Imaginary Letter to my Twin Sons, by Gemino Abad

Happy World Poetry Day! Not much good at writing my own poetry, but I like reading the genre when I can. Here’s one I remember getting dopamine chills from in first year; I found it by cracking open a Likhaan anthology and turning it to a random page. (Poem copy-pasted from here.)

This brings back bittersweet memories of my time under Sir Jimmy; a lot of ties have been severed since then, and it hurts to think that there will never be the time of day to give them any closure. I watch their lives unfold without me on social media, and it’s sad to think that it’s far too awkward to initiate conversation, or distill all the frustration into coherent sentences, because of all the distance between us. I guess it would be apropos to quote my favorite line in the poem: “I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty.”

You can check out more poetry-related posts in my blog in this category.


Dear Davie, Dear Diego
I am on an island called Oahu.
Here there are many white people, they are called Haules.
There are also Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos.
I have seen the fields of sugar cane
Where the Ilocanos worked when they first came over.
How poor they must have been and lonely;
No one could follow their speech to their own island home.

There are very few native Hawai’ians;
Their words which are the names of streets and buildings
Outnumber them. “How could happen this be?”
A long time ago, they had a queen, but soldiers came from America
And took away her throne, and then all the land.
Those who fought were killed, and then many more died
Because they did not know the diseases that the soldiers brought –
They were never so sick before on their island.

But it is a beautiful island
Perhaps because nature’s story is so different from ours.
Trees and mountains and falls and beaches are her speech.
And perhaps, because our own story is dark,
We see only half her beauty, and only dream of good will and peace.
I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty.

Let me just tell you now
About the Chinese banyan tree by my window.
Tonight it is my father because his love
Was like a great tree, but without speech.
Every morning on that banyan tree
Many species of birds are in full throat,
So that now I wonder: would my sons, years from now,
Gather from a tree’s silence my own heart’s affection,
And in that moment know that once, while I made their world,
I had deeply wished, when they shall have left that world behind,
I would be the tree to their morning?

Imaginary Roadtrip

a roadtrip in the subjunctive mood: wind in your hair, salt on your skin and the indelible scent of the one you’ll never get to make memories with

upbeat and summer-appropriate, with just a tinge of wistfulness. there are other downloadables here, in case you want to judge my music taste soundtrip for a bit.


(click on the image to download a .rar of the mixtape)

1. Tourist (RAC)
2. Adventures (Niki Colet)
3. Sol. (Mausi)
4. Holland, 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel)
5. Camping, 2011 (The Juliens)
6. Eyjafjallajokull Dance (The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die)
7. Silhouette (Latin Skin) (Seahaven)

update Mar 01 2015 12.12PM: i re-uploaded a .rar with a playable Seahaven track

Smile, Sisyphus

Credit: Darrel Perkins, “The Myth of Sisyphus”

“But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” – Albert Camus

I had to write an uncomfortably personal paper for one of my classes a couple of months back. It involved assuming the stance of a suicidal person, picking a quote from a given list, and explaining whether or not I would kill myself given the quote as context. (It is now exceedingly obvious that said class was Abnormal Psych.) This particular quote resonated with me the most.

The quote came from Camus’ book, A Happy Death (1971). To be honest, I only started reading his works when I saw this particular soundbite. From what I understand, he tackles the problem of absurdism—the conflict within a human being when faced with the stark realization that life has no meaning. I became increasingly interested in Camus’ essay, The Myth of Sisyphus (1955), which centers on the eternal punishment of Sisyphus: He pushes a boulder up a mountain every day, only for it to roll back down again, back to where he started.

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(typing heavy-handed, with heaving sighs punctuating my trains of thought every other minute.)

yesterday, we talked about the nature of evil in philosophy class. we defined it in terms of a privation relative to a thing that should be whole, rather than a simple absence–it is always relative to something. it makes a thing incomplete. to quote my friend juno’s tweet, “absence: i do not mean that you are not here; rather, that you should be.”

there have been three deaths in my school’s atmosphere over the course a few days. this is not counting a British School of Manila senior’s suicide from last friday, as well as the PNP Fallen 44 from the Maguindanao massacre last month.

i just cried over these people. they were technically strangers to me–i did not know any of them personally. i am clinging to hazy, irrelevant memories of the only time sei and i had a conversation, sitting down at a kythe booth making plushies for the kids. “it’s so relaxing,” she said. “it’s better than going to class.”

for days on end, my reaction has been anger at how it just isn’t fair–which is kind of true, depending on how you look at things. of course it’s “fair”, in terms of the chemistry of things–to wilt, to waste away under conditions intolerable to the human body. but the fact that it’s just another part of reality, our life cycle, makes it all the more saddening.

it’s not fair because of all the promise and potential that hasn’t been realized yet–nakakahinayang talaga. because nobody has the right to decide when another’s life ends. because bad things happen to the most caring and selfless people we know. because people have lost a guiding light, who will live now through his teachings.

it’s not fair because we do not even know the whole truth and we are scared. it’s crazy to think of how fleeting our humanity is.

these people have gone, but they have left a big, gaping hole in so many friends, loved ones and even strangers in their wake. they have passed on, but their stories, what they have made of their lives has shook me to the core. i can only imagine the pain their friends and family are going through right now. they will never be truly gone.

Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out, by Richard Siken

EJ gave me a copy of Crush (2006) for Christmas. Copy-pasted this poem from here.
Every morning the maple leaves.
                               Every morning another chapter where the hero shifts
            from one foot to the other. Every morning the same big
and little words all spelling out desire, all spelling out
                                             You will be alone always and then you will die.
So maybe I wanted to give you something more than a catalog
         of non-definitive acts,
something other than the desperation.
                   Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your party.
Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I came to your party
         and seduced you
and left you bruised and ruined, you poor sad thing.
                                                         You want a better story. Who wouldn’t?
A forest, then. Beautiful trees. And a lady singing.
                  Love on the water, love underwater, love, love and so on.
What a sweet lady. Sing lady, sing! Of course, she wakes the dragon.
            Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly
                                                                                               flames everywhere.
I can tell already you think I’m the dragon,
                that would be so like me, but I’m not. I’m not the dragon.
I’m not the princess either.
                           Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down.
I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure,
               I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow
         glass, but that comes later.
                                                            And the part where I push you
flush against the wall and every part of your body rubs against the bricks,
            shut up
I’m getting to it.
                                    For a while I thought I was the dragon.
I guess I can tell you that now. And, for a while, I thought I was
                                                                                                the princess,
cotton candy pink, sitting there in my room, in the tower of the castle,
          young and beautiful and in love and waiting for you with
            but the princess looks into her mirror and only sees the princess,
while I’m out here, slogging through the mud, breathing fire,
                                                               and getting stabbed to death.

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satisficing, gerund/present participle.

  • a decision-making heuristic in which we consider only some options one by one and stop at what is good enough
  • we assume we lower our standards if too many options fall short
  • what i’ve been doing with my blog as of late