Hey, Honey

We run, we run

But not towards the sun

You tell me to change my laces

They always get untied

Are you tired of tying them for me?

 

I tell you I’ll buy slip-ons next time

You say that’s lazy

You say you’d keep on fixing them for me.

I know you’re tired, honey.

I stop running; you stop running.

 

I look down; I don’t want to see you frown

You say, “Sorry, we forgot to rest.

I know you’re tired, honey”

You hold me so tight

Your tears drop to my shoulders.

 

We start to walk, hand in hand

I tell you it would take a thousand years

Before we reach the moon

You’d be tired by then.

You shake your head.

 

You say you’d keep on running with me

You ask me if I am tired

I shake my head as well

And you smile at me

I smile at you.1

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Twenty

“I want to be twenty years old forever,” she said.

I asked her why, and she just continued to stir her cup of black coffee.

“You didn’t even put sugar in that; what’s the point of stirring?” I asked her again.

She answered this time.

“Well, they served my coffee with a spoon so I better make use of it.”

“Chekhov’s gun, huh?”

“Not quite,” and she giggled.

“How can you be twenty years old forever? The only way to do that is to drink some sort of elixir that makes you immortal, or perhaps asking a vampire to bite you.”

“It’s fucking easy. I just need to die when I turn twenty. That way I’ll stay twenty forever.”

“But what’s the point?”

“There is no point! I just think it’s the perfect age to die.”

I wasn’t sure if she was serious, but as soon as we left the coffee shop and parted ways, my hands started to perspire more than usual. Her birthday was just three days away, her 20th birthday, that is. If she really plans to kill herself three days from now, I should at least try to make these remaining days the best she’d ever have, I thought to myself. I pulled my phone out of my breast pocket and called her.

“Hey, miss me already?”

“Yeah, wanna go out again tomorrow?”

“I wish, man. I wish I could but I’m on my way to Baguio.”

“But we have exams tomorrow, right? How can you take a vacation at this time of the semester?”

“Well, it’s my last year as a teenager. I might as well do something reckless.”

“Please come back, okay?”

“Sadness is a choice, man. If they ask you about me, tell them that.”

“Don’t you think that’s a pretty cheesy thing to say?”

“I guess so. Tell them anyway.”

‘Well, have a nice trip! Don’t forget my pasalubong, okay?”

“Haha, of course.”

She hung up.

—-

Three days later, my exam results came. She, however, hadn’t come back. I wanted to greet her on her birthday but I couldn’t even reach her phone. Maybe her phone was stolen, I thought to myself. I decided to go to their house to make sure.

Hands shoved inside my pants’ pockets, I felt the overwhelming dampness on my thighs. My hands perspired even more, and it was even raining outside. The taxi driver kept on wiping his windshield because the wipers weren’t functioning. He managed, and I felt half-relieved when I stepped out of the cab.

I rang the doorbell. The familiar sound tingled in my ears, but no one responded. I rang it again and her mother walked towards the gate. She was smiling at me, which was a good sign. Maybe nothing bad happened to her. Maybe she was still alive.

She opened the gate as silently as she could, and it only made a small creaking sound. She let me in, holding my shoulder as we walked towards their front door.

“She’s in her room, sleeping. She said she lost her phone in Baguio. I already asked manang to wake her up.”

“Thanks, tita.”

“You can join us for dinner, hijo.”

“Sure, tita. I’ll just tell my mom later.”

And I saw her there, indian-sitting on the couch, rubbing her eyes with her fingers.

“I’ll leave you two here. I have lots of things to do in the kitchen!”

I nodded. I sat on the couch next to hers and said, “Happy birthday, you.”

“Thanks! You’re surprised, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I thought you were already dead.”

“Well, I still have 364 days left.”

With laces

the Velcros of her shoes
are way too overused
they don’t grip anymore.
the other sides remain to be just
futile pretenses of wool
and the opposites dream to be
talons of eagles, clawing at the
flesh of her feet
she hides inside her shoes.
She needs a new pair now, with laces, now
(Who still uses the ones with Velcro anyway)

Emma

I tried to hold Emma’s hand, but I couldn’t reach it. Her hands were clutching at the steering wheel too tight; her eyes were too focused on the road that she did not notice me, sitting on the passenger seat. I called out to her, told her I love her, but the stereo was blasting out too loud that I could not even hear myself talking. I opened the car’s door and jumped off, rolled towards the gutter of the jagged road. Bruised and helpless, I waited for her to turn around and pick me up.

I’m still waiting.

Not Quite a Song of Ice and Fire

Like a pendulum swinging to and fro,
I’m gonna walk back and forth
until my footsteps no longer sound different to your ears.
I won’t get tired,
neither will I rest until you hear
My tiptoes nearing
your attacking fingertips.
The French tips of your nails
remind me of the snow-capped mountains
I’d never dare to climb.
When your hand smashes the side of my face,
I can see the snow caps melting; the Alps
turn into volcanoes,
spewing lava through your mouth.
But I still walk back and forth
on the burning ground,
hoping that the aftermath won’t turn me down.

Oh mockingbird,
Why did you let the worm fall from your beak?
It’s looking through the canopy of leaves
as it stays trapped in a black widow’s web.
Oh mockingbird
You should have gulped it down whilst it was
still sleeping in your toothless mouth
Now it’s squirming as that spider wraps
it in glossy threads, biting one of its segments
It didn’t resist the darkness of your orifice
And even wanted to get in
Oh mockingbird
You should have let it in.

A Eulogy that was Never Delivered

Most of you, if not all, are attending this funeral for my sake and not for Leonardo whom you barely know. I thank you for it, and I wish what I’m going to share with you will at least keep him in your hearts and in your minds forever.

I never expected to meet him; he just came to our house with my grandfather’s friend. I didn’t know what it was, and until now I still don’t, but something just created a spark between us and we instantly clicked. I was five years old then, and he was too, but he was much, much smaller than I was yet, he seemed to be tougher and stronger.

That was how I always described him, because he really was. As young as he was, I doubt that even Manny Pacquiao’s punch would faze him. I’d bet all the money I got in my bank account, (which is around 10 pesos, but still that’s all I have) that Pacman would bend over and cry after punching his back. Tough guy, he was. He really was a great loss.

He never was the talkative type; it’s very common for his kind. His favorite response to everything was to either shake his head or to nod. I guess that was why I never hated him, because he never said anything bad to me. The downside to it, though, was he didn’t scream when he drowned in a pool of water right beside our house. It was raining, yes, but I could have heard him screamed if he did. I could have saved him from drowning. I checked on him after the rain stopped and there he was, floating on water, lifeless and discolored. I didn’t cry because I didn’t know what to feel then. I was a little kid who had a dead pet turtle, and that was it. It was 14 years ago, and now that I think about it, it makes me feel incredibly sad.

I am fourteen years too late to even deliver this eulogy and I’m aware that this won’t really amount to anything. But, for whatever it’s worth, I miss you Leo. I’m sorry for I was a kid.