An Ode to Sinking Sorrows

There should be a word for the gap in our souls, for this hollow space in our chest where our hearts used to be.

I reach out for myself, dragging my hand all the way down my trembling lips, my bruised neck, my aching collarbones, and notice the cracks stretching infinitely into that lonely cave they call heartbreak. I let my hand wander further and find my skin a vast ocean of memories. My eyes water, my tears forming pool and tracing an island of scars.

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Unrequited Love as Religion

Certain conversations never leave my head. They linger in me like traces of smoke after a bonfire is doused with water. They hang onto me like memorial lanterns, constantly parading themselves in front of my weary eyes, demanding to be felt and comprehended until I finally give up the resistance and give in to remembering.

Here is a memory.

I look back to one sunny day in March: by the hall way of the sixth floor of the university, the entire view beneath us glimmered in the light of the noontime sun and the sticky breeze blew me away as in a daydream. Someone was speaking to me but her words came off as indistinct murmur as I went about staring mindlessly at the cumulus clouds over us. She nudged me twice, thrice before I managed to pull myself back to Earth once again. Her voice was intrusive when she burst out her question.

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Death and Demystification

I went to the cemetery today: a one-ride trip to the northern part of the city that is well-known for roasted pork and burial grounds and crematoriums. I have been to this area only once in my life, about two years ago, when we had to take Lola to her final resting place. Even then, I couldn’t understand the idea of burial rites as the final passage of a person’s life. And when they said in unison, “Lola is finally going to rest,” I thought mournfully to myself, “Finally?”

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Heartbreakers

My heart still
breaks a little
at the sound of
your name.

I wonder where
you are, or how
you have been
or how many nights like
these passed by without
you noticing or
remembering that
once, on an August night
we were together
and you were mine.

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Purloined Letters

I.
There are instances in our lives when we consider an event as fleeting, forgettable, ordinary, at that particular moment when we are experiencing them; like a quick glance from a passerby on the street, a word, a phrase spoken without the least bit of intention, the way a stranger’s face carves a memory of some faraway island, the way city lights hum in a frenetic buzz in the midst of the metro traffic. I picture those events together with the people in them. They all looked like unarmed soldiers: their ammo snatched away by the unforgiving hands of Time, their trousers a camouflage for their faces, for their fears; thoughtless and unwary of the dangers that lie ahead, completely unguarded from the looming damages these events eventually bring. And when I look back, I see myself floating in pink vapor, my eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep; my soul bare, hungry and needing. He leaned a little bit closer to me and I laughed at something I couldn’t remember now. He took my hand and I felt his pulsating with warmth, as I thought to myself maybe this was the part where we were supposed to tell each other how we feel. I inhaled the mist of dawn like I was learning to breathe for the first time, not knowing that in the future I would remember this exact scene and bleed. The last traces of the city lights were fading from us, as if it were dying, as the whiff of daybreak slowly crept from the east. I think I heard him say, “I’ll take you home,” and I remember speaking to myself, “Why? Where? How?”

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To You Who Knew

I.

Perhaps we were wrong
to test our hearts of their limits
thinking they can withstand
the wickedness of this game
And when I tell you love
perhaps it was a mistake
on my part
to wait for an answer

From where I stand you are
only a thousand light-years away
I count the distance like
I would count the years
And I realize if you multiply
ten by itself, then by a hundred
then by a thousand, by a million
What we would have at the end of the equation
is the product of our lost and wasted time
when we once believed, fooled ourselves
that we were right for each other,
or when we thought we knew
how to love when
the truth is we were
incapable

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A Rite of Passage

“Yes to life!” was my mantra on repeat as I stepped out of the door and into the burning embrace of a scorching Thursday morning. In my head was an elaborate map of the place I was supposed to go, backed up by a paranoid prayer to the Universe begging to keep me from getting astray in the wild city streets. In my head I was thinking the worst that could happen was not to be caught in death or in traffic jam, but to be cornered by perpetrators whose stone-eyed faces and hardened hands one could always encounter along the way. I was a lanky little paranoid, screaming at the top of my lanky little lungs: fucking Yes to life!

A few weeks back, one of my colleagues had provided me a detailed direction to get to this place that is well-known for scrumptious sushi. But as dumb to directions as I will ever be, I had to trust road signs and the little that is left in my gut-feeling to get to this place locals call Suki.

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Dear Scott

I was 19 when I met you
in the summer of ’44
along the streets of Edinburgh
and right away
I named myself after
the gentle breeze of the morning air
the gleaming yellow of the sun
In my mind was a picture
of a dandelion I never had
Your footsteps left me with nothing
but a song

I spent the summer next
listening to some Scottish indie band
I happen to stumble upon
in my desperate search
across the flower fields
for traces of your arrival
People laugh thinking
“What a fool!”
But then again who are they
to blame us when we dream
We seekers of nothing
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S(y)nap(ses)

Another thread snapped out again. This time, over my younger sister’s banging home at 4 in the morning and waking the hell out of me. For someone who has been up doing “mommy duties” all day long, getting disturbed from sleep was like having your eyes gouged out in saltwater or your skull cracked open with a giant pestle, whatever that means. In a snap of a finger, I was up and jumping in rage and wakefulness. And so I let the words out, quick and rather snide, careful not to throw unnecessary sentences along the lines of my deliberate, or perhaps desperate, attempt to make her understand her fault. I actually waited for my words to penetrate into her juvenile ears. But in the end there was only her catty silence and her clumsy unsteady movements in the dark, followed by her long heavy breaths and her rolling eyes. l spoke angrily of her coming home too late, (or was it too early?), of her laughing loudly with her friends by the front porch, of her banging the door each time she comes in, of her switching the main lights on. Before I even knew it, the list has already reached quite a distant, and I was left with my own thoughts, almost at a loss for words, at the appalling differences of our upbringing.

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Spaceless

I need a release.

It would probably take an entire day or two, nay even a lifetime, like writing a Proust novel of some sort, for me to tell Mom how differently my thoughts about love, relationships, family, God, religion,—life in general—have changed since I left home. Not that leaving home was a good thing, but that certainly it gave me a bit more perspective: from that typical high school girl who knows too much about rebellion but was rather too scared to step out of her comfort zone to a person who actually took a step, however frail and fragile such a step at first seemed. In retrospect, it seemed manageable, easy. But transitions are always the hardest to take especially when one has no strong hold of everything that has shaken and has broken loose.

I still remember our house in the South, as that which one of my estranged friends referred to as my ‘fortress’, for in there I was more than guarded, I was safe and sound. But more than that, I was watched upon. And isn’t this what’s missing in the world that is out there? For we look so much at what’s ahead of us that we don’t even look anymore at that which is in front of us, that we don’t look anymore upon each other. I still remember my father’s eyes, and how they burned, tortured, arrested my soul with his steadfast surveillance as much as I burned with his steadfast love. In high school, I thought of love as chains shackled around my feet, refusing to give me movement. But in college I roamed the empty unfamiliar streets with boys begging for the same love that my father has so selflessly lavished upon me. But arrogance stopped me from running back to my father’s feet, asking for forgiveness for whatever it was that had me sundered from them all. We always look at the present as something that ‘needs more’ of everything: needs more space, needs more time, needs more improvement. In high school I thought I needed more freedom than home was able to provide for me, but in college I thought of home, safe and adequate, for all that I was wanting, missing, longing for.

I look at this life now, with a vision that’s still blurry from all the things that has happened for the past three years in the university, trying to see what my Mom and my Dad would see, trying to carefully extract their perceptions of what has become of their divergent daughter. There are instances when I would feel proud of my accomplishments, of my experiences; when I would send over to Mom a photo of a certificate I received from a private university; when I would tell Dad about thoughts that were so conceived in the midst of my trying to philosophize about every fucking thing in the world. But in the end it would all seem so small, so insignificant, and I would hark back to a day when I was just a little girl and how my every action was more than enough to make them satisfied. There is something about innocence, and the art of forgetting, that detaches man from all of the present and brings him face to face once more with his child-like self. And it is not just about the mere negation of what was already been situated in the here and now. But far from that, it is a return to the more aboriginal of being, that which is naive and infantile, a soul unblemished and uncorrupted.

Aren’t we doomed with our memories, we the remembering mass of humans? Would life be any different had it been the case that our minds could retain only a day’s worth of memory and discard them thereafter? There are days when I would wish for a tennis ball, or even the big neighboring ball that is the moon, to strike me on the head, to make me forget history. But forgetting history would also mean forgetting the good and the bad, forgetting Mom and Dad, forgetting all people, forgetting even the self. But how could one live in oblivion? How could one live at all?

I think about the future, and in my projections of what is to come, I see nothing. A blank space, an eternal rivulet of the nameless and the nothingness. Back in the days when people asks me of my plans I would respond with a healthy enthusiasm and present them a delicately drawn portrait of all my hopes and dreams, which include getting my degree on time, landing a job, taking all that there is to take in life with all the energy of a Spanish bull. But when people asks me now, I would think about the void, and how it engulfs us deeper and deeper into that which is uncanny. It reminds me of the ending part of Murakami’s 1987 novel Norwegian Wood where Midori asks Watanabe where he is. Watanabe’s response was rather eerie, belonging to the terrifying unseen. And in his place I feel firmly fastened as well.

Where are you now?
Where was I now?

Gripping the receiver, I raised my heads and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again I called out for Midori from the dead center of this place that was no place.

To Write Love on Her Arms

Are you following me?

I have spun myself into a circle, into places where she’d been, and sought for a sign. I have left a mark on the road in case I forgot the way back, but my mind has lost traces of her footsteps the moment she mentioned something about substance. And right then I thought about abuse and the dim lights of a yellow bulb singing its way into her soul, a round of prescriptions on the bathroom floor taken twice, thrice, until there was numbness and the sorry look from a stranger’s face saying “What have you done to yourself?”

I thought about her eyes, dull in the height of frenzy, and watched the rainbow haze float from out of her misshapen mouth. I thought about her silence but all I remembered was her scream, and the cracking of an old vinyl as it swallowed the hollow spaces between her smoke-stained teeth.

I thought about the crooked line that separates both substance and abuse, and wondered how one person could be both. I thought about the setting sun, and the stillness of her sunken face when Death finally came to empty her of her miserable miserable life. They said overdose. They said she had too much. But she was so empty, so hungry, when she left us all.

Are you following me?

There are only two points in a straight line. Point A is where we’re at. Point B is where we’re going. Kara never cared about the line, only that she wanted to carry her cross to eternity. She jumped her way out of it—into the vacuousness of everything real and imaginary. She spun herself in circles, in spirals, for she never believed in an end. She danced. She dances still, to the slow steady music of an ethereal eternal return.

Christmas is Dead

In 2015, I will look back to this year’s Christmas and I will think of it as a joke, a prank, a comical parade of everything ludicrous and shameful in our sorry lives.

In 2015, I will remember the silence and how it muffled every sound in the world when I wished everyone a Merry Christmas. But what do these words mean other than the vacant sound of a syllabic ho-ho-ho and the empty rhythm of an old Christmas medley?

In 2015, I will remember the look on my sister’s face, the crack in her fading voice, as she whispered to me on the night before Christmas, “Hey, it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all”, and in that moment I caught myself defenseless by the honesty of her expression, by the gravity of its truth.

Tell me then, what’s Christmas supposed to feel like? What thrill must there be in our hearts, what presents must we receive, in order to feel that it is Christmas? I had nothing more to say to her other than what we both already knew and felt. I peered into her young searching heart, into her juvenile soul, and saw my own dizzying reflection. I looked away for I know what was missing.

In 2015, I will remember my mother’s face and how I see in her eyes an attempt to reconstruct our lives after the image of her own ideals. I drown in my mother’s reverie and sunk into her vast ocean dream for in there I am nothing more than a speck of dust or a splinter of wood floating helplessly in the open possibilities of the things she dream for us all.

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Shotgun

Exactly five days ago you had me bursting with hate again. I knew this the moment you spoke to me. I looked at you and saw that you looked at me too, a split-second collision of madness and fury and rage all summed up in an indelible injury, and how right then and there I wanted to gouge your eyes out and make you blind for the rest of your life. Because you once were, and because for once I wanted to know what revenge tastes like under this bloodthirsty tongue of mine.

When I looked at you that day I had every hope of strangling you in the neck, or cracking your skull open, or setting a bullet where your cold unfeeling heart is supposed to be. But it was not fair that I even put myself again into such a silly game. When did I ever win to you? Even in the darkest corners of my memory all I remember is that you were stronger, you always had the upperhand.

But not anymore.

When I looked at you that day I wished that I was looking at an illusion, something that would vanish instantly if I close my eyes, something that would leave no memory at all if I wake up the next morning and find myself on the floor. Still you were there in front of me, and even if I blink a thousand times, your memory lingers like a scum sucking leech in every shattered inch of my consciousness.

But today I close my eyes. What I see is my finger on the trigger with the gun aimed at your head, or at your heart. Depending on which will cause more pain. What I see is blood trickling down from your heart to the ground to erase every fucking memory of the time I spent with you. What I see is your face and the color of crimson in your eyes when you say that you’re sorry. What I see is my own unforgiveness. What I know is I will never forgive you.

When I look at you what I see are our memories together, but only the blurry outlines of them. I could trace the lonely path where we once existed and tell myself that I loved you once, twice, thrice, until I lose count of them all. But that would be a lie. To say that I still want you would be wrong. What I want is an undoing of things. What I want is to look at you, dead or alive, and feel nothing. What I want is for you to be nameless, faceless, in a world where every inch of you is erased, vaporized.

What I want is to bury you.