As I Wait for Wisdom to Pass Me By

​’We are young, we are young!‘ they said,

the eyeless faces screaming in youth’s stead,

Come one, come all, for you live just once,

come one, come all, and spare not a care.

Not a moment’s waste on things

which you can’t slather on a price, 

not a devil’s roll for people

who can’t throw you the dice.
I sit, my pen laid to rest on my lap,

as I watch them burn everything in sight.

We burn, we burn!’ they loudly proclaim,

their paintings, their easles encasing their pride.

And yet I see no strand of hair on fire.

I see not a single pair of eyes waking from slumber.

This might be the way to live,

but it sure as hell is not the way to be alive.
I wait for the words to see me through,

my own special lens with which I use 

to see the world clearer.

But no words come to me.

I am but a humble poet not a seer –

I smith the words on paper and taint them with ink

but no, I don’t see the future anymore than I can the present,

I only see the past and its careless patterns.
So I wait for wisdom,

I wear the years on my sleeve.

I watch the world turn

while the men with golden tongue

preach about the state affairs,

the women continue to count by the wrinkles,

the men calculate by the stares.

This is what we have become.
I wait for the knowledge, the word, the proclamation, the shout;

It will be the undying of the youth

the fountain of life for the old, the revival of the dead.

Tear my heart open, let it be seared by the salt of my tears.

I don’t want to keep my eyes shut.

I don’t want to sleep.

I’ll shake hands with wisdom the moment he passes by.

I’ll set us all on fire.

A love letter to women

Photo by Rose Renolla

I’m sorry they made you believe 

you didn’t deserve that little, black dress

because of the shape of your body.

I’m sorry they made you cover up

to protect their delicate sensibilities.

I’m sorry because you had to stiffle your spirit,

you couldn’t shout,

you couldn’t curse,

you couldn’t get mad

without being accused that your guts are spilling

from your mouth.

I’m sorry you were silenced.

I’m sorry your body is like a caged bird – 

however hard you try to spread your wings,

the bars keep holding you in.

And I’m sorry they always confuse you –

I’m sorry they tell you you don’t need the accents on your lids

but they don’t care enough to tell you

that you are beautiful

without your war paint on – 

and so you keep skipping back and forth

the line between 

basking in your natural glow

and needing your layered masks and bloodied lips.

I’m sorry they insist on measuring your worth

by your plumage,

or the weight of your body,

or thickness of your legs,

or the pitch of your voice.

I’m sorry you were made to feel like your worth had to be measured,

when in fact you are weightless and capable of defying gravity

when you fly.

I’m sorry they said your wings aren’t strong enough

to endure the flight towards the sky,

that you were robbed the freedom

to feel the wind beneath your wings.

And I’m sorry there aren’t enough people speaking for you

when you find your voice trapped by your gilded cage.

I’m sorry there aren’t enough people 

fighting for you to be free.

I’m sorry you’ve been designated as prey

or pet,

or decoration,

or property.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

And it’s probably hard for you to believe

that you are free,

when you’ve been living with all the restrictions

that’s been weighing down your wings.

And I’m sorry for that too.

But you should know,

that once a bird, always a bird.

They can put you in a cage

but that won’t mean 

you’ll forget how to use your wings.

Gather your strength

and bid your time.

And when it arrives,

fly.

Fly and never look back.

Go back to the wild

where you can screech and claw and hunt

spread your wings

go wherever you want to go.

No one owns you.

You were never meant to be caged.

The Massacre of Human Moments

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Pull out
a single strand of thought from your head –
the one you won’t dare say out loud
when there are people who could hear,
the one that could be your guilty pleasure,
the one you could use as a curse under your breath,
the one that you won’t allow yourself to touch
in fear you will be consumed.

Take this thought out on a date,
run eight miles with it until you’re both reeling and drenched in sweat,
sleep with it like you would a lover,
and pick a fight with it, scream at it with as much intensity.
Give it a make over,
play dress up with it and make it wear a little black dress or a red, hot number,
doll it up, give it that soft, pink tint
carefully,
carefully,
carefully wipe everything away,
don’t leave even a tiny smudge.

Stretch it.
Cut off its legs, it must never run away.
Peel off some skin here and there
so you can see the flesh underneath –
peel away until you see its bones.
Bend it, roll it,
throw it into the fire and watch it melt
then breathe new life into it.

People think of writing like it’s a very simple process,
and in some way it is.
Sometimes the thoughts come out
in a way you wouldn’t want them altered.
But some days you need to break them down.
Some days you butcher them with
with your pen and your feelings
and it still won’t be enough
you’ll start summoning your demons,
you offer your blood.

And when it’s done,
when it’s done,
you look at the dismantled, disfigured image of yourself –
everyone sees the pretty words
but you know how much gore it took to write them down.
They will tell you, your words are lovely.
And on some days you will believe them.
On most days, however,
all you see is your blood and you’re repulsed by it.
Your throw that poem away,
secretly relieved that that ugliness doesn’t cling to you anymore.

Pull out a single strand of thought from your head,
your pen poised and ready
for another round of massacre
of your human moments.
You die a million times,
by your own words,
but you also invoke new life
from the trail of your ashes.
And you’ll never feel more alive.

My Poetry Never Ends

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Photo by Rose Renolla

A poem is the solace you didn’t find in things that are tangible. It’s a chip on your shoulder that needs to trickle down word by word, phrase by phrase, until the care has turned to dust, eroded and carefree with the wind.

A poem is a catch in the throat, the heavy feeling you can’t say out loud because you are scared of its enormity, you choose to verbalize it with sighs. It’s a pointless debate – the poet argues with himself on paper, never really outwitting anyone, and so the pen wins.

A poem is a secret blatantly declared, loudly proclaimed, butchered and served up to anyone who wishes to read. It’s the wistful nostalgia, the soundless cry of pain, the celebration that spreads out into tremors, strong enough to make the hands shake and the heart to split into two.

A poem is a longing, a wish, a heartache you wish to send out to the world. It’s a single strand of hope that someday, the words will reach the right set of eyes, the right pair of ears, the right heartbeat who will respond with its own resonance that will match yours.

A poem is its person, gently offered with frail and bruised hands. The hands never know who will take it. The hands will never know if its offering will suffice and yet, the hands offer everything without hesitation – with a stubborn disregard for whether it is careful or safe.

A poem could be you or me. It could be us. It could be the way you suckle for air when you feel like drowning in despair. It could be the constricting of your heart, that gentle sting that’s reminding you how happy you are. It could be the way we feel when we look at each other’s eyes. It could be the silent gasp I made or the surprised pause it took you seconds to recover from when you finally said the words out loud. It could be the goodbye we don’t want to hear. It could be our story. It could be the rest of our lives.

And the poetry will be endless. I’d finish a word and someone will write the next. The poem will never end. It will be the same, for it is always the same. Just spoken in different languages, kissed by several lips, written by a million hands, living and dying and being born again, through words.

Note: This piece got published on Narratio.org.

The life span of a poem

If you ask me how long
a poem should be written,
I will tell you:
write it
like you’re letting go.

A poem must never
feel like a chore.
Like forced love
isn’t love,
a strained poem
sounds insincere.

Try writing phrases
too short,
one will never get enough.

Try letting it stretch
longer than it should
though it has gone past
it’s time and have seen
everything it could,
you risk leading people
into a winding road –
you soften the blow,
and let the pain linger too long,
it’s become dull.

A poem, like love,
should only extend
for as long as it could –
just enough to teach
what you need to learn
and to relinquish
what they need to feel.

So if you ask me,
how long should a poem go,
I’ll say: watch me
kiss this poem goodbye
and set it free.

The Phoenix Awakes

The phoenix must burn to emerge. – Janet Fitch, White Oleander

I want to lose myself but still retain much of who I am, much how I lose myself in places I visit, much how I always leave a piece of myself to be remembered by, wherever I go.

I want to burn bright, the white heat in my veins pulsating its way to my heart, every inch of my skin, the tips of my fingers, the roots of my hair, the edges of my chin… until my smiles light up every dark cave in anyone’s body.

I want to run wild, chasing the rainbow wherever it chooses to dock, letting butterflies rest on my hair and letting white roses and tulips kiss my cheek. I want to be one with water and the earth and the air letting the fire in my heart complete the astral ritual that will bless the soul, nourish the mind and revive the heart.

I want to envelop the world with my darkness, just once, like ink does to paper. I want to drown the air with silence so only my voice can be heard – soft but clear, gentle but firm, simple but wise. I want to thunder inside souls, receding into tremors and tingles that make hands shake involuntarily.

I want to breathe stars to the sky. I want to sigh moons into existence. I want to dance galaxies to vibrance. I want to speak universes into life. I want to be the reason why beautiful things exist, why life sparks with so much vitality, why anywhere can feel like home.

I want to explode like fireworks and blanket my dreams over the skies so people can’t help but stare in awe and wonder, spurning them to dare and be bold and try to be bigger than themselves the way I have tried to be more than who I am.

I want to be who I am meant to be, fully realizing my potential, never stopping until I’ve constantly died and lived and eclipsed myself – until I could rise from the last trails of ashes meant to birth me. Until I could spread my wings and captivate the whole world with my beauty and magic… before I rise and fly away.

Borrowed Bravery, Lending Hands and Things That Happen When You Start to Believe

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I had a chat with a good friend of mine, who is also a poet, last night. I told him how I accidentally stumbled on poetry.

Yes, for those of you who don’t know yet, I honestly didn’t think poetry was in the cards for me. I wanted to be a novelist. I wanted to write about crimes and murders and conspiracies, ruggedly handsome detectives who save the day or the world by unlocking mysteries. I wanted to bring to life my own heroine – someone deliciously flawed and amazing in the way she didn’t see who she was. Cliche stuff, I guess.

But then, poetry happened.

I wish I could make the story more romantic that it really is, but that’s not my style. I always did write poetry but I kept them stashed in an anonymous account I hid from my friends because I was too shy. I know I probably sound ridiculous right now. But believe me, I hid my work because I didn’t think they were good. I thought them corny and sophomoric and too dreamy or too bitter. After all, in my earlier works, my emotions were all over the place and I made no effort to channel them properly.

But a good friend of mine, Patricia Salazar (-Uychiat), saw my work. She encouraged me to post them. I did. But I was careful to not get my hopes up. I know my writing. I know my strengths. I knew poetry wasn’t one of them.

But I don’t know. I must have done it right, somehow, because my twenty seconds of insane bravery, thanks to my friend’s faith in me, paid off. Before I knew it I already winded up here.

I still think about it. How I almost didn’t pursue it. How I could have spent an entire lifetime hiding from people.

I guess, sometimes, we really just need people who will believe in us and tell us it’s okay to want the things we want out loud. I guess we just need people who won’t let us hide the beautiful things we make, who won’t let us be selfish because of our fears.

I’ll always be indebted to Patty. Always. Without her, I would not be living out this fork of the road I didn’t even know was laid out for me. She was the push I needed. She was the reason I believed in myself enough to decide that maybe I could do better than my sophomoric lines. Maybe with enough work, I could improve.

And now it’s my turn to gently coerce people out of hiding. I’m always willing to extend a hand to those who want to write, to those who feel like they have so much to express. I do it not because I’m that good. (Believe me, I can’t get myself to call my work good. In fact, I cringe inwardly when I try.) I do it because I know what it feels like to not know if you can be good at something. I was lucky to have a Patty in my life. Some don’t.

So to you, who need a Patty in your life, I’m here. I’ll be your Patricia. I may not know who you are, or where you live, what time you wake up or sleep. I don’t know the trivial things about you. But I know one thing: you can be good at something, something you want to do. That beautiful thing you spend so much effort hiding, the world needs more of it. The world needs to see it. The world needs to see you. Borrow a little bit of my courage, if you must. I have them by the spares now because I’ve learned to breed them after I took the first step. I can afford to lend some. Please come out of hiding and show us how magnificent you are. Blind us, I’m begging you, with your light.

Because maybe, just maybe, with the help of all the Patty and Nessie of the world, we could make this life a little less dim.