The Footage that Didn’t Make the Movie

And when they get
to this part of the story,
when the anthropologists
of all feelings ever felt
digging through the legacy of pages
get as deep as
this uncelebrated chapter,
may they judge it
not solely on the reasons why
or the absence of one that’s
socially acceptable,
not by the consequences of
a humanness not strong enough
to stand by a resolution,
or point their fingers at
the clicking of dominoes
tumbling forward to knock down
everything on their path,
unresisting and unconcerned
about right and wrong,
gravity the only master
they recognize;
because truly,
our actions here
will have no merit
under those standards.
They will have to narrate
this swatch of time simply as,
“This is what happened.”
and just try to be as faithful
to the facts as possible.
Only then can we have
a fighting chance to
have our beauty acknowledged.
Farther than acknowledged
but not as far as justified:
a few paces past forgiven.
If you frame us against
these ruins,
all we would be
is ugly.
But against a white wall
of neither premise nor prejudice,
we are the stuff of heroes.
Only then will we be able
to believe we did something here
that is worth the ink it takes
to be dug up,
when you and I are dust
and our love is echoes,
by those who will dare make sense
of what came between
the before and after,
and how we lived inside it,
for as short as it endured,
as if it were
a city of centuries.

Separate the Good from the Bad

I walk now
in the accommodating quiet
left behind by all that
I have willfully banished.
The chasm dividing
my reason from reality
has stopped throbbing.
Even the echoes have
mercifully ceased.
Nothing remains but
the thin strip of white
in the middle of the highway,
the sacred line,
the only indication
of direction
that made it this far,
when the sceneries on
both sides of the road
are identically featureless.
The only argument
against a U-turn is
the distance I’ve covered.
‘Nobody wants to
throw anything away’
is its own most
helpful enemy.

I haven’t forgotten
why we are not together
but I’ll always remember
the way you loved me.
I will retrieve it from
the vacuum where
I have locked it away and
wound myself anew with it
every time I need
to be reminded
that I’m beautiful.

Conversing with Echoes

Your words were amnesia
your promises of promises
swallowed the sky
your beautiful lies
and my enduring misery
like Siamese twins
painfully conjoined and
fatally inseparable
at Stonehenge
where I waited for you
to arrive
for thousands of years
you’re dead to me now

you’re too proud
to be resurrected
and too weak
to get past the stars
nothing but silence
provides for me
everything but closure
feeds me
I’m full of trash
and the excesses
of a misguided passion

this empty house
this empty soul

the nightmare of you
dissolves, ultimately
down the sink
where I flushed
all memory with acid
and purple anger
your unjust heart
staining my fingers

but for that
you’re almost
completely gone


I chose to die
because I couldn’t kill you
(your heart is still beating)
I massacred all the children
just to bury you
(you’re still breathing)
I struck my eyes blind
just to stop seeing you
(you’re still looking for me)
I pierced my ears deaf
just to stop hearing you
(you’re still echoing
somewhere inside of me)
I burned all my words
just to stop reading you
(you’re still talking)

Because once upon a lie
you were everything
and the price
of escaping that
is to be nothing
(but there’s no such thing)

The Words in Italics

Right here, right now
we can agree that
we never had it as good as
when we had each other,
then concede that
being apart is possible, and
we can still live our lives
as if nothing is missing,
and with that
firmly held inside
our tightly closed fits,
say goodbye for good.

So if we look at it that way,
all we have is this moment.
Everything else is a state of mind.

After the Exorcism

Because when I
told you I loved you
I don’t think you
knew what I meant
and when I said
someday you’d let me go
as a favor to me
because I’m
hurting myself too much
on account of you
and I had no courage
to do the freeing
myself you still
made a liar out of me

Do you remember how easy
the possessing was
in the beginning?

I Always Think It’s You

When I am grabbed by mimes’ white gloved hands from the navel of a complicated dream and hurtled back into my bed and the coal-black opacity of night in the blink of an eye, and an unnatural silence startles me and I lay listening for the phone to ring or the world to end, and it takes several deep breaths to dispel the suspicion that my pillows and blanket are in some conspiracy with the Russians in a plot to assassinate me,

I always think it’s you,
I always think it’s you, somewhere

When I make good every chance to spend my mornings in front of the closed cinemas because it feels like nobody unpleasant could find me there that early and if I ever ran into anyone who recognized me it would be a good, good friend I knew from way back, and I am always tempted to ask a passerby to snap a picture of me standing in front of the poster of The Celestine Prophecy,

I always think it’s you
I always think it’s you celebrating the serene beauty of my solitude with me
I always think it’s you solitude that, once upon a time,
I always think it’s you simplified me immensely
I always think it’s you and complicated you terribly

When I cut in a straight line across the cavernous lobby of Tower One and pass by its two-storey high Christmas tree and feel an opera-like melancholy like a pioneering UFO must feel after a bumpy landing on earth, and want to have a soft conversation with a Muslim just because all the talk about St. Nick and Bethlehem and thirteenth month pay gets too parrot-like and robs my birth month of its intrinsic beauty, when I zip right under Ayala Avenue and up into the maze of The Enterprise and be spat out into the sky walk hurrying as if the sexagesimal partitions of time were a matter of life and death,

I always think it’s you
I always think it’s you that I’m running towards
I always think it’s you or running from

When I think about those classy bracelets I hastily purchased without thinking from that boutique when I was already half an hour late for Darlene’s birthday dinner and I still didn’t have a present, and get haunted now, a week later, by how much I really want those bracelets for myself and couldn’t for the life of me find that boutique again, when I drop by Fully Booked after work to check whether the Billy Collins book of poetry I want to buy on pay day still hasn’t been bought and I come out of High Street slightly disoriented from the euphoria of being surrounded by so many books and not knowing the way to the bus stop,

I always think it’s you
I always think it’s you who rearranged the world

And when I allow myself the addictive torment of looking at your picture and for a handful of crazy moments feel like writing a poem that starts with, Do you think maybe we can start again… just because your soulful eyes and half-smile are still as disarming as they’ve ever been,

I always think it’s me
I always think it’s me you’re looking at

I always think it’s me you’re looking at when in all probability
I always think it’s me you’re looking at you’re probably far, far away
I always think it’s me you’re looking at from the way we used to be
I always think it’s me you’re looking at and don’t even think about me
I always think it’s me you’re looking at and don’t even think about me at all

Not Ready to Be Friends

What separates
the unobtainability
of closure
from the rest of love
is the same impediment
to coordinating with
one’s own heart,
like carrying around
something whose instructions
were written in symbols
you don’t understand.
Snow storm.
Fallen tree
blocking the road.
Nothing to do but to
turn around or wait
until something moves,
until someone gives.
But either way it’s
out of your hands.
You grip the wheel
but you
can only steer
your own craft,
your own sphere of what
you can substantiate
with what you know,
or think you do,
or fail to weed out of
what makes your waking
distinct from dreams,
especially if sleep
offers you
the only respite
from a broken heart.

And the words that
we did not speak
to call ourselves
lovers, when
in all technicality,
we were,
now stoically refuse us
the words that let us
let each other go.
How to obliterate
all signs of an
agreement that was
never made?
Where to start?
How to admit
face to face that
it was merely a habit
that spiraled into a
döppelganger of commitment?
How to appraise the cost
of forgetting a memory
that had never been
anything but tentative?
Whom to pay?

Festering blight
in my heart.
I close my eyes,
I close my eyes
waiting for the hurt
to pass.
I beg of you the courtesy
of not forcing friendship
upon me,
at this time.

Take Responsibility

A good compromise
always leaves
everybody unhappy.

And you can explain it
until you’re blue in the face
what you call “your” side,
what was going on
within your inner hell
during those weeks when
all I could see
on the surface
was a glacial apathy
towards me
no matter how hard
I knocked,
you can tell me
you had no choice
but to treat me that way
at that time,
but nothing
can undo
a death,
so save your breath.

They all warned me
about you;
my faith in human goodness
stood in the way
of my believing.
The same people
are more than ready
to blame you, but
I think there comes a time
in one’s life when
she must take responsibility
for the wrong turns
her life takes,
and I will do it now
not because I
want to shield you
but because it’s
the fastest way to
wrap my mind
around the fact
that you’re no good:
you hurt me,
and that bad,
because I let you.

I won’t, again.

What It Translates To

I dream about greatness.
I aim for it everyday.
But recently I learned
that if you want it,
there are places to look for it,
and places to avoid.

This place is overrun
with mediocrity.
And maybe I am mediocre too.
But I have a burning desire
to rise above it,
an intense passion
to keep moving. There’s
a difference.

But in this place
I found you and
I wanted your beauty.
I wanted what
you could do
with your hands
to be
not mine,
but for me.
That’s what
that I love you
translates to.
And for the price of
a weak-kneed frolic
with what was never
worth it to
begin with,
I forgot my ambition.
I lost my bearings.
I got caught up in the
rebellious rumination that
I could stay in one
directionless place
and dance in circles
around you.
And when you
dispossessed me
I had no legs with
which to rise
and walk away from
the place where
I choked
on the normalcy
I thought I needed
so badly
and started believing
I could never be as good as you
I could never be as good as her
when we are all
small fish
in this small pond

but fate
picked me up
with her nimble fingers
and gave me back
to the somber heights
I was destined for

and I found it.
Self-denial is punishment.

I am going to
push myself harder.
And I will get better.
And better.
And even better.
Until finally,
I can leave you behind.