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.
Thus the result of conformity is warfare , and it causes our very own self-destruction.