The Summer I Learned How to Make Things Pretty

2 summer i turned pretty

There’s a narrow hallway beside our house,

Where an unpainted wall of concrete blocks resides

When we were younger,

my sister and I would roam the streets—

Our hands tingling, in search of the prettiest flowers,

Standing on tiptoes, we would reach far and beyond the greenest shrubs;

“I must find the perfect flower!” 

 

When I was twelve,

I fell in love with a boy whose eyes are thunder—

Dark, elusive, yet impossibly bright

Making him laugh felt like plucking a flower and sticking it to the vulnerable parts of the wall,

Believing it would be happier this way.

If only I could put flowers in the broken parts of his body,

Perhaps he would be happy…maybe then, he would love me.

 

At fifteen, my heart found itself another set of melancholic eyes—

He’s the tune the ocean sings right after a huge tidal wave;

Slipping from the violence yet failing to escape the crash

The first time we held hands, I was reminded of the wall’s roughness,

It’s as if he’s telling me to piece him like a beautiful puzzle,

Oblivious of the scars on my fingers;

It’s okay as long as the wall’s pretty, it’s okay as long as he’s happy.

 

Days after our first hunt,

My sister and I found the sad remains of a once, lovely, flower wall

Eyes wild with worry, we hurriedly gathered flowers all over the street.

The year of my eighteenth birthday, my heart realized it could give off warmth.

Arms wide open, it surrendered itself to whoever needs it;

Just like I used to pull flowers without remorse,

I allowed everyone to have a piece of my heart.

 

Perhaps our mother should have stopped us,

Silly little girls trying to make a soulless wall lovely;

Turning a blind eye to the dead petals on the ground.

Perhaps our grandfather should have stopped us,

Reminded us that happiness is impermanent and soon enough, the shrub would stop growing flowers—

Somebody should have stopped us! 

No one should sacrifice their own happiness to the point of running dry.

 

The only thing that this game has taught me is there is not enough warmth for someone already broken;

I am not someone who should always be emptying herself to make room for other people’s pain,

I am not someone who should disturb the growth of flowers even if it means a moment of comfort.

The summer I learned how to make things pretty,

I should have apologized to the flowers I separated from their homes,

I should have come back to the pitiful shrubs and repaid them with water,

Learning the importance of loving myself before anyone else.

 

If only my sister and I saw how unhappy the wall looked like beneath the flimsy flowers,

We would have stopped falling in love with people we think we need to fix,

We would have learned how to stir away from boys with sad, pleading eyes, who would use our love like a disposable camera.

If only I recognized the shrubs as mirrors of myself,

Saw how exhausting it is to provide warmth for someone with an endless need,

I would have stopped my heart from running and asked it to rest,

“It’s okay, you’re the one who should come first.” 

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A Blue Story

Soft melodies,
playing repeatedly. Blue
girl waiting
for the ocean to take her
home.

Before the intruders arrive,
to take away
the noise. Blue
girl waiting
but the flowers took off.

Notes running faster,
noise turning to silence. Silence
deafening a blue
girl waiting–
aching to be filled.

But ghosts have stopped playing.
Grief
transcends even death. Yet blue
girl continued to wait. Died
still lonely.

The Hymn of the Broken

I am not going to be a tragedy

This is what I say to myself everytime the world turns a bit dark.

Calling out to the shadows of my happier self,

I scream.

 

I am not going to be a tragedy

I repeat it like a sacred prayer–palms closed, eyes drunk with despair.

Again, and again, and again

I pray.

 

Even as I finish obsessing each and every pain that my mind secretly carries,

I still do not want to be the kind of rain that creates thunderstorms.

My heart, no matter how exhausted it is, still longs for rainbows.

Therefore, I am not going to be a tragedy.

 

The walls of my room may tell me there’s nowhere to go,

But the wind, and the sun, and the trees are whispering, “there is”

And I am not going to be a tragedy because I believe this.

I am alive and I believe this.

 

 

 

 

If There Were Such Things As Galaxies

 

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Photo from AmourAmelia

 

A Tumblr post once told me that galaxies reside within my body.

It was one of those 3 AM nights filled with inexplicable loneliness and okay, maybe…hunger.

Months later, when a random phone call informed me that a dear friend took her own life, I did not think about the galaxies.

I did not think about the said constellations around my body–such meaningless names for lifeless beauties.

I did not think about the billions and billions of stars running through my blood, said to provide light because damn it! There are some places I rather not visit.

When the rain wept along with me on that particular September night, I realized Science is once again right.

There are no galaxies–only water and blood. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Because if there were galaxies, I would not feel blankets of heavy water tugging at my feet.

If there were stars then surely, surely, she would have seen them, admired them, tried to live instead of leave.

Do you believe me now? There are no galaxies! 

Last week, when my mother jokingly told me to kill myself, I almost told her about the meteor showers sleeping deep within me.

How these cluster of stones can fulfill her wishes and please, please, do not give me the permission I need. 

When I woke up this morning, my same old mind telling me it wants to die, I felt like a remnant of a dead galaxy.

NASA said that galaxies are ripped apart when they encounter strong tidal forces–well lately, my sadness has turned into a huge, screaming, tidal force I cannot always battle.

Therefore, Science is right. I am being ripped apart…there are days where I can no longer conjure sentences, a task as familiar as the scent of my bed.

Science is right!

A black hole can cause turbulence in a galaxy which may result to its death. I am scared of the fact that my heart resembles a black hole, building friendships with darkness and misery.

Two years ago, I thought there were no such things as galaxies living inside of me but I have forgotten that half of the stars in the night-sky are nothing but corpses!

And probably what she saw was a spitting image of herself, likely the one I also see in the mirror during the very bad days.

If galaxies were real, I am terrified of the idea that my time has already ended, the stars running in my veins are more dead than alive.

So please, please, do not let the galaxies be real. 

Somewhere between sleeping and living

I’ll sleep until the unwanted passes,

Until every horrible well in my mind shushes.

I’ll sleep until my eyes forget what it feels like to see the first rays of sunshine,

Or how I look like bathing on it during the good days—

Smiling, laughing, dreaming.

 

I’ll sleep until the knots inside my head break free,

Until the loud pounding in my chest reverts back to a heartbeat.

I’ll sleep until my toes forget what it feels like to stand,

To have the strength to lead the way and the power to stop.

Lately, all I wish is for the world to stop.

 

I’ll sleep until the darkness becomes a friend,

Until the hushed pleas turn into echoes— help asking for help.

I’ll sleep until I forget how to conjure whimsical adventures in my dreams,

Because if dreams represent reality, I’d have thunderstorms as my sun—

My skin a hint of goodbyes and broken promises, my breath: lifeless.

 

So, I’ll sleep once more,

Hoping not to be blue as the skies and deep as the ocean.

I’ll sleep, sleep tight—

Tighter than the bedroom of the screams I keep,

Thinking, feeling, wishing: a better tomorrow.

I’m learning how to count to ten. Again.

 

igotthisimtwenty

This design is based on one of the teasers for IU’s Palette album. You can find it here: Palette teasers

 

I’m losing confidence as each day passes by,

Carrying a weary heart, only numbers speak sense.

One, two, three.

How much time has passed?

It feels like I’ve been staring at my bedroom wall a little too much.

 

I turned twenty the other day,

Unlike before, my eyes were dry–

Just like a stale birthday cake.

Four, five, six…

I can’t figure out which is worse.

 

Has it been a week? Or maybe two?

If anything else, I’m glad I learned to count in school.

Hurry up, my mind is turning into dust, my sanity’s on the verge of mistrust.

Seven, eight, nine.

Am I really here? Is that person really me?

 

My eyes were open again this morning,

I don’t know if I should be glad–I’m thinking too much.

Listen, dear heart, were you really this weak?

Ten. I reached ten. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?

Maybe the truth is, I’m at the beginning. The start. Zero.

6/23/17

VIDEOFXFIRST

Taken at CDC Parade Grounds, Clark City (5/14/17)

Doon tayo magkita sa hangganan ng kahapon at bukas,

Sa sandaling mas maigting ang ligaya sa kalungkutan,

Sa saglit na oras kung saan maaring limutin ang kinabukasan.

 

Doon tayo magkita sa hangganan ng kahapon at bukas,

Kung saan ang araw ay marahang yumayakap sa gabi,

Kung saan maaaninag ang tuwa mula sa iyong labi.

 

Doon tayo magkita sa hangganan ng kahapon at bukas,

Sa maliit na espasyong binuo lamang sa panaginip,

Sa panandaliang pag-asang makikita ka pang muli.

June

Note: I wrote this poem while listening to Kina Grannis’ California on loop. I didn’t know why, but I started crying as soon as I heard the first few words. This song made me write about the things I kept in the farthest places in my mind. I feel sad and vulnerable but like always, I know this will pass.

***

Summer kissed by regrets,

The wind catches my breath.

Daylight’s almost leaving,

Gentle waves kept crashing —

Trying to wash the pain.

 

Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say

You overheard someone calling you a bitch in the hallway today,
Maybe it’s because of the color painted on your lips.
It was dark, crimson red–the color of blood.
“Bitch,” she said.

Three AM, your phone was ringing,
“I want to die,” a friend whispered.
You painted your lips with a dark, crimson red–the color of blood.
Maybe they won’t notice how much it quivers.

“Bitch.”
You saw it in a stranger’s eyes while looking at you,
Maybe it’s because you closed your eyes in the whole jeepney ride–
Pretending not to hear any sound.

You saw the marks on her wrists yesterday,
Eyes filled with tears, you offered her a hug.
“Bitch.”
Closing your eyes, you acted like nothing’s wrong.

Someone asked you if your heart is functioning correctly,
If you have a capability to feel anything–
Maybe it’s because of your straight face, the one you always wear.
“Bitch.”

She offered you a smile today, claiming she’s fine,
“The last person who said that is now lying on the ground, out of breath,” you wanted to say.
Maybe it’s because you no longer possess your heart but why aren’t you feeling anything?
“Bitch.”

You saw yourself in the mirror today.
Maybe it’s because of all of the needless crying,
“Bitch”
Sometimes you wish you could be one.

Anatomy of Faces and Hues

 

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From our exhibit last February 28 about mental health awareness (Photo taken by me)

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

I close my eyes and pick a color farthest from the nightmares in my mind.

“I’m fine,” I say, as I watch myself paint another face.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

I examine the ugly scars in my body and imagine an unblemished canvas.

“I’m alright,” I whisper, choosing a red, blissful face.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

My mind immediately cries–while my hands automatically pick the brush.

“I will be okay,” I promise, as my demon wakes.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.