Wednesday, August 10


Years ago, when I knew nothing about line cuts and enjambments (which, come to mention it, is not so different from my poetry-befuddlement today), I only knew there are poems that made me feel like screaming inside, poems like this, which my critical theory-trained peers would perhaps chastise as cliche-riddled, statement-heavy, and juvenile:

Reply to Oscar
Donna L. Batongbacal

But you see, there are days, too
when I walk the inner regions of my mind.

And though I am not as well-inclined
to the commodity of tears as most of my kind,
there are times when my heart unfreezes
itself, thaws its stone-coldness
in favor of a few moments of heat,
when my spirit suffuses with
a softness even I cannot bear to ignore.

Despite the many-stringed distances I keep
there is a chance for me to be reached
with the mere simplicity of things-
a smile, some rain, a few errant notes,
a voice, a bit of ice cream, some fragment
of song, a waning slab of sun, or
a glimpse at a burning star.

Though it’s true I have learned
to close off my doors and fortify my walls,
to discern between potential friend or foe,
and though most frequently I choose not to
take risks entirely, there are those whom
I let in through the cracks, a chosen few
I have set my heart upon, whom to trust,
almost blindly.

And although I have been burned
more times than I care to admit,
there are occasions too, when I am tempted
to thrust my hand in the fire, in the hope
of finding at least One who would most
assuredly be there to walk with me in the rain,
perhaps even to soak ourselves in the storm.

And even while I have sworn to suffer
no more of these idiocies and faults,
I still do crave.

Of course it’s been far too long since
we’ve talked, and you and I have
changed since those times when our troubles were
far simpler though with not much less pain.
Yet, I think, above all, knowing me as far back
as you do, you should have known-

I am not, nor have I ever at any time been,
The bulwark you take me to be:

I too, crumble and fall.

But obviously, how can you not love this poem? It's from a volume of Heights, and there have been many others, including some, if I recall correctly, by then Heights person Mookie Katigbak. I have a friend who loved reading poems out loud and these gems would fill our nights and mornings. Looking at them now, there are phrases here that have made their way to stuff I write seven, eight years later, a testament to their influence on me.

I am returning here because the frenzy of the past few months, fetish for publication, awards, workshops and personality-based what-not's, have made me lose sight of what originally brought me to, well, trying to write: stories, and how someone you don't know can tell yours and you, potentially and if you're fortunate, others'.

Speaking of which, added three more to intense pile of unread books, thanks to Nikko, who's among the now droves of people who are leaving this month for graduate school abroad:

V. interested to get started on another Amis, obviously.

Last night's plan to run was rained out, and instead Alan and I walked from Maginhawa to Buddy's in Timog, which, according to his calculations, is equivalent to four Acad Oval rounds. Proceeded to watch Teeth with chips and white wine. Bloody hilarious movie. Will now read.

1 comment:

  1. I love an early Mookie Katigbak poem about a deer in the forest, juxtaposed with Ernest Hemingway's suicide. It appeared in Heights, and nowhere else, I believe. I think it's one of her best.