No need for Mr. Darcy

(as published on The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Young Blood column today, 8 March 2020)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a girl who grew up surrounded by stories of dashing knights in shining armor or brooding Mr. Darcys would have unrealistic standards in love.

A tad unfair to real boys who can’t hold a candle to dreamboats that pop out of the page, you might say, but there’s no bit of jest in this. My 13-year-old self once swore she wouldn’t settle for anyone who wouldn’t love her the same way Mr. Rochester loved Jane Eyre. These teen years, really, they’re an era of folly, of giggles at the smoldering heroes of Austen and the Brontë sisters. More than Disney and its sanitized happy-ever-afters, these authors have ruined real guys for me.

Continue reading “No need for Mr. Darcy”

Scarlet

(as published on The Philippines Graphic magazine)

akin to the shade that has incarnadined the bruises
of a lone oceanid choking at the rocks of Manila Bay—
she of soiled fingers combing through seaweed-tresses
matted with oil, excrement, with a balm of something
foreign, like a smear of leftover hope

or was it vermillion, the splash that punctuated
a cough of a barrel in an alley lit only
by the unblind eye of a gas lamp? Bespattered
little Totoy’s frail pallor until he is no longer
as white as the stones he did not know he carried

tantamount even to the carmine dark that dripped
from our fountain pens one November in the South,
ebbing, flooding headlines and *58 shallow
graves (32 of whom are of our brothers), drenching
the faded mourning clothes we still wear a decade later

a hue to drown out lazuli Rosco in our flag
to be one solid blood, crib of great men in the Song—
its notes we can still exhale audibly with our fallible
mouths; for as long as we are breathing
there are grieving and living for the aggrieved to be done

Spacewoman

Her soul slipped into a spacesuit of patched-up hopes.
She looked into the vacuum and muttered,
“If light-years can be measured in teacups,
I’d be drinking my way up into the stars.”
But her dreams are nebulae, or even galaxies, away
and no amount of caffeine can bring her there.

Her heart nestled in a bed of sewn-together prayers.
She closed her eyes and whispered,
“If light-years can be measured in keystrokes,
I’d be writing my way up into the stars.”
But Words, no matter how strong,
may need more fuel from her to bring her there.

Her heart nestled in a bed of sewn-together prayers.
She closed her eyes and whispered,
“If light-years can be measured in keystrokes,
I’d be writing my way up into the stars.”
But Words, no matter how strong,
may need more fuel from her to bring her there.

Her tears were kept nowhere; they clouded her eyes.
She blinked them away and said,
“If light-years can be measured in saltwater,
would the nights I spent crying not be enough?”
The Universe went on spinning,
trying to ignore her despair.

Perhaps light-years can be measured
in how wide you can stretch
your heart’s threshold for pain;
in how many lash beatings
your soul can take
or in how many buckets of tears
you can keep at bay.

She knows she doesn’t know.
She’s more than a sightless Spacewalker
but the starshine from faraway, perhaps, is enough
for her to walk blindly, for a while…