To Find Yourself, You Must Feel Lost

A lot has happened over the course of the year. Some moments felt like an arrival to something, like coming home. Some felt like getting more lost, feeling more uncertain.
But I survived.
I think.
If there is one thing I am grateful of, it’s the fact that I’ve always managed to arrive at my own doorstep, still me yet somehow changed, but still me. I’m grateful for having mastered the art of coming to oneself and that it has always been the anchor that kept me from drifting too far from who I really am.
Oh, and I’ve become braver too. 
You’ll see.

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As I Wait for Wisdom to Pass Me By

​’We are young, we are young!‘ they said,

the eyeless faces screaming in youth’s stead,

Come one, come all, for you live just once,

come one, come all, and spare not a care.

Not a moment’s waste on things

which you can’t slather on a price, 

not a devil’s roll for people

who can’t throw you the dice.
I sit, my pen laid to rest on my lap,

as I watch them burn everything in sight.

We burn, we burn!’ they loudly proclaim,

their paintings, their easles encasing their pride.

And yet I see no strand of hair on fire.

I see not a single pair of eyes waking from slumber.

This might be the way to live,

but it sure as hell is not the way to be alive.
I wait for the words to see me through,

my own special lens with which I use 

to see the world clearer.

But no words come to me.

I am but a humble poet not a seer –

I smith the words on paper and taint them with ink

but no, I don’t see the future anymore than I can the present,

I only see the past and its careless patterns.
So I wait for wisdom,

I wear the years on my sleeve.

I watch the world turn

while the men with golden tongue

preach about the state affairs,

the women continue to count by the wrinkles,

the men calculate by the stares.

This is what we have become.
I wait for the knowledge, the word, the proclamation, the shout;

It will be the undying of the youth

the fountain of life for the old, the revival of the dead.

Tear my heart open, let it be seared by the salt of my tears.

I don’t want to keep my eyes shut.

I don’t want to sleep.

I’ll shake hands with wisdom the moment he passes by.

I’ll set us all on fire.

A love letter to women

Photo by Rose Renolla

I’m sorry they made you believe 

you didn’t deserve that little, black dress

because of the shape of your body.

I’m sorry they made you cover up

to protect their delicate sensibilities.

I’m sorry because you had to stiffle your spirit,

you couldn’t shout,

you couldn’t curse,

you couldn’t get mad

without being accused that your guts are spilling

from your mouth.

I’m sorry you were silenced.

I’m sorry your body is like a caged bird – 

however hard you try to spread your wings,

the bars keep holding you in.

And I’m sorry they always confuse you –

I’m sorry they tell you you don’t need the accents on your lids

but they don’t care enough to tell you

that you are beautiful

without your war paint on – 

and so you keep skipping back and forth

the line between 

basking in your natural glow

and needing your layered masks and bloodied lips.

I’m sorry they insist on measuring your worth

by your plumage,

or the weight of your body,

or thickness of your legs,

or the pitch of your voice.

I’m sorry you were made to feel like your worth had to be measured,

when in fact you are weightless and capable of defying gravity

when you fly.

I’m sorry they said your wings aren’t strong enough

to endure the flight towards the sky,

that you were robbed the freedom

to feel the wind beneath your wings.

And I’m sorry there aren’t enough people speaking for you

when you find your voice trapped by your gilded cage.

I’m sorry there aren’t enough people 

fighting for you to be free.

I’m sorry you’ve been designated as prey

or pet,

or decoration,

or property.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

And it’s probably hard for you to believe

that you are free,

when you’ve been living with all the restrictions

that’s been weighing down your wings.

And I’m sorry for that too.

But you should know,

that once a bird, always a bird.

They can put you in a cage

but that won’t mean 

you’ll forget how to use your wings.

Gather your strength

and bid your time.

And when it arrives,

fly.

Fly and never look back.

Go back to the wild

where you can screech and claw and hunt

spread your wings

go wherever you want to go.

No one owns you.

You were never meant to be caged.

The Massacre of Human Moments

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Pull out
a single strand of thought from your head –
the one you won’t dare say out loud
when there are people who could hear,
the one that could be your guilty pleasure,
the one you could use as a curse under your breath,
the one that you won’t allow yourself to touch
in fear you will be consumed.

Take this thought out on a date,
run eight miles with it until you’re both reeling and drenched in sweat,
sleep with it like you would a lover,
and pick a fight with it, scream at it with as much intensity.
Give it a make over,
play dress up with it and make it wear a little black dress or a red, hot number,
doll it up, give it that soft, pink tint
carefully,
carefully,
carefully wipe everything away,
don’t leave even a tiny smudge.

Stretch it.
Cut off its legs, it must never run away.
Peel off some skin here and there
so you can see the flesh underneath –
peel away until you see its bones.
Bend it, roll it,
throw it into the fire and watch it melt
then breathe new life into it.

People think of writing like it’s a very simple process,
and in some way it is.
Sometimes the thoughts come out
in a way you wouldn’t want them altered.
But some days you need to break them down.
Some days you butcher them with
with your pen and your feelings
and it still won’t be enough
you’ll start summoning your demons,
you offer your blood.

And when it’s done,
when it’s done,
you look at the dismantled, disfigured image of yourself –
everyone sees the pretty words
but you know how much gore it took to write them down.
They will tell you, your words are lovely.
And on some days you will believe them.
On most days, however,
all you see is your blood and you’re repulsed by it.
Your throw that poem away,
secretly relieved that that ugliness doesn’t cling to you anymore.

Pull out a single strand of thought from your head,
your pen poised and ready
for another round of massacre
of your human moments.
You die a million times,
by your own words,
but you also invoke new life
from the trail of your ashes.
And you’ll never feel more alive.

My Poetry Never Ends

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Photo by Rose Renolla

A poem is the solace you didn’t find in things that are tangible. It’s a chip on your shoulder that needs to trickle down word by word, phrase by phrase, until the care has turned to dust, eroded and carefree with the wind.

A poem is a catch in the throat, the heavy feeling you can’t say out loud because you are scared of its enormity, you choose to verbalize it with sighs. It’s a pointless debate – the poet argues with himself on paper, never really outwitting anyone, and so the pen wins.

A poem is a secret blatantly declared, loudly proclaimed, butchered and served up to anyone who wishes to read. It’s the wistful nostalgia, the soundless cry of pain, the celebration that spreads out into tremors, strong enough to make the hands shake and the heart to split into two.

A poem is a longing, a wish, a heartache you wish to send out to the world. It’s a single strand of hope that someday, the words will reach the right set of eyes, the right pair of ears, the right heartbeat who will respond with its own resonance that will match yours.

A poem is its person, gently offered with frail and bruised hands. The hands never know who will take it. The hands will never know if its offering will suffice and yet, the hands offer everything without hesitation – with a stubborn disregard for whether it is careful or safe.

A poem could be you or me. It could be us. It could be the way you suckle for air when you feel like drowning in despair. It could be the constricting of your heart, that gentle sting that’s reminding you how happy you are. It could be the way we feel when we look at each other’s eyes. It could be the silent gasp I made or the surprised pause it took you seconds to recover from when you finally said the words out loud. It could be the goodbye we don’t want to hear. It could be our story. It could be the rest of our lives.

And the poetry will be endless. I’d finish a word and someone will write the next. The poem will never end. It will be the same, for it is always the same. Just spoken in different languages, kissed by several lips, written by a million hands, living and dying and being born again, through words.

Note: This piece got published on Narratio.org.

Ten Candles #throwback

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Photo by Rose Renolla

One. You asked me if I’m happy. The truth is, I don’t even know what that means. If by happy you mean being able to spend an entire day not haunted by you, then I guess I am happy. I wake up to different dreams now. I started liking new songs. I started working out. I can run up to three miles now without gasping for air. Everything feels different… even my definition of happy. It’s not the same as the happy I felt when you were here but I think this happy could work. This happy doesn’t come with the same hangups you did.

Two. I have spent so many sleepless nights wondering why things ended the way they did. Until I finally decided that I don’t want to ask that question anymore. I’ve come to accept that knowing why would not change anything. You’d still be you and I’d still be me. So we still won’t work. I guess we’re meant to be one of those stories about unfulfilled love. I guess we’re destined to be romantic.

Three. God, I hope that I’ve changed. Being the person I was and wanting the things I did put me in an endless cycle of internal battles I was delusional enough to think I could win. I kept deciding to logic my way through my feelings thinking if I played a game of elimination on all the reasons why I should take a leap of faith and cross them off one by one, I could find a loophole… a foolproof way to get what I want without having to gamble my heart. They did define insanity as doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. I was insane that way. I was insane that way, with you. And I’m hoping I’m different now because I don’t want to make mistake I did… with you.

Four. I don’t think I’ll love anyone the way I loved you. I will do better. I spent the whole duration of us loving you with silence. But I learned that there are things that should be said out loud. I refused to say them because I thought you understood… I thought I didn’t have to tell you. I wish you told me you wanted my words said out loud. I was never good at loving people in a loud way. For you, I would have tried. But that ship has sailed so you know what, the next time I fall in love, I will definitely do it better. I will scream it from my rooftop until my lungs burst. I will not be silent about it.

Five. After you, I thought about finding a nice boy who could give me everything I could possibly want. But then I realized that I don’t really want for much. The only thing left that I really want… is to just be a girl. I have tried everything… being a fighter, a victim, a sinner, a saint, a dragon, a sheep, an artist, a poet… but the one thing I haven’t tried yet was to be a girl. And because of that, I decided that I can never settle for anything less than the boy who can make me feel like a girl.

Six. A few weeks ago I noticed that I stopped thinking about what we could have been. That was the exact same time I noticed that I stopped missing you. I miss how it felt… belonging to someone, having someone who could feel like home. But I don’t miss you or your potential anymore.

Seven. I think if I look back, I could pin down the moments where we just didn’t make sense. Yes, with an s because there were too many of them. I think one of my tragic flaws is believing the best in people because there were red flags all over the place. That, or I like to pretend I’m color blind and I don’t see red.

Eight. I’ve heard somewhere that regret tastes good with Bourbon. Here is what I can promise you: Bourbon will feel like fire spreading into my bloodstream. I’d rather burn than say you taste like regret. 

Nine. If I had to pick a favorite among the things I should have done differently, it would be that I could be willing to love myself less. I think I loved myself too much I could be a poster child for self-love. The more I fell in love with you, the more I pulled away. I got scared of losing myself… in you and because of you. So when it came down to a choice, I decided I’d rather lose you. I know hearing this from me won’t bring you comfort. I’m sorry. I guess we now know why you still haunt me.

Ten. You were the very person who would have made me believe in destiny again.

Ten. I think of stab wounds whenever I hear your name.

Ten. Because of you I skip through my old favorite songs.

Ten. I hope you tell not just her, but also your children about me. I hope I ruined you that way.

Ten. Can we skip the whole friendship thing?

Ten. If you ever come to my wedding, make sure you watch my face while I look at him. Count my tears. Notice the way I smile and the way I couldn’t wait to be his wife. Know that because of you, I honestly believed I would never be that happy.

Ten. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was us. Maybe it’s no one’s fault. At this point, does it still matter?

Ten. I used to hug my heart to my ribcage worried I will lose it after I lost you. I used to stare back at the shell of who I used to be in front of my mirror after the sparks in my eyes died. I used to wonder if the hollow laughter I could hear from my voicebox really belonged to me. A part of me died the day we put an end to us. But I’d go through it again. And again. And again. Not because that’s how much I love you. I’d go through it again just to squeeze every last drop of lesson I have to learn out of a failed something. I’ll look at the signs until I know them by heart.

Ten. I don’t want to love someone like you.

Abreaction (from the heartaches we can’t leave behind) by means of emotional bulimia

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Feast 
on tonight’s eight-course meal – 
dishes personally handpicked 
from your most diminishing moments,
guaranteed to sate your taste for pain.

Your appetizer is absence.
It is a taste you know so well,
something you can pull from memory.
Your father was never around
and never got to see you blossom into a lady.
Absence was the first lesson you learned,
the first taste you got familiar with 
as you sucked it from your mom’s tit.
There’s is nothing people can tell you 
that you don’t already know
about people failing to show up –
it’s the salt you sprinkle on every wound.

The next course is guaranteed to make you
ask for more.
Here, your insecurities were added as garnish –
the little something that could make any dish 
taste like euphoria.
One bite and you’ll dance to everyone’s tune,
pleasing yourself
by pleasing your audience.
This is the only thing you need
to validate your existence. 
I can see how much you like it – 
the tingle of adulation creeping into the fissures
of your mouth.
I can see that as soon as the taste leaves your tongue
you can feel your throat aching.
You ache to be more.

Notice the greens of this dish and remember
how you used to feel green with envy
because someone always had the things,
which you’ve always found yourself to be completely
lacking.
You were never enough.
You always had to be more.
You always had to be best.
You always had to prove yourself.
You always had to be something. 
Something.
Your existence became more and more frail
as you let your self-esteem hang by a thread
even as you knew your envy weighed them down.
You couldn’t understand why they were heavy.
And yet, you continued to fatten them up, every night
by feeding them their favorite lies
and tucking them under your blanket
so they can rest easy while you lose sleep.

Dead deams are savory.
And that is how the next dish will be,
filled with the moments where you
hid your smile, secretly savoring that, 
which your heart desires.
Nothing tastes better than dreams not realized,
possibilities that lived and died as just that – 
potentials.
You nurtured each wanting like it were your last.
But when the moment of truth came,
you held on to it tightly instead of letting it fly.
You crippled its wings because you feared
you’d be stuck flying low…
or that you’d never fly at all.
Wasted dreams aren’t sweet 
but they are memorable. 
You’ll take the memory of the taste with you
down to your last seconds on earth,
down to your grave – 
the memory of it shall feed the worms
and nurture the earth.

Regrets when served with spirits
are easier to scarf down.
Make you sure you pair this with the best wine.
You should have taken the job.
You should have said something.
You should have asked him to stay.
You should have done that shit when you had the chance.
You should have done that shit.
You should have.
Funny, the more you repeat the lines, 
the more you enhance regret’s flavor.

This rack of broiled rejection
is unique from anything else in the world.
It’s the only rejection you can swallow
without hurting yourself too much.
The eyes that stared at you
judging you worthless
have been crushed into powder.
Just a mere seasoning,
just a tinge,
just a few seconds,
just a twirl on your tongue,
but enough to make you wonder
why you think you’ve had it before.

Loneliness
has always been regarded 
as a side dish to something else –
the strong flavor needed to add edge,
the muted taste dulling the sense overdrive.
But here, loneliness stands on its own.
It’s not served with sadness or anger.
It’s not offered as a consolation prize
but as a reward.
Taste the loneliness
and feel its coldness spread 
towards the tip of your toes,
feel it manifest into something else
into a type of fear that screams
you will be forever alone
because you are unworthy of love.
This is why no one is brave enough to offer this dish.
No one is brave enough to take a bite out of it.

The words you left unsaid,
well it’s the ultimate dish.
And while most will offer it 
as a prelude
to absence,
or broken dreams,
or regret,
or rejection,
or loneliness,
we offer it as the dessert.
The words you left unsaid
should haunt you,
should exist as ghosts 
dangling at the edges of your teeth
ready to be tasted 
the moment you are tempted to speak. 
The words you left unsaid 
should be the last thing on your mind
before you close your eyes
and the first thought you have
before you face the day.

Feast
on tonight’s eight-course meal
guaranteed to make you bleed
and remember the last time you felt alive…
human.

Worry not if there will still be leftovers.
We will always have more.
We will always have enough
to reel you in
and have you dining
until your bones get cold.