Chance Encounter

Tonight I allow myself to grieve.

I feel like it has been lifetimes since we met. When was the last time I thought about you? When was the last time you thought of me?

Lifetimes— yet there are days when I still can’t fathom just what happened, days where I can’t seem to comprehend those tumultuous four months. There are days, where I still ask questions and stubbornly look for answers, going through every moment, overturning every message, dissecting every memory I have, as if by some miracle— maybe the 6th time I replay it I’ll find something, anything to explain why. Nothing. Each time I find nothing but the silence of my own thoughts. Each time I find the same moment, the same message, and the same memory etched at the back of my head, unchanging, disdainful.

On the best days, I can easily shrug the entire thing as sheer incompatibility, a misguided trial of ennui and desire. A game of cat and mouse where this time, I was the mouse. I’ve always put myself in the position of advantage but this one was just a gamble that I lost. And the usual words and phrases come up like “there are so much people out there,” “you’re young, you’ll meet someone else,” “it’s okay, the world is your oyster, di mo yan kailangan.” On those days, I agree and think to myself, I’m absolutely right. I deserve better. I can do better. I’ll be better. Yada-yada. And for a moment, I believe it.

On the worst days, I still think it’s my fault, that I could have done better. I still think that maybe what I asked for was too much, that maybe I was not enough. Or that maybe I wasn’t understanding. On those days, the sheer weight of my thoughts are chained to my wrists and ankles, jangling with the memories I would rather keep forgotten. I am heavy and every movement I make creates marks where the cold, unforgiving metal scratch against hard reality.

Lifetimes— I have been vacillating between these lifetimes, the good ones where I don’t spare a moment and the bad ones where the first thing I think of in the morning is you.

When I saw you tonight, on one random evening, walking to my direction but not toward me, I felt as if all those lifetimes were crushed into one single moment. Every bone in my body whistled with excitement and anticipation.

And in an instant, almost too short to bear, I was already ahead of you and you behind me. We passed each other, our eyes never meeting.

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Patient

You’re dressed in immaculate white, dazzling smile underneath a mask. Your broad shoulders stretches across the brightly-lit room.

You’re standing tall, looming over my prostate body laid carefully across the metal bed. I’m wearing nothing but green scrubs, so thin, I can feel the cool surface of steel.

The knife clatters as you take it from the tray and inch it closer to me. I hear the blood rush through my ears. My chest is pounding.

I look at you.

Of course you make no hesitation, your long fingers deftly making an incision. The knife is quickly engulfed by vermillion. Everything feels like a whisper until the lids of my eyes close like curtains.

When they open again, I see my hands, pale and delicate, in a basin. The fingers are relaxed.

Persons and Things

threequarters

When your brown eyes
Pierced through mine and
Your words danced on my ears and
Your fingers licked my skin
I tried to breathe evenly
But the hairs on my nape stood up
As I tiptoed to meet your face
With conviction I said
“You know I think we’ve met before”
and I let it linger
I curled my hands into fists
Even bit the insides of my cheeks
But you never asked me why
You with the stupid eyes and
That stupid grin and
Those clumsy hands
You never asked me why

Day by day I’m learning
To be a better person
That you weren’t the only one and
Life keeps on

Island

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Even though your smile
Could only set sail a few ships
It sure did sink mine

And now I’m marooned in this lonely island
With nothing but my shadow to keep me company
I’m learning each day
That the footprints on the sand are mine
That the trees are just trees
And the sky is bluer here than the city’s

Yet at dawn
I still raise my hands and scream
“Who’s there?”
And at nights I still remember your godforsaken face
And wonder what made me to decide
To sail in the first place

O—

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WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CONSTELLATIONS
I shouted, yes, on top of the yellow bus
The dusk approaching
Pretending I was some person
Behind the smoke-belching crowd

I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE
You screamed
Red-faced

IT DOESN’T MATTER
I tiptoed, thinking
I would eventually reach your sky
To grab you by the wrist
And say:

COME WITH ME
I whispered more to myself because
You had already turned your back

GOODBYE
I didn’t hear you say
But I believed it so
I squinted my eyes
And saw
Your shoulders were horizons
For the setting sun

Voyeur

He was standing underneath the shower head, his hands covering his ears, whispering “it hurts, it hurts” hoping that with every repetition, the hurt would outright leave his body. But what it did was the opposite. Every word coursed through his veins like fire as it ran from his head to the length of his spine until the tips of his fingers and toes. He burned like candlelight.

for thomas

first of all, it wasn’t my fault
you got kicked out of your own apartment
it was the rats, i swear

it took me days to decide whether
to write to you or not
because the last time we met you told me
“don’t write! save a tree!”
and laughed the hardest
but see there’s something about paper
and the grip of a pen
that got me thinking

remember when i pointed to the sky
and i told you
the universe was constantly expanding
“see those stars might not be there tomorrow”
i blinked and you threw your sandwich at me
but told me don’t worry
because all your life they haven’t moved an inch
well let me ask you then
thomas
why you haven’t moved an inch
since you came back
because every time i look up
i see the stars move farther and farther

November

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You came in like November wind
Chilly and soft
And smelled like Christmas
With the rolling snow on the porch
My stomach grumbled
For cookies and milk

So I put on my jacket
And went out the driveway
To find out that:
The late July rains
Have chased the snow down the pavement

I forget
That you were only November
As I took down the Christmas wreath
On a ladder I took down
The red lights, the green bulbs
Along with that store-bought tree
And stored them in a box
You swept them all
Out the door
Including my hunger

6/30/11/25

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I.
You were my first and
I did not know what to do
Besides run away

II.
I told you my scars
And how disfigured they were
Yet you kissed each one

III.
I hated you so
Because the way my heart buckled
Was terrifying

IV.
Your touch was wildfire
And I watched my body burn
Beneath your fingers

V.
Every day I think
You were the last one but God
Was I wrong each time