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To Pablo Neruda

I write these letters in smoke. They are fog

to the starry night of the south where you existed,  

circumnavigated the world, then extinguished

as a flame, long before I was born.

 

You said you had lived in the springtime

among the cherry blossoms of the west. While

here on this island, I had lived humming

lullabye amidst the scorched patches of sand.

 

I cannot sit still and my memory was filled

of your presence here. I can hear your voice

from a distant time and place. Your voice has traveled

and finally touch down inwardly and it lingers.

 

Tonight, the sad lines of your verses haunt me forever,

love is short and forgetting is so long”.

I chewed the words on my empty stomach

as the light from your waning moon fills my room.

 

I have no windows, they are shattered.  There is no door to enter,

so you don’t need to knock.  Inside my house is fire left by bombs

and gunfire.  And on my earthened floor are scattered pieces

of limbs and severed heads of dead dogs and cats devoid of shelter.

 

I have seen the heaven through the bullet holes on my tin roof.

And the fire is still burning from within. I have seen the clouds

unfolding and unfastened as I became the enemy of the gods,

pot-bellied in the pulpit- imposing cruelty to fools purchasing piety.

 

I have been an inheritor of misfortune, like a stubborn root

of an old dying tree, digging the earth to its graveyard, a tomb.

I seek to find in this endless tunnel, a repose for my corpse-

stiff, in pain and left there naked, writhing in the cold.

 

I can no longer find the stars in the night sky, Pablo.

And the tears begin to fall like rain on the tin roof.

Outside, you wailed a storm, flooding my being,

persistent, engulfing me with the soliloquy of the night.

 

This bed I made out of the coconut tree, lacerating my body

of little knives, that have sliced and shredded my soul. And I

smelled of the blood through the blade of your words

as I whisked them away to the westerly winds to reach you.

 

I ask you. Why things happened this way? History blood-stained.

And the sea mourns while changing course of the mighty river.

In the horizon, a crimson tide of the many who died seeking the meaning

of their lives. And the night birds still singing their lonely dirge.

 

I ask you. Where are the lilac? Immortalized in sonnets by men,

those middle-aged aristocrats. And the women becoming birds of prey,

caged and waiting to be sold.  Incessantly knocking on the doors

to see some faint hope traversing the day into their neon light.

 

Where are the language of stars? Deciphered by hypnotized strangers

who quest for clues and signs and wonders.  Why does the rain

did not stop from falling? I am bailing out to exist from this deluge,

finding redemption while concealing my cowardice. I cannot fight.

 

I am poor, Pablo. But I know your name. And the dense earth that

we both lived, became the pavement for  marching foot falls

of the many striving to live to see until their dying day- freedom,

justice and equality. Unanswered like prayers, unheard of the divine.

 

Your verses did not speak of dreams and leaves and great volcanoes

of your native land.  Your verses did not promise the opium

that will heal the wounds of time.  But your verses have spoken

of the blood in the streets.  And the blood in the streets, I have seen.

 

I will offer an elegy in my homeland. I will sing your song in vain,

hoping for someone to hear and join me singing your immortal chorus.

Your ashes I would want to scatter into the night clouds until tomorrow.

When morning will be awakened by pilgrims sojourning the other world.

 

And still, I am waiting for the stars to appear in the Far-east. I had

only a rose to your funeral.  I will not be able to attend. But I will

whisper to the westerly winds my discontent and the endless despair

you will hear from the shore of this island, questioning existence.

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The past are days

like pages in a book.

On the first few pages

you can’t figure out

what the story is all about. 

 

Prologue.

 

“There is a man struggling

to find his place in this world.

Had his share of hits and misses.

Of crossroads where-

it is hard to decide

which road to walk into, and

on which doors to knock.

Afraid, that somebody may not

be there to turn the knob.

And open up.”

 

If only, these eyes can pause reading

and stop for a while at these words

that almost made me yawn and sleep.

Insignificant hours of keeping on.

Hoping this story will not lead

into another unhappy ending.

 

“Why do we have to be serious

all the time?”

 

Don’t ask me. It’s your problem.

The questions still left

hanging in there, moments.

When pages stood unclear,

incomplete with the sentence.

Waiting for somebody

to knock the door. I’ll open up.

 

“Is that all?  Is that all?

Is that all there is to wait

and it all boils down to this?”

 

Tempted to return to the first few pages.

Back to the parts when I remember

breaking down halfway through a paragraph.

As if not knowing how did it start

somebody talking to me. It should have

been better not to have read at all.

No clues from the beginning.

 

And the countdown to the hours

remains. Finish reading parts

on the last chapter- I confront.

Today- no happy ending.

 

 

Epilogue.

 

“And fear creeps in like a mirror

he have to face everyday.

There was a time when he need

to jump into the pond of uncertainty.

Searching the man in his reality,

faced with nagging bouts of questions-

What’s next? What’s on the other side?

What’s the  future?”

 

I can’t figure out.

What this story is all about. 

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I can tell

that you begin to affect me

with words. Waxing emotional

in this little chat. I gave you

painful seconds each time

whining those lame excuses.

While I’m faking.

 

You didn’t notice

how I read and begin

to memorize your way

of masking the shame

in these crying games.

Only to find that words

have no meaning

and will fall dead

sounds to my ears.

Believing

 

I found an ocean.

Of reason proving

my every doubt-

if all the things you said

are ever real?

 

The distance between us

became mountain upon mountain

of shadows blurring

my wall of trust.

You didn’t notice.

 

Lie resurfaces again.

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We fail to keep promises

just as we are used to

stare like goats. Upfront

confronting strangers.

 

Inside this hallowed cavern

with  a burden of care while  

we share those empty gaze.

Needing to belong.

 

We don’t even dare

to twitch a smile- as a sign.

Filling void spaces to fit.

Caged and restrained

 

our little freedom.

Moving and hurrying

to destinations, crowding

one way streets like ants.

 

Knee to knee. Side by side.

Wanting to repel, burst

into the open, running away

with the world past behind us.

 

We fail to stay as we are.

Outpacing each other.

Chasing the dust cleared

of promises we can’t keep.

 

Finding it hard to believe

it was only inches away,

that we ought to  try

mending this great divide.

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You will find me here sitting

at the end of the sentence-

like in a breakwater. Waiting

 

for ships and vessels of words

in this twilight seeking

the meaning of this impending

darkness.  When

 

it anchors and begins to unload

subtle images of this lonely harbor.

Watching the past

sinking down

 

along

with my heart.

 

And the sky will once again-

dotted by inkblots.

Smeared into the face

of this teary evening.

While time slowly

freezes, then fades into

early hours till daybreak,

unfinished.

 

When I am not

being able to say

goodbye.

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The walls are coarse to touch, hard and steely,

it was a challenge not to see but to feel with our fingers

sharp points that will prick a skin and bleed. By then

the grave of the earth has avenged its loss. The stair

is a winding wonder of wooden realm. Forest scent

permeates like sweat staining musk to the olfactory.

Curtains we plucked from the fibers of the grass

that exist  in some temperate savannah, polished

and handwoven by the nomads of Siberia.

The glass came from the silicates we scoured

from the rivers of Babylon, coal-fired in a furnace

by a hundred men impoverished with ten cents an hour.

And the floor is a polished limestone quarried

from some majestic mountains of the Far East. White,

cold slab, for our feeble feet resting on a tombstone. The chairs

are fabricated in hides separated from the meat of animals

domesticated and cultured for a trade in an African jungle.

We commercialized the organic in the will of the greedy generation

crazy for the avant garde. We are fond of collecting. Prized.

Natural. Unique. All, for the sake of a want  that cannot be satiated.

And at a cost, we hunger for more as we build our little kingdoms,

looking for some definition. Until we find that there is no more left

of the skin of the earth, we have stripped of its clothing

to cover our shelters.  Unless we travel to the moon

digging kryptonites to embellish facades of our own vanities.

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As I would keep my path

clear

of grass growths.

I will find a way

leaving a trail.

 

And watch

the sky touching earth.

The feathered wings

of my angel

on the horizon.

 

I hope.

I would keep my footsteps

slow.

To observe

some familiar things.

 

I used to see

in my many quiet mornings

in the clearing.

 

I would follow

the sun beams.

Over the veil

of the fog.

 

As it lingers

above the field

of windflowers.

 

I will gather some fallen twigs.

Some fallen leaves.

In a jar.  Keeping moments

 

for potpourri. I am breathing in-

my home in the prairie.

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