Sunday, May 4, 2014

As She Dreamt of Time

She woke up feeling like a million pesos. Her husband was at her bedside, waiting for her to wake up.
“Wake up darling. Happy birthday. I love you.”
The husband sealed the deal with a kiss and he took her to the kitchen for breakfast. The kids were also there, their smiles warmer than the sun.
“Happy birthday, mom!”
The kids sweetened the cake with their soft embraces. Everything is perfect, she thought. All my life I've wanted nothing but to have a life like this.
“I love you guys.”

A tear fell down and she woke up.

She is a wreck. This house is a wreck. The stench of her drunk husband assailed her nostrils.
CRASH. The drunk smashed a plate in anger.
“Damn it woman! Where's my breakfast?”
She passed by the calendar and she noticed that it's her birthday. She dared not mention it, for fear of her husband's wrath.
Too late, youngest son already started crying. The drunk bastard hit the kid across the face, making him cry harder.
“Fuck this! I'm going back to drinking!”
She slowly collapsed into a sobbing heap. What did I ever do to deserve this? I'd give everything just to have a better life than this.

She felt the moisture of her tears on her palms, only to found out that it was her drool.

Was I dreaming about my mother just now?

She woke up to the sound of her classmates laughing at her. She wiped her mouth and the professor handed her the test result.
“You aced it. Congratulations. The University is waiting for you.”
The jeers turned to cheers and she threw her hands in the air.

Her hands fell slowly and the world suddenly turned dark.

She woke up in a dark, cramped place. The smell of the place was rather offensive to the nostrils.
“HELP! SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Someone turned on the light and she realized she was on a bathroom stall.

Well, this is awkward.

The handsome man from across the table woke her from her daydream.

She realized that she is in a fine dining restaurant with the finest of cuisines before her.
“Is this still a dream?” she asked the man.
“What do you think?” the man replied with his dimpled smile.

It was a blur again, and the shrill cry of a baby woke her again.

“Your son! Give him his milk already!” shouted an older woman.
“Ah, forget about it.” and she went back to sleep.

She woke up in her rocking chair exhausted. Though she wanted to move and reach for the picture frame on the table, she couldn't; her old bones would not move any more. She looked out the window and saw that the sun is already halfway down the horizon. The sky is turning orange, and the birds are getting ready to rest.

And so was she.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Kill A Leviathan

How come,
How come?
I still feel the pain
You left me with?

Could it be,
Could it be?
That there is something
Of love that remains?

No more,
No more!
These wounds I bear
Had been burned shut.

Say it,
Say it!
Scream your apology
For your betrayal!

Just die,
Just die!
Cruel memories
Of days gone by.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Bus Stop

The alarm clock’s squeal yanked him out of bed. With a reluctant grunt, he pulled himself towards the bathroom to take a shower. When he was done prepping himself up for work, he left his apartment and locked the door behind him.
As he made his way towards the bus terminal, he noticed that the people around him were unnaturally glum. The neighbor’s dog who would usually bark angrily at him never even noticed him. Along the way, he noticed several bizarrely blissful people walking in the same direction he is going to.
“What a strange day,” he muttered to himself.
He tried to console himself with the fact that when he gets to the bus queue, he’ll see the same people who usually lines up for the morning bus ride. The fat college girl with her crammed bag, the old man and his suitcase, and the office lady who carries three phones would be there.
What he saw there instead was a long line of unfamiliar faces giddy with excitement, as if it would be their first time to ride a bus.
“Okay,” he declared. “I would now mark this day in the calendar as ‘Strange Day’.”
He made his way to the end of the queue and asked the person in front of him.
“Excuse me, where is this bus going to?” he said as the man turned to him.
“It’s going where YOU should be going!” the man answered in a very happy tone, turned back, and then resumed humming happily to himself.
A bus went in, and the queue filed inside, but when it was his turn to get in, the conductor stopped him.
“Sir, this bus is full. Please wait for the next one. Thank you,” the conductor said before the automatic doors slid shut.
He watched in confusion and frustration as the bus wheeled away. Just as soon as the previous one was gone from sight, another one arrived at the terminal. It was smaller than the other one, but he didn’t mind—it just means he would be getting to work soon enough. The conductor’s gaze followed him as he settled in a seat three rows away from the door.
“Are we all set?” the driver asked the conductor, to which the portly man answered with a nod. The driver then turned the engine on, and navigated away from the terminal.
This surprised the lone passenger as there are still people waiting behind him.
“Boss,” he called out to the conductor. “Aren’t we waiting for the bus to fill up?”
“They aren’t going the same direction as you are, anyway,” answered the conductor while he was busy scribbling notes on his little notepad.
The man then assumed that the bus would just pick more passengers up at the stops they would be passing through.
He settled on that conclusion, and sank back in his chair and turned his attention to the movie playing on the TV mounted at the front of the bus.
It was showing a tiny patch of light which was slowly growing and growing until there was a blinding flash, and the sound of a crying infant filled the room. When the flash subsided, doctors wearing protective masks and medical gowns were visible.
“It’s a boy,” they declared.
It was then that he realized that he had just watched a birth scene, and it was from the baby’s point-of-view. The infant was then handed to his waiting arms of the mother, who, despite her fatigue from her labor, did her best to portray the immense joy she felt through her lips.
The man turned away from the movie for a quick second, slid the curtains away and checked outside to see how much longer the trip would go.
“WHAT THE HELL?!” he exclaimed out loud as he saw the San Isidro Hospital. Seeing the said hospital means he is nowhere near where he needs to be.
“Where are you taking me?” he shouted his question to the conductor, who was watching the movie quite intently.
“This is just a detour. We’ll get there, promise,” answered the conductor, without turning away from the TV.
Seeing that as a plausible explanation, he returned to the movie. It showed the child’s mother holding him while the father examines the baby’s features.
“He’s got my eyes!” whispered the father.
“You can have the eyes,” whispered the mother back. “He’s got everything else from me, anyway,”
The father squinted his eyes and his expression turned into one of surprise.
“Hey! No fair! He’s got everything from you!” said the father out loud.
“Shh!” the mother scolded the father, as she put a finger to her lips.
“Oops, sorry,” the father returned to whispering. “What shall we name him?”
“Edison,” whispered the mother, as a tear fell from her eye. “We’ll name him after my late uncle. Oh, how happy he would be if he was here,”
“He is,” said the father, stroking his wife’s hair and kissing her in forehead.
“Edison…my son,” muttered the proud father, and he kissed his son.
Amused as he was to hear that the child had been given the same name as his, he also found it amusing to see that the hospital where the movie was shot was the one they just passed by, as evident on the mother’s hospital gown.
The scene then cuts to a park, where the mother and father were playing with their kid, who is nearly a year old by then. The giggling baby boy was trying to chase his dad with wobbly steps. His run was going relatively smoothly, when suddenly; he stumbled and fell flat on the soft grass. The sound of laughter changed into the sound of the baby’s cries. The father and mother hurriedly rushed to their son’s side and helped him up. They checked the baby for scratches, and when they found none, the father hoisted his son up in the air, and the baby’s laughter returned; gleeful as ever.
The next scene was in a kitchen, where the baby was being fed by his father, while the mother was washing the dishes. Suddenly, a plate crashed and the father rushed to his wife, carrying his son. When he got to the kitchen, he saw his wife writhing in pain.
Fast forward to a hospital, the family was seated behind a doctor’s table. The father’s face was just as sallow as the mother’s.
“Mrs. Ramirez,” began the doctor. “The cancer has spread throughout your body. I’m afraid…you do not have much time left,”
Husband and wife held each other tightly, tears streaming freely down their cheeks.
“What about chemotherapy? Radiation therapy? I’m sure there is still something we can do!” the husband blurted out.
“The chemotherapy... could help add a few… weeks to her time…” the doctor said, trying his best to pick the better words.
“How long do I still have?” asked the wife bluntly, implying that she needs a straight answer.
“Three months. Four, tops. I’m very sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez,”
Upon hearing this, the father wailed loudly and held his beloved tight. His wife, trying to be brave, bit back her tears and stroked his husband’s hair. The mother then grabbed her child and sang him a song, still fighting back the tears.
The scene then cut back to the same kitchen, but in this scene, it was in disarray. The child was crying loudly, but the sound never reached the father’s ears, who was just staring at a framed photograph of his wife. Day by day, this scene went on; until one day, the father was found on the floor, eyes closed, mouth stretched in a weak smile, with his beloved’s photo upon his heart.
Cut to an office with Edison as a 5-year-old kid seated in front of a bald man’s desk.
“You’ll love it here, Edison,” the man smiled at him. “You’ll get to play with a lot of kids, you’ll read books, everything! Marie, please take Edison to his room,”
A young lady took Edison by the hand and accompanied him. As he turned to look back at the office, he saw the orphanage’s name: Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Orphanage.
“W-what’s going on?” he asked the conductor, his words tinged with confusion.
“Look outside,” the conductor replied in the same nonchalant fashion.
Edison cast the curtains aside, and he saw the orphanage where he grew up.
“What is this? Somebody explain this to me!” Edison knew that they were getting nearer his intended destination.
“Can you tell me exactly where you need to be? I’m sure you remember it,” asked the driver from behind the high-backed chair.
Then it hit him. He just knew he was going somewhere, but he never had an idea where that somewhere is, or was. He racked his brain for an answer, but there was none.
“Keep watching,” said the conductor.
Edison sank back in his chair, confused with everything going on.
The scene that played next was set at the orphanage’s front yard, where the young Edison was laughing along with his friends as they played and played all afternoon. He could remember them all—Buddy, the fat kid who farts all the time; Jojo, the smart kid who always sat on the corner with a book; Nene, the curly-haired girl who always gave him candies; and Elmer, his best friend who always shares toys. The surge of memories pushed a tear out of his eye.
“We were so happy then…” he muttered under his breath as he closed his eyes and let nostalgia wash over him. He then began to sing a rhyme which they sang during the lazy days.
His happy chanting was cut short when he heard a door slam. He reverted his gaze back to the TV, and he saw that his younger self was inside the bald man’s office. Sitting in front of him was a couple and the bald man, who all looked really happy for him. He remembered this as the day when he was adopted by the wealthy De Jacintos who owns a chain of shopping malls, restaurants, and other multinational businesses.
He got everything a kid ever wanted and needed from his foster parents—toys, clothes, food, money, everything. But these material things were his only companions as his parents were always away on business trips and whatnot. If they do come home, they’d be too tired to spend time with him. On the few conversations they’ll usually have, he would always be asked the most mundane of things, like “How did school go?” “Have you pulled up your grades yet?” They would always aim for things that would bring pride for the family, but they never really checked if Edison was genuinely happy.
He was pressured by his parents to go to a prestigious high school where he had to pass an intensive entrance exam. He made it there, but not after long and painful hours spent on tedious study. Graduation came, and he did not get the valedictorian spot. This made his old man angry.
“You lazy freeloader! Why can’t you get one damn valedictorian spot?! I got that shit every graduation I attended, and I wasn’t even getting the tutors that you are getting!”
To this day, those words still stung him hard. How he wished he could rewind and pause the film so he can gaze at his mother and father’s faces. He wondered how different it would have been if his real parents were still alive.
He looked out the window, hoping to see his parents, but what he saw was the mansion where he lived with his foster parents. It was now sealed up, the same way his father did when they left for the States.
He finished college there, this time graduating as a valedictorian; hoping that achievement would do his father proud.
That was everything the old man said—and he wasn’t even looking, as he was busy reading the business page of the morning paper. “Now you just need a proper job,” the cold man added.
Those words shattered his cracked heart; and he left the frigid dwelling and set for a life of his own. He settled at a city way off from his parents and got a job there in an advertising firm. It was a far cry from the life he was used to, but he was happy—and that was what only mattered. For three years, he lived away from the shadow of the De Jacintos, and during that time, he met and fell in love with Pia, a Fil-Am girl living on the same street with him.
Then one fateful night, he got a phone call. It was his father.
“You ungrateful pig. Running away from home after everything we gave you? You still have obligations with us!” said the man’s loud, commanding voice. “We already know where you live. I’ll be sending my mean to get you, and you will come back!”
Right after that call, he tried to call Pia to talk about moving away, but he cannot reach Pia’s phone. He tried and tried all night, but Pia didn’t pick up. He even tried to reach her via the internet, but she wasn’t online. He tried and tried to reach her, but there were no responses. He didn’t realized that he fell asleep from the exhaustion of the day.
He was roused from his unsolicited slumber by a phone call. It was Ria, Pia’s sister. She was sobbing her eyes out.
“Ria? Calm down, calm down. Tell me what happened.” Edison calmly asked Pia despite his own anxieties.
“It’s Pia…” Ria started, but her voice was continually getting lost in the midst of tears. “She was… mugged… and… and…”
“She was… violated…” Ria was once again lost in a storm of tears.
“Where are you? I’m coming over,” Edison’s voice was now an empty husk after what he heard. After Ria gave the directions, Edison drove to the site as mindless as a puppet.
The Edison seated on the bus tried to look away from the screen, and he diverted his gaze outside. To his horror, they were passing the same alley where Pia’s body lay mutilated, denied of the compassion she always shared with the world.
He closed his eyes and covered his ears in a futile attempt to forget the pain. He fought hard, but the memory stormed in like a battering ram through a paper door.
The pain increased exponentially as he remembered the police officer approaching him.
“Sir,” began the policeman. “We checked her phone, and we found out that she tried to reach you at 9:46 last night.
She did? he thought. He grabbed his phone, and he saw a call at 9:46, alright, but it was his father.
That was when the pain proved to be too much for Edison. His limbs gave way and he let out a mournful wail escorted by a river of tears.
Apart from the agony, he felt a burning hatred for his foster father. Had it not been for the man’s selfish desires, he would have done something for Pia. At least something…
He returned to his apartment that night a shattered mess. He sprawled across his bed and let a barrage of agony loose. He felt the pain wrenching his heart, and his tears were the juices squeezed forth.
“NO!” the Edison in the bus screamed.
The Edison of the past pulled open a drawer.
“NO! NO! NO!” the present incarnation continued to scream, trying to reach the TV.
The TV showed a sullen man bringing out a revolver; tears falling down his hands as he loaded a bullet in the weapon.
He put the gun inside his mouth and pointed it upwards. He took a deep sigh, smiled, and closed his eyes.
The screen went black.
Edison was shaking in his seat. He reached for the back of his head, where the exit wound should be, and his fingers touched a sticky substance. When he pulled his hand back, he saw blood.
“I…am…dead?” his quivering voice asked the conductor, who was now seated beside him.
“Yes, and we’re taking you to where you should be,” explained the conductor.
“Can’t we… go back?” asked Edison.
A loud burst of laughter came from the driver.
“ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? People can’t come back from the dead! If you do, you’ll be a zombie by then!”
“I’m afraid we can’t take you further up,” the conductor told him.
“Why not?”
“I wish we can, but… yours is a suicide... Let’s just say that… suicides are… are… frowned upon up there,” explained the conductor.
“Well then, where are you taking me?”
“In the bus stop. Others are waiting there, too.”
“How long do I have to stay there?”
“Until you’re allowed to move up… or if somebody picks you up,”
Their conversation abruptly ended when the bus halted beside a roomy waiting shed flanked by a BUS STOP sign.
“Go,” the conductor said.
“But I sti—“
“GO!”  the driver turned and shouted at him. “You had your choice, and you chose to end all chances. I bet my ass that Pia wasn’t happy that this happened to you, nor your real parents. You HAD your shot, but you took yours to your own brain. Why did you have to go and let it die? Now move it, or I’ll move your ass for ya!”
Edison resigned to his fate and walked clumsily into the shed. There were plenty of bored-looking people waiting inside. A few yards away from the BUS STOP sign, a sunglassed man in a velvet suit was leaning against a black limousine filled with voluptuous ladies.
“Hey, Ed!” the man called in a deep bass voice. “Why don’t you come over? They didn’t let you go to their place, I’ll let you into mine! With us, you won’t mind your Pia anymore!”
“Yeah… come in, Edison!” the ladies called out to him.
“Can I go with you?” asked an old man from the shed.
“And me, too?” asked a lady.
“Me, too, please,” a teenager asked.
Several more asked to be with the flamboyant man, that he had to call in more limousines to accommodate his guests.
“Ed, aren’t you coming along?” asked the velvet man.
“Yeah! Come on!” urged the others.
“She isn’t there,”
“Well, boy-o,” the suited man, who was now beside him, after a sigh.  “Just give me a call. I can come back for you anytime,”
And the man gave Edison a calling card and pointed to the phone mounted on a wall.
“We’ll wait,” said the man, and patted Edison on the back before riding on the lead limo. Edison waited for the limo convoy to be gone from sight before he tore the calling card to shreds. He then looked at the route the bus took, and he saw it was a long, winding, steep mountain trail, and they are not really roads, but paths. They were unpaved, and most are unmarked. It would be tough even for a bus to climb that high.
Then, he saw something that the others didn’t. Tucked in a quaint little corner of the shed was a bicycle. He tested it and found it to be in perfect working condition. He then smiled and carried the bike out of the shed and set it right smack in the middle of the road.
He strained his eyes to see the top of the mountain, and he saw a light covered by thick clouds.
Pia is there. Mother and father are there. They couldn’t be anywhere else.
He then took a deep breath, set his sights dead ahead, sat on the bike, and put his feet to the pedals.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Beneath the Sampaguita Tree

I remember her
And her beauty.

Gentle as an infant's touch,
As powerful as a bull's charge.

I remember her 
And her smile.

In brightness rivalled by none,
None but the sun.

I remember her
Her sweet voice

To the ears like aural honey
Of which only God's taste worthy.

I remember her
And those soft hands

Her heavenly caresses
A treat for the senses.

I remember her
For I loved her

Not for her facade nor posture;
But for she had more.

I remember her 
When we met in secret

Lovers in the moonlight
'Neath the sampaguita tree's sight.

I remember her
When she said:

To our love, God shall be the witness."
A pact we sealed as we kissed.

I remember her
And the promise we made

"To stay forever in each other's arms
Be it in Heaven's grace or Hell's damns."

I remember her
When my sorrows began

She told me she'd appear,
But what came was cold fear.

I remember her
So, so vividly

As I searched for her high and low
With my love for her in tow.

I remember her
And I still do

Every night I returned for her
By the tree, to find her there

I remember her 
And it still burns inside

She returned pale, blood flowing free.
Where we loved--Beneath the Sampaguita Tree.

A Strange Place

I awoke one dreamy morning
To the sound of steel bellowing
Got up, got dressed, heard a box boom
Beside men trapped in a small room.

I fled like a masked caper
And saw men toil hard for paper.
To this they have become enslaved,
And silly black tablets they craved.

Youths move about, heads where feet were,
As to strange tunes their bodies stir.
They worship a squeaking white dwarf
Who dons a bizarre checkered scarf.

Slaves abound, trapped in white boxes,
Guarded by Hell's flaming foxes.
They speak in short bursts of letters,
Hunting little colored critters.

To a long chamber I was trapped,
As it moved, I had to adapt.
For the world had gone askew,
As it raced to the time of new.

Friday, January 1, 2010

An Ode to a Goddess

I would sing a song for you

I'll raise my voice and make it heard beyond the mountains

I would mourn for you
Let my dried tears be your solemn memorial

I would have your portrait hung in my bedroom
And I pray those colors would not fade easily

I would offer burnt sacrifices at your feet
For you are my goddess, eternal and majestic

I would recall how your perfume intoxicated me
So would I with the scent of the flowers upon your tomb

I would never forget to wipe your marble tombstone
And take heart the lyrical epitaph inscribed therein

Never would I forget how you ensnared me
With the gentle slivers of your passionate love

For your life has fulfilled mine
And your death destroyed mine

May the angels in heaven care for you now
And rest happily, my beloved goddess.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Let The Illusion Go

She was nothing to mourn about
Like these cold, stale winds
And the poisoned frost that it brings,
I curse the words that came from my mouth

It is now time to leave the fantasy behind
The world must go on now
And I, too, should follow
And break these chains from my mind

How I loved her surrealism
Her faint yet sweet touch
The smile which intoxicated me too much
And the way she pulled me into my own cataclysm

How I marveled at her power
The way she twisted me around
And how she thrust me to the ground
Yet I still hold her dear like the sweetest flower

But alas, I know it is time to set her free
And I must continue to my fruitless trail
Which ends until to the bone I am frail
And the world would just let things be
She was never mine
As she was never real
And her love I never did feel
So was that lovely little smile

Did I really love that nymph?
Or was I just lost in the madness of things
And this I felt were just one of those vague feelings?
Maybe, just maybe, was she an embodiment of my own filth?

The answer eludes my mind
And I fear it would just be
For there she goes, away from the eye could see
As she leaves, I feel these barbed chains unbind

Yes, I am still a fool
To this perfect creation I still long to be enchained
And with love for her my heart is still filled
But I must let things be, and let time heal my soul.