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.
I delight watching things from their outset,
I am soothe to see the genesis of things.
They remind me of the child, the curious eyes
Ever sparkling within.
I see beauty in simpleness of anything even at their lowly outset,
For they possess the genuine truth of precious purity.
They remind me of my beginnings
Like the water glorybinds(kangkong) growing wild in the marshes,
They bring back memories of the backyards
Of some houses I lived as a child.
In some quiet afternoons during my untamed moments,
I would sit motionless in a corner facing the swamp in our backyard
Listening to the soothing sounds, the slightest of movements
In the still water at one o’clock
When the world in my young mind
Takes a nap with my mother on her siesta.
I would sneak out of the house through the backdoor
To celebrate the joy of my earliest found solitude
In the company of nature ~
Befriending the dragonflies hovering over my head,
The birds nestling in the reeds,
The snails petiently taking thier journeys from one rock to the next,
While my mind quietly travels to the unknown future
Interrupted by occasional sightings of the gourami
That stir the still water creating tiny ripples on the surface.
But the highlight of the afternoon is the rare sighting of the mudfish(dalag)
Making that splash and swashing sound and wild movements
In the dense growth of the water glorybinds as it swims back to the bushes of reeds,
Where the water of the marshes is knee deep and the herons(tagak) nest.
That magical moment of brief beautiful chaos tickles purest joy of childhood madness.
Cherished memories from my genesis ~
My earliest form of entertainment: my humble version of television,
Or a theatre; watching a movie or a concert ~ my idea of a grand show
Happening in our backyard in an atypic stage, in a silverscreen of water glorybinds
Where the dragonflies, the frogs, the birds, the gourami, the snails, the herons, the mudfish
Are the stars, and I, their sole audience.
The show ends with the voice of my mother calling my name at four o’clock.
That’s when the curtains drop,
The world wakes up,
As I walk back home to the door of my genesis.
Jeques, 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
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.