The places we visit are like peepholes we take a peek, revealing parts of a bigger picture of the journeys we take. This is what New York showed me. I visited the place for the first time last year, but it felt like I was there forever.
Land of childhood dreams
Hedged in by enormous seas
Have you ever had thought so strong it follows you all through life? I have. It is incessant and tarry as the waves to the shore that come, and go, and come back in erratic intensity of currents taking me back, up, down and forth.
Years back, I wrote this haiku piece included in my Filipino Immigration collection and New York, I have to confess, was the place in mind when I wrote it. I had a strong feeling even then, though I didn’t know exactly when, that one day I’m going alight on to its grounds like the damselfly and walk its streets where my dream arrived ahead of me. For somebody who lived in the other side of the world, it was a dream that for years I half-believed, but after January 17, 2009, with all my heart, I now do.
I first saw America in a postcard, in a picture of a snowy Time Square, New York and visited the place countless times in my thoughts. I’m not sure who owned that card, or who sent it to whom and from where, but I think of it now an invitation sent by my fate from the future to come to a place. An enticement I ignored, or perhaps I turned down at some point doubting possibilities, but the invitation ever haunting.
Years after, I arrived in Chicago and saw snow for the first time. I walked the streets in many snowy days, and my thought of the christmas card would return, unreeling in waves and waves of flashback like an old film but the picture always incomplete, not until last year, when fate put me exactly in that old picture of the postcard I once viewed as a child. My dream and I converged in Time Square where all the elements conspired, and felt the snow the way the child thought it should feel melting on my face when I arrive to answer that long time invitation.
I really thought my many years of incessant thoughts of New York ended when I finally answered its invitation. But I fear, No! I left many stones unturned with my brief weekend visit last year that continue to frequent my reveries, courting me with new angles of possibility. This is what New York mean to me now. For many years, it’s something impossible and far away, and when I reached to touch its grounds, it remained mystical and distant. I felt ignored during my visit. I even wonder it noticed my presence. Perhaps it’s my fault for ignoring the invitation too long that fate have forgotten about the christmas card and didn’t recognize me when I finally stepped into the picture to answer its long time invitation.
I love New York
But it didn’t love me back
A love that endured
Years of dreaming
And wake up
To walk its streets
For fleeting moment
And temporary bliss
With its rushing time.
I chased you
In the fast lanes
Of my recurring dreams.
I run after your affection
In the weekend
I spent with you,
I love New York
But it didn’t love me back.
I contented myself
With passing glances
Until the curtains dropped
And the show ended
When day light shied away
From your night lights.
But that’s when I start to dream,
Again, where you become real.
Only in dreams
That I belong to you
And when I trully walk your streets
And leave marks
Of my footsteps
In your heart.
When you wake up,
I hope you recognize
Among the many vagabond
That walked the paths
That meet in the intersection
Where dreams alight
And don’t dissolve
With the fumes
Of your heavy traffic.
Only then that my dream
Would really come alive.
New York is one of the places I visited that intrigued me to fathom its relevance to my journey. It is like a hole in a lock where a key would fit one day awaiting to be turned to reveal me many things behind the shut door. I doubt the possibilities no more when fate put me in that picture and walked the streets of the postcard of long ago that gave me the preview of what was to come and in fleeting moments became a surreal reality that weekend. I know I need to come back to complete the story and when I do, I would not leave a single stone unturned.
Our dreams may reside in many different places. Places that would speak to us in many different languages, giving us messages, revealing to us secret codes that would help decipher the mysteries of our journeys. I wish my pictures would work like the old postcard did to me and reach the eyes and hearts of dreamers to invite, to entice and reassure that dreams still come alive if we believe. And I hope you would answer that invitation soon.
Don’t make your dreams wait too long.
Jeques at Stairway to heaven. Time Square, New York, January 2009
Where Hearts Converge
This sad ending would be our beginning ~
Face to face, you and me, aboard the train.
Together, albeit our roads parting:
Mine bounds north, yours south. Then it starts to rain.
Would time and space bring us happy ending?
Would we converge in this station again?
And just like that, we’re on our own again ~
Watching the blankness of our beginning
Through the panes of an uncertain ending
Like errant souls on board the express train
Listening to the sad notes of the rain
Heaven’s soundtrack to our fateful parting.
Time slips our palms like the daylights parting ~
‘Tis dark, and gloom embraces us again.
But our sorrows will be washed by the rain.
This railroads meet to a fresh beginning.
We will get there, let us allow the train.
And then we’ll entomb these woes to ending.
We travel through this passage’s ending ~
The railroads fork and we see hearts parting.
Tons of broken souls carried by the train.
But rails would weave them together again.
To debark in frontiers of beginning,
Like seed sprouting, bathed by the springtime rain.
As pains’ dusts settle soaked by the rain,
The turmoil alights to a graceful ending.
The heart learns to hum tunes of beginning,
And understands that even the parting
Is part of it all, then we smile again ~
As we weave our stories inside the train.
I get off, now enlightened, from the train ~
Mind’s pellucid like skies after the rain.
Heart’s calm awaiting to see you again.
May you look forward to the same ending,
May your thoughts not be hazed by this parting.
‘Til we reach our station of beginning.
Last night’s rain crooned our sorrows to ending.
Trains meet again in our point of parting ~
Where hearts converge to a new beginning.
(Where Hearts Converge a Sestina I wrote for the poetry workshop I attend every wednesday. Jeques, 2009)
Have I told you I started attending a weekly poetry workshop last wednesday? I think not. The workshop will run for 6 weeks this summer. I chanced upon the Ad when I got me some books for my painting studies in Evanston, IL public libruary. I missed one session but I was able to submit a poem for the first poetry form : Cento, a poetry made up of lines borrowed from a combination of established authors, usually resulting in a change in meaning. For me, the beauty of composing a Cento is it makes you read poetry and appreciate more the lines. This poetry would be very helpful to beginners, it could be a starting point because to write poetry, a poet needs and should read first the works of other poets and Cento just help you do that, it makes you appreaciate the work of others, makes you compose from their inspirations and perhaps help you find your voice along the way.
I was cramming when I put this cento poem together. I called tuesday(July 7) afternoon if it was possible for me to catch up since I missed the first week. Joshua, the moderator, said yes and told me about the Cento which was discussed the previous week and that I have to bring a piece the next day if I’m interested to attend. I work night shift, but I brought with me one of my favorite poetry books to work that night, and during dead hours read poems of great authors and line by line composed a Cento. The first line I got from the song, “Eversince the world begun,” the soundtrack of the 1989 movie: Lock up. Here is the piece I put together and I read during the first session(July 8).
I never knew what brought me here
You entered my life in a casual way.
The dream we dream together here,
All paths lead to you where e’er I stray.
There is nothing that last, not one.
Yet still the story and the meaning stay.
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done.
Yet it well might be that never for me.
I need so much the quiet of your love.
A love like this can know no death.
I need your calm all other things above.
Your precious presence is the air I breath.
I want you through every changing season
If not, then let me live this life alone.
(This Wanting a Cento poem. Here are the poems and the authors I got the lines of this poem from: line #2 TO A FRIEND by Grace Stricker Dawson, #3 IN THE ROSE GARDEN byJohn Bennett, #4 ALL PATHS LEAD TO YOU by Blanch Shoemaker Wagrooff, #5 HER ANSWER by John Bennett, #6 THE RIGHT KIND OF PEOPLE by Edwin Markham, #7 SOMEBODY SAID THAT IT COULDN’T BE DONE by Edgar Guest, #8 OUR OWN by Margaret Sangster, #9 AT NIGHT FALL by Charles Hanson Towne, #10 AD FINEM by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, #11 AT NIGHT FALL by Charles Hanson Towne, #13 I WANT YOU by Arthur L. Gillom. Lines #12 and 14 are my original)
Last wednesday(July 8), we discussed the poetry form: Sestina. I have been always interested to try writing a poem in this form but the structure is too demanding thereby forbidding, so I always end up throwing first drafts. The reason why I’ve always longed to get myself into a workshop is to get the chance to be crafty again with poetry, and this just works that way for me. Since I’m now slowing down with painting nearing the completion of my collection, I find time to write again and the poem included here is my first produce when I finally got myself sitted again to study poetry structures and working the craft. The sentina we compose this week will be read and discussed on our next workshop this coming wednesday(July 15).
Let me share with you sestina’s definition from the Academy of American Poets
The sestina is a complex form that achieves its often spectacular effects through intricate repetition. The thirty-nine-line form is attributed to Arnaut Daniel, the provencal troubador of the 12th century. The name “troubadour” like comes from trobar, which means to invent or compose verse. The troubadours sang their verses accompanied by music and were quite competitive, each trying to top the next in wit, as well as complexity and difficulty of style.
The sestina follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the initial 6 end-words of the first stanza throught the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The lines may be of any length, though in its initial incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic restriction.
Note: I followed a 10-syllabic count in each line respectively in my poem.
The form is as follows, where each numeral indicates the stanza position and the letters represent end-words:
7 (envoi) ECA or ACE ( I used ECA, please note that I also used all the 6 end-words in the last three lines)
The envoi, sometimes known as the tornada, must also include the remaining three-end words, BDF, in the course of the three lines so that all six recurring words appear in the final three lines. In place of a rhyme scheme, the sestina relies on end-word repetition to effect a sort of rhyme.
The poetry idea using the train and the train station as backdrop have been chasing me and been resurfacing my mind for more than a year now. I first got the idea when one time we took the subway here in chicago(hence, the reference to the north and south bound directions of the train), The place just poured me such an overwhelming poetry inspiration, but I did not act on it instantly for many reasons, and one of them is I’m still finding the right structure to give the poetry idea a body that it would need. Last year, I wrote the poem Summer, Gone. The poem contains some of the ideas that are infused in Where Hearts Converge. Here’s the poem Summer gone:
You came to bring me summer sunshine,
You left to leave me autumn gloom.
Like a speeding train,
What happened to the vibrant days,
Where have my sunshine gone?
Why do the clouds just suddenly
My smile, don’t fade away
Why do you have to give up
Your sunny yellow ~
Have I not brought
Your life some bright lights,
Why do we have to go apart
Would the evening light
In this changing season,
Would it ease
The growing yearning
With its subdued
I rest my heart
In this lonely season.
But I would keep our paths
Of grass growths.
May the railroad
That took you away
Would lead you
And when you’re tired
Chasing the changing seasons,
You could always return
To an endless
Here in my resolute
I think it is also important to mention here that the heart of this poem and the sentiment I expressed here was originally conceived in the poem One Heart which I composed in 2003.
Two different people
Living separate lives
Wanting different dreams
Going to opposite directions.
But then they met.
And they become one
One heart in two different people
One in their thoughts
Going towards the same direction ~
Living the same dreams.
Where Hearts Converge is one of the poems I’ve written that really went through a very long process. The idea, the sentiments and the heart of the poem came and present itself to me in fragments, but I believe I was able to gather the elements in a piece which I put together here and give it the perfect body in the sestina structure.
I already have a painting idea in mind for this poem which I conceived some few months back. The title is “Convergence,” a painting series of 4 pieces and I will be using the Kois and the elements of the railroads in the painting which I will post here when I finish the series. Until then, but for now, I included an illustration of the poem in pencil, pen and ink sketches on drawing paper.