In the library,
the woman walks,
cane in hand,
bundled in a red coat,
green scarf over her shoulders,
her husband beside her,
in his slate coat and cap,
a checkered scarf
tied at his neck.
She pushes her white hair off
her forehead and peers up
at the paintings on the wall,
splotched and messy and bright,
the work of elementary students.
Paused at the paintings
they think of times when
they were that young too,
under the open sky--
her leaving clothes on the line
him chasing his dog back home.
They didn’t know each other then,
or maybe they did.
The details slip away
like summer into fall.
It doesn’t matter now,
but there was a time when she
held his hand on their walks
instead of a cane.
Oh, the watercolors
ones Dan and Janie made,
he’d said he’d call,
or did Janie?
They can’t remember and think
of disintegrating paper
and blue drips on the table.
Instead, they finish their stroll
and both agree--
Lovely, wasn’t it?
Sebastian quivered as he made his report.
Science - We did quiz. I 102 percent
History - We did read chapter. I finish first and wrote answers to questions. All correct.
English - We did grammar lesson. Adjectives. Describe words. No grading.
Sebastian hesitated, just slightly, and his father exploded.
Mathematics! Report Mathematics! Show Me!
Tears streaming. Hands trembling.
Sebastian removed the math papers from his tiny Hello Kitty backpack.
97 percent. Not perfect. Not the best in class.
The rest is unrepeatable.
Humiliation is much worse in Mandarin.
broken (record) home.
needle screech - scratch -
i stand between said needle
and a punctured lung:
don't tell them i'm bleeding again;
burning myself at the stake
with the inferno of my hate.
the product of their original sin:
i smile at the flames
when they lick at my face.
There's a lot more to the world
Than what meets the eye
Physical intimacy laced with
There's no time in the universe
In which peace can be acquired
The day the earth stands still
Is the day we know what comes next
In a memory flashing by your mind
Just sputtering through the motions
But suddenly you're caught in derealization
And you can hear her voice again
Clear as wedding bells
A young girl reading sermons
To a man passed out drunk, and the woman who made him that way
I was just 4 when I first tasted beer
And I vomited all over myself
I was just 8 when I first tasted liquor
And I don't remember much else
Chicken wings with candles
And the songs my mother used to sing to me
The way she'd crawl in bed with me
In times of drunken solitude
Ungrateful cunt of a daughter
Who should've been aborted,
Well I tried, mama, I tried
Now that you're gone and you are nothing more than ashen memories
I look at you in your black box prison
With your name pasted to the front
And I tell you all the ways I have already died
I tell you all the ways I don't feel alive.
The way you screamed for help at the top of the stairs
And he's shoving he's pushing and you can't run
And I'm still here
And I'm still here fighting him away
He says he can't sleep in beds without you anymore
And coming home from 2nd grade
Police badges light up the front porch
And they're shoving you they're pushing and you can't run
And you're in handcuffs
And his arm is bleeding
the young man told me I was not alone
And falling apart on your floor
At a ripe 5 years old
And I'm crying I'm sobbing and you don't care
And I scream
And you don't love me anymore
The piano goes quiet
And after grandpa died
she took all his medicine
Muscle relaxers and pain killers and the daily booze
And she screamed at the walls she called god
For taking her children away
It was her all along
I do not hold grudges
But it took you dying for me to hold that promise
It took you dying for forgiveness
The family shuns me like how they did you
Black sheep we are
Your ashes lay on the table beside my bed
With fake vanilla candles that light up all kinds of colors
And I tell you all the ways I have already died
I tell you all the ways that I do not feel alive.
Mom doesn’t like poetry
since it’s not clear like how things should be.
Until you write her one,
and beaming she’ll put it on the fridge with a magnet.
Mom likes things sorted and clean, papers off
the table or in the bin, dishes in the sink or the cupboard.
What is this? Why is this here?
If it’s clutter, it’s just stuff. Don’t save it.
In her room she has 37 years of photos
and sometimes tears up when she thinks of her parents
but she would never admit it.
So, she laughs and means it
when her grandchildren dump the box of toys across the living room
and the dogs slide down the hall past the family photos
and bang open doors after a bouncing ball.
Most of the lines on her face come from laughing, crows’ feet dotting her crinkling eyes.
Her birdcall laugh hangs high above any room
like a day-warbler or a hooting night-owl over the treetops.
So much of her is rocks and earth and order,
but every bit of her speaks of beating wings and blue skies.
Mom’s favorite color is blue, deep like the ocean, bright like the sky.
Don’t tell her blue’s a sad color;
she dressed her baby boy in the ocean and then his sister
when she could fit his hand-me-downs,
and then laughed when the disapproving daycare lady sent her daughter home in pink.
She lives with her husband of 36 years in a light blue house
and relished painting skies on her kitchen and living room walls
after 10 years of white and little time
and laughed again when her children protested at the blue walls, rugs, and curtains.
Time may pass,
and the blue curtains, rugs, and walls may have disappeared
and her children may have had children,
but blue is still her favorite color and her children are still her children,
and she still doesn’t like poetry.
The worst thing my parents ever taught me
Was to worry what other people thought of me
The worst thing to tell a daughter with anxiety
At the time I didn't know that it was wrong of me
To accept the burden of responsibility
For strangers who only saw a part of me
I shouldn't have put them before the thought of me
I didn't know it would be the lobotomy
That kept me hiding in my room for 10 long years
I didn't know it would murder my autonomy
That you can't fake it 'til you make it if your introspection is an autopsy
That you can't kill a part of your soul
With whiskey or with cocaine
With bleach or box cutters
With street drugs, with a blind eye
Jesus loves all of the little children
And the church loves all its little saints
But when we express our love not with words but with paints
When the checkmark just doesn't fit the box
And our expectations weigh like chains on the children we so claim to love
They are slaves
To the 9 to 5 domestic gods that clash like thunder every night
Too absorbed in their own fight
To see the fear inside your eyes
Slowly wearing down the fire in your soul
With the grit of their need for control
Teaching you how to be the best version of them
The one they didn't have the guts to master on their own
Abandoning the flower children with the starry eyes
They once claimed spoke their deepest truths
Trading in the wild spirit in their currency exchange
For your future
So they can be so comfortable on their thrones
While they forward the blame to a new address
The hordes of walking dead they left behind
Carrying the consequences
Rejecting all the that we were handed
Gaslight me on fire again
So I can shoulder all the hate that tried to smother my spark
Like your right to be comfortable trumps my right to be here
I didn't ask for this
So when you call me by my new name
Remember all the times you tried to tame me
All the times you defamed me
While telling me stories of a God of endless love
You can't take the perfect mess that you've created
And make a masterpiece, because I am one
We are made of star stuff
And I'll be damned if I deny the perfect love I was promised
just because for once you didn't get what you wanted
i can see them standing together,
holding each other's hand in the summer
and i want to tell them to leave, that
this is wrong.
i want to tell her of his fury,
of the force he will inflict on her children.
i want to tell him that she's isn't right,
that they will have fights and things,
that they will forever regret, will happen.
i want to tell them that if this happens,
they will put the kids into unhappiness
and their fights will affect the whole house.
i want to tell them that if this didn't happen,
they could meet people better for themselves
but i don't. i am selfish and i let them go,
i let them meet and hold hands and fall
madly in love. i let them fall out of love,
and i let the bad things happen
because i want to live, and i know
that love is just another person
I wonder that Moses could counsel You
Could argue with You and You would listen
I know no other God that would allow
For argument and pleading
For His subjects to speak and be heard
Do You know my prayers, O Lord?
Even to me they’re muddled and confused
Do You know what Your daughter needs?
Lord I am afraid to be Your servant
Because the masters You gave by birth-rite
Like to pull out the costumes and play
But to answer my confusion, they explain everything,
Their words and actions by saying, “WE ARE GOD.”
You said, “I AM WHO I AM.”
They are not who they are.
Send some rain? Would You send some rain?
‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again –
And Your daughter cries out for Your direction,
Discretion, and mercy. There is no light
To lead me out of the dark
I have lost my way and am afraid
To search lest the way home …
Lead to them.
My sanity is not what it used to be, Lord.
Gentle kindness shushes me into quiet
But cannot soothe away the cracks in my brain.
She fears for her sanity but I wonder at mine
Contemplate how much sick I won’t be able to drain
From my cranium even when my body is aged
And legality bids me crawl out of this house to bitter freedom.
I am so tired, Lord.
I forget it sometimes when I don’t slow down
And then it soaks back in and I stare and stare
And contemplate how much I don’t have
And how little I have left for them to take.
I don’t know what will make me break:
No music? No school? No friends? No escape to Your safe places?
But I remind myself here and now that I have always been melodramatic –
Haven’t I, Lord? I tell myself that to puzzle it out and stall
The choking panic and confused tears that drill into me
And scratch their way bleeding up through my throat – I am TRAPPED –
But I’ve always been so silly
And they would add ungrateful and a liar
No one has the answers I cannot find the answers
Honor and obey, You said, but what if they’re wrong?
Am I right? Am I right?!
I cannot speak cannot stand – I will melt into compliance and silence
And remind myself that I am wrong, a bad daughter
That I am above myself and that’s it’s just all in my head –
But the cycle will continue.
Lord, I’m so tired –
Of hopelessness and not planning for a future because
I don’t think I have one
I’m tired –
Of self-inducing apathy as a cure to panic like it were a drug
To slip into my veins till my heart’s pumped it through my dulling senses
Help me, please
I haven’t felt You in so long …
A phantom came to me
And told me that I must
Repent for all
The lying I've
"Throw away the temptation,"
He'd say, "solve
Where you stand in the
Tell the truth, for God's
By God as my holy witness,
I swore that I
The hurt in Mommy's eyes
Strengthened the guilt that
Ate away at my
Daddy was the smart one
In this tedious war
Erupting inside our
Family. He forged
Alliances first and
Make Mom the
He turned his children
Into soldiers so he
Victory; his children
Were bloody and broken
On the battlefield, but
We still had one
I was the rebel force
That exposed the
Truth to the
Enemy, only now I
Realize the real enemy
Was my father.
As the cover was
She was a whirlwind
Ready to destroy
Anything in her
Even after hearing
From the comforts
Of a corner and
As they sang happy birthday
To me with one
Pitiful candle in an
I knew that in this lifetime,
Wasn't so great.
a huge, open space, arrayed with pink and
yellow roses and zinnias...there were benches
under trees that stretched towards a lagoon,
for those gone weary, from their walks...
a family...children were playing
on the green, lush carpet grass,
dressed in their bright-colored clothes
of red and yellow, and blue jeans...
confidently hopping, and tumbling
wearing expensive rubber shoes...while
having bites of sandwiches, and sips of juices...
from a safe distance, seated on a bench, were
the overseers...the parents...as two nannies
kept close watch over the children.......
a group of noisy children come in from the streets
running barefooted, feeling the cool, moist grass...
some refused to remove their rubber slippers,
their clothes were old and tattered...too excited,
they jumped.....lay on the grass without a care,
they shrieked, as they climbed and fell from slides,
obviously enjoying their visit....their shouts, their
laughter seemed contagious, the well-endowed
children, stopped their games and observed...
how the parents summoned the nannies,
they gathered the children, and all their stuff
then marched towards a less peopled area,
and there, they let their children play....while
they sat on a nearby bench, pulled long sighs,
one after the other...i wondered...were they
exhausted? or, pricked by their conscience?
were they sighs of relief.......because their
children were now distanced......."safe,"
......from the less fortunate ones?
whatever happened to noblesse oblige?
are these just two foreign words,
with obsolete meanings?
Copyright March 9, 2017
Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan