Masked

Standard

Once again, I find myself trying to fit into a space not meant for me. I try to break into roles the way I do with shoes a size too big or small; forcing my feet in and walking around with a placid grin stuck onto my face, thinking that if I never address my discomfort, then it would never be real.

I’m always torn between making things happen and letting it happen to you. When do you take initiative and control what you rightfully can? When do you let go and let things run their natural course? How would you ever be able to tell which the right decision is?

The problem always lies with what I’d like to be, what I am, and the secret compromise and negotiation going on between them, trying to figure out which one has more of their way than the other. I try to be three steps ahead of myself and throw on duties and personas impulsively; recklessly.

Let me give you an example: I believe in pragmatism, right and wrong, mercy and compassion and justice and love. At fifteen I realized this, and, wanting to walk the talk, thought of a way to further define and abide by my principles, and became a church girl. I was sobbing at sermons, donating my allowance as tithes and singing loudly to worship songs, despite growing up scowling, skeptic, at the idea of God, Santa, and the tooth fairy, among other imaginary creatures. I started to break nearly a year later, my persona weary and chipping away at the corners. I shuddered in guilt and disgust in the congregation instead of enlightenment and joy. I left and didn’t look back.

I’d love to have a smile plastered on my face all the time. I’d love to be kind all the time. I’d love to be on the genius-level of skill in art. I’d love to be a reliant friend. But the truth is I can’t be bothered to fake grins, I can spit out vitriol, my preferred art form is through words, blank ink on white paper and not the contrasting, fluid colors on canvas, and I won’t reply to friends’ messages promptly if I don’t feel like it and I can’t even comfort people well. As time passed, it’s been my refrain: I’d love to, but I can’t. I’d love to be that person. I’d love to love that thing. I’d love to do these for you. I would love to, and I could, but I really just can’t. I peel off the faces that they see in me; the faces they want me to have; the people they’d like me to be. I’m sorry, I tried. I can’t. It’s the trial-and-error solution; the dress-up game before the purchase of a dress; like the sing-song chant of he loves me, he loves me not. This should be it. No, it isn’t. Casting away wrong answers and poorly fit dresses until we arrive at something that’s right.

Advertisements

metathesio

Standard

All my life, I never knew what exactly I feared. The eyes adjust to darkness, and a familiarity of a place eliminates any fear. Ghosts are rare to come by. Cockroaches are just pests, ones that give me shudders because they’re ridiculously ugly and unclean. I can’t say I fear heights when I’ve stood on top of mountains and I know my survival instincts will kick in if ever I do fall – and see, I’m afraid of falling and breaking my bones, not heights itself, which is sensible for any human being.

No, I never knew what I feared. I didn’t know what personal terror I possessed deep within me. It’s fine, really. The most frustrating thing I’ve encountered because of my lack of knowledge is that I can’t do a self-insert when reading about Harry Potter’s boggart, a creature that transforms itself to your darkest fear, or when watching It, where the freak clown weaponizes your fear against you. Maybe the boggart or It will turn into a cloud of confusion and I end up saving the day.

In the quiet lull of the morning, sitting in a bus bumping along a road I’ve taken for a decade, my fear finally dawns on me.

•••

To all beloveds and friends who talk of us existing in the far, far future, I always say:

“You can’t promise me that.”

“We never know.”

“We’ll see.”

“You can’t say that now.”

Or sometimes, I smile and never say it aloud, letting quaint fantasies delude both of us. The lovechild of Time and Fate is Change; powerful with its inevitability. It is in humanity’s nature to fight a lost battle, and even though I know better, I let myself hope and believe that despite billions in testimony it is all in vain, I – we – will defy the odds.

It’s romantic, and pathetic. I look back at those moments full of promises and images conjured of us years older and still together the same way we’ve always been, and I can’t believe myself.

It is change that I fear, and I choose to turn a blind eye to what I know to be true: that in time all that I know will decay and wither and cease to exist. I take my comfort in the monotony of routine; these mornings that, now looking back, are almost indistinguishable from one another.

And so I gladly sit through the traffic; on the road I’ve been on for years. I cannot promise even myself anything. I turn to the window, and try not to think of the day I will last set foot on this road.

A Heart in Diaspora

Standard

I have come to know only two seasons, like the soil that bore me to fruit:
one, of suffocating warmth and heat; and two, of vengeful tears of angels from the heavens I magine to exist.

It is possible for the mind to wander,  but for the body to stay
in one place; exploring kaleidoscopic realms unreachable by human sensibility, living in various fantasies – and I wonder,
then, if our hearts are the same.

For I have loved you with the caress of the breeze of spring; for I fell into an unknown world as easily as the fall of leaves from trees;
for it could only be winter that followed when we both froze at the first taste of the burning cold
our love could hold; for we stood on thin ice, cracks creeping and spreading and taunting by our feet, until, locked in each other’s eyes we move to the ground we must burrow under,
to find warmth together; stoking
a gentle fire for two.

for I have loved you through summer,
when the flowers bloomed once more.
and I must say i will love you over and over,
as the seasons change and i fall and freeze and bloom and my heart will remain
here in a foreign land i only know of not through sight,
nor smell,
nor touch – but of closed eyes and steady heartbeats.

Summer Syndrome

Standard

Paris, and the fantasies of moonlit strolls, nibbling on bread outside of a dreamy cafe, feet tapping against cobblestones. Paris, with its streets covered in filth and the nights taunting crime. The Paris syndrome, where psychiatric breakdowns are caused by the reveal of the shocking reality of the dream city, is something I mull over. I thought about it, hair tied up in a bun, my eyes squinting at the odd juxtaposition of the brightness of the sun enough to blind me and the threat of rain just a few miles over. 

Summer entails mornings where you wake up with a parched throat and hair sticking to the back of your neck; your body sticky with sweat. It’s also the season of travelling, bodies bared glowing sunkissed, sipping from entire coconut fruits and taking endless video loops of your feet barely in the sea. It’s flowers in long, flowing hair and love found during beach bonfires that disappears as soon as the rain starts pouring. It’s the days where the slightest breeze feels like a blessing and being under the sun at the strike of noon a curse. It’s when the children run free on the streets and plastic cups filled to the brim with milk and ice are spotted on every street corner; it’s when the days seem longer, as if God willed the hours to go past twenty-four. It is these things, and so much more, but it is never the frightening amount of gray clouds that start to obscure the distant roofs of homes from your view. Yet the latter is what I first cast my eyes that afternoon, barefooted and groggy from siesta, on what was reported to be the first day of summer. 

Umaambon!” a child screamed, and three more snickered as if the announcement emboldened them as they ran across the street. I gazed down at a puddle underneath the shade of a store, holding an ice cream cone, and when the first drops of rain in turn made ripples I ducked my head further in defeat. I headed for home. It is not in nature to keep promises they never made. It is always in a frenzy; always brash, and how foolish of us to think it will the act the way we expect to because we said so.

Summer is freedom, and warmth, and happiness – yet the raindrops beat on the roofs loudly, like a vengeful lover, demanding that you remember her; like that small detail you chose to overlook but never do, your own eyes betraying you. It is the rattling reality check to the delusion; the lure of summer; the impossible fantasy. You do know that it is fleeting. Storms and frosted windows and floods drowning many last breaths as the bed takes on the shape of your body, eyes burnt blind from all of the screens’ glare are more common; less enticing, but you’ll choose to look at the neon lights reflected off puddles of rainwater and the lullabies of drizzles at night.

You’re a glutton for romance. 

a cognizance of apathy

Standard

It was an unremarkable day, as I remember,

and I was walking home, I think, around October – 

the wounds had not fully healed yet, still they were sore to touch – 

I stopped in my steps as the wind picked up, the sun already beginning to set, and thought: 

this is the road we’ve walked too many times before, when home was in a person and not the run-down sickly yellow 

house I am now slowly making my way to and when 

was the last time our steps were in sync – when

had he left for good? The goodbye that came after was a formality, wasn’t it, and can science explain

the ache that is straining

throughout my chest; can I ask how it was that my world had ended, it seemed, that night, but here I am with the breeze tangling my hair, 

with the sun about to set – and rise, in another part of the world, and be seen for the last time, as it was for some; for many; my agony is nothing compared –

and I’m still hearing laughter, somehow, still seeing couples with their mouths stretched to the biggest smiles, I the unbelieving spectator separated

with the help of these glass walls – they are living, aren’t they, happily making

memories, while I try to erase each moment away and they’re chuckling

their way to tears

and here I was – standing in the middle of a breeze,

the street uncaring

for what it conjures inside of me; the houses that bore witness to intertwined fingers and never-ending stories staring

blankly, now – blood is spilling

and places are explored and there is chaos and wonder and who cares for heartbreak?

Who cares for a victim of naivete?

How I Fell For Poetry #NaPoWriMo

Standard

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.

Continue reading

a metaphor for the complexity of being

Standard

I take the roles
the world demands me
to fill:
embodying
edges, rising
to the very
brims, overflowing
the vessels I
am in,

escaping
from fingers and
flowing down roads;
seeping into
skin. I come from

the heavens and
I rise from earth;
I bless the soils
and I tear off
roofs from your homes.

I am oceans
unexplored.
I am the seas
of bounty. I am
the rain you have
rejoiced in; I
am the storms you’ve
cursed and feared. I
am limitless,
infinite, more

than what you will
ever perceive.

 

Featured image: Alyssa Monks (American, b. 1977, Ridgewood, NJ, USA) – Trust, 2010  Paintings: Oil on Linen

Happy National Poetry Writing Month! Will be posting daily poetry – either mine or another author’s – for the whole month of April. Join in! #NaPoWriMo