Graphic designer John Marin Flores did the cover for my previous collection of poetry in English, Alien to Any Skin (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011). I hope readers will appreciate this one as well.
Monthly Archives: February 2013
When the Real World Takes You by the Hand
You drop everything and run. The real world will always be better than what we dare to share on this virtual level. Or so we hope. It is understandable how talking to nobody can feel like talking to everybody. You release something, maybe a new creature, maybe an old one. Maybe no more than sputters of zeroes and one that will never be seen again by anyone but yourself.
I’m trying to apologize here for not completing my 14 Love Poems posts at the right time. The real world took me by the hand. My new books, currently in production, demanded my attention as well a lot of other matters. I’m most excited about the new books – Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran and Sound Before Water. My publisher, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, intends to release them in April this year. Covers were designed by graphic artist John Marin Flores and the inside pages by Sam Immanuel Macaisa.
Some time soon I mean to complete 14 Love Poems. I still intend to make this small collection available to interested readers as a PDF. I wonder what’s the best way to set it up. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks for following this blog.
Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada – 11 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada
Hindi natin alam noon
na matatag pa sa inuupuang bubong
ng kalawanging dyip na rumaragasa
sa maputik na gilid ng Lalawigang
Kabundukan ang ating mga kataga.
Pinanginginig ng lamig at pangamba
ng paglalakbay sa bingit ng kamatayan
ang ating mga tinig, ngunit
nagpalitan pa rin tayo ng mga kuwento.
Para bang nasa matatag na lupa
ang mga paa, hindi ipinagwawasiwas
pagliku-liko ng dyip sa di-makitang
balikat ng bundok-bangin.
Banaue, Bontoc, at sa wakas Sagada.
Kapwa tayo dayuhan at manghang-mangha
sa mumunting himalang namalas,
mga himala ng kawalang-kapangyarihan
ng panahon sa daigdig na ito.
Dito nagsimula ang pagniig
nating dalawa ng mga kataga
at katahimikan. Dito nagsimula
ang daigdig na atin pa lamang hahabiin.
Hindi pa natin alam noon.
This poem which appears in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan, is 11 of 14 Love Poems. The following is a rough translation which I hope to improve at a later date.
Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada
We had not known then
that our words were sturdier
than the rusty roof we were on,
the roof of a jeepney
hurtling through muddy dirt roads
on the edge of the Mountain Province.
Cold and the fear of
veering over cliffs
made our voices tremble,
but we kept trading stories.
As if our feet were on firm ground,
not being hurled from side to side
at every bend on the unseen shoulder
of the mountain.
Banaue, Bontoc, and at last Sagada.
We were both alien and awed:
time has been rendered powerless
here. This is where we started to merge
our words and silences.
This is where we began the world
which we were bound to weave.
We had not yet known then.
The Scar Examined at Midnight – 10 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
The Scar Examined at Midnight
tell me about that. that scar.
it is a burn. something has grown
over it that mimics skin.
my memory goes blurry
when you smoke.
i know you need to, but please don’t.
or i won’t tell you the story.
it is not a burn.
more like a reminder.
like some people stick notes
so as not to forget
something they must take
i threw my arms around this woman
who wanted to leap into the fire.
but it was too late.
we held each other too late.
tell me about that.
yes, tell me about that.
This is poem appears in Alien to Any Skin and is 10 of 14 Love Poems.
Ang Pilat na Inuusisa sa Hatinggabi
ikuwento mo sa akin ang tungkol diyan. iyang pilat.
pagkalapnos ito. tinubuan ng kung anong
halos katulad ng balat.
nanlalabo ang aking gunita
kapag naninigarilyo ka.
alam kong kailangan mo, pero puwede bang huwag.
o hindi ko ikukuwento sa iyo.
hindi ito pagkalapnos.
higit na pampaalala.
tulad ng pagpapaskil ng ibang tao
ng mumunting piraso ng papel na may tala
sa itaas ng tatangnan ng pinto
nang hindi malimutan
ang kailangang dalhin
niyakap ko ang babaeng ito
na nais lumundag sa apoy.
ngunit huli na.
nagyakapan kami, huli na.
ikuwento mo sa akin ang tungkol diyan.
oo, ikuwento mo.
Kakambal-Kaluluwa / I Don’t Ever Wish to Get Used to This – 9 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
Pagbalik mula sa lamig
ng banyo, marahang-marahan
kong inilatag muli
sa iyong tabi
ang aking katawang
damang-dama pa ang lagablab.
Sinubukan kong magpatangay
sa daloy ng iyong himbing.
Ngunit sinakop na ng liwanag
ang buong silid.
Tila lumang larawan
ang lahat sa aking mga mata.
Gaano man katagal akong pumikit
sa malakuwebang dilim
ng makakapal na kumot,
alam ng katawan na ito
ang pagbangong kaniig ng dati
at bagung-bago pa ring umaga
ngayong kapiling ka na
I Don’t Ever Wish to Get Used to This
I return from the cold
my body next to yours
again, still seething
from the flames.
I try to be swept away
by the waves of your slumber.
But light has begun
to flood the room.
Even as I know everything
is new to me, I stare and see
a yellowed photograph.
I turn over, shut my eyes
for stretches of time
under the darkness
of thick blankets,
yet this body knows
the moment of rising
that goes with dawns
past and newly breaking.
This poem, 9 of 14 Love Poems. It appears in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. The English version is not so much a translation as a reworking because the more accurate translation I attempted came out sounding trite. I wonder if that shows one difference between the two languages, or if it just means I wrote a crappy poem in the first place. haha.
Water Renders – 8 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
This is poem 8 of 14 Love Poems. The original English is in Alien to Any Skin and I wrote the translation recently. I recorded and made the video some time ago.
for Margaret Christine Ziffo
Our footsteps muffled by moistness
of earth. Soft as prayers
I have never spoken like this.
Not even to myself. It is our presence
in this landscape.
Stillness of pine trees veiled
by sheerest mist.
Rice terraces hewn beyond time.
The sound of distant thunder,
so distant it seems
more like a memory shared.
Somewhere else, in centuries
we can no longer recall,
we must have lived this same moment.
Water renders the texture of this earth
to cling to our feet. Reminding us
forever of the caverns beneath Sagada.
Rivers, jagged edges, dark realms we left
unvisited. Perhaps for another time.
For now, we delve into spaces
made intimate by words
and silences. Our breaths
subok-salin ng “Water Renders”
Paghugis ng Tubig
para kay Margaret Christine Ziffo
Kulob ang ating mga hakbang
dahil sa basang lupa. Simpino ng panalangin
ang ating mga tinig.
Hindi kailanman ako nangusap nang ganito.
Maging sa aking sarili. Bunga ng ating
pananatili sa tanglawing ito.
Kawalang-tinag ng mga pinong may belo
ng pinakamanipis na hamog.
Baha-bahagdang palayang inukit sa panahon.
Dagundong ng malayong kulog,
napakalayo na animo
gunitang kapwa dinanas.
Sa ibang lugar, sa siglong
hindi na natin maalala, binuhay marahil
natin ang mismong sandaling ito.
Mga ilog, mga hangganang baku-bako,
madidilim na kahariang ipinagpaliban
natin ang pagdalaw. Sa ibang panahon
na lamang. Sa ngayon, sinasaliksik natin
ang mga puwang na pinagtalik ng mga salita
at katahimikan. Ang ating hininga,
Night Gown – 7 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
sinasalat ko ang kabughawan
ng mga bulaklak
sa iyong damit pantulog
pagpikit nakikita ko ang ulap
ng kanilang mga talulot
magaspang ang aking mga palad
pinakikislot ang kapinuan ng tela
suot mo ang damit na ito
lumulutang ka sa kabughawan
hinuhugot ang aking hininga
caressing the blueness
on your night gown
with eyes shut i see
lying on clouds
my hands, rough,
rouse static on such fine fabric
making me dream of you
wearing this now
you are floating in blueness
drawing my breath
July 2000 – August 2010
This poem, 7 of 14 Love Poems appears both in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin. They were written at around the same time, going back and forth between Filipino and English.
Petting a Troll
It was a few years ago that this article came out: Israel recruits ‘army of bloggers’ to combat anti-Zionist Web sites. Prison Planet, among tons of others, mentioned it too. I only read about it today. I’m not one to quickly believe what I read. I also found THIS VIDEO.
But it seems the trolls have spawned and one discovered my blog. Last week, thudding about, spitting odd and flammable words, this troll sent me a number of “comments” in the form of lectures in “how dare you” tones because of a poem I wrote for Palestinian Hunger Striker Samer Issawi. The twisted logic could have made the most intricate pretzels, but I have given up eating pretzels when I found out that my favourite ones were made in Israel.
Here is one “comment” I received:
|Rachamim Ben Ami
Submitted on 2013/01/29 at 20:39 | In reply to matangmanok.
Are you claiming that Israel has an institutional policy that aims to kill civilians? Let me simplify it for you. Israel kills civilians as a byproduct of legitimate military operations that seek to neutralise terrorists and their infrastructure. When Israel undertakes military operations, for example, Operation Pillar of Defence in Gaza recently, it makes hundreds of thousands of computer generated cellular phone calls warning Gazans of an impending attack and warning them to take cover. It drops tens of thousands of leaflets in targetted areas also warning civilians, it hijacks Gazan television, radio and internet to warn civilians and it Roof Knocks, drops a non-lethal shell on a targetted building. It makes a very loud sound and serves as a 10 minute warning to get out of the building. In Operation Pillar of Defence between 50 and 94 civilians died out of a population of 2.3 million who live in the most densely populated area on the planet- literally.
HAMAS on the other hand states quite clearly in its Charter that it aims to kill not only all Israelis but every Jew on the planet. Then, having expressed their intention repeatedly, they purposely attack civilians.
Do you see the difference?
I will spare you the racist remarks he threw my way. I just feel very sorry for him. He obviously loves his guns. He must sleep with at least a dozen so that when he gets woken up by the cooing of doves he can quickly silence them. I hope I don’t hurt his feelings. Such fragile creatures need a special kind of love.
Hatred and prejudice, among a lot of other things, are taught. It takes a lifetime to unlearn them. One has to start somewhere. I don’t take this comment lightly.
I always leave a door, or at least a window, open. One never knows what the next breeze may bring.
Trawling around the internet, I bumped into this image that made me laugh:
Mountain Province – 6 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
ang kabundukan sa atin
sa basang lupang
bumubulong sa gilid ng talampas.
Mga sinaunang kaluluwa
ang mga bundok na nakapaligid.
Napakarahan nilang hinahaplos
ang hangin at ulan
araw at buwan at bituin
sa mahamog na panalangin.
At ang mga dagundong
na inuukit ng ating pagdaan
Dahil kusang kumikilos
ang mga bundok na ito.
Ang kanilang wika
ay higit na matanda
kaysa atin. Kapag yumanig
sila, gagapang at magbubungkal
at mag-iipon muli tayo
ng lupa sa ating katawan
Listen. The mountains
speak to us
with moistened earth
whispering down a slope.
These trees encircling
are ancient spirits.
Very slowly they caress
wind and rain
sun and moon and star
in misty prayer.
And the rumblings
we carve for our passage
For these mountains
move by themselves.
Their language is
much older than ours.
When they shudder
we crawl and claw and regather
earth in our earth-
This poem, 6 of 14 Love Poems appears both in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin. They were written pretty much at the same time, so I don’t consider either of them a translation.
Ang Sabi Mo – poem 5 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin
Talim ng gabing kay lamig
tumatarak sa gunita.
Dumaranak ang lungkot
nang hindi sinasadya.
Aksidente lamang ang lahat
ng ito, ang sabi mo.
Parang tumbang preso.
Lata at tsinelas ang hawla
At armas. Kanya-kanya
ang bato at takbo.
ng ninanais, ninanasa.
Sa huli, kanya-kanyang pakikipagbuno
sa sari-sariling multo.
This poem appears in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. It is poem 5 of 14 Love Poems .
I attempted a translation of this poem but it came out flat, so I will not be posting it.