Hear the Leaves Sing

“Do you hate people?

I don’t hate them… I just feel better when they’re not around.”
― Charles Bukowski

I think about people as much as I think about leaves. A throng that clings to the tree of life, haphazardly rustling to the tune of the whistling wind that ebb and flow along the bottomless blue sky.

I hear the leaves sing. But to listen to them is another matter.
Sometimes their song sings a nectar of harmony. A symphony of depth and sincerity that hangs perpetually at the palate of the mouth. A feeling of nostalgic burning etched along the erratic creases on the tongue that sears the memory and sets the soul ablaze. It fills the mouth with the taste and scent of rosewater. As if life is worth living.

But sometimes it whispers an aria of sorrow.
A collective shrill of dissonance that skewers the laughing heart. Its tone evokes the feeling of ineffable longing for someone, or something of some distant mental imprint. An insatiable yearning for purpose and place.

We are at the end of history. Our war is a spiritual war, our depression is our lives.

I usually lose myself inside my head. It’s not the “ape shit mad” kind of mad where someone thrashes around, while another slurs ‘My Way’ on a vomit layered microphone, after that someone discovers that his ka-table, who’s been downing beer bottles faster than a snatcher running pass in front of the beer house with a recently swallowed piece of bloodied earring, has a dick.

No, it’s the kind of mad that takes the route of the movie Inception. A leap into imagination away from the plane of reality but with the promise of return.
In this state I often ponder about myself. The “I”. The absolute necessity. Ich. The oldest story in the world.

What are the possibilities when two or more people I’ve met and who are likely to never meet within each of our lifetime, by sleigh of fate’s hand, meet?
The horny introvert crosses paths with the happy-go-lucky moral compass inside a back alley shop that caters to the most lascivious fetishes imaginable.
The abandoned prostitute finds a picture of its long lost mother inside a customer’s wallet.
Or when the teacher catches someone using his phone in class and directs another student to read it in front of the same whole class,

“Son, why aren’t you answering the phone? Your father didn’t make the operation.

He’s gone.”

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This is me surreptitiously tonguing my lips after you kissed me goodbye. Caressing the lacerated strips of flesh that hang by a thread, my salivated tongue swirls into the intoxicating crimson of memory.

This is me talking to myself in public. As I tiptoe through social conventions, my mouth mumbles vague weightless obscenities unto the void. Rich people. Beautiful people. Perfect people born with silver spoons lodged in their mouth, spitting out self-righteous poison or singing loudly about their scars. Sometimes I think my birth is a mistake that I’ll be spending my whole life trying to correct. But I bet you hate yourself for not feeling real enough unless people are watching.

The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.

This is me locking eyes with those at the back of my head. When nobody looks at me, my eyes can stare a hole in them. I pick out the minutest details that I’d never have gotten if they would ever return my gaze. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection. This is my revenge. Your face is my piñata.

When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.

This is me licking my lips on the mirror. You can’t kiss someone who has no lips. You don’t say you love someone when you don’t.

Oh but sometimes, you do.

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I close my eyes. I see you. Your body laced with virgin white Italian silk. Or ragged tatters of pajamas two sizes smaller – does it matter? In this state you are one and the same.

The blanket of night embraces you. Its cool and disinterested arms swallow your body whole. As you toss and turn on your bed, the paper moon hangs above – all seeing. An impartial observer, a silent sentinel watching over its dominion.

Currently, its eye shines upon you. Your body drenched with moonlight as it continues to turn and topple, like an abandoned buoy that is excommunicated to go out to sea, sentenced to a life of isolation, amidst a sea of faces and dizzying streams of names and places.

You lay on your bed. Restless. Tired. Sore. Hair tousled and heartbroken. Your left arm has fallen asleep before you did. Slumped and numb, you adjust your body and allow blood to flow through.

A million needles stab you simultaneously. You let out a blood curdling scream.

I open my eyes. The moon stares at me.

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Memento Mori

“I shall go on seeking out / lost faces, and faiths in the / cold, collecting, calculating / crowd, sadly aware that later / but an unbreath away / I shall lose them all again”
– Dean Ophelia A. Dimalanta, Finder Loser


I have just finished rummaging my library. A sudden urge to dust paperback books, letters that reek of mold and yesterday’s headlines, academic papers stained with dregs of sleepless coffee nights and half a dozen highlight pens, and a surprisingly well-kept bunch of [love] letters. As I pour myself into this disheveled array of tokens and keepsakes, I stumbled upon a 2.5 by 1.5 inch vintage photograph, its four sides haphazardly folded, and neatly tucked within a thick, musty and dust-covered leather bound book.


It is fascinating how memory can flood your head with nostalgic joy before breaking your heart because of incurable longing. My lolo and lola. Grandpa and grandma. Ester and Ramon. Young lovers smiling cautiously at the command of the faceless photographer. It was prom night. I can only imagine how they sheepishly made small talk, while throwing timid but sincere glances and laughing at each other’s attempt at humor or the lack thereof. Or how they nervously swayed into each other’s arms to the tune of Nat King Cole, or Ella Fitzgerald – or probably they were shuffling their feet to the tune of the King Elvis Presley or some local musical band? Who can know?

In the end, their dance sired a family that continues to strive and flourish up to this day. The same dance, but different participants moving to an updated and sometimes unlikely tune.

I look at the photograph. Among others, the idea of death bubbles from underneath all the memory and sensation. Death. The ultimate equalizer. We are not born equal but we are irretrievably bound for death and decay. I look at lolo Ramon and lola Ester’s faces, made forever young by the lens of the camera and the fleeting memory it evokes. I become more aware of this idea. Like a love letter slowly being enveloped and finally sealed, to be mailed to God-knows-where and be read by God-knows-who.

I look at the photograph. I smile at myself as an idea envelops me. The goal is not to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.

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There are nights when I lie on my back and look at the moon. With the palm on each hand as rest, my head tilts at an angle that is both comfortable for the neck and convenient for the eyes. The strip of hair on my forehead is softly caressed by the  moonlit breeze and is sent fluttering, which brings a tickling sensation to both eyebrows and eyelids. It also brings a faint, but crisp and fresh, smell of clear misty dew so cool that it promised rain and thunderbolts.

My eyes are fixed upon the luminous whitish crescent pinned upon the night sky. Its perfect crescent shape that mimics Death’s scythe hangs lopsided; like a miswritten ‘C’ that is angled a bit to the left.

The enigmatic glow it emits is partially sapped of its strength by the smog that has quietly but noticeably plagued the metropolitan night sky. Sometimes I think this is the price of development. To move forward, one must consistently struggle with the present; change the status quo, overthrow the past and let the future run its course. But sometimes the struggle carries collateral damage in its wake, like a clogged metropolitan waterway that is stagnant and on its way to putrefaction, or a dense build up of dust and smoke that has polluted the city skyline.

Nevertheless, the stream of moonlight flows uninterrupted as the night progresses. My eyes have adjusted to the dim world that I have laid myself tonight, and the stream of moonlight comes like a quiet river flowing incessantly, without a living soul within a thousand miles. I fix my gaze upon the endless stream and wonder why the running waters seemed to have forgotten to make a sound. Some say a river that runs deep runs quietly. And that a shallow river runs noisily and conspicuously. A quipped implication that silence or being reserved means deepness, while having a raucous disposition often displays shallowness.

But if you will ask me, the serenity or chaos brought by the steady streams or raging rapids cannot be made basis for the ‘deepness’ or ‘shallowness’ of a person. Rivers are not made to be perpetually deep nor shallow. The uneven geological plates and land forms dictate water flow from the mountains down the lakes, seas, and oceans.

People bend like rushing water depending on the riverbed they are traversing; a kind of formlessness that is both collective and individual; an unpredictable switch from flexibility to inelasticity and back.

This is not the case with moonlight. A rapid, unconscious, and consistent ray of cool luminous energy flowing in precise rhythm of the hands of a clock; it is not bothered by trivialities of human conduct, nor is it eaten up by a disinterested and soulless bureaucracy and its red tape.

Moonlight is merely the reflection of a raging sun. Every day, as the sun burns itself towards collapse, it releases a sliver of itself towards the moon. It builds itself up. It takes the shape of whatever container that holds it; memory, relationship, work, ideals, and belief. Merely a sliver of a humongous star, it still however contains the unstable, immutable starlight in its most raw and primal form.

I would like to think that thoughts are streams of moonlight rather than liquid rapids. That our thoughts are the reflection of our daily life or the lack thereof. It is the intangible self capable of perpetuating the cognition of the perpetual as well as the trivial.

“’Things can be seen better in the darkness’, he said, as if he had just seen into her mind. ‘But the longer you spend in the dark, the harder it becomes to return to the world aboveground where the light is.’”
-Haruki Murakami ,1Q84

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Come closer. Her name is Maria. Ma-ri-a.

Ma. As my chapped lips shape itself into a parched oval. Desolate and forgetful, with teeth that have outlive the prerogative to smile. Ma. With the whole spectrum of Technicolor, her skirt dances upon the dunes of scorched earth. Billowing in time with her white ankles, white calves and white thighs. The raging sun burns green with envy, the cracked earth glows red with surreptitious desire, hungry for the crevices of her deep wells where eternal thirst resides.

Ma-ri. My mouth blooms with petals of ivory. The tip of my tongue flutters across every syllable. Ma-ri-a. Ma-ri. Ri-a. As it suckles rosewater from her ample bosom, the thirst within my soul subsides. The anguish that harbors the spirit. Anguish borne by the void, pulsating a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for.

Ma-ri-a. My mouth curves huge and pure and perfect. As the moon comes full of its cycle. Her eyes enraptured and bedazzled and magnetized into the heart of whiteness. The serene luminosity bubbling underneath the hovering moon upon her face. With gravity, our celestial bodies spiral (how I wish a collision) because of restlessness, because of yearning, because of vague desire for somebody of something specific.

Coming closer still. With her hand, drawn to its circumference, she reaches out.

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“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

A rough attempt at Bishop’s It Might be You on an old, beat up guitar. (that I really like)

Credit given where credit is due.

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