My senses tell me it’s about to rain,
I run and take refuge in a cavern.
Paying attention, I sooth all the pain,
And allow the rain to heal me again.
I smell the earth’s intoxicating scents
Brought by the swift pouring of april rain.
I seize the boon after the solemn lent,
The earth exults, now my re-birth will reign.
Brilliant drizzles of crystal clear raindrops
Quench the the thirst of the fruit trees of summer.
The rain showers refill the plants’ sweet saps
That would make season’s harvest juicier.
A damselfly alight on the reed’s blade.
Pellucid mist caught on its net-veined wings.
Raindrops form pools in the forest’s glade
The earth’s bosom bears the heaven’s blessings.
The rain stops and winds blow the clouds away
To bathe other grounds with april shower.
I’m enriched by my silent reverie.
‘Tis time I bequeath the cavern’s shelter.
I wish when april rain reaches your place,
You would pay attention and seize its grace.
It is summer morning,
Armed with note pads, a pen
And a mind ready for take off,
I fasten my seatbelt
In a corner
underneath the bower of trees
At our home’s secret garden.
The dainty sunshine lights my face,
And the spider webs
On the twigs in front of me.
There’s really nothing in my head to write,
So I opened the windows of my mind
And the door of my heart
To weave glossy web of thoughts
To invite and capture
Lavish summer inspirations.
I listen to the rustling sounds
Of leaves as the winds blow
Through the garden’s green roofs ~
Their reflections move on the pads
Like mystic shadows tracing my writings,
Flirting with my thoughts.
Scents of ilang-ilang flowers wafting in the air.
Enticing incessant winged bystanders ~
Bees, butterflies, grasshoppers ~
They signal summer!
Random summer thoughts swarm my mind,
So I open the draperies of my heart
And tie the curtains apart
To welcome showers of summer inspirations
Bathing my fiery soul with cool emotions.
The birds’ repertoire are unusually merry.
They seem to rejoice with my company,
Or perhaps ’tis my heart I’m hearing
In tune with the beats of summer.
Outrageous blooms of bougainvilleas
Against the white wooden verandas
Festive contrasting colors
Treat the eyes with priceless raptures
Make one crave for summer flavors ~
Buko juice, fruit shake, iced cola
Water melon, pineapple, mangoes, papaya
Garnished with flowers of gumamela.
‘Tis the season for lavish summer fiesta!
The writers island invites us to write on the prompt this week: “Outrageous,” I thought of using the word in a more positive note. Please visit http://writersisland.wordpress.com to be inspired.
Chasing sunset’s subdued light
Dense clouds clear behind.
Waiting is one the toughest passages of life. I feel confined and stranded being neither here nor there. I am not anymore what I used to be, but not yet also what I would become. I’m like a hatching egg on a hanged nest, and what I am tasked to do for now is to wait.
In 2004, I left the safety of my harbour – resigned from my job – and plunged into an ocean of uncertainties to answer the beckoning of a better life promised for nurses in the US. I never thought I would go back to the profession I deserted 10 years earlier. After all, I was contented living one of my childhood dreams working as a store manager. But in life, there are things that we have to do not because we want to, but because we need to. That explains my unpopular decision and the risk I took then, which surprised my peers and against the advise of my superiors. And so, just like other nurses chasing their fate overseas, or worse, like most filipinos dreaming to live anywhere but here, I became part of our country’s version of modern-day exodus: The alarming problem of Filipino Immigration – or is this the solution to our ailing economy?
Clear shallow puddles
Fishes feed in the harbor
Off seas, the fleet goes.
I found the enlightenment I seek for my action while treading the narrow passage of my life’s transition. The clues are revealed in the fleeting moments while I wait. I capture them by writing, and it is amazing how they take shape on paper as I move forth. Heedful to the unfolding of each day, I trusted God’s time to take me where I am headed. Books opened my mind to look at things in a pellucid perspective that mostly I didn’t fathom initially.
Perhaps it was providential that I chanced upon a haiku piece from a book I am reading that started it all. Basho’s most famous verse, the old pond, stirred my interest on his works and the Haiku. I found a perfect form and pattern to inscape my ideas and present state of mind. It inspired me to compose my Filipino Immigration series : a collection of poems that helped me explore my sentiments about this journey.
Land of Childhood Dreams
Hedged in by enormous seas
Haiku is a poem that depends on images for its effect. Suggestiveness and brevity are the soul and life of a Haiku. It is the shortest of the Japanese poems consisting of 17 syllables in three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables respectively. Almost always, a Haiku makes some reference to the seasons. Although contemporary Haiku writers maintain that such is not a necessary element. They infused human affairs and variety of subject matters such as love, journey, and the uncertainties of life in their works. Like other Japanese poetry forms, it has no meter and rhyme.
Cool winds from the west
Carrying the scents of pines,
Entice the palm’s fronds.
Matsuo Bashu (1644-1694), is the greatest Japanese Haiku poet. His style contenues to exercise great influence on the works of his followers upto the present day. His Haiku are finished art giving expression to actual life he calls, a life of poetical refinement. His themes mainly are natural beauties. He has deep insights on the essence of things and the advantage for powerful impressiveness. Here is my attempt to becoming his would-be follower:
Rare pearl of south sea
Strewn on far off foreign shores
One of Basho’s follower I admire is Taniguchi Buson(1715-1783), Buson’s style retains natural beauties, an influence by Basho, but differs the master in some respects. He infused romantic themes and interesting incidents in history on his works, giving free play to fantasy and imagination. Many of his verses are sketches in words with wonderful realism and vivid descriptive power derived from his style of painting. Buson exercised his strong influence in these 2 verses of my series:
Odd drizzling showers
Frozen waters on brown skin
Drenched soul, shivering.
Sweet tropical fruits
Food for migratory birds
New trees in new lands.
Another disciple of Basho that added fresh touch on his style is Issa(1762-1827). His verses are essentially pathetic. They are poems in human affairs dressed in haiku. His tragic art is the apt pattern to cloth my own pathetic insights on immigration.
Foreign busy streets
Teeming with nameless faces
Alone in the crowd.
There is confusion among some western writers calling Haiku the japanese epigram on the ground that in length it resembles the short european epigrams. Asaturo Miyamori cleared this issue sighting that epigrams rather bear great resemblance to Senryu or witty poems. Senryu is another Japanese verse of the 17th century originated by Karai Hachiemon who uses senryu(the river willow) for his pen name. Though it resembles Haiku’s syllable count, they differ much in manner, contents and subject matter. Senryu is more biting, witty, welcomes humor and is often vulgar. Humor is considered bad taste in a Haiku, which is a serious verse. Here’s my senryu verse that fits to this series:
Fingers rolled on ink
Black mark streaks on documents
Flying to US.
I encountered many setbacks along the process of my US immigrant visa application: false promises from agencies, retrogression, delays, delays, delays! The agony of waiting I silently suffer had shaken my optimism, but I realize now that all these, too, are part of my journey’s itenerary.
Waiting help build a person’s character: it did a successful overhaul job in mine. I appreciate better now the true meaning of the line: never save anything for the swim back. No matter how hazed the horizon in the morning, or how narrow the roads may seem, or how uncertain the ocean may be, we should always thrive to take that one more step forward. Because we would never know how close we are to the shore unless we try to take that one more stroke.
He is my life raft in the rough sea;
My compass when terrains are hazy.
I fear no more my journey’s dark alley,
For God lights a candle inside me.
I got my approved Visa in 2006; left the country and arrived here Chicago, October last year. It is my ticket to this current phase of my life’s journey. I thought before that my ultimate prize was to get here. I know now that I already claimed bits of my rewards with the wisdom I gained along the way. I dreamed of setting my feet on the american soil. I was enthused to have the chance to show them what Filipinos are made of. Perhaps, that waiting phase was God’s way of giving me time for self-appraisal before I leave, so I would know what I could offer the world.
Carry specks of home
Brown shoe-tracks on snow.
I value the wisdom that the school of life taught me in that oppressive confines of the classroom of waiting. I will forever treasure the Haiku lessons I am fortunate to learn in the side at that moment. I have packed them with the memories in my luggage. As I re-opened the pages now, Flashback of thoughts flicker in my mind. I promised not to forget and this haiku collection will remind me to remember.
For Writers Island prompt: Triumph and Survivor
It is three hours before sunrise, three hours before I face again the humdrums of my impending day. I lie awake perspiring in my bed, enduring another night of summer heat that exceeds normal body temperature level according to the weather forecast last night. The whistling of the electric fan only intensifies the oppressive heat of the air that circulates my room. The sheets are soaked with my sweat. This leaves me restless and incapable of sound thoughts.
I am dehydrated body and mind.
It’s been weeks now that I feel this way – my mind is seems empty – and it is weeks, too, of zero journal entry. How can an empty mind fill empty pages? I wake up with this question every day and sleep with it finding no answer. I’ve been through this and back, feeling defeated every time.
But today is different!
As though emerging from drought, I suddenly have a flood of thoughts. It feels as if a dike has burst and I feel like am drowning! I am confronted with overflowing bits and pieces of puzzling thoughts, voluminous and inarticulate, I am overwhelemed and confused.
Thoughts clash inside my mind like boxers in a ring, nobody is giving up or losing except for me. I struggle to throw the boxers out, but they remain caged and battling inside my head. It is I who is knocked out black and blue instead. I need to toss them to save what sanity is left of me: I need to write! The pen and paper are my refuge. I use them like pincers to pick each inane thought out of my nutty mind, to find their meaning and to give it sense.
I drag my self out of bed.
The emerging light of day illuminate the window panes, which gives me a blurry vision of my room. The silhouettes of the chair and cabinet guide me to my writing table that stand facing the window that opens to the garden. I am seated for a moment doing nothing. I am not even sure if I am awake as I stare at the motionless darkness. But the tarry, tutti-frutti scent of the eraser filling my nostrils, and the sensation of my sweat trickling in my forehead and down my back confirms that I am. In a trance, I hear the deafening wails of my inner silence.
Lonely is a writer whose soul
Has nothing left to give.
Sweating hands, labored breathing.
Heart’s aching, and restless feeling.
Dehydrated thoughts, bloodless pen.
Lost for sound words to be written.
Dying spirit of a lonely artist;
Hope is out of sight.
There’s nothing left, but to embrace the light.
Death it is not, ’tis life.
I also hear a strangely familiar voice between the throbbing sounds of my heart beats. In the stillness of dawn I hear my soul speak. Its voice echoes in my ears awakening the dormant artist in me waiting for inspiration. I hear it speaks to the still sleeping would-be poet chanting verses that rhyme with the whistling winds. I see it hand to the would-be painter a brush and colors, which will bring to life the perfect hue of dawn. I see clearly now those incessant images that haunted me in my sleep, and I write when I awake.
Happy is the artist whose soul
Has embraced the light.
Nimble hands, rhythmic breathing,
Agile heart, and soaring feeling.
Fertile thoughts, and blood-stained ink;
There’s no more words left unwritten.
Strew of colors inside a fecund mind,
Where a painter hides.
‘Tis where poems and vast ideas reside ~
This meek poet’s life.
Keep the heart warm, satiate the eyes,
Feed the mind, embrace the light.
Set your spirit free!
Embark your soul to an exciting flight.
I have filled pages with my thoughts, scribbling the draft in my mind, when the stimulating tutti-frutti scent of the eraser returns like spirit of ammonia, restoring me to conciousness. However, it is not able to efface the vivid images sketched in my head, nor can it quiet the lingering voice of my soul. I am back, seated at my table, sweating, staring at the empty walls again.
The unfinished tale that took shape in my mind is nagging me to be completed. Stories are conceived in the heart, take shape in the mind. They belong to the pages and will find homes in the hearts of the readers. There the stories will evolve and begin a new cycle.
I am enlightened and fully awake now. I hear the roar of traffic leaving the city on the nearby road, or is it arriving? Of this I am not quite sure, but I am aware and certain of the life slowly coming awake outside my window.
The roosters are the earliest to rise; well, it seem that way for me. They wake people up with their annoying crowing at dawn, but the sound may also be idyllic depending on the ears that listen. The fowl just knows when and how to praise God for the new day. Perhaps they serve to remind the ungrateful, callous humans to do the same, but few take heed.
It is so pathetic of us to let this moment pass by sleeping, unmindful of its beauty, missing every day the miracles that happen just outside our windows. When was the last time you saw the sun peek through the mountain ridges with its rays reaching out to every corner of the horizon? This is happening every day, but each moment is unique, unlike any other. The clouds of varied hues are tinged with different light each day. The birds always fly across the horizon, yet nobody can predict from which angle or to what direction they will rise. One morning you are lucky to wake up with the stars still sparkling in the sky to vanish with the daylight, but on other mornings you will see no trace of them in the gray heavens. In yet others you’ll catch the moon still in vigil waiting for the sun to come.
These are only some of the many gifts of life we do not unwrap. Gifts which only the flowers, the trees, and the beasts – the roosters, frogs in the ponds, the four-legged and winged-creatures of earth and sky – constantly notice and praise.
Swaying vines like curtain drape the garden;
Hanging from the bough of a mango tree.
‘Tis my haven, my version of eden ~
A nook where I express my artistry.
Violet orchids and whites search the day-lights,
Like birds on flight, peep through the canopy.
Broods nestled up there, unafraid of heights,
Serenade my soul with sweet melody.
A bird perch on the twig near the pool;
Driving the fishes and the toads away,
While I stay still watching a wee ripple.
The elements are semingly showy.
I’m sated with ethereal scenery,
Seizing the subtle garden’s poetry.
I hear my mother’s voice calling me for breakfast. From my room, I can smell and tell that scrambled eggs, daing, sinigang, and a steaming cup of coffee are in the table. I am enlightened.
Life taught me the hard lessons of parting early on. My first best friend was a classmate from childhood I met during my first day in grade school. I’m not sure how his name was spelled, but I remember it sounded like “Hanibal.” My memory of his name is as bleak as my memory of how he looks – I only have a blur image of a boy my age with a new haircut. But I remember the joy finding another young soul to share my thoughts when we first entered the door of education.
Our friendship begun as soon as our first class in grade one started. We met in a classroom that smelled of the mixed scents of fresh pads, newly plastic covered notebooks encased in our new school bags like our minds ready to be filled with knowledge. The smell of freshly sharpened pencil and scented eraser would always bring me back to that moment. I remember the fresh scent of soap when I bathed that morning excited for my first day in school. I forgot the color of the clothes I wore, but I still remember how my new shirt smells. The scents of these things always conjure nostalgic thoughts, reminding me of my first best friend I lost with the passing of time. The places we reached and continually explore widen the spaces between us, and narrowed the road that once put us together at one moment in time. But in my mind we always share the desk, in that corner of our grade one classroom.
I was seated in the front row at the right side of the room next to him, a stranger just like all the other faces around me. It was fate that placed us seated next to each other, but it was our choice to become friends. The feeling of being left alone for the first time, drew us together. I feel at ease with his presence the moment we first introduced our names. We became friends before our first recess, and by the end of our first day in school, we have found in each other’s company the joy of real friendship. I cannot remember any other details of our days together, like I cannot recall anything more about him. I just know that he made my first day in school less scary to the surprise of my mother who anticipated the worse. I easily got over my separation anxieties and fear of strangers. I looked forward being back in school and always take home fun-filled stories at dinner time, telling my family about my newly found friend.
Morning comes and off it goes.
Like people come and (ouch!) they go.
For some brief moment they come my way,
But few are meant to stay.
Life’s lesson of letting go,
And memories remain with me.
Days passed. Our school activities progressed, school became my second home. But one day, I found myself unusually seated alone in our desk. My friend was absent when our teacher checked our attendance. I waited for him until recess, but lunch and afternoon classes came and gone without him. The same thing happened the next day and the days after. Our teacher some few weeks later changed our seating arrangement, making me vacate the desk we shared in our classroom where the emblems of our friendship vanished. I later heard their family moved to another place and he transferred to another school far away that my young mind then was incapable of reaching. I was assigned a new desk in the second row at the center aisle of the room after that and had new seatmates. From time to time I would glace to our desk wishing him back. My new seatmates are faceless and left my memory insignificant traces so were the other friends I had after we parted. I only remember one friend from my first day in school and he is my first real best friend.
Life taught me early on that some perfect moments could go wrong. Friends come, but I could not expect them to stay, for like me, they too, have lives to live and journeys to complete. I am not sure if my friend remembers or would have the same thoughts. My friend may forget, but as long as I still know how the classroom desk smells he will always be remembered.