I wrote a NOTE on my Facebook account and thought it might be good to post it here, slightly tweaked, since it’s news I would like to share with as many friends and readers as possible. So here it is.
“Parable of the Stupid Man” unexplained
I always find it difficult to explain my own work. It comes from a reluctance to set limits on how a reader might interpret a poem. Who was it that said “The poet is dead. All you have is this piece of writing. Read it.”
All I can say about the poem is that it was written out of a sadness that weighed like stones in a bucket that had to be transported by foot. The way is dark but it has to be taken. It would not make sense to stop and weep in the dark with a bucket of stones, all alone. Hmmm. What am I saying. Something and nothing. Again I fail to explain.
I can tell you when and where the poem was written. This is my entry at the top of the page where I typed it up.
So around midnight nearly a year ago, for 18 minutes, I wrote this poem in my mess of an office which I call pb2. It is eight minutes to midnight as I write this while listening to Beth Orton’s Trailer Park album. The only company at this hour.
The first well I ever knew is not what’s in the poem. I didn’t even see the hole of this well from childhood. It was under concrete. In order to get water you had to use a heavy metal lever, pushing it up and down with all your might until the first drop came out. The handle was thicker than my arms. I couldn’t even get a drop up from underground to hit the grey concrete base.
The only well I remember drawing water from lies in a village in Batangas. I was 18, if I remember right. I had volunteered to go on a mini-immersion. That meant living with strangers who didn’t have the money to feed another mouth. I was the stranger actually, intruding in their lives like a bad dream. I lived with a family at the bottom of a hill, slept side by side among them in this one room – 8 children of different ages and the parents. Privacy was not an option. The well was for the whole area to share. I went there a number of times to get drinking water. The day I arrived at their house I was offered a glass of water from the same well. Tiny pets greeted my parched lips. Wriggling pets.
One of the days I drew water from that well was for my first ever shower. There’s a poem I wrote about that experience – “An Alien Washes / or City Boy from Elitist University Goes on Mini Social Immersion” – you can find that poem in my book ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Manila 2011).
I have said so much now without really saying more about the poem. Or have I? “Parable of the Stupid Man” is the last poem in the forthcoming collection SOUND BEFORE WATER also published by USTPH, to be released some time this year alongside KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN (twin books again!). The poem first appeared in Toe Good Poetry, an online poetry journal.
And so I get to the real reason I am writing this. I am hoping my friends and readers will spread the word about the poem being selected as a finalist at the Goodreads Poetry contest. There’s no monetary prize, just an inclusion in the monthly newsletter which reaches a good few million readers, or so the Goodreads.com people say. You have to join Goodreads.com, then join the Poetry! Group there in order to vote. Another poem of mine won some time ago, “People Like You,” which was also in ALIEN TO ANY SKIN.
Here are the links to the poem and the contest page:
Please spread the word whether you vote for my poem or not. Read some new writing by people you don’t know. Leave a note at the contest page if you feel like it.
Maraming salamat. Thanks for finding time to read this.