State of Undress

A/N: i don’t usually give context about the poems i write about, but i’ll make an exception for this: SOU is a piece made to reconcile the horrible experience of finding myself naked, alone, and bleeding in a hotel room. It was one of those bad hookups that my friends warned me about, but i ignored because the person seem decent and easygoing.

I am already tired of using pain as an excuse for writing, but I need to exorcise this one. Yes, there are instances that writing about hurt hinders the growth of art, but there are also times that hurt must be grieved over and be exposed for what it is: an open wound. This is my attempt to to stop and disinfect the bleeding.

Hopefully the next poems I will write will be from a state of joy. From a place of security and affirmed affection.


What seemed to be relief last night,
became glaring curse at morning:
this darkness
courtesy of a middling hotel room,
an alternative go-to,
in case we’re too proud to admit
that we’re cheap
enough
to sell our skins by the hour,
to be rubbed raw,
in exchange for a stranger’s soul,
either too naive or too hollow

For hours, I’ve lain awake
over and under the dim’s thin blanket,
wondering
where shade’s light is,
where warmth should come from
in the absence of a body

How many people were there last night?
two? seven? fifteen?
twenty four if we combined all the ghosts of our pasts,
us, our two, included?

How many people have i made love to?
Screwed over and fucked by,
only to be left hanging
on an empty chair, a limbo
between second-use and replacement.

I have lost track of figures

in my pursuit of transcendence;
I have managed to detach
my mind from my heart,
my heart from the body
which continues to disintegrate and float
on the vast ocean of this queen-sized bed:
appendages, limbs, torso,
and at the core of the shipwreck— my sex
weeping blood in its wake.

Get dressed, my mind tells me. Take a shower.
But my body has long drifted,
farther and farther from this hotel room.
It searches for light
in the nooks and crannies
of every lover it once had.
Begging for an ounce of sympathy
or even pity
from what has been stripped,
fondled,
sucked,
slapped,
bitten,
stretched,
and made vulnerable.

There is nothing
but the red stare of the digital clock
reminding me of the time
to check out.

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What the ravens told me

(1) how long will you sit at the marketplace, selling your flesh by the pound for such loose change?

(2) how often have you found yourself lying at the roadside next to a waiting vulture?

(3) how much pain are you willing to tolerate for the sake of art? or are you only using poetry as an excuse for self-destruction?

(4) where is your home? how far is it from here?

(5) who are you now? do you still know yourself?

Pilgrim

My feet are scarred from all the walking.
I have treaded pebbled paths
sharp enough to leave a trail of my own blood;
I have pitched my tents on cracked soil
that begs for the company of my tears;
I have lied awake at the roadside
patiently waiting for death to pass
but was only sustained by crumbs from strangers.

It is still surreal to believe
that this hardened earth-
also lends itself to the existence
of lush forests whose grass tenderly kiss the blisters on my soles;
of loam that yields itself to the turn of the seasons;
and of fine sand still clinging even if i shake them off.

The heart of a pilgrim
is always indecisive.
Torn between making a home in a place you feel loved,
and knowing that there is no permanency on any land.
Only continuous walking.

Contemplations While Waiting

3 days off sertraline and im having thoughts of dying again at the age of 30. The difference: last year i thought i would die by work burn out. This time, im thinking of dying after ive YOLOed myself out.

To be honest, i dont think if it is a good thing or a bad thing.

What I want my death to be like: i want to leave a funny life behind. I want my writer friends to make a funny novel/comic about my story— something that readers can find connection and comfort with. Of course, all comedies are tinged with sadness, but i dont want people to be hung up anymore at my passing. I just want them to feel that i have burnt so bright, that i had to go away quickly. Something like that.

Of course, my mother tells that when i die, i would end up in hell. And it is still not a comforting thought. If there’s something i would like to be after death, it is to be a fairy godmother. Or just a wandering spirit that grants wishes to the less fortunate. There are so many things that i think i could do without the worries of everyday living and physical decay.

Before i die, i want (at the very least) to experience what *romantic love* is like. I want to wake up at dawn and just gaze at my lover sleeping beside me. I want to make poems as he quietly snores. After writing, i would get up and make breakfast for the two of us. I want to spend lazy weekends with him— doing nothing in particular. Or doing separate things but also being comfortable at the presence of one another. There would be lots of fucks given to one another. Goddamit, i want lots of sex.

If the sex is good, i would probably consider extending for five more years.

I also want to have a daughter, but i think it would be selfish of me to leave her behind at such a very young age. So I dont know if I would have one. If my partner and I would accidentally have one (or should we both decide to give parenting a shot), I would prolly extend ten or twenty more years for her. It is such a responsibility to raise a kid— and I want mine to grow up as a happy and functional member of society. She can do whatever she wants with her life as long as it would not hurt others.

Other than that, i don’t think i have much to live for. Graduate school doesnt interest me as it did before, and Im still contemplating whether to continue pursuing it or to shift to creative writing. Right now, i find teaching fun IF the student-teacher ratio is smaller— so i’ll prolly switch to tutoring in a few years time. Or being a reading consultant— whatever is available or more lucrative. For now, my “long-term” goal is to have my parents’ retirement plan ironed out. So i still need to hustle for that house+lot+business in Davao.

I may not be able to travel around the world, but I want to see the northern lights in Iceland and to experience the weeabo life in Japan. Kek. I want to see a lot of stage plays / dances performed in different spaces and feel. I would probably cry a lot, but I want to cry rivers of tears out of catharsis and not out of loneliness or rejection.

I am in the period of waiting— and while waiting for death to arrive, I would not be passive. I would put myself out there, remain raw, and live the life the way I envision it to be. Prolly not as picture-perfect as I write it here, but nonetheless happy. And when I am at the height of contentment, when there is nothing else to worry about, I will slip away and cast this shell of my body behind.

Random Reminders for Sanity

1. If you’re going to die at 30, make sure to live a life that is well-spent. Live a rich life, and let others find humor and solace in your story.

2. That means to say, let go of all things that keep you from flying. Sometimes, courage is exhibited in quitting. If pride is the only thing that makes you stay, it is not a worthy cause. Let go and let the universe take you to new places. We are all pilgrims of realms.

3. Pursue the authentic. Deside first what is authentic and go after it with all your heart (Erdrich, Advice to Myself).

4. As you grow older, you would notice that your body isn’t as sharp or as efficient as it was before. Forgive yourself and put your focus on things that matter. You cannot multi-task now, but you can always prioritize.

5. Never apologize for being too intense. If s/he couldn’t handle the heat of your flame, s/he is not worth burning for.

6. Always turn hurt into art. If there’s a gift that you need to practice, that is to recycle negativity into beauty.

7. See the good in people. Everyone deserves to be given the benefit of doubt.

8. Kindness and persistence cultivate the heart. You would have already been dead if not for people who took you in, spoonfed you with warm food, and treated your wounds.

9. After all the heartache, strive to remain soft. There is hidden strength in being raw and vulnerable. But don’t forget prudence.

10. Listen to your anger. It is sadness that has not been grieved. Breathe it out without causing harm to others.

Skin

The ripping of thread from the fabric
is a revolt in itself.
This single fray meant
the expansion of flesh,
the resistance against
age-old structures we impose on our very bones.

im still amazed
at the wonders of elasticity
that our skins possess.
These stretch marks bear witness
to every near death experience
i managed to brink over:
summer nights when i had to tuck
my knees and ball-curl
as i blanket myself with my own;
lean days when i have to flex
and carry both water and earth;
monsoons when i need to walk through hurricanes,
only to glaze myself in a forest fire—
this skin remains taut and undaunted,
soft and pliable in its strength.

When he saw me undressed,
his eyes were mute
to the stories tattooed onto my flesh.
His hands were blind
to the knots and ridges that marked
the miles my feet have treaded.
Instead, he beckoned my body
like a boy holding a heavy porcelain.
Eager to feel my weight fall
on the curves of his palms,
but afraid to run his fingers on the cracks.
Unaware of the history that this vessel possesses.

The ripping of thread from the fabric
is my silent invitation
for us to unravel.
Here, lover.
Breathe grassland on my skin.
Taste the salt of my sweat.
Sink your teeth and find honey
buried under crusts of film, muscles, and sinews.
Bite hard.
You will not ruin me.
Open your palms and read my runes
as i bare myself and trace yours.

And when you yield,
i swear not to hold anything back.
Lips on scars, fingernails on scratches,
i will peel layers of yourself-
stories of where you’ve been to,
the names you were called at,
the random dreams that freckled your body
like stars on a vast sky.
i will rip through the garment you have made for yourself,
one thread at a time.
Secure in the feeling of being vulnerable,

i will find you beautiful.

Waking up at unholy hours

3 AM. A jolt from a weird dream
that I couldn’t even remember.
Instead, I am reminded of
messages- morsels of myself-
waiting to be returned
to my inbox.
Today’s just Sunday.

Yet my body is more impatient,
than how it usually is during a regular work week.
This is not the first time i woke up
at such unholy hours,
disregarding the laws of biology
manufactured by xanax.
I should have been sleeping
uninterrupted.

4 AM. My friend stirs beside me,
her soft body, a driftwood i cling onto
in these moments when my mind
resigns itself to a hurricane.
Her breath becomes a metronome
as I try to lull myself back between
fragments of memories and dreams:

When i asked my mom what love is,
she told me it was divine intervention.
Like Mary hearing about the future
from a cosmic force
she couldn’t really say no to.
Were you overjoyed? I asked.
She shook her head, and told me no.
Loving your father took a lot of time.
But it paid well in the end.
You just have to hold on
to the word promised to you.

5 AM. My friend shifts into another dream,
Her sleep talk both precious and incomprehensible.
I realized how frightening words are-
They are meaningful and empty.
A tangible collateral that can mean nothing.

My father once told me that the fear
of my mother’s absence
prompted him to fulfill his vows.
Love, he said, is when you realized
you have lost someone
and you couldn’t be the same again
until that person comes back.
When the side of your bed becomes
a vast desert,
you begin searching for water.

All this tossing and turning has made me thirsty.

6 AM. Maybe it was just a mirage,
but I certainly heard the church choir
as the town begins the day
with its series of masses.
I uttered a short prayer
before checking my feed for signs.
A short drizzle starts pattering on the rooftop,
but I didn’t mind.

It was time to sleep, my body says.
Go. Return to the world you are deprived of.
Today’s just Sunday.
No one gives a damn