Breaths come in pairs, except at two times in our lives—the beginning and the end. At birth, we inhale for the first time; at death, we exhale for the last.
the beginning, and
in between the
end is a Shakespearean Act played
out—all the world is a stage, every
morning wake up
naked and out of character,
bare bones and back
breaking after a lifetime
so far of breaking
in these feet, and every morning,
dress our grins for the show, smile
lies at everyone we
meet—I am aware, there is
Venetian masquerade is not e
verybody, the way the worst
boys always quip “not all
men,” but we counter with: “enough
men to matter,” enough
piston weight pressure on slouching
shoulders for enough of us to
play the game anyway, count the
cards in our hand and bluff
all the way—jester, joker
smile though your heart is
breaking and you’re
tempted to take your
one last breath.
There’s a beginning, and there’s an
end; there are mornings you need a little
help seeing what waits around the
hope is an ocean inspired suitor, ebbing and
flowing, sometimes here, and when you need him:
disappearing. It is difficult
going through rain cloud seasons with feet
believing in prayers you
whisper when things were
going better. Understand: this
is what faith looks like—take a deep breath in,
and hold it steady. Everyone with me, exhale
slowly. Notice this
reflex arc handy: your lungs
take deep breaths again,
even when you anorexia starve it of
air, chest coup-de-tat fights you, doesn’t want this life to
end. And, maybe now is a semi-colon, a
pause in the story, see,
we all need a little
breather. We all get
hope will arrive
feet soaked through thick cotton
socks after all the pain and the
downpour rain, but meanwhile remember this
reflex: take a deep breath in and hold it
steady. Everyone with me, exhale
slowly. See, then
our lungs welcome the
sky again, we
breathe again, our sighs
out are reminders: this is not the end.
at ten years old, we
climbed skinny trees, and
scraped knobby knees, saw the city
bird’s eye, and listened to the rustling of
leaves, ten years later:
in place of trees,
we lego brick stack concrete
pancake layers: higher and
higher until we need elevators, and
then, maybe they fit the criteria for
skyscrapers. maybe, this time, we’ll find
what we’re looking for:
peer through the glass shoe
window on the top
floor, and won’t feel the need to axe
hack this cityscape down, won’t feel the
need to bring the sky closer to the
ground, to fill our hands with news
paper that says we’ve reached the clouds.
sixteen years ago, there were red winged
butterflies morning greeting
kisses before moving
onto someone else’s plant box—the
all organic liberal player, heart
breaker—we learn from their pollinating patterns
we are all thieves, mercilessly
taking nature’s nectar—let’s army knife carve out a space for
summer pavilions and
canopies, uproot these wide mango
trees and use them for
fire, their bodies are good for
keeping us warm, and this
Nara: sturdy for shelter, and it is human
nature, instinct to reach
peeking through the clouds, and we
soak it all up through bare
burn instead of tan. there are no
butterflies now, because there are no
an urban concrete lego-land on life support, the Pasig
river a clogged up IV line and we try to
scrape at the sides but don’t you
remember, we sent away the
guys who could do it
better on their last
payroll, now the land
rolls down the bank of the
river, where we put dams in place of
trees—as if we knew any better. and maybe I’m a
girl who wants to teach her future
daughter how to climb a tree. If I’m
lucky, she’ll learn to do ir better than me.
identified by drink more than by
name, and espresso caffeine isn’t the
only kind of morning
rush, it is saying my name like
brush strokes and getting
lost after swimming the wrong
stream, down, and no one ever expects to end
up in today’s version of
here, but here
you are: with a friend’s
dr pepper robitussin americano, and another’s
iced cappuccino, and still trying to coin
flip between two kinds of
beans, as if Jack really believed in all this
maybe it’s time we round our
backs, cat stretch
slouch, cave in-
I was sniper
centered on north pole
things. today is equator
different, all kinds of fireplace
warm and no blister
burns. and maybe
Jack was magic bean
right instead of asylum not right in other
places, and maybe it’s Apollo really
bright here, not just an Iris hallucination
lie. and, dr stranger mouths, “how
will you know if you never try”
-out, train for decathlon-like
death, it’s not caving
in if you’re expected to Pokemon
trainer put up a bloody good fight.
For some reason, medical school is when I develop frequent sore throats. I'll call it what it is: my health is very poor, and I haven't been taking care of myself for the sake of my academics. Here are the consequences.
A professor once said that at one point in your medical education, you tend to think you have one of the diseases being described in the textbook. We just saw a kid with a bad cold the other day, so I'm now wondering if I've got what he's got.
I probably don't, but it makes for fun poetry.
grape cluster tonsils in the
admit it: we only mouth the
words to sound like we understand what it
means, and that starfish doesn’t look
like anything. it is all
tentacles and no stars. and
marks are just squiggles
someone else drew. nothing
more than temporary
tattoos. you and I—we are
real. these words are just brush
strokes, but we think it over
again, and laugh at everything.
this particular hobby of mine isn't meant to age well, but it's heaps of fun while I'm young and reckless.
these days turn
to rheumatic hinged
hips, and fibrous hanging knee
caps, and hindsight spikes we don’t
hearts with it.
win us all over.
Happy 4th of July from here in the US of A!
My summer is nearly over, so my muse is once again restless. Thus, more poetry. Hurrah! Anyway, a word on the land of the free: America, to me, has always represented equity, and opportunity, and hard work, and freedom, and (extended) family. Despite the current political climate, I still believe that there can be hope and there can be peace–the thing people migrated to America for years and years ago. Spending the 4th of July here is interesting. It's made me believe in all the "naive" hopes and dreams I once had when I was seven.
Maybe that's a good thing?
4th of July: we are crazy
dancing, feet instinct
moving to live band
In the horizon the sky is
neuron synapsing: hand grazing mine
electric, cliff diving
lips pressed against mine.
One day. The hope of it.
lips curled up to your eyes.
There are film reels of me
dancing to jazzy
And the horizon: gentle
pixie dust fall—wonderful,
awestruck, believing in fairies
again. And forgiveness
again. And grace
You have become the
eyes underneath her
bed, the darkness in her
closet, the anxiety shaking her
bones, the way you always promised you
I watch your
horns prop up your
halo, and you’re still
mirrors, believing in your own
In e.e. cummings no capitalized letters style
A brief Truffles update: she is no longer all that small, but she forgets how long she's grown. She still tries to fit into pots meant for sproutlings and baby bunnies. I have no idea whether this hurts her feet, but she's a trooper.
A brief update on my life: I've got a month and a half before turning it in for the summer! Here's to one last sprint to reach this year's finish line. Send prayers my way because I'd really like to be promoted to third year medicine.
Anywho: onto the poem!
we are a pair of thieves, merciless
-ly taking—her from the leaves plants air out to
dry, and me from the female counterpart of father
time. she never seems to side-eye judge my
greed—and I twisting tongue justify hers.
there is serenity in communication
barriers: no words just the pounding of paws and
feet, no fear just exhale
confessions into pointed
me more than my
race understand how to be
human. it is an odd species i family-belong to, and
black-sheep wish i could understand you instead of ghosts of
men drowning insults in sweet nectar kisses—i can hear the innuendos in their
snake-smiles, can taste desire in their gaze, can feel heart pounding punchlines miles
primal. politics is
civil, so, we go on, one-night-stand
pretend it's no big deal and virgin shame
conservatives, and tiptoe around
feelings, utter cover up
confessions meant to feign
embarrassment while shutterbug taking
memories of what we really keep
my truth is not silent, and, therefore
i am primal—hair tossed in the
wind, right side shaved
short for the brevity of our time
together, for the
sweltering summer months i spent
out in the open road to
if i could steal the hands of
time, wind it back to twenty
fourteen, i’d steal leaves aired out to
dry instead of glances in your direction.
i’d steal star-crossed
dreams and words from
civilization, shake out excess
instinct and keep going.
i’d find her earlier, and
learn how to use paws instead of
hands. it is our handshake language:
i call her name, assume she listens, and she
puts her head in my palm, assumes my constant presence.
There were sea lions and whales here last summer... I taught my younger cousins to call them blubber nuggets.
One : Honey drenched lips, speak
my name in morse code
memories I can’t remember
Two : Rough hands scrape
shoulders, and I doe
flinch—even stags run from
Three : Echo familiar names, syllables
I once ballerina turned to. Now, I am
roundhouse kick solid
stance ready for a fight.
Three : Fairy dust fiction, and I still
Peter Pan believe
Four : Character arc un-
predictable: weather forecasts
sun, but it storms
beneath pale arched
eyebrows and long pitch black lashes.
Five : Make sense of these
lines I bridal veil hide
behind, pull me apart. God
knows you want to.
Below is what a hippocampus ought not look like. You have been warned.
My hippocampus has classified you between
remember and forget,
has synapsed intermittently
You had spiked up hair then,
now, it lays flat under pressure:
stuffed information we try to trap in
to porous jars flowing outward.
You plan a couple of years down the line, indirectly
ask me if we can walk this road together—still,
I classify you as intermittent,
between transient and permanent—still
daring you to say it, to
spell out the letters I read
in between the lines
me to find.
I’m working on a hypothesis:
eternity never ends, keeps
going within bounded
time you give me.
I think I’ve found it:
cosmic burst happiness
you break me.
I think I believe in
I've been on hiatus–nothing you couldn't have deduce from my archive history–for a couple of months in pursuit of my education. The short of it: I am learning to suffer. The long of it I shall attempt to type out soon.
On another completely unrelated note: hence forth, consider my title capitalisation literary blasphemy or a reference to E. E. Cummings decapitalisation of i's. Truth be told, the sharp edges of title capitalisation bothers me. I have no idea why. Perhaps I am compensating for... something... Clinical psychiatry may answer that question... Or I'm simply rambling and all this is a distraction.
Well, go on, poem down below.
The clicking of typewriter keys
have faded, and the ledger scribbling
ceased, and the sound of laughter
muted by heavy textbooks and headphones
tuning the rest of the world out lest I
decide this isn’t worth pursuing anymore.
This is my life now: stethoscope
amplifying your heartbeat while
tuning out what makes your heart beat
I am trying,
convincing myself, spitting
theories of delayed gratification, consoling
my weary heart
wants out, wants
anything but this, but
the heart is treacherous if it is consulted
for anything but its beating.
This is my life now: white coat wrap
dreams from reality’s biting cold, orphan
leave them on empty doorsteps, and ring the bell.
Someday, I will be back for you
when you have grown
aware of your worth, reject the birthright of my
arms when I finally have enough strength to hold you.
You have the right to.
I've been performing this piece a lot lately. (To be exact: twice) Or at least, as much as my medical school schedule will allow.
Today, I had the most wonderful opportunity to perform this poem in the opening of Pinto Art Gallery's new wing for the Academy of Arts and Sciences. (I hope I got that right, I'm a bit dazed at the moment but I do believe I got that right.)
This poem is about growing with people and out of people.
Video shall follow soon, so do stay in tune for that.
Much love, etc.
Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, so
we deconstruct to reconstruct,
abide by the laws of conservation.
anatomy ones in my case—try
to piece together the parts
that make us human.
haven’t quite figured it out yet, but
we are all too willing to try
with every person who comes our way.
See, I did the math—or
I let Google do the math.
We have a candlestick life expectancy
of about 78 years.
With each sun’s cycle, we
are likely to interact with 3
new people in our sky rise cities.
80,000 in each lifetime—80,000 potential subjects
in our effort to decipher ourselves. They arrive
with hedge clippers to trim us down to size, or sometimes
we trim them.
There are people
who aim to leave black hole traces—tattoos
that serve as living proof of their existence.
trace the laughter lines around your eyes, translate
your wrinkles into poetry.
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet people like him.
If you’re lucky, he
will leave his fingerprints on your skin without
will fill your life with
until he is everywhere your wandering gaze leads back to.
will make you feel ten feet taller, like the
world is too small for your hobbit feet—and if you are lucky, he
will give you the world—no, better—he
will cheer you on as you take it
by storm, be your shield when you
are wielding your sword.
He will deconstruct himself
before you, reconstruct himself
until you forget the days without him
and you’ll love it.
are treading on lego pieces, positioned to hurt yourself
when your path diverges and he
are constantly reinventing ourselves, we
were never meant to stay static.
We were made
with feet, meant to move with.
We were made
with dreams meant to grow
wings with, meant to fly with.
We have grown together, we have grown
out of each other,
See, you are my infinity—constructed to resurrect
from the ashes of memories I’d burned, programmed
as a constant form of energy, shapeshifting…
Brighter stars are said to eclipse their brothers—some suns
are never discovered because they’re not bright
enough to see, and I’m giving up believing
that people like you are still looking for people like me.
And I’ve given up
parts of myself to fit into your galaxy.
You have the tendency
to deconstruct parts of history, stitch together
the patches you like. Conserve
photoshopped perfection but sweep
the process of progression under the rug.
As for me,
I’ve been trying to conserve
photograph memories—these moments
in time—the fabric
of your red shirt as you clung to me
for positive energy, the sound
of your voice when you wouldn’t talk
to anyone but me--
I write them down in ink
on raw skin before I forget—before I reconstruct
images in marble, lose
the frailty of flesh in translation,
before my candlewick life blows over too.
Mine is a finite set from point A to B, and
it won’t matter if it contained
an impossible amount of little infinities—my set
is bounded, and one day, the curtains
will close, my cup run dry,
will be lost in translation:
Everyone’s memory of me
will be a scratchy darkroom photo, plucked out
seconds too soon, fading white
from the bright light drawn back windows let in.
Even then, I will be deconstructed—reconstructed to fit
into someone’s perception of the dead.
And even then, out of my 80,000 encounters,
It will be my greatest pleasure
to be inaccurately conserved by you.
The gist of it: I've been trying to keep focused on the work at hand, but since I am here blogging versus actually popping open my textbooks, I am failing miserably at being a medical student.
So, without further pitiful ado, here's a short poem that reflects my perpetually distracted state.
I need to stop
I sincerely hope wherever you wander, you are doing a much better job at living than I am.
He avoids eye contact
as he explains the curse
of oak tree cracks
carved onto his cheeks
obscuring him from Prince Charming
into the ugly beast.
of unsightly-turned-beautiful futures,
discounting the allure
of sweet sap candies
behind bark façades;
forgets to trace
from the places he’s been
trace them for him:
until he believes himself a masterpiece
instead of an unworthy beast.