Jeques, 2010. From his Traveler’s Soliloquies poetry collection.
A free-spirited cub
Laid on the holy slab
Donned by my mother white.
A willing sacrificial lamb
To get the approval of my father.
He offered me to the altar
In fulfillment of a promise
To pay his dues,
And left me waif outside a shut door
Of a dome I din’t belong.
He dropped me off the road, unknown,
To a journey never understood.
A life he ordered me to live,
Without a map to follow
And lost myself along the way.
I strayed into the wilderness,
Cruel and unforgiving,
Like a vulnerable cub
Bullied by laughing hyenas.
There was no armor
To shield me in the battles
I didn’t expect exist
Inside the dome
That I thought was holy.
I was an easy prey
To predators in school
And the obloquies of my father
When I returned home.
The life raft
I thought I could cling on
In times of storm
Pushed me away,
Drifting, hitting rocks in the shores
That would not welcome me.
I sustained wounds
That bleed inside me
I leaked many years in silence
To healing ~
Nursed the white cub inside me
And made myself whole again.
I was a reject at 13,
A loser at such a young age.
A picture of defeat,
Expelled from the dome
That many thought
Would determine my future.
The once free-spirited cub
Suddenly became a pariah
Retiring to his digged burrows
Leaving behind no egress,
To a different kind of confinement.
I tried to mimic the hyenas
For awhile to earn my protection
From the harsh world.
A symbiosis I welcomed
Like the anemone
To a clownfish taking shelter
In its stinging tentacled folds
While I build my backbone,
Training my fins to swim
And find the lost me again.
It was a moment
I’m not proud about, and remorseful.
I feel for the souls I stung with words,
For who could understand them better
But me who once was a dartboard
Of ridicules of the hyenas.
I learned to sound like their laughter
But never become them,
For caged within me was a crying cub
I heard clearly
When I chose solitude.
I didn’t belong to any herd
And refused to take their colors,
For I chose to become a new breed
That grows its claws
Not to harm, but to protect.
To weave words not to distroy,
But to re-build the broken spirits.
It took me years
To understand my purpose,
Like the clownfish to survive
Free of my imaginary anemone.
It took me awhile to recognize
The true sound of my laughter
Muted by the loud hyenas.
In solitude I redeemed my voice
I once lost in my desperate attempts
To seek the approval of my father.
I swam the ocean, arrived in the shore
That my creator intended me to be
And found the white cub still clad in white
His mother once donned him,
But now grown
HAVE A WONDERFUL YEAR OF THE WHITE TIGER, EVERYONE!
I wish you well.
When all the grains
Of smile are drained
Through the lips
Of the time glass,
All the joys gone,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
When the refraction of ray
Doesn’t reach you,
Barred by layers
Of doldrums, and soak you
In the dark marshes that drown
Your spirit slowly
Down the quicksand,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
When all the fragrance
Has left you
Suffocating in the unsought
Scents of things,
You’re ready to succumb
To obloquies that knock you
Black and blue,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
When the sweet tang
Tinged your heart
With gawky bitter taste
That numbs you,
And forget their better flavors after,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
When icy days
Suddenly embrace you,
Chilled in the midst of strangers;
Unclad even with coats on, and shivering.
Cold in summer sun,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
When music halted to a final note,
Lyrics suddenly turn to threnodies
As mirth fades to distance,
Duet losing words, and songs,
Or so it seems,
What about the morning?
From the bottom of the time glass
Ever accepting each speck of grains
Engulfed by its lips,
Collected in the base
Moments ever feed you
With fresh grains again, and again
And again, no end. Once more,
The gifts of the morning
Bring back lost smiles
In the lips of your time glass
To fill your heart,
And think of me.
What about the morning?
It is not what I intended,
But it’s what the moment
I have great reverence
For the higher laws;
I humbly surrender myself
To this moment of recluse.
With epenness and faith,
I trust the will
Of the greater power.
I will come out
From this passage
Like my efflorescence
Amid the bunch.
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 turn the faucet on
But nothing comes out.
Turns it back off
There’s this thirst inside.
Sometimes I thought,
Perhaps I picked the wrong cup
To catch the down pour
That would not come.
I waited too long
To quench this wanting.
But still waited.
And forgot about my thirst.
Some other times,
I slide the sill open
Needing the sun
That’s hidden behind the walls
But what would I need rain
Those times when my heart is flooded?
Often I thought,
I should have shut it close,
But still kept the sill open
Until I slept waiting
That would not be there
I forget. And still
Wake up to another day
The water runs
From the faucet most days.
There’s rain when it’s the season.
Not all days,
But there’s the sun ~
They happen in succession
For a reason.
Dreams – nights, days – and reveries.
In your absence,
And in waiting
There’s no such thing
As a wrong cup.
It’s in how I fill it up
And with what.
My eldest sister, Maritez, called me the previous day asking me to write a valedictory address for her second child, Gigi, who will be graduating Valedictorian from grade school. It was such a great moment for me. Suddenly I was a proud uncle, I believe she feels double the joy and pride I felt. Hearing my nephews’ and nieces’ accomplishments and achievements are always inspiring. It feels like I’m showered with so much positive energies, and I feel a certain feeling of high every time.
And then, I begun the composition of the speech in my mind that brought me back to the sweet memories of my early education from elementary days. It all became fresh again. All the elements came back, and I was there when it happened and the speech I wrote should have been the message I told my classmates back then, only I was not the valedictorian.
My Education: My Contribution To The Future
A Valedictory Address : Angelie Jamora Escrupulo
I arrive today to this moment, standing facing a new frontier. Before this moment pass me by, let me take each detail, each piece of memories, each body of thoughts, the knowledge, the wisdom, the important life’s lessons, all the gifts and blessings that this moment is giving me so I could take them with me to my travel to the future.
My dear classmates, are you taking the memories like me?
Do you still remember the first time we stepped to the grounds of this school, the Elementary School we will forever carry wherever the future takes us from here. Did you keep our shared laughters? The laughter forever sweet in our memories. Engrave them in your hearts, they are the laughter so pure we could always go back whenever we face the bitter taste of life that we are sure to stumble upon as we face the consequences of growing. Value the friendship we built here, they hold the purest elements of camaraderie and partnership that we need as we befriend the world.
Feel the comfort of the chairs where you are seated now, the floor where your feet are rested, breath the air, the scent of our dear school ~
If you could hold the hands of our classmates beside you, feel that gentle yet strong grip . . . .
(Note : Invite everybody at this point to hold hands and please allow some time for seatmates to enjoy the moment)
The memory of their grips will remind us that we will be forever safe wherever our futures would take us when we leave this grounds and get out of the gates of this campus that will forever hold the moments when we took our baby steps taking in the knowledge that helped form the young muscles of our minds so we would be ready.
Listen to the sounds of triumph that we all hear at this moment.
Capture all the elements that we could possibly get from here –
The scents of our notepads and erasers, of our bags, of the pencils and scented pens, when we were just learning to form the first letters, write our first words and draw our first flowers.
The many rains that showered us in our way to school and back home, and its sound as the rainfalls hit the roof of our classroom when we were just learning to count and pronounce our ABC’s
The sunlights that lit our faces, the sunshine that’s forever bright in our memories, and will forever remind us of the first exercise and dance steps we learn from our PE.
The feel of our desk, the colors of our classroom, the taste of the hundred snacks we shared.
Memorize the faces that helped pave the way for us to arrive to this victory, that made our first triumphs possible :
Our parents ~ God’s angels that built our homes and sent us to school.
Our families that supported us so we learn the basic lessons of how it is to stand and to take steps in our first walk in our journeys with life.
Our classmates and friends, who made us feel for the first time that we belong outside our homes in the safety of their company.
Our dear Teachers, our second parents in school, who fed us with all the knowledge every step of the way, from kindergarten, to grade one, to grade six, and now that this journey is about to end, as we are about to take a leap to next stage. We fear not because we are ready, they prepared us for this, to face the many battles we will face as we step to the roads to our future. Remember their voices that equipped us with the weapons and armour, these are the voices that will remind us of the power of knowledge they ingrained our young minds.
Remember our dear Principal, who helped us build our backbones in education, wherever the paths of the academe will take us, we would always trace back our beginnings from here. We should always be grateful to our principal for designing and sending us the most basic and complete, yet non-complicated map so we would not get lost no matter how blurry the visibilities of the terrains in the forest, and deserts, and jungles, and ocean, and prairies, and mountains, and skyscrapers of the cities of whatever profession that we will fly in our pursuits for knowledge to make the difference and make our corners of the world a better place to live.
We hold in our minds that map and if we uphold what we have learned, we will be sure to reach our destinations safe.
Remember that our parents, our teachers, our principal are once like you and I, too. They have arrived to where they are right now, and we their children, their pupils and the knowledge that they nourished us are their contribution to the the future they only thought about when they were our age dreaming about this very moment where we are now. Our triumphs and our achievements are their victories, too.
Let us thank them with our prayers, may our little voices would reach God’s ears to bless them. Let us pay them tribute and pass on their kindness by becoming the best versions of ourselves that they wanted all of us to become, nothing less. Wherever our journeys will take us, we will always trace our roots in this grounds, we are always anchored in their arms, in their hearts. Like kites we are safe in our flights because our strings are in the safety of their caring hands.
Let me read to you a poem written by my uncle, let this poem be my message to everybody who once were children, too.
Child Once, Too
Let the child run free, uphills or down plains
Like a gazelle that gallops in prairies.
Let him swim in lakes, bathe in rains
And coquette like the mystical fairies.
Censor him not for he is free from stains
Trust not the filthy mind of the gentries.
Free the child from the restraining chains
And from the customs’ narrow boundaries.
Let him be for his generations’ gains ~
Allow the children to weave their stories.
And now, as we celebrate this milestones in our young life, let us celebrate this moment with grateful hearts. Our graduation today is our contribution to the future – from the seeds that we are now, will spring bright citizens of our country that will help sustain and make the difference. We will be taking different highways from this little road, we will explore the wide skies from this runway as we take off, we will reach distant shores as we leave this harbour of our elementary school as proud graduates ready to help build the future for the generations to come.
For our friends, until we meet again.
For our guest of honor, thank you for the inspiration, may our little victory will serve as an inspiration for you, too, that you could take and share the next time you are invited to speak for a graduation ceremony.
For our Teachers and Principal, this is not goodbye, this is just asking your permission, and for your blessings as we take off – please wish us well.
For our parents and family, we offer to you our first accomplishment of the many triumphs and honors we will bring home from now.
For my dear classmates, let us open our minds and our hearts for growth. The future promises unlimited possibilities that are in our hands and are for us to seize and to hold. Always take the bright routes to the future, when the roads are seem dark in some days, take refuge and find the guidance of the little lamp post of the memories from this moment and we will never get lost.
Let us thank God for this moment. Let us thank Him for all the people, the extension of His love, His angels that He sent to make sure all that we have now and our future will happen. It is written.
And when we reach our destinations please let us not forget to look back and send signals to our dear school, that we have reached our destinations and that we have arrived.
Lessons From Autumn
BY: Jeques B. Jamora, fall, 2008
The earth calls the leaves to come home
My crying couldn’t stop the changing season.
Like my tears falling on my chest,
The autumn leaves return to the earth’s breast.
The winds of fall sing lonely tunes
The shy smile of dawn turns the day to gloom.
The heavens weep soaking the trees with rain,
As I watch you leave and endure the pain.
Destiny’s taking back my joys of spring,
My crying couldn’t stop you from leaving.
Like the leaves falling to the earth’s bossom,
I’ll await in silence ’til you come home.
The trees and the leaves taught me acceptance;
The earth taught me to wait for second chance.
Note: for background music, please click and play this >>> If I could be where you are
I search for signs of home
In the arched-sky.
What I see are walls of concrete and steel.
I long for the warmth of a humid dawn
What I got is the chillly wind of the city.
I miss the morning laughter of home,
The cries of the iron birds taking off
From their concrete nest is what I hear,
Along the sleepless noise in the streets.
My nostrils take in whatever scent
That would bring me wave of nostalgia
What I have are the fumes of the busy traffic.
I need a single soul to remind me of home,
But he’s fast asleep in his room.
This is my saddest daybreak.
Watching a different horizon away from home.
And then it happened.
The sun slowly crawls behind those walls
And rises on the ridges of concrete and steel.
Its first ray catches the tears in my eyes ~
I see dazzling bright lights magnified.
And then I am enlightened.
Somewhere in southeast asia,
In one of the ‘lil isles of the Philippines,
This sun, in the same sky, in different horizon
Rises every morning at home.
And I carries the memories of those sunbreaks
For they are etched inside my chest.
Today turns out to be my happiest morning.
For I know now that the sun
I watch rising on the ridges of concrete and steel
Is the same sun that will rise tomorrow
In the home of my heart.
Only it will rise
On the mountain ridges.
What happened between the silence, between the lights and shadows of last night? I’m back in a corner where I spent the night few days ago, still reading – a different book – caught in a semilar web of thoughts. There must be something in that corner, in that space why I need to return.
Between reading and the silence, the memory of the fireworks return flaring in my mind with the fleckering headlights reflected on the walls. The frantic mood and sounds, the glowing faces and sparkling eyes of the crowd watching the colorful burst of light in the evening skies. A fleeting treat to the eyes that stayed only for a brief moment and then desolve with the smoke clouding the horizon. What’s left are memories that the crowd take as they slowly parade home. Often, I feel like the fireworks – things make me float in the air, seeing colors of temporary bliss and then gone desolving in the air like smoke clouding my hopes. What’s left are memories.
Between the silence, between the lights and shadows of last night, the memory of the flickering headlights of traffic returned. The sounds of vehicles’ coming and going, you could not tell the difference. The city never sleeps. It goes on no matter what, even if somewhere some souls are happy, or sad, or hurting. The traffic doesn’t roll to a halt even when you’re tired but can’t sleep. The city would not cease to move even when love opens or closes its door on you. It goes on even if you continue to struggle to take grasp of life or find a sudden enlightenment from the brief reflection of headlights on the wall and then gone. What’s left is emptiness.
Between the silence, lights, and shadows of last night I awake – I’m not sure if I even slept – with the cries of the birds taking flight in the early morning skies where the fireworks desolve leaving only hints of memories in the thin clouds floating, in pastel colors signaling daybreak.
Between the silence, lights and shadows from above, the birds look down to the city that doesn’t sleep, they know the terrains below, much more above them. They know that the city lights and the fireworks are temporary, the birds know better. They have seen what we neglect to see.
Watching the sunrise that peered through the city skyline, I briefly saw what guide the birds’ flight every morning. Colorful than the flares of fireworks, brighter than the flickering headlights.
If we’ve stayed a little longer after the fireworks desolve with the smoke in the evening skies, like the birds, we would have seen the clouds clear in the horizon and above are the real fireworks that are constantly there.
Because if we stayed long enough, we would have seen the stars and they are there forever.
I will tell you about the rain next time.