The Island

⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎Today marks the first anniversary of my grandpa’s disappearance.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎I hunched over to take a look at the place he was last seen: a picturesque island, remotely settled in the middle of nowhere. The mountains nestled behind the scenery with humility and the shore was coated with several of the sea’s filthy greens. In between the landscape, laid the ivory church, gleaming with elegance like an enchanted pearl. 
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎I rowed the oars as they wrestled against the calming, but rippling waves. My left hand held onto one with reluctance, being careful with my blistering wounds where all the splinters and the unpredictability are to blame for.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎As I landed near the bay, I hopped out of my boat. The island was blanketed with a phantom-like silence, not even a single bird was chirping from the distance. The only sounds I could hear were my boots as it makes each splash, and the creaking boat as it mimics the rhythm of the ripples.

⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎It has been a decade since I last stepped on this island.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎Back in my childhood days, this used to be the main locale for all of our family gatherings. Grandpa was a fisherman, who devoured an abundance of history books about the prominent people at seas. It was his dream of becoming a part of their history. He wanted to go on a voyage, to explore and inhabit unfamiliar islands. With that, he leaped a huge step when he discovered one during a dreadful storm.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎”An island would always be born when the rain begins to pour,” he once sang to me.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎The church was already there way back before grandpa’s arrival. He adored the construction and its petty flaws, that he would always be scrubbing the walls and sweeping the floors. Even though he wasn’t a religious man, he would still respect the church by sleeping in the van that was abandoned too.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎I don’t know what his other intentions were. He could be settling for investment or maybe he really did believe in God. There were a lot of things I don’t know about my grandpa– I wished I did. Walking around this island is the only way I could connect with him. I’d like to think that maybe he isn’t gone, he just became the island. The tranquility of this place is the closest I can get to grandpa’s embrace.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎Though, one thing is for sure: I know all of the best hiding spots on this island, especially inside the church. We used to play hide-and-seek, along with my siblings and my younger cousins, while the adults were busy barbequing and chatting near the dock. Grandpa would sometimes join in and play as the seeker. I usually get caught first, allowing me to just follow my grandpa around and observe him. He knew the place by heart, so catching all of us within twenty minutes was never a problem. 

⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎When I pushed the church doors open, the aroma of old books began to trickle through my nose. I could see the sunlight entering through the stained glass, beaming at the specks of dust that were hovering in the air. I wavered my hands to prevent myself from breathing in the dust as I strolled my way around the building– Nothing has changed, as far as I’m concerned.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎As I walked near the altar, my nostrils were interrupted by a faint odor.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎”It could be the pests,” I thought to myself. I had a bad experience with a rat once while I was sitting at the pews. I could hear grandpa snickering as I screamed and ran outside.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎After much wandering, I had a sudden realization. Grandpa had a favorite hiding place back when I was young. It was near the altar, concealed under the wide carpets was a trapdoor. He told me about it because it was a two-man job, he needed help closing the trapdoor and covering the carpet as he makes his way down the staircase. This has always been my favorite secret between us.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎I’ve decided to explore that secret passage once again. I pulled the dusty carpet out of the way, then I carefully opened the trapdoor.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎The same smell greeted me, only this time, it has gotten stronger, it smelled like putrid meat. My intuition started to kick in. My legs became wobbly and I was hesitating a bit. After much contemplation, I forced myself to go down.
⠀ ⠀⠀‎‎That’s when I noticed a silhouette of someone’s feet, dangling in mid-air. 


there’s this feeling and
it’s burrowing itself inside my chest.
(i wish there was a way to take it out)

i don’t know what it is.
it seems so delicate, so evocative–
even the heart surgeons presumed that
the slightest of err; a slim amount of movement
in this numb-of-a process
could put an end to me.

i wish there was a way to take it out–
it’s not that i despise it,
there’s a wave of melancholia but it only lacks the tears,
like the waterfalls have forgotten what it’s like
to be a waterfall.
there’s pressure in the roots of my ears,
almost like an explosive had set off
in the depths of my canals.
the thing is, though, i am not mad
nor sad for all that matters.

maybe it could go away if
i translate this trance into something
more palpable
because rubbing my chest
and reminding myself that
it is nothing
could never do the trick.

i think some couples
managed to waltz their way into
the concrete flooring of my chest.
i never knew my heart
could be designed for ballroom dances.
it wasn’t particular of me to enjoy parties
or any uproarious events but in there,
you could hear the thuds and the taps;
the applause, and their voracious appetite
to seize the night.
i could see myself
hiding under the buffet tables,
eavesdropping these low-budgeted, soap opera-ish
dialogues and wondering
if i have whatever it takes
to dance with them
(but i don’t think i can)

perhaps, the delicacy came from the sunset
i saw the other day.
the outlying sky was of periwinkle
mingled with temperate pinks
and the clouds seemed so fixated
on where they should be.
the inward part,
which is my favorite one,
was of a warm, but radiant yellow;
the true kind of golden
only those cease to be defeated would know.
they were crawling out from the distant center
softly, like a bouquet of marigolds
waiting to prosper from within.
before they could descent,
they always make sure that everyone
gets to bask in their own
triumphs too.

i want to piece that feeling with
the inexplicable but
my heart tells me otherwise.

maybe this feeling was meant to be
deciphered by you and me.
(i’m not sure if it could reach to far-flung places,
it will baffle me if you have it too)
maybe this sentiment splits itself and
one of us took too many.
(i don’t think mine would ever be fleeting)

i’d like to think that
it could be you beneath all of this–
huddling against my spine and
dozing off inside my chest
as if you had just learned how to sleep.
mimicking the soundless hounds;
drifting from whiffs of tumult–
your whistling breaths
rattles my heart as it
and whispers.
i think that’s why
i couldn’t sleep.


(“Voices for Guns” revisited)

To all of those, sleepy and shallow,
you are composed of the tattered past.
The silk and felt that shield your skin
can’t compete against the sullen roof.
Rigid eyes and a fractured heart;
you watched your world
in absolute numbness
as it starts to weigh in you.

They always tell us that
we can defeat the blazing turmoils
if we let the fire twirl with us.
(I don’t think it should be that way)
My sanctuary may be disintegrating,
but my grounds are not made for
the arsonists
in the first place.

So here is what I believe:
I think you shouldn’t be afraid of the dark.
They are as undeviating and as tight-lipped–
their broods are a ghostly kind of quiet.
They could teach you tranquility
in exchange for your lullabies.
A trail of hums or delicate breaths and
you could tame the night.

Patience Shouldn’t Be a Virtue, Let Alone a Word

“would it be for the best
if i don’t come back?”
you asked.

nobody deserves to wait.
not even in a queue of fretful beings
where the only conversational pieces are of
foot tapping and occasional grunts.
nobody deserves to wait
for ten more hours
after their first flight got delayed
because they had forgotten to
set their alarm clocks.
nobody deserves to wait
for the ambulance to arrive
when they are lying on the floor,
having a tough time distinguishing
which is blood, which is sweat.
nobody deserves to wait.
not even those who reached their peak
of being seventy
where the next life crisis
paves a way for them
to be deceased.
nobody deserves to wait
at their dreary-looking porch
for someone who promised that
they would be back;
hearts crossed, pinky swears–

this bullshit wears me out.

waiting isn’t supposed to be bad.
patience is a virtue,
they say.
but my patience,
it clings onto you like dust.
it has been a while
since you sweep,
since you touched me–
i once was your prized possession,
now i’m stuck in an attic
of intentional mishaps and of damaging dreams,
who waited solely to be seen.
i was of nickel-and-dime;
an antique deeming itself as insignificant,
idling at the topmost part of your shelf.
i was collecting these insignificant dust
just so i could redeem myself.
i may be as frail as a china teacup
but i am as tough as oakwood.
nothing can halt my patience.
i can wait for days,
for months,
maybe years,
maybe never.

“maybe never.”

i guess it’s safe to say that
nobody deserves to wait
and i’m pretty sure
i don’t deserve this
at all.

“so, would it be for the best
if i don’t come back?”

you don’t have to ask.
i’ll just leave.

Être aux anges

It’s always him,
an unconscious secrecy,
a mysterious fervent thought
that wanders in my head
like the moon hovering above me.
Unraveling him meant a gateway
of warmth, of tenderness–
caressing a nostalgia
I never had.

I never knew
you could have me feel this way.
Bathing in your golden skin
blanketed in serenity
and in a stream of reverie–
It had me engulfed
in an endless chain
of vast wonder,
mocking the sky
and its limits.

I Can’t Think of a Title So I’ve Decided to Ask My Dog

I used to think of myself
as an award-winning poet.
Pretty egotistical, I know.
My ego nestled between the slits
of extravagant metaphors and words;
of flamboyance
that I have claimed and define.
A vague familiarity, an impressionistic style
of written works
that could have been mine.

I could write a lengthy-ass poem
with unnecessary line
some, with a scowl on their faces,
would think of this as pretentious,
a rebellious act against
literary conventions
like spitting on a dead poet’s grave.
Maybe I just want to pull a Bukowski,
maybe it was an accidental one,
maybe I just don’t give a fuck.
Free verse is as wide
as the vast outer space,
our words are like stars,
they are as countless
and as unsystematic
as they can ever be.

Now that I think about it–
Space is such a cliché,
I’m not even a fan of astronomy.

With free verse,
people do give a fuck,
Though, I think our biggest concern
stems from the fact that we
do not know what else to write
Who knew freedom can be so limiting.
One writer’s block could annihilate
the archives of our creativity,
causing us to be confined within
that one sentiment,
only to be greeted with different sceneries.
I’m no stranger to this,
my poetry screams a lovey-dovey teen
walking in a world
of forced imagery.

I could write about that one time
I bumped into an angel,
a high and drunk guy
in some chat roulette website.
The way he enunciates was like
cutting through paper,
leaving no rough edges behind.
He felt like an embrace;
like sipping a hot chocolate
during a breezy night.

Perhaps, I could write about a friend.
Our friendship was like those wrestling matches,
except, we compete
by throwing a shit ton of baggage
at each other.
One can’t stop until the other one blows out.
Then, we’ll have a scintilla of peace
but the matches will soon pile up,
and that means to release
another trouble,
another hell
that awaits for our nerves to bleed.

I guess poetry is like
entering in those carnival funhouses
filled with distorting mirrors
that exaggerates the mundanity
and all those shit into something whimsical.
I remember someone once told me
you could make a tree seem so poetic,
it will become more beautiful than you,
but that tree will always be a tree
in any way you see.
I don’t know what that means entirely.
I do know that
no matter how outstretched the features could be
or how you hide behind metaphors,
whatever you write is still you.

it’s always you.