Taming This Tyke's Voice Since 2007

Reconciling With Poetry

My love for poetry traces back to my childhood, When I vaguely understood what I was chanting. I started reciting poems before I learned to read or write. Memorization came not from reading, but from listening; not from understanding the words or the message of the verse with the mind, but with the heart. It was primarily the sound of its rhythmical composition, more than anything, which lured me to it. Grasping the metaphors and absorbing the meaning concealed between the lines came much later. It captured my heart before it conquered my mind. This is probably the reason for my enduring love affair with poetry.

       As a tyke, I liked listening to the rhythmic tone of my high-pitched voice as I would parrot poems – joining and winning contests – before I entered school. What sounds good to the ears of a child feels good to the heart:

…The shepherd came to worship; the tiny baby smiled.

It is an old, old story; old yet forever new.

Watch for the little star tonight;

It will shine for me and you.”

And just like most of the singers learning their first song, I, too, learned my first poem by listening.

        Poetry for me then, as it is still to me now, like love, needs no extra ordinary thoughts to touch the heart. Purity speaks the truth. I can now tell when a poem was written using blood-stained ink from the heart:

“Don’t forget me; make a shrine to hold me

Safe and warm within your faithful heart;

Weave a web of happy thoughts to fold me

In all remembrance, when we part…”

       Now, if it was not the heart of Rafael Dimayuga that wrote this lines, what could it possibly be? Those lovely words were finely entwined, undoubtedly, by love. Reading this poem leads me to the re-discovery of a treasure box I feared to open for a very long time. It was the key that re-opened something in me that I locked from the inside. It unleashed the dormant would-be poet in me, an inclination I lost with my first taste of rejection, when I was expelled from seminary at the age of thirteen. I have outgrown the trauma, but the scar remains – God knows it still hurts. The seminary produced many success stories of priests; mine was a sad story of defeat. My english teacher, a priest, dropped me from a poetry recital contest in favor of his pet student(it is a long story, I’ll wrote about that in a separate post). I felt bad, so did some of my classmates who thought I was more deserving. I lost interest in everything after that incident, my vocation included. By the end of the school year, I was kicked out.

       Something in me died. It was my lowest point that inchoate my long detachment from anything poetic. There were times when I felt it resurfaced for some brief moments, whenever something or someone whisks my heart with gentle strokes or reckless blows. My lack of the resources of language to speak my mind and the fear of confronting my too sensitive feelings quelled it even more. I was unaware, though, that I channeled my creativity into other mediums: There’s poetry in my sketches and paintings, and my bonsai in the garden. I now understand.

       Love and rejection, indeed, gets in the same route into, and out of our hearts. Rejection locked my heart once, and it was love that reopened it years later. It started with meager and petty journal entries:

… i thought we have it, but somewhere along the way we lost it. Shall we ever regain it, perhaps at least i still hope, in the end?”

Then it progressed into short vignettes;

I am forever tracing in my mind
The creases in your palms,
When you pressed it close to mine
~

Your last strong grip,
Our last hand shake ~

Then we bade goodbye.”

       Moving further,  I progressed and tried free verse:

“At night, I light a lamp

So even in the long dark hours

The little spark of my thoughts of you

Could light the moment

As I read my life’s pages back

To the times

When you were still with me.”

       I heard that strangely familiar voice of the child again. And there he was, just like the last time I heard him. Albeit mellowed, and unlike before, he now demands to deliver not somebody else’s thoughts but his own. So I listned. Listning I did in the placidity of early mornings, when silence utters messages that we can understand if we listen with an open mind and a quiet heart:

If you need a quiet place,
A perfect haven to rest;
Come let me be,
You can lie on my chest.

There you will hear a single sound,
A love song at its best;
‘Tis there that you will hear,
The whisper of my heartbeats.

Hey, stay with me
And let me be
Your quiet place to rest.

       I wrote this poem, “A Quiet Place To Rest,” just about the same time I was rediscovering my love for poetry. I wrote this then for someone who I eventually lost. But  reading it, I know now that this poem is actually for me. And that is how we reconciled, and began our journey together again.

       It was hard to believe and convince myself initially that I could write and I am a poet. But we all are. For every literate person, according to David Kirby, has it in himself to be a good poet. The good news is each of us is a poet already, or at least used to be, it’s just that most of us have gone into early retirement. It is relaxing – like a balm to the heart – to read and write poetry. I read poems to find more of its secrets and to be reminded that poems can be written. Books of poetry gives me a simple surprise that more poems are there and that the magic is available. One poet said that most of us are poets on-call because poetry only comes when it wants to. So we should always make ourselves available. E.E. Cummings also said that “a poet is only a poet during a few hours of his lifetime. The rest of the time he is a would-be poet.” So here I am reconciled with my first love. Our years apart makes a good plot for my works. I promised my self not to let go of poetry again.

       I do not know where my life’s journey with poetry is going to take me. I always have this incessant vision of me in my mind: standing on the bank of a river, I watch the waters flow, and wonder where the river came, and where life goes. I can only look as far as my eyes can see and my heart can imagine.

~ Jeques

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6 responses

  1. i have read some of them in PEX earlier, and still they are good reads. but what amazes me is reading your story and how you discover your natural talent to write. it may have died before but it had resurrected right? that’s the important thing.

    in all our creativity, consciously or not, we have a driving force. its for us to find out who or what it is.

    thanks for an inspiring read 🙂

    PM00000080000000131 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm08

  2. jeques

    Totomai,

    So here I am, after an ardous time creating this blog, I finally made it. Thanks to you! I am glad to welcome you as my first visitor, and It is wonderful that the person who encouraged me to do this is the first to comment. You are my mentor in that way then. My works are mostly confined in the notebooks/scrapbooks I’ve been keeping since, 2003. They are the first treasures I packed in my bag when my US Immigrant Visa was approved last year. I don’t care leaving some of my stuffs home as long as I have these, I am good. As I’ve mentioned, creating a blog tops my wish list and I finally did it.

    “Reconciling With Poetry” is actaully an excerpt from the essay I wrote in 2005 which won me a publication space in The Philippine Star Lifestyle section. It is my second piece published in the national paper. The other was in 1998 when my entry to Swatch’s Sparkling Life idea contest was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

    It gives me a certain “high” to know my works are being read and somehow they would touch and grow in the readers’ hearts. As human, by nature I have this need to make the difference and to leave something in this world that I have created. My poetry and paintings perhaps, are mine to give.

    I wish you well ~ Jeques

    AM00000010000005931 10, 2007 at 12:00 am08

  3. lol @ Jecques, i have lots to learn about blog. i cant be your mentor hehehe.

    you said “My poetry and paintings perhaps, are mine to give.” talking about being selfless.

    welcome again to blogosphere. enjoy 🙂

    PM00000040000004931 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm08

  4. jeques

    I will. Thanks!

    Any gift or talent we have is like a stream, it will continue to flow if we share it.

    I wish you well ~ Jeques

    AM00000010000003931 10, 2007 at 12:00 am08

  5. i loved your blog..your poetry really touched my heart and inspired me to begin my love affair with the might pen again–thank you!

    akshaya
    aged 17
    india

    PM00000080000003830 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm09

  6. jeques

    I’m glad to know that, Akshaya. It is rewarding to know that somehow, one of my hopes when I started this blog was achieved: to inspire others who have the gift to write.

    I wish you well ~ Jeques

    PM00000090000001930 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm09

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