Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

This is a picture I did not take
one uneventful afternoon
when all the self-confessed heroes of today
have finished fighting in their own four-walled battlegrounds
with the white, shiny boards as their flags
that they were all too willing to raise in surrender
an afternoon when I myself,
out of breath and full of sweat—38 degrees—
have put down
all my weapons and wits for the day—
just there, on the platform for my ride,
unguarded, without walls, without shields,
and in that instance, I heard a thud—
steps—and footsteps drawing nearer,
bringing to my peripheral
a stranger’s face that was all too familiar,
all too disorienting,
all too heart-arresting,
giving me enough breath just so I could gasp
a little louder than necessary,
and like overflowing water from an unsealed pitcher
make every memory with the stranger resurface—
walks in the park, our rides home,
popcorns and Marvel movies,
sneaky holding hands under the pool,
every caress, every inside joke,
every message cherished and regretted—
it’s a vivid picture I didn’t need to take;
It—he—has always been there.


Writing prompt (credits to Mr. Martin Villanueva, ACELT Workshop):

  1. Finish the sentence “This is a picture I did not take.”
  2. The sentence has to be one page long.
  3. The sentence must respect grammatical conventions.


Posted: May 29, 2019 in Poems
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In my mother’s embrace,
While yet unseen,
I began living.
Before I could ask for it,
I was given moments.

In my mother’s arms,
I was loved long before
I could yearn for it.
Before I could cry out for it,
I was lent my breath.
My movements.
My heartbeat.
My smile.

But while yet unseen,
I began leaving
My parents’ grasp, so loving.
While yet unheard
I felt my breath fading.
I am being called,
being reclaimed.

Before my race started,
I have been called away,
out of a world and its crooked ways.
And to my Master blessed,
who lent me this life and breath,
I now yield and say, “Yes.”

I have been given,
And now I am being taken away.
In my life’s short span
I’ve had brighter and darker days,
But never one that’s too far removed from grace.

And so, this borrowed breath,
I will give back to You–
In a sigh of surrender
In a sigh of cease
In a sigh with tears,
yet not without hope.

For this borrowed breath
Is but a fraction
of Your beautiful promises.
You have given me for a purpose
And have taken me away for a reason.

And in this I stand–
that in my fleeting moments
You have given me life,
and life abundant.


Posted: May 29, 2019 in Poems
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I stand in silent anticipation
as an old friend drives up my door.
He has come for yet another visit–
I swear he drops by more often than before.

He has never yet arrived quite unannounced,
but he’d always give a very short notice.
Yet perhaps no heads up is advanced enough
for someone’s visit such as his.

There are always more things to be done,
more preparations to look after;
And every time that he leaves,
there are countless details I wish I did better.

So with every goodbye he utters
every time he steps out of my place,
I would make amends on my planner
so as to receive him next time with more grace.

It’s been eight months since Death first knocked at my door,
since I first rehearsed and prepared for his return.
But no matter how much I plan my worded greetings,
every time he comes around,

I could only offer yielding silence.

(Written March 10, 2019)

Pwede Pa Ba?

Posted: October 2, 2018 in Poems
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Pwede pa ba

(Rebecca Plotnick Photography)


“Ang tagal na rin ah,” masasambit niya
matapos ang isa, dalawa, tatlong hakbang papalapit.
Malungkot na ngiti, sabay sabi ng, “Oo nga. Matagal na rin.”
Nanginginig na boses. “Kamusta ka na?”
“Okay lang ako.”
At pipigilan niya ang mga patak ng ulan galing sa kanyang mga mata.
Sa wakas, magkakalakas ng loob na sabihin
ang matagal nang hinihintay na marinig.
“Sorry. Sorry talaga.”

Titigil ang puso. “Ano?”

“Sorry kasi umalis ako ng ganon lang.
Sorry sa lahat ng pait at sakit dahil lang akala ko sigurado ako.
Sorry kasi binitiwan at binasag ko ang nag-iisang mahalaga sa’kin,
dahil lang takot akong panghawakan ka.”
At iiyak ang puso niya, pero hindi ang kanyang mga mata.
Matagal nang natuyo’t naglaho ang mga ulap ng luha para sa kanya.
Sa katahimikan, may malungkot na ngiti.
Sa gitna ng maingay na katahimikan
Susubukan niynag magsalita ulit.

“Pwede pa ba?”

Pwede pa ba? Pwede pa nga ba?
Ibababa ang ngiti. Lahat ng bubog, basag, at lamat ng nakaraan
na pilit niyang itinago sa pinakasuluk-sulukang bahagi ng puso
Lahat nagsilabasan, lahat mapanakit na nagbabalik.
Lahat hindi magpakukubli muli. Lahat ay nananakit.

“Anong pwede pa?” tatanungin niya.
“Kung pwede pang manakit ulit?
Kung pwede pang lalong palalalimin ang sugat na naka-ukit?
Kung pwede uling mahawakan ang basong basag na para durugin ulit?
Paki linaw kung alin dyan ang gusto mong maging pwede pa.”

At doon matatahimik siya. Siguro.
Gustong-gustong magsambit ng sumbat.
Gustong-gusto niyang magbitiw ng mga salita
Nang siyang umalis ay mapulaan at masaktan.
Gusto niyang ipagdukdukan at ipagpilitan
Na siya’y nagkamali sa pagbitiw at pag-iwan.
Na siya’y nagkamali sa kanyang paglisan.

Ngunit higit sa lahat gusto niyang patahimikin
Ang tahimik na boses na nagsasabing,

“Pwede pa ba? Pwede pa ba siyang bumalik? Pwede pa bang umulit?”

Bukas Ulit

Posted: August 14, 2018 in Poems
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Bukas Ulit

Ilapat ang masakit na likod sa kama.

Ipagdasal ang mga problema ng, at sa, sarili.

Ipahinga ang pagod na isip.

Itulog ang pagal na puso.


Bukas ulit. Bukas, lalaban tayo ulit.


Posted: August 7, 2018 in Poems
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When you promised me the world
And everything beautiful in it
When you counted for me the stars,
Told me you’d fetch and give them to me
One by one
When you said to me, “Look at the moon, how it shines”
And with a smile whispered,
“that’s because it knows I’m here for you”–
You should’ve heard how it seemed so true.

When you told me you’d cross all rivers
You’d ford all streams
Fend off my every nightmare
And help me reach all my far-off dreams
When you insisted to be the salve
For all my brokenness
To be the balm to soothe all my pain
When you sweetly said, “they’d all leave, but not me. Never.”

When you swore to be my Perseus,
sword at hand, ready to cut off and slay
all the ugly monster heads
to ever rear in my darkest nightmares

When you promised to be swifter than Hermes
and come running to my side at one beck and call
when you claim before all that, like Romeo,
you would only either have life with me
or have no life at all,

When you swore to God you’ll
Outwit the sphinxes,
Out-combat all of Odin’s Valkyries,
Defeat Ares and Athena combined in a war,
Outshine the sun god Ra as he makes his
trip around earth,
go through the gates of Hel and overcome
her territory’s terrors,
All for my sake–

When you convinced me there’s no one else
You can imagine to be with
Today, right now, until you breathe your last,
When you promised me you were sure
To be as the very air I breathe–
Always with me, ever in my system–
To be my very shadow, never leaving my side
When you vowed to me, “I love you, always,”
You were exaggerating–
Weren’t you?


Posted: August 7, 2018 in Poems
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Bea Pangilinan

Photo by: John Carlo Cielo and RJ Fulache

White-washed, plain, smooth walls;
Halls of linear, brown, wooden doors;
Wards full of beds with identical sheets
Smelling of strong ethyl and chlorine.

I sat by my room’s only window—
Glass and sill cleaned a little too well
To protect me from the world’s harms out there.
I looked outside to try remembering
What it’s like to live beyond white walls.

They say I’m missing nothing at all—
Only threats, dangers, and my very death;
That my life is kept better within these walls so white,
with syringes, IVs, and the machine beeping at my side.

“This food will make you stronger,” they would say,
always, as they give me my silver-plated tray.
The IV fluid will fix whatever is wrong,
My two tablets and five capsules would heal what’s broken,
And so long as I stay inside these white walls
I’ll live, and the rest of the details would be rightly woven.

That’s what they say, what I’ve always been told.
And I could never say they’re wrong, but I guess
there’s just a lot of things that they don’t know.

They don’t know that every time I soak my hands
With alcohol to touch nothing after,
I’m being stripped not of my filth but of my joy.

And every time I eat my colorless meals,
My mind and heart cry out I’m being poisoned.
Every time they change my sheets with another dull blanket
I run out of breath a little slowly.
Every time the IV is inserted in my veins
My blood runs dry a little more.
And every intake of my prescriptions
Seems to be little deaths, part by part, little by little,
Capsules replacing my cells a million at a time.

Call this depression, or call it insanity,
But for me it’s just plaintively funny
how the institution that exists to give life
snuffs that very essence out of me.