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Jun 2020 · 159
Ksh Jun 2020
Lips parted in that one small moment,
Straddling a life of knowing and not knowing
And with flushed skin and sweaty palms and eyes that fail to focus,
A name falls --

Oh, to love and be loved in return;
A reality that I have never known.
Jun 2020 · 162
May 2020 · 734
Ksh May 2020
My first love was like my first whiff of a cigarette --
Strong. Overwhelming. Suffocating.
(It was a stick of Marlboro Red if anyone's asking)

Was it too much for someone
who's never smoked or loved in their entire life?
Perhaps. Yet, there I was -- willing to fall forward,
into the abyss of the novelty of it all.

And I did.
Fall -- with the click of the lighter.
Falling -- with each inhale.
Fallen -- with each exhale.

It's been days, weeks, months, years.
I've had lighter cigarettes, flavored love,
and I still get overwhelmed and choke
and tear up even at the first whiff.

But I guess, that's where the charm is.
Not with the ashes that fall to my feet,
but the delicate pressure of lips,
the heat it holds hands with.

The beauty lies in going through the motions.
May 2020 · 359
Ksh May 2020
The evening is quiet;
If by 'quiet' one disregards the breeze blowing by --
The clicking of the cicadas on one summer night.

I look up at the inky black sky and realize
That the moon is beautiful --
in a way unlike how conventional beauty is
expected to rob us of our breaths,
to give us tunnel visions,
make us chase the ecstasy of endless nights
in drunken stupor, in drugged haze.

It is not hot-blooded and obsessive and oppressive,
but quite the opposite;
Cold and detached, with a balanced air
of elegance and arrogance that which
only ethereal beings can achieve.

In the back of my mind, I've always known.
I've always felt the moon's presence, heard its call,
but have taken it all for granted.
Its muted warmth, its soft light
that drags my weary bones and tired soul
to the lonely bed, to cold thin sheets,
to the four grey walls I call a home.

Would any other lover be as kind?
Would any other pair of hands be as gentle?
Would any other voice be as soft?
I don't know, nor do I wish to know.
The moon is all I've ever wanted...

...but now I fear it's too late.
What once was I thought the apex of your moonrise
was already your descent;
What else can I do but watch?
Just like celestial bodies in the sky,
we share the same horizon
but are destined to never meet.

My love is the sun, which rises
only when your moon sets.
A short poem I wrote for my socmed au over on twitter, which is called "Ligaya". The character, Keiji, writes and recites this as an expression of love, but changes the last stanzas as he realizes that the one he loves is already happily in love with someone else.
May 2020 · 307
Ksh May 2020
Kay sarap sigurong matulog ng mahimbing,
Na para bang naiiwan ang mga problema
Sa simpleng pagpikit lamang ng mga mata;
Na paunti-unting naiibsan ang sakit at hapdi
sa bawat hinga, sa bawat saglit;
Na dahan-dahang nawawala ang mga
lamig-lamig ng katawan, mga kalamnan
na ang alam lang ay pagod at paninigas.

Kung ako ma'y tuluyan nang matulog,
Pakiusap -- wag mo na akong gisingin;
Pagka't ako'y masaya na sa kawalan --
ng kahirapan, ng pagdurusa sa mundo.
Mar 2020 · 591
Life // Death
Ksh Mar 2020
Empty streets, flickering lights
Not a soul in sight in the darkness of the night.
No fevered whispers, no drunken gait,
No flirty couples, no late-night deadlines.

The streets are devoid of life,
And yet you can't say it's dead.

People are living, breathing, sleeping,
under different roofs, in different rooms,
in varying states of ecstacy and misery and outright boredom.
In endless creativity and stuttering breaths,
witness the arousal and the ebb and flow of time
without so much as a second thought
to anyone outside the realm of safety and peace
within the four corners of their reality.

With each inhale, there is life.
Why can't we say that each exhale brings death?

For what is death if not simply as the absence of life?
When the glimmer in his eyes fades, when the smile you long for
doesn't appear, when you reach for his hand and find nothing but air--

It's empty.
It's meaningless.

I don't feel alive without you.
Yet I don't feel like I'm dead, either.

And so here I am, in a weird limbo that is just pain, pain, pain--
The pain of each inhale not bringing me what life is supposed to be
as described in picturesque scenes from tiny little windows.
The disappointment of every exhale that brings no end to this emptiness, this chasm of nothing in my chest that you once filled.

Empty streets, like veins that pump blood that refuse to sing.
Flickering lights, from my lighter that spouses one last, dying flame.
No fevered whispers, no drunken gait.
No love, no adrenaline.
Mar 2020 · 110
roast turkey, butter toast
Ksh Mar 2020
[drink me]

the label is clear enough,
red triple x's on proud display
there is no other choice but to drink to advance to the next room

and in doing so, my head above the clouds is suddenly
under the table
my feet are suddenly in shoes several sizes too large
and I am swamped by the clothes that I had chosen for myself

the drink tastes like roast turkey and butter toast.
warm and familiar, reminiscent of
family gatherings, happy times.
all things i look into from outside the window,
little match girl, little muse.

the giants in the next room address me,
but they don't look down; instead, look up
and whisper that I am too tall for the room
when in reality, I feel inferior, in all aspects

the taste of warmth lingers on my lips
but it turns sour with unfamiliarity
how I wish it really was the poison i had sought after.
Dec 2019 · 226
Ksh Dec 2019
There is a name calling out
in the silence of the mind.

There is a space
where clutter occupies.

There is a creation
at the end of destruction.

There is pain,
and love,
and pain again.

A wheel of self-abuse,
the likes of which gets us high
in each and every revolution.
Dec 2019 · 410
Ksh Dec 2019
There is a feeling of bubbles forming from my chest
that threatens to spill from my mouth,
but instead, flowers grow out of my throat
and reach upwards to the never-ending sky.

There is no way to know how I feel,
as I do not know myself what goes on
in my body, in my head --
I am but a passenger as my form works on autopilot
interacting, recharging, moving.

There is a dull pain, sometimes --
a hollow kind of loneliness that spreads like miasma,
bone-deep and cold to the touch.
On those days I'm anchored
to the bed, to the ground.
My mind knows there is nothing keeping me down,
yet my body refuses to believe it.

There is a screaming in my head
that I wasn't aware of
until I started smoking, until
the nicotine had suddenly
muted everything going on up there.

When you live in a void of white noise,
silence is what you seek.
But there is no fixed price,
no settled equivalent on what you stand to lose
for you to gain.
Dec 2019 · 242
Ksh Dec 2019
That which I breathe in and exhale
That which shows itself as fug on the window panes;
Is this proof of the warmth, or the cold?

It howls in the evenings,
angry and desperate as
it whistles through buildings,
the shush of trees, thejingle of roof tile shingles,
the eery groan between the cracks.
Is this a war cry or a lullaby?

The cold bite on skin,
the thrash on limbs,
the buffeting -- upward, downward, wherever,
intent on making man fall;
Is this the trial or the sentence?
Nov 2019 · 832
Ksh Nov 2019
I once bought a box of fresh strawberries
from the market
I've hated strawberries all my life,
but not because of how they tasted,
how they smelled,
or how they looked.
To be honest, I've never really eaten
a strawberry before;
but I just knew I'd hate it.
People think that it was just because
I was a picky eater;
that I wasn't up for trying new things.
I hated strawberries because
people thought all girls were supposed
to like them -- their taste, their scent.
All sweet and innocent and pure and nice.
I hated how they expected me to be
confined in a pink, dainty box,
expected me to like or smell like
fresh fruits and honey,
all sugary and giggly.
So I bought a box of fresh strawberries,
put one in my mouth,
and the rest in the bin.
I still hate strawberries,
but for more reasons now.
Nov 2019 · 275
Ksh Nov 2019
I need a win.
Just to feel like I'm not scrabbling.
Just to feel like I'm not being dragged by undercurrents,
knees and palms ****** as they scraped against the sand.

I need a win
Just to feel like when I open my mouth,
something comes out,
something that resembles my voice, and not
flies rattling around my ribcage.

I need a win,
Just to feel like my mind isn't imploding on itself,
full Big Brother, each whisper a shout,
each sigh a taunt,
each silence deafening.

I need a win,
Just to feel like my lips aren't sealed
with duct tape and industrial glue,
like I'm not being thrown into the river,
hands tied to my back,
pockets filled with rocks
and lungs full of blood,
because even in drowning
I can't get it right the first time.

I need a win,
because I've been on such a long-running losing streak
That I feel like I should get a **** Guinness world record
For 'most pathetic'.

I need a win,
because every time I stumble,
the pavement seems to be more forgiving.

I need a win,
because otherwise,
losing becomes normal.

Life is a constant battle,
And I sometimes think
that, at this point,
it may very well be my last.
Nov 2019 · 350
Ksh Nov 2019
I like to believe that I am a sunflower.
Blooming beautifully and shining with all the grace and poise of a dainty little winged fairy, flitting from petal to petal,
sun rays in my hair and tinkling laughter falling from my pointed shoes;
On these days, I am happy.
I am myself, and I feel on top of my game.

Of course, there are some days
when the sun doesn't look like it's shining;
it doesn't even feel warm.
Where, then, does the sunflower turn
on the days of clouds and rain?
Does it wilt, or close up,
spin around in circles maybe?

I like to believe that I am a sunflower.
In my imagination, sunflowers on rainy days
go on a little hike.
They pull up their roots from the earth,
and start walking in any direction they feel is right.
Sometimes they walk with friends.
Sometimes they feel better alone.
Sometimes, when the sun starts shining again,
they're not in the same field as they once were.
Sometimes they find a familiar, empty flowerbed,
and sometimes they grow in a newly tilled one.
Sometimes they're admired at by people passing by,
and sometimes they're tossed over like a sad, limp vegetable.

And that's okay.
That's okay.
People say that it's okay.
Even when it's not.
Maybe, if I think about it enough times -
it will come true.

That that's okay.
It's okay.
You're okay.
I'm okay.
Nov 2019 · 222
Ksh Nov 2019
I have not felt like myself in a very long time.

Instead of a human being, I feel like
a mass of molasses the color of tar,
swinging with old creaky bones
over the edge of a bed that never gets made;
where the sheets pull over the sides
and there's a dip in the middle,
like a hole that was pre-dug in the ground,
waiting for a body to fill the void.

Instead of a student, I feel like
an imposter, walking around in
shoes that are much too big,
typing in notes and little reminders
with fingers that are far too fat and fast;
every click of a button is
ten times too loud, twenty times too disturbing,
and the only thing
that's keeping my senses overloading
from my own **** noise
are my headphones, which die
far too quickly, as if it has also
given up on me.

Instead of a friend, I feel like
a nuisance -- a ratty old thing
that's clinging to whatever affection
is thrown to my general direction;
like a *****, old ragdoll that's just
collecting dust on the shelf,
but no one really wants to throw it out.
Not out of sentimental purposes;
more like they don't want to even touch it,
don't want to have anything to do with it.

Instead of an accomplishment, I feel like
a failure; because all I ever do is start a race
but give up halfway; all I ever say are
affirmatives, never following-through.
I feel like I always just
create more problems the longer I stay,
and even an act of love
rings hollow in my chest,
like the bells of an ancient, empty cathedral
in an abandoned rural town
that has preached of safety and refuge,
but bars the doors closed at the end of every service.

My mother once called me
as beautiful as the moon,
and as radiant as the stars.
But when I look up into the night,
all I can see myself in
is in the black expanse of the empty sky,
and all I want to do is disappear
into that vast nothingness.

Nowhere is better than anywhere I've been.
Nov 2019 · 1.1k
Shoe Rack
Ksh Nov 2019
In high school, I'd wear Converses.
Or Chuck Taylors, whatever you called 'em.
I'd remember going to a new school, proudly wearing
a pair of Converses with the same blue shade
as my new school's uniform skirts;
how I'd attend Phys Ed with the same trainers,
even though it wasn't a good idea to use them
for physical activity.
I remember riding in the back
of my father's motorcycle as we
did errands around the town,
and he'd indulge me by parking near
a road chock full of thrift stores --
and we'd go in, under a false pretense of
"just checking, just a quick look-around"
and my father would surprise me
by buying me a thrifted pair.
They were either pink, or magenta,
and I was at that age of rebellion --
"no girly colors", I'd shout --
but I'd always wear them out,
and it always made my dad smile.
I once came home with my friends
without telling my father,
and he was out in the front porch,
half-naked as all Asian dads are,
and he was clipping some brand new Converses
on the wash line to dry.
I had been so embarrassed, because this
was the first time that my friends
had seen my father, had seen my house
but all they could see was how kind he was
by surprising me with a new pair.
I had a total of seven pairs of Converses,
one of them he paid his sister to buy for me
from the United States.
I keep them in a box, under the sink,
because even though my feet have grown,
I'm still unable to sell them nor give them away.

In college, I wore Palladiums --
big, thick, chunky lace-up boots
that looked out of place in a college freshman's closet
and more at home tied by the shoelaces to a soldier's bag.
I've moved to the capital city,
away from my little brother, away from my father.
I lived with my mother, who worked and moved
until her body gave out and she'd have to take some days to rest.
She bought me my first pair when I asked;
because she told me that
"first impressions last; but shoes are always what stays in a person's mind",
which was funny seeing as how
Palladium was, first and foremost,
a company from the age of the Great Wars
that manufactured the tires fitted for airplanes;
and that now, decades later, rebranded themselves
as a company with a recognizable design --
channeling urban life, heavy endurance,
and the soul of recreating one's image,
rising from the ashes of the past like some sort of phoenix.
My mother had wanted me to fit in,
yet be unique at the same time,
in a world that moved so fast that I had to run just to keep up.
And she'd buy me pairs not as often as my father did,
but it was always in celebration.
Either for a job well done, a reward for good grades,
or simple because it was my birthday.
Those Palladiums became my signature shoes,
and I was the only one to wear them
inside the university.
At one point, I was recognizable because
of a particularly special pair --
Palladiums that were bright, firetruck red
and had the material of raincoats --
that people would know it was me
even from far away, just by the color of my boots.
I had six pairs in total; all heavy, all colorful,
with different textures and different price points,
and my mother bought me these special shoeboxes
which we stacked til the ceiling, right beside
her own tower of heels for special occasions,
because that was what defined us.

I've started buying my own shoes,
and I'm not as brand-exclusive as I was before.
There's a pair of no-names, some banged up Filas,
even a pair of Doc Martens I'm too afraid to bust out.
They're also not as colorful; because I know that
black pairs and white pairs are easier to style
in any day, in any weather, with any color or material.
Most of them were for everyday use, and it required
a certain level of comfort, a certain level of durability,
that was worthy of that certain retail price.

I look at my shoe rack, and realize
that I am not as colorful as I once was.
I do not have that sense
of colorful, wild, down-on-my-luck rebellion
that my father put up with in my adolescent years.
I lost my drive of being
a colorful, unique, instantly recognizable upstart
as my mother had taught me to be.
My shoes have no stories to tell,
no personality to express --
a row of blacks and whites, the occasional greys.
And when I look internally,
it's the same, monochromatic expanse staring back at me.

I am in a place where
I am everywhere and nowhere at once.
I can't tell whether my feet
are solidly on the ground,
or pointed to the sky, toes wriggling in the clouds.

In an ever-growing shoe rack
filled with old, ***** Converses,
and heavy, attention-seeking Palladiums,
I choose a comfortable pair of plain, white sneakers
and head out in the open,
paving my own way.
I take comfort in the fact
that it's just the beginning.
That I am at the start
of my designated brick road,
an endless expanse before me.
My shoes will acquire color,
my designs will develop taste,
my soul will be injected into the soles of my feet
with every step I take --
forward, backward, it doesn't matter
so long as I keep moving.
Nov 2019 · 398
Ksh Nov 2019
I'm trying this new thing
wherein I take something ugly,
and turn it into something
I find beautiful.

Like the concept of myself
being replaceable and dispensable
in someone else's life,
in this very moment in time.

I choose to interpet it
as me being a signpost, a direction
to the one true place that someone else
is destined to be.

Like tangent lines,
meeting once,
in a certain finite point
in the infinite board,
and to never meet again.
Ksh Nov 2019
My depression doesn't come in the form of
rain clouds crowding over the sun and pouring
torrential rain on the sidewalks.

My depression doesn't come in the form of
thin white lines on smooth, brown surfaces --
when I say an arm, would you know if I meant
my limb or a part of a chair?
Would it even make a difference?

My depression doesn't come in the form of
empty bottles and missing wallets;
of nights spent in a drunken haze,
of sleeping in park benches and vomiting onto the pavement.

No. It comes in the little things --
Like the untouched, dry paintbrushes on my desk,
Like the growing collection of half-finished water bottles at the side of my bed,
and the tapestry that fell that I refuse to pick up.

It comes in little packages, like
the sparsity of my fridge, or the overflowing trash bins.
When was the last time my pots and pans have been taken out of the cupboard?
The last time that I prepared something that wasn't
microwaveable-ready, or straight out of a packet?

It's received with little fanfare, like
the state of my hair, unwashed for days;
the sunken spot in the middle of the mattress;
the awkward silence around friends.
Is the conversation drifting, or is it you?

It's crying in the bus for no apparent reason,
it's calling parents just to feel a tug of affection,
it's over-compensating with love and openness that feel entirely alien to be on the receiving end of.

It's smiles, it's frowns,
it's shouting, and silence,
It's day, and night,
and young, and old,
and in, and out;
The point is, the point is --
my depression does not look like yours.

I don't know what it's supposed to look like,
and at this point I'm too afraid to ask
the dark mass at the foot of my bed,
to manifest into something I can understand
lest it decides to finally swallow me whole.
Nov 2019 · 651
Ksh Nov 2019
There's a cigarette between my lips.
I taste the flavor, inhale the familiar scent
even before I flick the lighter to life.
There's something to be said about the difference
between the thought of smoking, and actually seeing it through.
I'd be the one to say it, but my mouth is currently preoccupied.

The first inhale is like a breath of fresh air,
which is ironic, given the nature of the vice.
But there it is -- a sweet escape, a brief release from the world that I've been in and decided that I've stayed for one second too long.
A dark, smoky finger invading my senses
as a cat grazes against your leg,
soft, but heavy; intending to make its presence known
with the gentlest touch, the murmurs of a purr.
It fills my lungs, and in a moment of hesitation
I feel peace as though, at any moment,
I could decide that I wouldn't want to breathe again.

The exhale is slow, the puff slowly escaping,
ascending to the heavens, dissipating like
dew on the grass on some mornings,
the fog that covers the skyline.
All that's left is the ghost of what was,
for a fleeting moment, an affair from the reality I've known.

And when the fire dies down
and the **** gets extinguished,
there is only what remains on my lips.
Nicotine, your name, whatever the hell it is --
I just know that it's intoxicating, addicting;
every time I run my tongue over chapped skin,
it's as if I'm chasing the very last time I've ever tasted you;
And every swig at the cold, hard rim of a bottle
makes me think of sloppy kisses on a cold winter night,
hands fumbling, nervous giggling;
of promises pieced together through incoherent moans breathed onto flushed skin;
Of empty sheets and ***** clothes,
no phone numbers to call, no names to tattoo,
nothing that can tie me to the possibility of a 'next time';
"Because there won't be a 'next time';
there can be no 'next times'."
But I guess --
I chose the wrong day to quit.

The cycle repeats, the toxicity stays,
and yet I revel in the concept of
not thinking, not planning,
just -- being.
In that moment, under the stars:
As if Time had stopped, and the sky was alight,
and I felt like I had the whole world
fit in the palms of my hands.

Because for someone that tastes so, so wrong,
you feel so, so right.
Nov 2019 · 584
Ksh Nov 2019
First among many.
That was me, to you; the first from the last.
The last among many.
That was you, to me; the last from the rest.
Quite a nice position, wasn't it?

A woman of many talents,
of many stories that were too late told,
of hardships in silence buried.
A lifetime of rollercoasters,
of standing on a pedestal
and being struck to the ground,
heel to skull, teeth to pavement,
threatening to never let up.

Yet you did, and have not spoken of it since.

Do the words 'too little, too late' ring any bells?
Does the phrase 'less is more' still hold true?

In my mind, I see you in an ocean of darkness
Helpless, and friendless,
suffering in silence.
Yet, you're hardened by years of experience,
of hurt in the dark, of scars in the night.
You, an old dog,
and one of your oldest tricks --
licking your wounds in isolation,
willing the world to do its worst
as you weathered the storm,
one that you've already withstood before.

I can only describe you as an Inverse;
a woman who,
ignoring her own palms skinned to muscle, to bone,
built ramps and laid bridges
to give children enough space to run;
who, turning her back from a life of rejection and hate,
showered everyone with only gratitude, and love,
and everything that she knew she deserved but never received.

You, who brought words to life
in a language so deeply underappreciated,
have rendered the world speechless.
You, who have shown strength
in the face of adversity,
have rendered your blood weak.

A woman of contradictions,
contradictions of the best kind --
for even in death, we celebrate life.
To my late grandmother, who I wish I could have shown more appreciation to when she was still alive. I love you, lola. I wish with all my heart that you knew exactly how much.
Nov 2019 · 362
Ksh Nov 2019
Empty streets in the cold of night,
An evening not so much as autumnal as it is of winter.
The roads, lined with little pinpricks of light
that seem to go on for miles, and miles,
without a beginning nor an end.
How does one differentiate a starting and a finishing point?
The laws of physics dictate
that displacement be calculated by the distance one has traveled
from their initial point of motion.
If I have traveled far and wide,
and stepped into the same footprints that I made when I first left,
I'd have come full circle;
my displacement would be nil.
Would it have been better to have been away, exerted all that effort, have gone through all the *****, and glamour,
and excruciating moments of boredom and nothingness
that life had to offer, just to come back to the same spot I started?
Or would it have been better to just stay in place,
mum and silent, with the world passing me by,
like streetlights in the road,
illuminating the way like signposts,
to the end for some, to the beginning for others,
but always -- always -- just a rock in the stream?

— The End —