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Ordinary Words - Word

Ordinary Words - Word

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Experimental writing compilations
Experimental writing compilations

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Published by: Regino Joel B. Josol on Aug 01, 2013
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07/06/2014

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Sections

  • Sections
  • Word Play
  • About Poems
  • Sex, Love & Marriage
  • The shortest distance between you and me
  • Worth more than twenty-one roses
  • Death
  • Images
  • Others
  • Index

Ordinary Words

1




(DRAFT)

Ordinary Words
By Regino Joel B. Josol


Compiled 2012

Ordinary Words

2


Ordinary Words

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INTRODUCTION


I have never considered myself a poet, just someone who writes poems. My first try was in my teen years. It was more
like an outlet for me – to release anger or love bottled up inside. I would later discover such exercises were more
cathartic rather than art.
Then, the world of the web came. I chose to “meet” with other people who write poems. The online workshop helped
me mature my writing from what it was until then cathartic. I associated online and offline with the PinoyPoet® Yahoo!
group who cared about their writing and whose individual members received recognition for their writing. It was this
association that help defined what I wanted to do with my writing.
I consider my pieces as work in progress. I tried to write about anything that provoked me. But mostly they were just
exercises. I wrote them for what I felt then was the beauty I found in it. There were many times I was lazy and did not
have anything specific to say or wanted to say in a poem. They ended up in the trash bin. In fact, a lot did.
Of the pieces I felt were worthy to be compiled, these were mostly experiences that had some significance in my life. For
ease of recognition by readers, I categorized the compilation into categories.
I don’t have formal education in this. But I did educate myself from books of several authors and critics of anthologies,
and history and philosophy of writing in literature.


Ordinary Words

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Contents

Sections ................................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Word Play ................................................................................................................................................................................ 6
About Poems ......................................................................................................................................................................... 13
Sex, Love & Marriage ............................................................................................................................................................ 16
Death ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 42
Images ................................................................................................................................................................................... 52
Others ................................................................................................................................................................................... 59
Index ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 63


Ordinary Words

5

Sections
Word play
About poems
Sex, love and marriage
Death
Images
Others




Ordinary Words

6

Word Play


Ordinary Words

7

A Matter of Fact*
Waking up is greater than walking up,
if and only if the length of arms
else reach out to get ration.

What if they were reduced to fractions-
arms, legs, eyes, heads- can blood drops
re-assemble the whole from a pool?

Fool! It is the number that counts.
To kill or keel over is just semantics.
Watch closely the substitutions.

Sorry, the final answer has been rigged.
The equation was just to distract
from the matter of fact.

Straight Lines*

But the shortest path between any two points
is not the point. A straight path does not exist

for all surfaces. Sour faces are not attractive.
In fact, no face exists for the humiliated

But that is pointless despite the pores.
The bottom line is a collection of points

under the table, a flat surface generous
with straight lines. Are there gay lines?


Ordinary Words

8

No Rule of Three

To get a message across a screen using bullets,
follow the rule of three. The rule of thirds
keeps subjects in focus too.

But, there are supposed to be exceptions. A riddle
may not subscribe to rules. A bullet-riddled body
violates this rule.

To count is a basic skill. Can you reach beyond
56? What is the sound of 100 guns each firing
three bullets? and more?

You would have discovered no new rules.
There are no women or children to isolate.
There are only objectives.

Even in peace time, the earth is wet
with bloodied bodies.

Intersection

Not wanting to lose his way
in the labyrinth of lines,

an intersection offers a distraction
from semantics and antics,

of word picks complying with rules,
assuming roles coerced on them,

as symbols or signs isolated
from this and that.

But, how does one move away
off the fringes of a Venn diagram?


Ordinary Words

9

Your exit

You are here. There is no site map as guide
to find the nearest exit.

A scan for the familiar (I am no liar)
will not yield the path. Stay

and check each word instead.
Get drenched in the meaninglessness.

Don't look at your watch wondering
when will I point the way out.

How much time do you have? I only have
one period left.

Fly*

There are lies and there are
flies. These will not take you to the moon
or flay you before the stars.

Interestingly, like parent-birds,
the instinct is to fight back, kamikaze-like:
fly to the depths and crash.

But, the advertised phytochemicals
aren't scraping the fat off my veins:
Come on, burn, baby, burn.

What do I do with you now
and how? Look, the plate left unfinished,
has a fly feasting on it.



Ordinary Words

10

Black Sky*

There is no visible city crow circling
this sky, blackened by smog, by night.
But I am here. Are the little wings crippled
or is this the loneliness of my pillows?

I demand your daily tribute of smiles when
the sun is up high, in that skyscraper. That window
glass cleaner is blocking my sight. Yet, she does not care,
of the printer's being out of paper.

If the power goes out while in a lift, don't panic.
I will enjoy the drift. Who knows? This could be
my black sky.

Silence

surrounds me,

irritating
your inability
to fill in

between the sound

from lips
that wishes to open

up,

to send v i br a t ion s,
and jar

the shield
of yellow light

where I
am- a coffee-table
book,

closed.
Ordinary Words

11

Puppet

What if gestures incline a word,
how much weight is there before dropping
out of view?

Saliva drips
________________over
________________the

_______f
________a
__________l
____________ling

_____________word

but gravity is a separate
influence. The ground offers no affinity.

The black, inclined _______________word

___________is a puppet

controlled by key-strokes.

Insight

The enlightenment desired when reading lines
lies in control, purely arbitrary,
and ergonomic.

Reach out to that knob, turn it clockwise
and see the brightness rise and pupils dilate
in search of meanings in b
______ r
_______o
____ken
lines.

The only li__ m____ i_ t__ a___ t i o n
is not in the
___________depth
but the w_ i__ d_ t h
of your screen.

It could be w__ i___ d ____ e______ r.
Ordinary Words

12

Seminar Notes

A lecture is the music in the room,
but it is neither time for ringing alarms

nor for the pop-up window
offering a view of friends

asking questions about lunch
on the Chinese restaurant five blocks,

all Lego, that a young boy found
after riding a tuktuk whose driver charges

fast forward, a media player
on Windows, with bumpy DVD presentation.

The screen blanked,
the laptop powered down.


What is after forever?

The precision of a caliper
is not in question.

Regardless, old math counts
in whole numbers

much simpler than algebra. Is it
definable by numerical positions

relative to base 10? How distant
can spaces be from each other?

So, what's after forever
lingering is a question mark.



Ordinary Words

13

About Poems

Ordinary Words

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Like a dog

The poem hangs like a dog,
its entire length suspends from the edge,
held by a lanyard on its neck.

The readers are like passers-by,
watching the immobile body hang quietly,
until the dog wags itself and wails.

But the owner is not around,
and the house is sealed; the entry
is only by climbing to the front porch.

No one feels it right to make the climb,
and so they wait until its neck
gets broken and leave.

But, as fortune would have it,
the writer pulls back the poem
out of view.

Homecoming

The dinner is cold,
a seat remains vacant.

I wait like a wife
for a knock

on the door
of my thoughts.

Perhaps, tonight,
like a husband

words will come,
to spill like seeds.










Ordinary Words

15

Zero degrees Celsius

The weather forecast for the city
is below zero degrees Celsius.

But it was silent about the freezing rain
over piled up snow, the sort that makes people

fall asleep or warm themselves up with books,
overhead lights, and colored blankets.

My poem chills in the cold, the paper murkier
than the road. I try to lead it somewhere

but it didn't have winter clothes to bear
with the rain and wind.

With every word frostbitten, lines fall apart,
words give up their spirit while coffee and melatonin

deliver their coup de grace,
leaving the TV set on all night.

A dead poem

His poem
lifted my eyes

to the ceiling
of his ambition,

from where his lines hang
down to expose a body,

twisted,
breathless.

Ordinary Words

16

Sex, Love &
Marriage

Ordinary Words

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A love poem*

I will not give away that this is a love poem.
Run it through a search engine but you will not find
a lover's vocabulary in it. You'll be puzzled,
disappointed and confused: lovelorn.

The lines are deliberate to lead you on, to raise
the hope that it is here somewhere. But, it is
like courtship where the thrill is in the chase.
The rule remains- haste makes waste.

Stare at it long. You might chance to catch a glance,
quick, elusive, intermittent. Be smitten with written
words promising bonding with page. Maybe if
the wonder remains, give me a second look.

Still Clear*

It's not exactly clear which words became
the vow we made before God and men,
but I do recall the only wild thought I kept:
to run away with you.

You worried too much about the cold
air inside malls when strolling
along its wide corridors. I only took notice
of your hand, its weight, its texture.

You enjoyed the mountain hikes,
the sound of water falling from a height,
and the thick crown canopy, but I
only looked to the glow of your eyes.

Your conversation recently has turned
to therapies, of bottles and pills
but hey, I only see a bride's face fair
and unblemished as the day we said our vows.


Ordinary Words

18

So Dry and Still*

In this summer heat,
anything I touch is too warm.

I miss the coolness of your skin-
my fingers wrapped around your arms.

I wish for your shade-like presence
in this air so dry and still.

Distracted

To fall asleep on this seat,
on a long haul flight,

may appear to shake you
off my thoughts,

but the air turbulence
will shake me awake instead.

The airplane's ceiling lamps
are all turned-off

but you are my reading light,
spot lit on the laptop,

my fingers
busy on the keys.

Maybe, it's the best way
to ride this disturbance:

you-
distracting me.


Ordinary Words

19

This is not a love poem (again)

The sort you'll find in bookstores
and greeting card racks,

with nice colors and illustrations,
with words, simple and sweet.

It doesn't have a dried rose petal
with leaves and stem on the page.

It doesn't come with a bouquet either
wrapped with eucalyptus or rosemary’s.

It doesn't know how to start,
and not sure how to end.

It's like that nimbus
hovering in your sky,

but never letting go
of the rain.

In the shadows*

To where shadows
and road wind as one,

I descend,
testing my resolve

against the steepness
of the mountains,

looking back at you,
the sun gone

leaving what we have
between us obscured,

those parts of you and me
unenlightened.




Ordinary Words

20

To return

To return is to shuffle recollections,
to superimpose images

against what is seen, what is felt
under this different sky.

Where we stood has been altered.
Before us are rocks, black

against an earth, browned
by lack of grass and trees.

I fear the rains took away
whatever is left between us.

I can plant seeds here and there,
if you let me.

This side of the mountain
can return its color once again,

its past and present will be one,
if you just say so.

Have you seen love?

Is it something we can speak about
or pass over in silence?

Is it warm like a poem on paper
lying on the pavement at noon?

Can it be contained in a bottle
and instructed how to spring from it?

Can it be measured like a meter
in rhythmic pulses along a line?

If I say 'I love you'
is there a picture

in your mind?
Is it the same as mine?


Ordinary Words

21

Starboard*

Tonight my eyes chance upon,
on this starry night, your star's glow
just above the horizon of this plain heart.

You fell onto this orbit, my love's weight
denting space where you spin. I studied you with maps,
to predict your journey across my sky

while sleep agreed to let me be intoxicated
by your sight. Your reflection starboard side,
made me grip the railings

lest I fall,
into love's unmeasured depths.


A Promise to Keep

The heart is treacherous, but by it our love we pledged,
wary of its fickleness unraveling what we held.

So, I promise this as God demands of me
to love you with all my mind, will, and integrity.

A poet wrote, 'i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)'.
I will carry yours in mine so you can fill up all the space.

So, declare to me this-
Dilectus meus mihi et ego illi qui.


Ordinary Words

22

Half-Open Door
I do not know what to expect standing before this old house.
The dust, rocks, and leaves of my memory are no longer here.

The breeze is still cold, on what is now a paved road, clean
but stiff like your eyes. Your welcome is only for the pet dog.

Soon, it is going to rain and I am still here looking at you.
I can still see some trees left from my childhood but without fruit.

The breeze has gotten stronger, slapping me outright, as if demanding
why I had not moved on instead of lingering by the half-open door.

It's alright. I will leave, you can close the door.

The shortest distance between you and me
I once read a poet who wrote a brief poem
he said something like the shortest distance
between two points is love.

Were those points eyes I would have believed
him. But mathematicians will disagree,
citing Euclid's axiom number one.

So, I tried again, one more time approaching
the water crashing by the boat's side
with its thousand moving points.

Tap my shoulder and turn my face
towards you. Do I see an end-point in your eyes?
I think I like what I see.


Ordinary Words

23

After the rain*
While the downpour blurs the colors
outside the window pane,

you alone appear
like a torrent washing down my face.

I let you cling to me
as if to drench my shirt,

but you left so soon,
the sky breaking out in blue

and here I am
still soaking from you.

Cold breakfast
With half-engaged brain, I woke up to this day.
The cup of hot coffee can't sip away
the cold space between you and me.
The warmth from my omelet did not reach you
to thaw the icy silence from your lips.
I wished I had remained in some dream scape
where stories can be altered to bring up
better endings. Instead, I have a pair of shoulders
served cold for breakfast.

Ordinary Words

24

Bleeding wound
Like a bleeding wound from bullet holes
of the ambushed soldier in the street of Mogadishu,
passion pours out from love.

The black Mogadishu boy smiled, firing his rifle
at the right moment, his target within range,
a different Cupid but as sharp.

Like black smoke ascending from the military jeep,
burning, with rebels dancing around him,
love knows when to claim victory.

Like burns from explosives, love can scorch
your heart with passion, leaving behind scars.
You will remember even after wounds heal.

Lumphuni Lotus Flower

It was overcast in Bangkok the day we met,
light rain was falling on Ploenchit Road.

Your Chinese skin was the only bright thing
next to the white coffee cup.

Your eyes seemed brown as they studied mine
but really, you were gazing at the Powerpoint slide.

Your lips squint like your eyes, your accent Thai,
Your fingers keep sweeping through your black hair.

Your eyes were sharper than my glasses,
tapping my shoulder for each visual lapse.

You have my respect, beautiful lotus flower
afloat in the waters of Lumphuni.

I smile recalling the laughter in your eyes
as rain drops drip on the jumbo jet's window pane.



Ordinary Words

25

This bed*
This bed is different without you. I'm not used
to its silence, inactivity nor to its bed sheets
and pillows over it, well-arranged.

My body sinking into it is not the same
as yours sinking into it too. I prefer it to be
creaking, overflowing with sensual sounds,

while the full moon peeks through our curtain,
perhaps wondering what we are up to.
I prefer it to be disorderly

when we play love's games, the blanket removed,
exposing our skin to the moon, so that she
may envy us, as she outlines your desirable curves.

I prefer that you fill it with your sound bite
in every corner, in the pillows, in the bed sheet,
with each space locking your scent, your laughter.

Let us fill it with groans
mixing with the embers of your passion
heating up mine, as we ignite a brilliant glow.

This bed is different without you.
I am not used to space draped with loneliness.
The blanket is not as warm as you,

from where you would have been
staring at me with the moon in your eyes.

Ordinary Words

26

Cold weather

I whispered, "The cold weather is upon us." The cold breeze
breathed to my face when I opened the fridge's door.

Can chocolates really make me happy? But what if
they are cold and stiff like a wife? Can my palms melt her?

I went back up the stairs into a room, dark, quiet.
The blanket parried against the cold; you, curled up into a fetal posture.

Were you conserving whatever remained of your love's heat?
I slide back into our marriage to exchange body heat with you.

There you are with eyes rapidly moving, were you dreaming
of someone else keeping you warm?

After Dinner
I caught her gaze across the table,
her eyes lingering in mine.

Her lips lighter than the cabernet sauvignon.
I wished I were the glass she sips from

and that she would sip from it often
while her hands envelop the glass,

holding it firmly, tight,
bringing it close to her breasts,

as her eyes remain
fully-locked on mine.

The entrée is served
as I glanced down her thighs,

both of us anxious
to be satisfied.

Ordinary Words

27

Your absence bites

Your absence bites
like ants that swarm on my skin,

overloads my nervous system,
holding it captive.

The longing lingers in every synapse
where you used to be.

I tried the shower to wash away
bites of longing for you,

to cool it down, drain it off
from consciousness like water to the sink.

But your absence left its marks
all over my mind, painful and itchy.

When the saxophone moans

Melancholy fills the wine glass, while despair
hogs the seats around me. He is playing Mangione
like a broken-heart’s groan.

The saxophone moans, its cry lingering
filling me up with notes, drifting high,
low, then back as I drink the wine.

If I were the saxophone, agile fingers
would caress me, echoing ripples of rhythm
across my length

And I would not let go of passionate lips
blowing solitude away from me
until the sax and I groan as one.

Instead, I sit here with the wailing tunes
listening to a lady bawl her lines
as if they were mine.


Ordinary Words

28

Worth more than twenty-one roses

The flower vendor called up today,
asking for my order of twenty-one roses,
one rose for each year.

The first rose came with a promise
of longevity in its long, deep green stalk-
my simple, unadorned vow.

I learned to evade the thorns of life
while I held you, my red rose, sprinkled
with little white flowers, like children and mother.

We were bound together like a bouquet
of twenty-one roses, artfully hiding
the complexities and compromises of our lives.

Twenty-one years is a long journey
from 'I do' to I still do,
our very own endurance race.

You went from lovely to lovelier.
I will join you to loveliest with this hand
and eyes for you to hold and behold.

I thanked the vendor for remembering:
our twenty-one years is worth
more than twenty-one roses.



Ordinary Words

29

This heaven
This morning I was lifted up to heaven
at a speed of 500 miles an hour,

piercing the massive clouds to where the sun
shines with clarity at 31,000 feet-

if these were ordinary strings
they would have snapped,

but they remained tied up to you,
my heart's thoughts with yours.

The wine didn't weaken the threads
weaving in my head about you.

Up here, the sun is unhindered,
blue skies stretch all over.

Ten hours in heaven did not do me good,
the isolation kept me anxious

of our fragile link that held on
like sunlight to the window.


Ordinary Words

30

Empty Space

The sensuality of the curve flowing
downward, touching the stiff black arms,

on its two sides, is undiminished
by the checkered, grey and black fabric

hiding the strength of steel partly exposed
underneath its structure.

It remained still, stowed under your desk.
No sound from the rollers pressing

on the carpet every time you shifted
your weight,

nor a squeak from the metal support
whenever you turned around my way.

But unlike me,
it doesn't care for your absence

nor for the silence of the space
where you once were.

Ordinary Words

31

Vanishing point

The jet engines' increasing decibels fill up the runway
while the body of the plane shakes, the earth expelling it into the air.

I want to roar, to boom myself, to dislodge the loneliness
draping my heart, to let go, like the earth the plane.

I look down at earthly objects vanishing to a point,
but my attachments stall my lift.

Above the clouds I see stars appearing. I waited
for a star to look into my eyes, to tell her my good-bye.

I unlock the belt that held my thoughts that could stagger
in the corridor while the safety-belt warning sign flashes in the ceiling.

The blanket did not warm me the way her smiles
or the light from her eyes would have.

The featured movie played, ended but I didn't care.
Sleep came over to turn off the lights

while all my thoughts scampered away into its own sky-
cloudy and black- where she probably hides.



Ordinary Words

32

When wounds heal

Do you recall? you asked pointing to the scar
on your knee. The moment flashes back:

First out of the boat,
the view distracted me-

a green sea of shrubs and grass mixing with blue
of mountains while ocean waves break up

into white foam
stumbling on the beach.

I hear people raise their voices:
Turning around I see-

you, fallen on the pier,
lost your balance

when the boat moved and all your weight
was carried by your knee, now bloodied.

Yes, I recall.

You didn't cry nor wince. Your eyes were drained
of tears long before by countless wounds

from tripping over unsteady hearts.
It doesn't feel anything, you noted.

Something else dies when wounds heal,
I sighed.


Internal Fracture
I thought denials would not wear me down
like metals straining against load but their repetition

pressed my endurance to its limit.
It fractured me in ways invisible to you

spreading like a crack until we are pulled apart
like metals tired from each other

where the sex hurts like the weight of a jet engine
sheared from the wing, then free falls.
Ordinary Words

33

In the New Station

The transit time was brief as promised. The window
offered only blurs of colors and shapes for distraction.

You either move forward across this haze
or watch her diminishing in importance,
anchored in the past with eyes still legible
despite the tears and rain.

That turn, a mild jolt, finally moved the train
away from her. But your sigh is too far

from the window to smear it with doors
now closed to any afterthought.

Arriving in the new station, doors open again.
If only one's heart could quickly do the same.

Raining in Orchard Road*

Though an alien to Singapore weather,
I went ahead like other tourists

to Orchard Road, pretending to rush
to dinner and meet a friend,

while everyone else hurried to MRT
or a bus terminal as the rain poured.

I crossed Orchard Road in the rain
without my rain coat, left behind

like someone I wished
should have been here.

Ordinary Words

34

On Valentine’s Day*

He returns the card to its display row
as if letting go a spent balloon.

His eyes did sparkle like a soda drink
before the acid strikes a hungry stomach.

Picking up another one,
he studies it like a pretty face

in a coffee-drinking crowd,
then shakes his head.
Home*

He has never done this-
trust her memory

that when her wings get tired
from wandering and looking down

she sees the houses
and recognize this nest,

she will choose to land.

The distinct sound of her wings,
whistling, confirms her reprise.

Parousia*

He waits by the table like a disciple,
keeping watch for signs of her arrival-

her feet shuffling, her shadow sliding
underneath the wooden door

until a knock ruptures his silence--
she calling out his name.


Ordinary Words

35

Centerfold

She is not done yet browsing his thoughts
like she does his magazines,

scanning each one from his eyes,
determined to find

an image of herself
in the centerfold of his mind.
Miniloc Waters*

She is the dawn
striking tent off the waters

leaving behind the crags,
each one aloof.

At the pier's platform,
the horizon remains sunless,

withdrawn like a lamp's glow,
reduced.

Her stay is quickly dispersed
but her blue cast on his face lingers.

Starting Over

Like a thick smoke, the clouds dim
the tinted window glass. His image appearing

before wind-sent rains splash on its pane,
breaking up his thoughts. But he knew

this storm could drench him. Its flood waters
take him away, unable to find a high ground

from her good-bye.


Ordinary Words

36

Unrestrained
The warm fluid swirls,
surrounds like a tight knot

breaking into,
opening access to depths

where breaths are pushed
like rapids among rocks.


Detox
You don't come home to my embrace,
wanting instead the bed, sinking into it
like a cut-down log, face down.

Tired to say hello or share an evening meal,
you know I don't mind missing another one.
After all, fasting sheds weight of anxieties.

But I am past the fog induced by your abstention.
My craving disappeared. The new clarity is as striking
as the gap between us in the bed.

In a couple more weeks, the detox will complete
purging us of each other.

Unlit Road
Unable to hold my quench after the first sip,
the taste of your love on my lips made me swerve

on this road I thought I knew well-
its curves, pot holes, and humps-

unafraid of a little hassle on the wheel,
foot on brake pedal, unwavering: I know when to stop.

Tipsy, euphoric and red-faced yet my vision
is still clear, speech still smooth.

While car in full speed, you disappeared
like a headlight failing on an unlit road-





Ordinary Words

37

You

Are as quiet as a city street
after the evening rains of September

but prettier than this scene
in black and white,

the brilliance of lamp posts
reflected on the pavement, wet with rain.

You are far more beautiful
than all the maple or birch trees here

ablaze in reds and oranges, with mountains
and snow to complete the photograph.

I don't miss Boston
looking at your photograph:

Not its coffee shops, river,
nor the shade of trees.

But this I remember-
you on my camera viewfinder:

your dew-glazed skin
shimmering under autumn light;

your long, ebony hair quietly fastened
on your exposed shoulders, arms;

your lips, pouting against
the sun's red-purple light.


Ordinary Words

38

Our Skies

As a pair, I feel unsure
if we see the same sky.

Mine is full of blue,
and you are its sun

but in yours, sunlight
concedes its space to grey.

Come, see your roses
appear vibrant in this light

if only you would leave
your cloudful sky for mine.

The Train Ride is Over

The train ride is over
like a love song slowing down,

the time to part has drawn near.
I mean to say good-bye like friends

but you would not let me
catch your eyes.

Outside the train car I stand
to gaze at you

as the doors snap back:
just like a refrain ending, sweet, sad.


Ordinary Words

39

Cold Seat

The day's first rain restrains
the morning light

but the cold
from the waiting area's metal bench,

is amplified by faces and voices
unfamiliar, distracting.

She would have smiled
across to him,

said hello
to raise body heat

or kept her hair
as cover for his arms-

the things he needed
to unlearn.

The PA announces boarding time.
The metal remains cold

while daylight struggles
to break out.

This New Year’s Eve

You used my pants' pocket
as drop box, slipping into it a note

(a raffle entry to win your heart?),
signed with your name, I bet.

It was New year’s eve when I pulled it out,
in time for the fireworks.

This new year’s eve it reads
like an expired claim stub.


Ordinary Words

40

A worded math problem

She is a worded math problem,
a complex set of algebraic equations.

Don't be distracted by her voluptuous data
in long-winded clauses.

Go ahead, simplify her complex polynomials,
and break her down like a puzzle.

Plot on paper what you found-
points of tangency.

April Fool’s Day

I laughed when you said good-bye
on April Fool's day,

as sunlight broke through the trees
dotting the expressway.

I replied that I myself was leaving
just biding my time

expecting a screen full of smileys
from your reply

but all I got was you
insistent like the sunlight

flashing against my eyes
on not being there

when I get home
tonight.

Ordinary Words

41

Epilogue

She will let him go like a book,
whose cover once attracted her,
its pages once held down her gaze.

She had moved on past his breadth,
their time together flipping over
like scanned pages towards the end.

With her reading done, his laughter’s consumed,
will she miss nights of him laying on her breasts,
exhausted, under a lamp's glow?

She takes note of what's left
of his borrowed time.


Pieces

There is no bridge____________ nor causeway between
your absence ____________and my desire. It is
a heavy log to carry ____________whose weight will plunge it
down my mental chasm, ____________to undefined depths of insanity,
from where anguish ____________does not rise to be heard,
but muted by ____________a thick air of uncertainty
where love like a flame ____________ can only glow faintly.
There is no reminder, ____________nor signal, nor smoke
that can rise ____________to advertise my longing
or traces of it in ____________burnt ashes or embers
for you to look upon, ____________the monsoon rains drenched them,
pushing them onto our gap, ____________crashing down on sharp surfaces
to break up _________________________like pieces of myself.


Ordinary Words

42

Death
Ordinary Words

43

Not Being Here*

On the window panes, sunlight flashes on and off
while clouds assemble overhead.

Daylight, streaming through the curtains,
is a false hope once overcast gets here.

There is no breeze to cool the skin.
It is likely too soon for a thunderstorm.

But, what do I know? Your cancer spread
like clouds in what had been a blue sky.

At 8pm this evening, the rains came.
It was a downpour.

A Box to Fill Up*

Once in this room, one afternoon,
while rain water dripped on the window glass,

and the room was deprived of daylight,
I kept peering at the ceiling for no reason.

Signs of you were in every corner:
that small picture frame that kept your smile,

those magazines you asked me
to buy regularly,

that graffiti you wrote on the wall
with your lipstick,

and the laptop full of logs
of our chat.

Today, at 36 degrees Centigrade, I've got a box
I can't get myself to start filling up.








Ordinary Words

44

This summer has ended

When reds, yellows and greens
have lost their brilliance,

and the lake's deep blue
has turned into shades of grey

While on this ground, brown and dry,
falls the first rain showers

mixing you, earth and tears-
a good-bye to many shared summers.

Ripped Apart

This is a perilous season.
Some content may not be suitable-

In color or black-and-white,
they are still dead.

Why count bodies in peace time?
Something about parts and whole.

I agree. This is more than just
an inconvenient fact:

keeping your feet wet
in disease-infested waters.

Today, I asks,
while watching early morning TV-

Have you found a newspaper
to cover them?

In the calm morning

flexing his two arms,
father lifts from the flood waters
his dead son.



Ordinary Words

45

To my brother, Jonathan*

'Tis not when a heart beat goes full stop
and eyes then lose the power of its stare,

Nor when the sheet is stretched to cover up
your full length, no longer gasping for air,

that my pain like skin scratched by thorns
ignored when running away from hunters,

can now rest, bleed and cry for attention.
There never will be a good time ever.

To nurse loneliness like a wound,
and dress it every day until it dries,

is to hope a healing can be found,
to finally say my good-bye-

We have few words for each other,
but love is not bound by them or any other.


Rainy August

A sunny 8am did not
come true,

the sky looking grayish white,
the color of the bed sheet.

The weatherman did forecast
lots of rain for August.

As clouds keep shifting,
a gust hits the window pane

just when I looked away,
your body still warm,

after the doctor said
you are gone.




Ordinary Words

46

Lost*

He confides
'She only has a few days left.'

Fighting the loss of breath
I ask, 'So, what is up next?'

As he lays out what to expect,
I lost you in the details

of many new mornings-
mourning.

The day you leave
I will be somewhere else

looking for you in places
we have been.

W(Age)s*

"Stipendia enim peccati mors gratia autem."
Breath-deprived, the marriage is given up like doves
let go on wedding day. Where before the bride wears white,
now black is the motif, the sun eclipsed by clouds.

Soon, we'll reach the terminal
(si non sola mors me et te separaverit)
but the road is still bumpy up ahead.
We haven't paid ours

but the debt collector will soon find our address
and he might not care about the house or the old car.


Ordinary Words

47

Threads

If life were measured like a thread, who will cut off
the fly from a spider's fiber, dead and swinging like a pendulum?

How many threads can bury a spider with legs dismembered
by soldier ants crawling over his upside-down body?

Stirring the mud, the rain digs on the earth a shallow grave.

You left before I could
I miss you mom whenever I am happy.
I did run to you, sought your warm embrace,
and wasted your time with my crazy lines.

I miss you whenever I am sad or lonely,
recalling times I rested my head
on your slim shoulders.

I miss you mom whenever I felt returning
all the love you gave and shared.
You know I would but you left before i could.

I miss you mom whenever I felt like saying
'thank you' for standing up beside me,
for the choices I made

that differed from yours, made you sigh,
and broke your heart.
You know I would but you left before I could.

Ordinary Words

48

Knife in my throat
The sharp knife pierces through as it were
my malfunctioning mind where once inside,
the opening encloses an anger that has ruptured

as violent as the blood filling up my lungs
to an overflow, crowding out the life-force
until choked, the gasping for breath as if drowning,

all entry points sealed, all doors opening
to life locked, the warm sensation of finality,
as the full blade goes through my throat.

Macabebe
The landscape has changed after Apo Omeng died.
Lahar came to bury the memories in mud, sun-dried.

Where is the "magtitinapay's" honking horn, in his morning ride?
It used to be the day's call, a summer morn' has begun.
The landscape has changed after Apo Omeng died.

Where now is the "aplaya" that was green far and wide,
and the lass with her lad, both in bloom?
Lahar came to bury the memories in mud, sun-dried.

Where will the "anaks" play under the watchful guide
of an apo calling each back when the day is done?
The landscape has changed after Apo Omeng died.

The old river carrying the motor bancas lost its pride.
In the mud, heartaches, frustrations took residence.
Lahar came to bury the memories in mud, sun-dried.

The landscape has changed after Apo Omeng died.




Ordinary Words

49

No Better Time*

It was a matter of bad timing.
Einstein asserted enough about spaces
and for you it meant no vacancy.

Death happens here regularly.
In this vacuum, there is no room
for the sound of your agony.

In a purposeless universe,
disappearances are just too far
away from us,

like nebulas signing off
above our night sky beyond
my span of attention

as your dust is dispersed
in this air, demonstrating Einstein,
his physical laws.

There is no better time for gravity
to bring you back to me.

Green Grass

I watch the flowers fall
between the small spaces of earth
surrounding your new home

before my tears blur my sight
as I look down,
but the earth's embrace

keeps you from us,
on this sunny day
with the grass all green.

Ordinary Words

50

Simple Statements

It started with your simple disclosure:
'I have a tumor in my lymph nodes.'

I looked at you then, calculating my words,
their tone, their weight, to match yours.

'It has not reached Stage 1.'
I thought I saw something in your eyes

that reminded me of mornings after my wife and I
had quarreled- a search for hope, a different life.

'The chemo is not working. One gallon of liquid
was taken out of my lungs.'

So you went on like husbands and wives do,
except from this you couldn't divorce.

I heard your violent coughing,
echoing the pain I never knew.

Today, a brief statement was sent out
to all of us friends,

that you passed away 8:30 am-
the moment when death did us part.

Rightist Burial

When you're dead and grass has sprouted off your grave
with flash flood rushing to pile mud over you again,
only the agent of coercion-

the one who bored a hole into your head,
who tried to make your blood spill to the right
instead of left-

will remember this place,
how they dragged you away from your routine.

When the earth dries up and the grass over you withers
then perhaps one stray dog's nose will help us find
your skull with a hole that the bullet pierced.

Ordinary Words

51

Instructions for Timothy

She lifts him up, holds him tight,
and keeps him warm, daylight fading,
the cold advancing to this moment.

She kisses him as morphine flows,
before complying with doctor's orders
to remove him from equipment.

The stars come out in the autumn sky
to be her witnesses when the nurse
pulls away the tubes from him.

Thoughts of another morning make her cry.
The clouds came like a blanket over him,
the cold completing its embrace.

Craftsmanship

Violence has levels of craftsmanship,
displayed in the bodies destroyed.

She was like a fortress broken through.
They pulled down her underwear like walls,
stormed through doors as it were

to expose her vagina, slit her throat,
and leave blood under her nape.

The old man is like a tower fallen
on the pavement. Grease, dirt stuck on his skin
like ruins of a fallen city.

His tormentors fried up his brain,
his wide-open eyes confirm.

The young man is the look of a city
destroyed. His tongue was cut, teeth broken,
an eye bored through, finger nails pulled.

His head was severed off,
for their collection.


Ordinary Words

52

Images



Ordinary Words

53

New Year Fragments

Darkness breaks up
into colors then black.

The ears catch first the silence,
then the blast.

He carries on
between the presence and absence.

You are still here, in his thoughts,
blinking off and on

in his memory,
like a New Year's eve fireworks.

Violent waters

Her finger met the steam half-way,
as it plunges into the cup.

It could break an ear drum,
the shrill bouncing on the walls.

A red rose
A red rose held in my hand
caught my tears on its petals like dew

shimmering from the sunlight's
kiss, leaked by rain clouds

above the garden
where I stood.






Ordinary Words

54

The Chinese sprinter
He lies on the ground, fallen
like a house collapsed by a great quake,
whose door was used for his makeshift bed,
after clearing debris off him.

The tremor sprinted past him,
as his legs failed to deliver more,
stumbled over the shaking earth
and the tumbling concrete.

His friend later found him
among the rows of the dead,
found him curled,
as if running away still-

with white rubber shoes,
jogging suit in red and blue,
and a Chinese textbook over his face.

Morning after Halloween
The masks last night worn under the Halloween full moon
Were kissing each other on the floor unmindful
of the beer cans and confetti lying around them.

Strange masks, each one celebrating death, blood, gore
When the wearers meant to enjoy life to catch a glimpse
of wandering eyes that may find themselves locked in yours.

In this side of town, every night is Halloween
As hands catch another, lips locked with another
Sucking life in from each other.

Every morning exposed by the window light are bodies
littering the floor from another night of revelry-
Bare and unmasked.


Ordinary Words

55

Starry Nights
There is sadness in the midnight sky
Starlight trapped within the circles of the night.

Have I seen a bird fly on your canvas
across the coarseness of your strokes?
There is sadness in your midnight sky.

You love stars to decorate your canvas
White and blue against the orange lamp light,
Starlight trapped within the circles of the night.

Why so much red and green inside a cafe
with roomful of folks, estranged under the stars?
There is sadness in the midnight sky.

Were you the lone, black tree on the canvas
Strong, upright, touching the stars?
Starlight trapped within the circles of the night.

There is sadness in the midnight sky.

Fireworks

Fireworks rip this black sky
to shreds of multi-colored streaks;

its pieces fall, rain down
through a powder-dense air;

only to recollect
and repair itself anew.






Ordinary Words

56

Work space
He will miss this work space:

a laminated desk, smooth, matte-yellow,
a chair turned away from skyscrapers.

From left to right-
the job, the customer, the deadline

and a few other things
placed there for a reason-

a framed family photograph,
for example,

where everyone smiles,
proud of their white teeth,

a fixture sitting there
for years beside the clock.

But, a work space
is neither home nor family,

despite the long hours,
the friendships, the thousand meals.

Another thing placed there
for a reason-

that pink slip.


Ordinary Words

57

Sacrilege

The children break out into laughter
at the dining table turning his skin blood-red
who holds sacred quiet communion meals

as he raises his hand
to break a bottle of ketchup
on the nearest child's fair head.

Old Quezon Bridge

The network of steel trusses
embed themselves on concrete

like shadows of barbed wires and fences
on protesters’ skin.

Typhoons and earthquakes have not
displaced them,

their pillars immovable like trash stuck
in the river bed by Malacanan.

This man

These punctures on the head, blood, dried, masked his face,
was pierced by mockery and thousand insults weaved
like spikes in thorn branches, his crown for his head.

This skin, these lesions, sank death closer to the bones.
These bruises came from lies so wicked enveloped in fists
whose blows spared neither body nor limbs.

This back was disfigured, lacerated, and torn open
by sheep bones of hate. Each clawed itself into skin,
into flesh with every flagellum's whip.

These ribs, this open fissure, jabbed deep by a spear,
poured forth water of forgiveness, streaming
to cleanse an earth, blood-soaked.

His time of death-
3 pm, Friday.



Ordinary Words

58

Sketch

The sea water stumbles,
falls on your thighs,

the linen clinging tightly
on your skin,

sketching the shape
of your flesh

like fruits, dew-washed,
in a glossy spread.

The waves pound your thighs,
glazed in this early light.













Ordinary Words

59

Others

Ordinary Words

60

Siesta

in the afternoon's siesta,
head bowed and silent-
breeze flips the book's pages.


Mobile Church

The jeepney has an entry way and corridor
leading to an image of Christ above the windshield.

Here, a poor boy serves like a sacristan.
He cleans the passenger shoes as if to make them holy.

When his service ends, he raises his palms
not to pray but to collect for alms,

Before his altar, he looks up at the Christ
gazing down on those seated.

He leaves but another passenger gets in
with his own Bible and pouch.

Faulty Exegesis

Without a map, the next best thing when evening driving is to learn fast
how to read signs, and even here critical thinking is key or be misled

by false and make-shift signs some self-imposed authority,
put up for his convenience. It can distract you

like a high beam from an approaching car or much worse
misread a Right-Turn traffic sign on the asphalt road,

where the next thing you see is a policeman's hand waving,
his stern look, a fair warning of an approaching discourse

of a supposed error starting with definitions, then exegesis,
to etymology of words, and its consequences.



Ordinary Words

61

My friend’s ear

My friend's ear is my kitchen sink of stainless steel
where I puke, bitter words pushing up like acid

on my esophagus, rushing past the throat
full of indigestible vocabulary others made me eat.

I use it as my toilet bowl to defecate on,
when spasms and cramps contract my abdomen,
my bowels unable to halt fluid like secretion
crashing against the white-glazed porcelain.

My friend knows when to press the lever down
on the pop-up drain, to clear himself of all my stains.

That Seemed Good

He found me wandering in Quiapo* and offered
to take me home. That seemed good.

He said, 'You need a good bath to remove
all that grease off your body.'

He led me into a room where there was
water and a bucket.

He cleaned me up with soap. His hands
polished parts of me to his satisfaction.

He led me to a bed and said,
'You need rest.' That seemed good.

He laid me down. My hair still wet. He said,
'I will take care of you' as he undressed.

First, he let go of the pants then underwear,
dropping them on the floor.

I watched him get close to me, his weight
pressing heavily. Then, he got up.

Leaving a twenty-peso bill he told me,
'Buy yourself some candy.' That seemed good.


Ordinary Words

62

Resignation Letter

He's browsing some papers
on the table

where I extended my hand last
unacknowledged

hanging like a bridge fractured-
ties, chords, beams severed

when I disclosed
my need to move on

from all these manuals,
row of thick books,

Gantt chart and calendars
on the white board.

The letter is left unopened
on his desk

like metal-bending waters
that stayed.



Ordinary Words

63

Index



A Box to Fill Up* ................................................................................................................................................................ 43
A dead poem ..................................................................................................................................................................... 15
A love poem* .................................................................................................................................................................... 17
A Matter of Fact* ................................................................................................................................................................ 7
A Promise to Keep ............................................................................................................................................................. 21
A red rose .......................................................................................................................................................................... 53
A worded math problem ................................................................................................................................................... 40
After Dinner ...................................................................................................................................................................... 26
After the rain* ................................................................................................................................................................... 23
April Fool’s Day ................................................................................................................................................................. 40
Black Sky* .......................................................................................................................................................................... 10
Bleeding wound ................................................................................................................................................................ 24
Centerfold ......................................................................................................................................................................... 35
Cold breakfast ................................................................................................................................................................... 23
Cold Seat ........................................................................................................................................................................... 39
Cold weather ..................................................................................................................................................................... 26
Craftsmanship ................................................................................................................................................................... 51
Detox ................................................................................................................................................................................. 36
Distracted .......................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Empty Space ...................................................................................................................................................................... 30
Epilogue ............................................................................................................................................................................. 41
Faulty Exegesis .................................................................................................................................................................. 60
Fireworks ........................................................................................................................................................................... 55
Ordinary Words

64

Fly* ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 9
Green Grass ....................................................................................................................................................................... 49
Half-Open Door ................................................................................................................................................................. 22
Have you seen love? ......................................................................................................................................................... 20
Home* ............................................................................................................................................................................... 34
Homecoming ..................................................................................................................................................................... 14
In the calm morning .......................................................................................................................................................... 44
In the New Station ............................................................................................................................................................ 33
In the shadows* ................................................................................................................................................................ 19
Insight ................................................................................................................................................................................ 11
Instructions for Timothy ................................................................................................................................................... 51
Internal Fracture ............................................................................................................................................................... 32
Intersection ......................................................................................................................................................................... 8
Knife in my throat ............................................................................................................................................................. 48
Like a dog .......................................................................................................................................................................... 14
Lost* .................................................................................................................................................................................. 46
Lumphuni Lotus Flower ..................................................................................................................................................... 24
Macabebe ......................................................................................................................................................................... 48
Miniloc Waters* ................................................................................................................................................................ 35
Mobile Church ................................................................................................................................................................... 60
Morning after Halloween .................................................................................................................................................. 54
My friend’s ear .................................................................................................................................................................. 61
New Year Fragments ......................................................................................................................................................... 53
No Better Time* ................................................................................................................................................................ 49
No Rule of Three ................................................................................................................................................................. 8
Not Being Here* ................................................................................................................................................................ 43
Old Quezon Bridge ............................................................................................................................................................ 57
On Valentine’s Day* .......................................................................................................................................................... 34
Our Skies ........................................................................................................................................................................... 38
Parousia* ........................................................................................................................................................................... 34
Pieces ................................................................................................................................................................................ 41
Puppet ............................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Ordinary Words

65

Raining in Orchard Road* ................................................................................................................................................. 33
Rainy August ..................................................................................................................................................................... 45
Resignation Letter ............................................................................................................................................................. 62
Rightist Burial .................................................................................................................................................................... 50
Ripped Apart ..................................................................................................................................................................... 44
Sacrilege ............................................................................................................................................................................ 57
Seminar Notes ................................................................................................................................................................... 12
Siesta ................................................................................................................................................................................. 60
Silence ............................................................................................................................................................................... 10
Simple Statements ............................................................................................................................................................ 50
Sketch ................................................................................................................................................................................ 58
So Dry and Still* ................................................................................................................................................................ 18
Starboard* ........................................................................................................................................................................ 21
Starry Nights ...................................................................................................................................................................... 55
Starting Over ..................................................................................................................................................................... 35
Still Clear* ......................................................................................................................................................................... 17
Straight Lines* ..................................................................................................................................................................... 7
That Seemed Good............................................................................................................................................................ 61
The Chinese sprinter ......................................................................................................................................................... 54
The shortest distance between you and me..................................................................................................................... 22
The Train Ride is Over ....................................................................................................................................................... 38
This bed* ........................................................................................................................................................................... 25
This heaven ....................................................................................................................................................................... 29
This is not a love poem (again) ......................................................................................................................................... 19
This man ............................................................................................................................................................................ 57
This New Year’s Eve .......................................................................................................................................................... 39
This summer has ended .................................................................................................................................................... 44
Threads.............................................................................................................................................................................. 47
To my brother, Jonathan* ................................................................................................................................................. 45
To return ........................................................................................................................................................................... 20
Unlit Road ......................................................................................................................................................................... 36
Unrestrained ..................................................................................................................................................................... 36
Ordinary Words

66

Vanishing point ................................................................................................................................................................. 31
Violent waters ................................................................................................................................................................... 53
W(Age)s* ........................................................................................................................................................................... 46
What is after forever? ....................................................................................................................................................... 12
When the saxophone moans ............................................................................................................................................ 27
When wounds heal ........................................................................................................................................................... 32
Work space ....................................................................................................................................................................... 56
Worth more than twenty-one roses ................................................................................................................................. 28
You left before I could ....................................................................................................................................................... 47
You .................................................................................................................................................................................... 37
Your absence bites ............................................................................................................................................................ 27
Your exit .............................................................................................................................................................................. 9
Zero degrees Celsius ......................................................................................................................................................... 15


Ordinary Words

67

Ordinary Words

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