jose Rizal and Pacquiao, when patriotism, and even more so, literature (the line, “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay mas masahol pa sa malansang isda” – or “One who does not love his own language is worse than a stinking fish” is from the poem, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata”, compared to Pacquiao’s remark, “Kung lalaki sa lalaki, babae sa babae, mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao”, or “If man approves of male on male or female on female, then man is worse than animals.”) is different from homophobia.
Each to their own, with respect, objectiveness, and a mind to your own role and obligations to draw the boundaries.