Category Archives: 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin

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

Rice Terraces 1996 aBanaue, Bontoc, Sagada
Agosto 1993

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.

-o-

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.

-o-

Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada
August 1993

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.

-o-


The Scar Examined at Midnight – 10 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin

scar

The Scar Examined at Midnight

tell me about that.  that scar.

it is a burn.  something has grown
over it that mimics skin.
feel.

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
above doorknobs

so as not to forget
something they must take
before leaving.

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.

  August 1998
-o-

This is poem appears in Alien to Any Skin  and is 10 of 14 Love Poems.

translation attempt
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.
salatin.

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
bago lumisan.

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.

-o-


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

fire and sunKakambal-Kaluluwa

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
gayong sariwang-sariwa
ang lahat sa aking mga mata.

Gaano man katagal akong pumikit
at bumaling-baling
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
sa paglalakbay
sa pagkamangha
sa kaliwanagan.

-o-

I Don’t Ever Wish to Get Used to This
version 2

I return from the cold
bathroom, lay
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.

-o-

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.

Water Renders
for Margaret Christine Ziffo

Our footsteps muffled by moistness
of earth. Soft as prayers
our voices.

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
ethereal.

May 2000
-o-

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,
tila alapaap.

-o-


Night Gown – 7 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin

cloudsNight Gown

sinasalat ko ang kabughawan
ng mga bulaklak
sa iyong damit pantulog

pagpikit nakikita ko ang ulap
na kinalalapagan
ng kanilang mga talulot

magaspang ang aking mga palad
pinakikislot ang kapinuan ng tela
pinangangarap akong
suot mo ang damit na ito

lumulutang ka sa kabughawan
hinuhugot ang aking hininga
sa pagkamangha

-o-

Night Gown

caressing the blueness
of flowers
on your night gown

with eyes shut i see
their petals
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
in awe

July 2000 – August 2010
-o-

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.


Mountain Province – 6 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin

Mountain Province road 1996

Mountain Province

Makinig.  Nangungusap
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

magiging hungkag.
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

na gapos-lupa.

-o-

Mountain Province

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

become futile.
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-

bound bodies.

August 1993
-o-

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.