I advance onwards
Deeper, deeper into the woods.
A search for, an escape from.
To chase, or to run away.
Deeper, deeper into the woods
To try to understand. Perhaps.
I leave the familiar landscapes
Of my every day roads ~
The street signs,
The white marks, and yellow.
The lamp posts in the corner of the street,
The structures that lined my way
Like the waving of your hands
That used to beacon me home
In my every day travels,
Now fading in the background
After I let go of your grip
That changed gestures driving me away.
Tears clouded my vision
But I need to move forth
Deeper, deeper into the woods.
No turning back.
I left the compass, and the map behind,
Safe in a chest where I keep the memories.
I brought only, an empty pouch
To stock things I would collect
From places unknown,
And strings to bind together
The twigs, and pieces of woods
I come to gather,
As I journey to the territories untamed
Deeper, deeper into the woods.
I am here to forget,
And also to find a place to re-call the past clearly.
To connect the fragmented pieces
Of the quilt of the story
And to toss away what’s not needed.
To find time to sew the vignettes together.
To find out how the complete picture appears
With new eyes, how the story goes
From a different perspective. Perhaps.
Here I am, a woodsman in a modern world,
A hermit in the jungle of people,
Wandering around the untamed highways;
Lost in the towering reeds of concrete and steel
Finding refuge in the man-made caves
That cost me my savings
To pay an over-night stay ~
Even the kindly service tagged with a price. Sigh.
The discomforts I paid to purchase comfort
In my entry to the lush forest of new discoveries
Where some keys are scattered
That would open me new doors of understanding
Deeper, deeper into the woods.
In the grounds of the forest are small packages
Of seeds that encapsule wisdom.
They are gifts of the towering trees
From their fruits that mellowed with time.
They have seen both
The wider view of the lowlands,
And the best view of the heavens.
I am here to collect the seeds
To fill the pouch I carried for that purpose.
From these seeds I wanted to grow another forest
Where another wanderer from onother time
Would collect and sow them again, on and on
I trod deeper,
Deeper into the woods
Picking remnants of beauty of the past
Blending with the modern aesthetics,
Like an architecture
Built along the shore.
The reflection of its glass structure
Captured by the placid lake
At noon time
Create such a lovely contrast ~
Like a bird perched on a metal pole,
The blooms against the skyline,
A fountain in the middle of a busy street,
Like me, a waif in this streets away from home
Trying to blend in the landscape
Gathering woods in the not so common place
For a woodgatherer,
But I have used up my strings
In the bundles of woods of ideas
I gathered, enough to fuel my creations
It is time to return home.
Jeques, Milwaukee. July 30 to August 1, 2010. From his “Traveler’s Soliloquies” poetry collection.
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
What is there left to write,
When my sense of home has faded.
Fallen souvenirs pirouette in the air ~
Leaves dancing downwards ~ like specter.
The ink must wait, and rest til winter is over
(My spirit retires to quiescent under the covers)
Things freeze like the trees, even the lake dozes.
As wakeful hours become less and less,
Mind loses its bluntness,
The page speechless.
Distance drained my veins bloodless
Even the pulse of my pen ceases.
I’m losing grip of the eidolon of home,
It’s warmth I no longer recall.
Like the trees losing their leaves to autumn,
The hands of memories that used to lift me,
For a time, fail to save my spirit to fall.
I let the cruel wanton winds to take me;
I trust the higher will would be kind.
I write my thoughts in the palms of the season,
I trust them to come back in time.
When my sense of home fills me up again;
When revenant of home,
Jeques, 2009. From his “A Traveler’s Soliloquies” poetry collection.
Chicago. 15th October, 2009
When I’m absent minded, please remind me. I’m sorry that I’m here but my mind is somewhere hovering in a place never known to you. Forgive me for not making you feel my presence, or if you’re ever aware I arrived. Perhaps to you, I’m just another head to add number to your dwellers. In case you don’t, it’s been three years now.
Three years of traversing your grounds trying to belong, but still get that same cold look in the eyes of your locals, like when I arrived, every time I try to find familiarity – still but a stranger struggling to blend to your intricacy, too complex for someone like me who grew up in a place where everyone I meet in the streets are relatives or at least somebody else’s I would surely know. But if you live that life too long, it’s tiring. It’s easier to get to know other people, than to delve with the person that resides in the confines of your ribs. I longed for anonymity, but when you gave it to me, I’m not sure if I would have still wanted it.
Here I am a dweller in your patch of the earth taking you in, but like the air, I just breath you to exhale again, unable to entirely assimilate you into my system. Every day remains to be like fast-moving scenes just passing, slipping my hands leaving me detached no matter how hard I try to take hold of the moment. I’m like a guest attending an event but not formally introduced to the host, if you would ever understand my kind of uneasiness being here. But I have to admit I should take much of the blame for our estrangement. You took me as a tenant, but still think of myself just a transient tourist taking snapshots that I would eventually bring home. I have to confess, I didn’t find the home I look for in your manicured fields. Your towering reeds of spires are just too much for me, I shrink to a muted element that would not fit to your structured collage and forever scares to be left out in the fast lanes of your speeding races, like a peculiar yarn in a loom afraid that your unforgiving modern living would soon prey on me and isolate me from the weave. This fear comes from my job caring for the casualties and losers in the races of your city. I can sense raw defeat in their eyes every day. I don’t want to be counted when I’m useless in a shelter awaiting for your mercy, God forbid I would be wheeled there one day against my will, like a dotard with nothing to share about my past and forgotten, leaving no signs – not even a frass – to prove that one time I walked this path to conclude my story. I asked for anonymity, but not that kind of ending. I need this brief anonymous moment to cast off some misleading marks I allowed time to grow like moss in my fecade so I could resurface defined and genuine like a gem from the dunes of myth. In that way you will not count me as just another head to add number to your dwellers, but a valued yarn in your loom that would add an interesting pattern to the elaborate colors of your city.
I have issues I need to come to terms with for my hesitance to permanently rest my anchor in your celebrated grounds, for I remain a dreamy oar sailing above your surface finding my way like in the misty lake in the morning. I think about another place. Soon I will sing to you his songs, tell you his stories. I will be showing you his doodled images I bind in the pages of my heart while I was awaiting for that day when I have to leave the same arms that pushed my frail vessel that brought me here. But for the moment, let me enjoy this while I prepare the things that I brought from home that I wanted you to see. My maker is aware I longed for anonymity, he searched a place for me and find you to conspire with – this is the fruition from that conspiracy. Forgive my torpid response when you fold your cold arms around me on my arrival, I faked my smile for I was overwhelmed, even thought of sailing back and retreat. But I am here. I should be here.
When I’m absent minded, please remind me. Forgive my shortcomings, I take the blame for my willful alienation that kept me withdrawn this past three years. I didn’t really gave you the chance. I stayed remote for my need to reconcile my past with the present to resolve internal turbulence for a dreamt smooth sailing journey ahead. I need this moment to delve with the person that resides within my ribs that took many masks imposed for him to wear to please people that made him altogether forget who he really is. I need to peel the layered superficialities accumulated over the years to uncover and pick myself out of the half-truth heaps, if I have to start it right with you.
And when I’m done with this transient anonymity, I will wear my true skin, flaws included, walk your streets and find kindred spirits in the eyes of your people I meet, because I belong.
This piece marks my 3rd year in America, my 3rd year struggling as a foreigner trying to fit in the molds of Chicago and not forgetting my roots.
Jeques, 2009. From his “Traveler’s Soliloquies” collection.
I would sit here oftentimes
Like a pedestrian
In the corner of a street
For green light
So I could let my thoughts flow
From your silent signal
And walk the streets of the world
From this window,
My fragile gateway
(Jeques, 2009. From his A Traveler’s Soliloquies poetry collection)
What’s in the Name?
It took me some time to give him a name, I thought his name should have something to do with my life history – after all, he’s like a kid to me. And if I would be a father, I would give my son the best name and it should be coined with meaning, that his name would be poetry itself.
So I went back to my own life, my experiences with cars from childhood and how I look at things from then to now. Vreques is the first car I bought from my hard earned income. His birth was planned. He is my first major purchase in America, and he is the first property in my signature – like a child, he carries my name.
But what was my first car, really?
“Childhood” pencil on paper, by: Jeques, July 4, 1998
The first car I drove was a pull cart made from an empty tin can of milk and the manufacturer was my elder brother. I thought my brother could have been successful in the field of making cars as grown up if our father was just discerning enough to spot my brother’s natural gift for building. But some stories doesn’t always end with happy endings – I still wish my brother would find his way soon. In 1999, I sketched from memory my first car as shown above. This image inspired the name I gave my car, “Vreques.” As a kid, I call any moving vihicle “vroom-vroom.” And that’s also how all my tin can cars sounded. I would pull them around our backyard and I would give it sound – “vroom – vroom, vroooooom!!!
From this memory, I coined the name and I thought it sounded well combined with Jeques, “VR – EQUES” to make it my own, my first born. My child.
The first car I drove as grown up was a car given to me by the company I worked for back in the Philippines when I was still in the pharmaceutical field. And then at home, I drove our family car – an old Mitsubishi lancer model. When I came to America, I didn’t instantly planned to buy a car. My work place is a 5 minutes walk from my apartment, so it’s not really a necessity. But then I have a life after work, and with my limited time during my off days doing the errands; commuting is taking so much of my time that I don’t have enough time to really rest and relax. A car then would come in handy to lighten up my tasks during my dayoff. I am so used living alone for 2 years now, I only have a tiger as a silent companion in my apartment. But I have no complaits, I am like the tiger, I love my solitude. For the longest time, I enjoyed this life. But I need to move forward and I thought getting a car is timely.
I conceived buying a car last spring. I searched for a car that would serve best for me. I went to the process of elimination from the many cars I chose from and HONDA Fit Sport won my heart in the end. I don’t want a big car, that’s the first requirement, but I wanted a car that have enough space. I paint, and I buy big canvases, so I would need a car that have a trunk that could accomodate the big size canvas I buy for my paintings. This is where Honda Fit scored the highest for me – it is small but the trunk and the back seat could be folded to comply to my requirement.
It is also one of the recent models that’s very economical with gas consumption. The rising price of oil products made me find practical means when I was deciding which car to buy. These features and more of Honda Fit Sport made me love, and worked hard for last summer to get it. My choice of color caused the delay of the delivery, but when it’s time it is really time. It was delivered and I got Vreques, October 15, 2008, the day I was celebrating my 2nd anniversary here in chicago. So I thought it’s God’s gift for my anniversary. Vreques birthday coincide with the milestone in my life as an immigrant.
Vreques came at the right time when I’m ready to get a companion, somebody who would wait for me, pick me up, take me to work and drive me home.
Like the seeds and the flowers, I, too, long for the sun to lit my face and so I follow the direction of the light. I don’t turn my back to its warm glow, I tried it once but I only saw shadows. I crawl, and walk, and run, and slowly tread my path towards the light ~ it is the only way I could get a better view of life, of my destiny slowly revealing itself from the distance as I travel on. It’s like waking up, rising, walking and following a spark of light in the morning haze believing the promise to see my full vision coming to life as I travel on.
As I draw the curtains open ~
Welcoming the light to my room ~ in the morning,
I’m warmly greeted by ethereal scenery,
From the window, of the garden.
Velv’ty petals, captivating;
Ferns’ fronds waving, pruned bonsai trees, green leaves sparkling.
The morning dew trickles on the leaves, like pearls dripping.
My secret treasures, my blessings.
Along, a light soundtrack playing,
Of winds whistling, and birds in the background chirping.
Closed eyes, I inhale the eucalyptus essence,
Wafting in the air of morning.
A breeze steals me a tender kiss,
In my mind, I draw someone’s face and lips, and wish.
Evanescence, with open eyes, it vanishes.
‘Tis gone like a dream, leave no trace.
Fruits mellow as I wake today.
Seeds sprout, birds perched and nestle in the mango tree.
Fishes swim in the pond, contained, yet feeling free.
Tendrils cling, vines rising, like me.
(Rising: Welcoming The Light By: Jeques B. Jamora – October, 2005)
As I continue to move forward, the light defines itself and give my life new meaning. Destinies reached become part of the colorful trails I left, like lamp-posts to mark my glorious travels when I look back and re-live the lights of the memories. I continue to rise from the grounds of home that anchors my heart and where I am deeply rooted. So no matter how far the distances I reach as I continue to chase my destiny, I know where I belong, I know my heart’s home.
Bay-bay, Roxas City, Philippines
In a tropical isle in the southeast,
Is a dormant waif seed with lots of dreams.
He is home, but his soul seems not at rest,
For across the seas his destiny beams.
Visions often visit him in his sleep ~
Winds taking him to his frontier west.
In a tedious journey, ardous and steep,
He feels the adventures pound in his chest.
He drinks the sweet mists oozing to the earth
That nourish the seed’s dreams, feeding his soul.
He feels the world’s warmth while inside his hearth,
And thrives through the earth’s generous heart dole.
His homeland gives his dreams a sense of place.
Your encouragements kindle his life’s blaze.
(Nourished By Jeques B. Jamora – March, 2006. A poem I wrote before I left the Philippines)
This week, the Writers Island prompts us to write on ‘Rising‘ and ‘Destiny.’ These are my thoughts, these are the songs that my soul sings, and I know many in http://writersisland.wordpress.com would love to listen. Please visit the island where many souls are singing.
“Nostalgia” oil on canvas, 30×38. By: Jesus Jeques B. Jamora, November 2007
I was born and I grew up in one of my homeland’s scattered islands, in the heart of the Philippine Archipelago. Our country is embraced by the sea; if God is the ocean, then He must have loved the Filipinos so much. We are constantly caressed by the sea waves come high tide or low tide, the ocean enfolds us. We are generously showered by God’s salty kisses.
Rare pearls of south sea
Strewn on far off shores
(From my Filipino Immigration, Haiku Series #5)
The beach is one thing I miss about home ~ my walks in the sea shores, the brine touching my skin, the sand tickling the soles of my feet, the view of the open sea’s apparent horizon nourishing my dreams. I am now here ”beyond that horizon,” which I just used to watch in my walks in the strands.
Sometimes, you will never really know and understand a thing until you stay away from it. I now undertand better what I love about my country, and what I miss about home. The sea is one of them.
My earliest memory of the sea are the mangroves. These dense thickest along the rivers and the tidal shores was my first view of the sea. We live in the inland, so before I saw the endless emerald green seas under the azure skies, my young eyes was already captured by this mystical greens that lined the coasts and the river banks. There is something in their verdancy that transport me back in time.
Mangroves are time machines of my nostalgia for simplier, uncomplicated life of childhood. It brings me back to the summer of my youth, of my first boat ride, of fishing, of hunting, of swimming in the pristine river brine. My happy thoughts and bitter-sweet longing for my first sunburn.
Photographs from my recent home-coming to the Philippines.
The Sea, You and Me
I’ve seen how everything are connected
That somehow we are one ~ interrelated.
As I tread the sands stretching to the sea,
And my size is engulfed by its infinity,
I watch in great wonder how God links things.
And How God connected you to me~
The seawaves gently kissing the seashores.
The shore that’s bed to the infinite sands.
The sand that reaches the roads, that lead me home.
The home inside my heart where you belong.
You are safe in my heart you are home now.
Today, as you open the doors, streets you will see.
Walk the streets, it will lead you to me.
The many winding roads take you somewhere,
To the beach, maybe.
The beach where the sands are gathered
Forming the fine strands kissed by the sea.
The sea that stretches reaching me here.
The enormous sea that links you to me.
Thinking of the sea, painting the mangroves, feeding my nostalgia. When shall the salty sea-breeze of home ever kiss me again?
Three things that relax me:
I used to walk every day before sunrise when I was still in the Philippines, and my morning walks would usually end in the beach that opens to the sea where I conceive my dreams. ‘Tis my daily pilgrimage and like any pilgrims, my walks, my short journey to the sea enriches me. There is much more wisdom gained in becoming than in being. It is in my daily walks that I composed many of my poetry, that I conceived many new and sometimes crazy ideas. I feel connected to the streams of inspirations, creativity over flows, I commune with nature, I am in-touch with my creator.
I walk to understand life, I walk to find me.
A Traveler’s Soliloquy (Prologue)
On the steep cliff at the edge of the coast,
Lies a vine that bears a rare white flower ~
Hanging in wait like a forlorn soul, lost.
The sirens of the calm ocean whisper;
Echoing with the mountains’ dirge like ghost.
These plangent cries pervade the dawn’s zephyr:
“Let go of your clinging grip; it is time.
Your fate beacons from the unknown distance.
Hear the ringing of your destiny’s chime,
Answer the summons of this tenuous chance!”
The flower’s ineffable faith in life
Propels its heart to will to face its fears;
To transcend many generations’ strife,
And to fulfill the tales oft told by seers.
So, in the young hours of the morning,
Along the threnody crooned by the wind
The flower cut its thin fiber clinging.
To seize its future, this passage’s end ~
I arrive in the beach just before the sun appears over the horizon. I look at that boundary where the skies kiss the sea, you could not tell where the earth ends and the heavens begin. It is one of the calmest scene one could ever see. I feel so small before the ocean and the arched skies. I am humbled by God’s genius painting the skies with colors that no artist could ever duplicate. And then slowly, some flashes of lights burst over the horizon that astounish me everytime. I am silenced. What comes next is a magical moment when the sun takes flight completely leaving its last kiss to the sea, the magical moment happens when the flickering lights appear like glitters strewn over the ocean.
The hepnotic flickering lights over the horizon inspire my reveries, promising endless possibilities. My dreams lie beyond the horizon: where the sea birds fly, where I saw the airplanes disappear, where the glitters are more brilliant.
Years later, I have crossed the sea. I soared in the skies higher than the sea birds, I went where the airplanes disappear, I alight in the land of endless possibilities to live my dreams. I arrived in the blank space over the horizon that I only used to watch in my morning walks, in the sea, in my dreams.
It was a journey that started with my morning walks, look where my dreams brought me. It is an enriching journey. the wisdom I gained along the way are the glitters I gathered that are now part of me. I am miles away from home – that’s the warm glow I watch over the horizon now. Somewhere behind that glow where the sun kiss the sea is my home, my reasons for coming here and where all these glitters I collect some day would belong.
Three things I wish I will have forever in my life:
I could not tell where this three would bring me from where I am now. The flickering lights over the horizon beacon endless possibilities. New dreams are conceived, my heart is ready, I open my arms in acceptance.
A Traveler’s Soliloquy (Epilogue)
I reached the edge of the coast at twilight.
Walking back, I draw deep breaths of relief.
The sea is tinged with sunset’s crimson light.
On my path are flowers strewn on the reef.
I picked the salient flower in pure white,
When I looked up, I see vine-drapes on cliff.