Waiting Game & Other Poems


She’s the woman
by the window,
her face limned
by the orange light
of evening,
but she sits stockstill,
her eyes blankly
the horizon
for certain signs
of anything that’ll
probably change
her life.

He sits rocking
in the antique chair,
arms folded
behind his head,
eyes staring
at the ceiling
as if feeling out
any disturbance
in the air,
anything that will send
him rising
for her shadow
in the wings.


They didn’t feel
intensely moved
by each other anymore
so they decided to cool off,
neither one looking back
for the final glance
at the forking road.
Love, they realized,
isn’t eternal
& blood moreover
is the color of valentine.
There’s nothing
to perk up the conversation:
something had died
& they must observe
the funereal rite.


It’s as if Sheena Easton’s
long-distance love affair
were an antidote to despair:
no room
for Iago’s eruption
& minutiae of work
barely gets in the way
for remorseful remonstration.
After the internet chat
& the solace of the sanctum
soaked in wi-fi intimations
hurdling bumps of the day,
each goes bipolar directions
to pull the blue moon down
& wait out another 24-hr.
shift of expectation.
It’s the benign gift of time:
oneness is possible
if red-hot lovers
try out becoming divisible.


& the master said—
its rather quaint
that of millions
existing in the global town,
barring existential opportunity
& circumstance,
she had to choose you,
as if her destiny
were intertwined
with your soul’s bones.
Chances are
it’s all probability
& chance itself
is the laughing harlequin:
there was no other trajectory
for diasporic paths
to disengage.
He could only look
blankly at the horizon,
like any fool
who wished to fathom
his past & future,
but could only gaze
at a foggy crystal ball.
He’s amazed himself
that no logical virus
could state the obvious:
why she fell for you
& you for her.
All speculations
are on hold
re love, passion & destiny.
Idiots must deliciously savor
heart’s colorful perfidy.


Feb 14
The custom is built-in
to work in sheer emotion:
over wine, even coffee,
flower for a ceremony
observed to assume
heart’s bondage & exclusivity—
& solitude is devoured,
disease that gnaws
at the spleen
crazy poets have long narrated:
jealousy, violence,
the strange urge to murder
that which lovers vow to keep.
Is it life that fails
to decipher desire’s black magic?
O we celebrate
the cold comfort
to feverishly hug each other
& pretend we’re forever
out of death’s reach—
& love triumphs over all


Bowed over the old Singer,
she’d fashion coats
& jusi barong
with her arthritic hands—
an artist nonpareil
with textile & medicine
& anyone with professional eye
marvelled at her
sartorial guide
to transform cheap cloth
into garments masteral.
But she never married.
There were old suitors
who were quickly smitten
with her modest charm
but she would just smile.
She secretly admired
movie idols of her time,
but would only view them
from a safe distance.
She took him under her wing,
some lullabies about cherubim…
When in a ripe old age she died
it took him a long, long time
to weep over her precious absence.


He was a legend
in the ring
& millions idolized him
as a real, tough dude
who could drop
pretenders to his crown,
crack the whip on women.
When promoters
left him in the lurch,
household bills trailed him
like stalking termites…
Quickly his mon cherie
abandoned him for another guy
but he couldn’t make use
of his iron fist
to snatch her back
& crush the enterprising insect.
That would be, uh,
unsportsmanlike, over tragicomic.


On a side street
of the cafeteria
fire-breathing seniors
were clustered over books
when two brats grimy
loitered in
with wristful of squeegees…
But the professor scowled,
maliciously jesting:
this boy will be a gun for hire,
this girl an avenue cruiser…
He’s a man
advanced in years
cocksure about his judgement
on children of the slums:
They rarely, if at all,
join revolutions:
staying wretched & ignorant,
they’re quick to devise
easy ways out
of shantytown.


At Sofitel
on Roxas Boulevard
expats & high society
partake of a quiet
each guest fastidiously
picking cuisine off the table
as if time is on their side.
At Saisaki
in Quezon City
the throng
of nouveaux riches
is quick to crowd
the festive buffet,
as if global warming
has made scarce
the victuals
for human finity.


He stands frozen
like a bas relief
on a Buddhist temple
in the corner
of his allotted space,
so far from the herd
in childhood Thailand.
Instead, carnival children
held in the arms
of doting parents,
gawk at his celebrated trunk.
How he wished
he would be left alone
& sent home
to his real family
& roam
the grassy plains freely—
He couldn’t stay
in the solitary
but the zoo keepers
have to rake in money
off his
exotic specie.


She was the ballerina
of the future
but her family’s business
had collapsed
& hospital bills
for the patriarch
would swamp her
like a raging tide.
O this shadow
of a double chin
when once she was
an angel of light—
now she flies
dangerously close to the ground.
O no more the dancer
in Nijinsky flight;
no longer the dreamer
of space & time
but money blues
crooning through the night…
(Art & life
strangely equate
with formaldehyde)


(for Babette)
A loved one
is going under the knife,
& she who lives in the realm
of text & art,
must fly down
from her interior sky
to exorcise
the anxious fear
that should have been hers,
not her child’s…
Why this strange sacrifice?
She has wished
for herself
Isaac’s place
& spare her the ancestral hurt
but the universe
has decreed otherwise.


He was puzzled
how to get to the mall,
but the Yakal dormer
was quick to bail him out
if he’s willing to walk
marathon style.
She’s respectful of elders
& contrary to the common wile,
he would find her lovable,
but Jesus! Not indeed
in the mode of a Humbert Humbert.
In Tokyo, was he also led
to a sign post
where the baffling street ended
by a Japanese
who spared him a minute
of her life.
Such strange encounters
where passion is never the rule
but kindness of strangers
that dazzles stupid souls.


Everyone is parcelled out
according to game rule,
& words strung together
would be measure
of a certain score.
The meaning of the move
is an accident of recall
& he who wins the game
is blest by chance
like a cave dweller
whose paintings on the wall
create meanings
outside his wakeful dream.
The signified of the blocks
stacked together
collectively doesn’t matter at all.
The winner, at the end,
cannot espouse
any logical discourse,
as in Zizek’s universe
that’s in the cusp of chaos.

Mataas na ang buwan,
balisa siyang humimlay
nang sa madaling-araw
ay kagyat nabalikwas
parang hinagupit ng di nakikitang buntot-pagi:
bumungad sa balintataw
siya na kilala ang ngiti
ngunit di na ang ngalan,
ng nakadaupang-palad
sa tag-araw.
At pilit niyang winawaan
ang pigil-hiningang panagimpam—
ito kaya’y walang katapusang
pagduro ng kalungkutan
o walang habas
na pagkalunod sa katandaan:
wari ba’y isang pasahero ng
humahagibis na sasakyan,
sumusulyap sa bintana
ng mga naaabong
mukha sa daan.
Ay, simbilis ng kidlat
puso’y sinasakmal ng kawalan!

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