My Garden: A Haiku

Always something new

A new leaf or a flower —

My little garden.

My mornings begin with a visit to my garden, and each time, a new bud makes me smile. How can I possibly have a bad day when my garden always gives me a reason to smile?

May our mornings always begin with a smile. ♥️

T.

Plant whisperer tales

There’s no need to yell

I can hear you well, so well

Just please be gentle.

——–

When I just started gardening, my aunt said to me I should talk to my plants like my late mother did. We both remember very well how my mother talked loudly to her plants — loud enough for my two then-young and naughty boy cousins who had fun “hurting” my mom’s plants. My mom would “talk” to her plants and say, “What was that? A little boy hurt you? And you’re upset?”

Now I don’t worry about kids “hurting” my plants, and I don’t talk to my plants. But recently I planted a couple of cutttings of flowering plants and I’ve been waiting to see them grow and for leaves to come out. Two days ago, I jokingly “said” to the cuttings that if they didn’t show me any sign of growing, I’d just get rid of them. The next day I saw the tiniest green thingy on the one stem, and I had to laugh. It may all be coincidence, but I was just so happy to see it.

Like I’ve written in another post, gardening takes a lot of patience, but it can also give one happiness, no matter how simple it is.

My mornings begin with a visit to my garden, and each visit is an exercise in patience and a gift of simple joy.

Quietude: A Haiku

Strength, wisdom, kindness —

They can only come to one

Who knows quietude.

Now that I’m back home in the house where I grew up, and living with my two sisters and a nephew and my son, it is not very often that I get to find some quiet time.

I am way busier now working from home compared to working full time in China during the last 17 years, which makes me treasure more those years of solitude and reflection.

Thankfully there’s gardening and visiting my tiny garden in the morning allows me some much needed quiet moments.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A quiet moment

Patience

When kids your age were running,

You were just learning to walk.

When kids your age were talking,

You just uttered your first word.

When kids your age could bounce a ball

You just learned how to throw.

Don’t worry, son.

Life is a game

Not just for the fastest,

The strongest, or the smartest

But for the ones with the most patience as well.

And we have a lot of that stuff.

We’ll get there.

Someday: A Haiku

img_3288

Your sweet smile, laughter — 

Who knows why? I hope to see

What you see — someday. 

———————–

My son has a very infectious smile and laughter. Most of the time though, we don’t know what makes him smile or laugh. We are just happy to see him happy.

Sometimes he makes me say, “dinosaur” and then, “roar!” And that’s enough to make him smile as he walks away from me.

If only our joys could be as simple.

———

The other day, I got a message from Ahmed asking if I could help promote the comic book he created which features a superhero with Autism. This project aims to spread awareness about Autism. It’s called The Epics of Enkidu.   You can click the link to learn more about the project. 

 

Note: A Haiku and a Thought

Simple scribbled word

On unpretentious paper —

A note makes one’s day.

—-

It does not take much to put a smile on someone’s face — a very simple gesture of kindness or thoughtfulness can do that. A text message asking how somebody’s day went can make that person feel that someone cares. A flower picked from the garden to give a family member one is stuck at home with, can most likely brighten that person’s day.

We do not need to do something “big” to prove we care and make someone happy.

Sometimes a simple note on a Post-It can do the trick.

Happy weekend!

T.

Discovery Prompts, Day 23: Note

The Other Side: A Haiku

Enigmatical,

Imagined prosperity —

Then…reality.

——

The grass is always greener….

People sometimes imagine a better life somewhere else, unhappy with what they have. They follow their desire and get all excited about their new life only to be disappointed after a while.

Sometimes it’s not a change of place that’s needed. Just a change of heart. Or mind.

Happy weekend! 💕

T.

The Sun: A Haiku

Do not get too close.

It will burn you and blind you,

Farther — gives you warmth.

—–

Some people are better seen (or heard) from a distance, too. 😛

(Btw, the framing of this picture is far from perfect as I wasn’t even looking up when I took the picture! Just pointed my phone camera to where I felt the sun was and click! Hey! It wasn’t too bad!)

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Circles

We move in different circles

Some wider than others

But not necessarily happier.

It doesn’t matter how big or small

The circle you’re in,

What matters is who are in it:

Who are they to you?

Who are you to them?

Do they matter to you?

Do you matter to them?

Some circles are big but empty.

Others are small but not petty.

——–

I have a 4-day weekend this week. So, happy weekend!💕

T.

Shine bright: Two haikus

Though clouds block the way

Find slits through which to shine bright

Shine bright and give light.

———–

Dark clouds hide the sun

Then the wind blows and clouds move

Briefly — the sun shines.

———-

I was on a moving bus when I took the picture above. I have always liked watching the sun’s rays through the clouds. To me it always feels like the land is being blessed.

But the haikus I attempted to write aren’t about that. They are about being optimistic and sharing that optimism with others.

I hope you find reasons to be optimistic today! 💕

T.

So near, yet so far

Seen from a distance

Laughter heard across the miles

But untouched — unreal

——

Technology has made our lives easier and communicating with family more convenient.
Yet, somehow seeing your loved on the screen of your computer or phone or iPad is not the same as holding their hand or hugging them.
Online communication still seems so unreal.
Maybe it will feel “normal” in the future. Maybe.
Happy Tuesday!
T.

LAPC: Candid

Gentle and glowing,

She dazzles every creature

With her candid pose.

—–

I know Ann-Christine suggested candid photographs of people and animals, but I don’t have lots of those that I think I can share publicly. Then I saw the moon tonight and thought, “What a beauty!” And I attempted a haiku praising the moon, and thought of the word “candid.” So there. 😉

Have a lovely week!

T.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Candid

Not Today

Sunset in Jimei

The bottle will remain unopened.

That pack of cigarettes will stay unsmoked.

Those cheesecakes calling me as I walk past the bakery will be ignored.

And the backups won’t be hearing from me anytime soon.

For as long as there’s a teeny bit of will left in me…

You’re not winning again.

Not today.

——

Be strong. You are loved. ♥️

T.

“Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night”

Three years ago this month, I lost my mother. And every year this month, I buy flowers (pictured below) that I put next to her photograph. Every year in March, as I look at both flowers and my mom’s photograph, I am reminded of the uncertainty of life, of its ephemerality and the sadness that comes with being left behind by those who go before us.

This month my musing on the transiency of life is made even sadder by the thought of 2 of my best friends facing serious illnesses. My 3 best friends, unlike me who wanted to die at 20, have always wanted to live long, happy, healthy lives.

For the lovers of life, I hope you never lose that WILL to live even when doctors give you that diagnosis that sounds like a death sentence. I hope in your heart will burn that desire to prove the doctors wrong and that you “RAGE against the dying of the light.” ♥️

T.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Week 9 Prompt: Insatiable

Insatiable

I met a man who lives in a cozy home

And doesn’t have to work

Because his family has enough money.

He’s lonely. And unhappy.

I met a woman who lives in a 3-story villa

With her two beautiful and smart children

And a moneyed husband who adores her.

But she says her life has no meaning

And she wants something more

Than just being mother and wife.

So she’s unhappy.

And the ones who labor day and night,

Careful not to waste a morsel of what’s on the table,

Can only think they’d be content and happy

If they had what these two have.

But…will they really?

Insatiable.

———-

In my life I have met so many unhappy people. Although I believe some of these people have no control over this feeling of unhappiness, most of them just choose not to be happy or content with what they have.

“’Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessness;

Let him be rich and weary, that at least,

If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to my breast.'”

— from The Pulley by George Herbert

It is perhaps human nature to be restless and to always want something more. But I think we CAN choose to be content and be grateful for what we have.

Hope you find something to be grateful for today!💕

T.

Week 8 Prompt: Happiness

Happiness is…

Having the ability to look at the past and be grateful for it;

Living in the moment with the knowledge that it is not going to last;

Being hopeful for the future that the ones we leave behind will have better lives than the one we had.

Happiness is having faith that everything is going to be all right.

Have a happy week!💕

Week 2 Prompt: Bridge

Incheon Bridge, South Korea

It does not matter how long

this bridge is, that we are on,

as it will never be long enough —

when every second, every inch

that we cover to get to the other side

brings us closer to the end

of this painfully short reunion.

**********************************

I have started my own weekly writing prompt to make me write something or post a photo. Feel free to use the prompt for your own posts!

Have a lovely week!

T. 💕

Week 1 Prompt: Addiction

Xiamen Island viewed from Jimei, Xiamen

How do you do it?

How do you manage to make me want

To be closer to you

Even when I know

It’s unsafe.

You’re unsafe.

Yet this addiction

To the mere sight of you

Seems to have no cure.

Do I even want to recover?

*****

As there is no longer a Daily Prompt from the Daily Post, I decided to make my own prompts to make me write. Feel free to join me and write your own posts using the prompt.

Have a lovely week!

T.

Life goes on though it ends for some

img_3318-1

Life goes on though it ends for some

This life some love and others hate,

This life some fight for and others willingly surrender.

What is life that you seize every second to live it?

What is life that you just want to escape from it?

Life has meaning only if you give it one,

And believe it and live it.

Find a meaning

And live.

T.

 

Noli Timere

img_2961

A few weeks ago, I read an article by a writer reminiscing about his friendship with the late Seamus Heaney, and of course his famous last words, a text message to his wife — Noli timere (“Don’t be afraid”).  Unfortunately I can’t find that article anymore as I don’t remember the title nor the author’s name, so I can’t give you the link.

That article led me to read about Heaney’s last words as recalled by his son in his eulogy. And this in turn led me to remember what my mother said to me a week before she passed as I cried in front of her, exhausted from all the seemingly insurmountable problems that had befallen me — her worsening health condition, my son’s autism, not being able to get a visa for my son, among other things. She reached for my hand, as she lay in bed, and said to me in a voice full of confidence, “Don’t worry. Everything will be all right. E. is going to be fine.”

I wonder if it is just the dying’s way of comforting the living, so as not to make them worry about what life would be like for the living without them, or if somehow they have some kind of vision of what the future will be like, or if their faith is strengthened as they near that end.

But my mother’s words really comforted me, and I believed her. And I believed her words even more as indeed, after she passed, we were able to find a special needs school for my son, and the same embassy that made it difficult for us to get a visa for him, gave him a travel document instead.

Even now whenever I have a problem, apart from praying, I would think of my mother and how she would have stormed the gates of heaven to pray for me.

As a mother myself, I keep praying for my son. Some nights I lie awake wondering, fearing, what the future would be like for my son. I read articles like this one about a parent describing what life is like for someone with a 13-year old son with ASD , and I fear dying before my son can learn to live independently.

For now I can protect my son and comfort him when he is hurt or scared, but no parent can or should do this for the rest of our lives. Our children grow, and we pass on. But hopefully, our comforting words will live in their hearts and give them courage to live their lives.

************

BE NOT AFRAID
(For E.)

The sky may darken
And let fall the rain
That doesn’t seem to end

The winds may howl
Like a crazed person
Banging on the window

The lightning may strike
And give you a glimpse
Of the dark clouds outside

The thunder may roar
And cow you into hiding
Under your soft blanket

But don’t be afraid,
Mommy’s here to keep you safe
And warm as you sleep and dream
Of a beautiful sunrise when you wake.

 

Daily Prompt: Constant

He laments the quick and merciless

Passing of time and the white strands of hair

That are starting to show on his temples.

He looks at old photographs and then looks at himself

In the mirror and sighs …. “Time is unkind.

“We were so young then…,” he says.

“And stupid,” she adds.

 

She looks at herself in the mirror and sighs…

This is inevitable,” she says to herself.

“The only thing that is constant is change.

Nature, too, ages.

The sun may rise and set again day after day,

And the waves rush back and forth,

Second after second…

Yet they, too, go through change.

 

“But some things can remain constant

In our lifetime.

We can keep them constant.

And that should be enough.”

Daily Prompt: Constant

Daily Prompt : Compromise

We’re not children,

We don’t need to fight over petty matters,

It shouldn’t matter who has the last witty retort,

In fact there’s no need for a retort

Nor for the cause of such.

Let’s be the grown ups that we are.

Compromise.

——-

Daily Prompt: Compromise

Daily Prompt: Surreal 


It would take a Kafka

To make this charade of yours

Pass for reality.

Surreal are your words

That seem to come naturally

From those lying lips.

Surreal are your thoughts

That seem original

Yet hard to accept.

Surreal is the life you live

That only you

Can ever make sense of.

Daily Prompt:
Surreal

Daily Prompt: Cacophony 

Xiamen City


The cacophony of sounds in the city 

Makes one yearn for the music 

Of the waves 

As they hit the rocks,

Or the crackle of dead leaves 

Under oner’s feet,

Or the whisper of the wind 

As the trees sway 

When it blows. 


Daily Prompt: 

Cacophony

Daily Prompt: Enlighten 

img_6445
Life can sometimes feel like

A big joke — a practical joke

Played on you

Which you don’t find

Funny at all.

And if you’re a believer,

You just feel like asking,

“Really, God? Are you f-ing kidding me?” 

But you go on

Living.

Smiling.

As if everything’s all right

With your world.

Yet deep down you’re yearning

To understand what the hell is going on.

Your heart is screaming —

Enlighten me or just put an end to it.”



Daily Prompt:
Enlighten

Daily Prompt: Expect 

Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

She was told not to wait, 

Not to expect and just live 

As if the things that had happened 

Never happened. 

But was that even possible? 

How could one forget — 

Those eyes that smiled

Even when the lips didn’t? 

The embrace that seemed 

To promise to never let go? 

The words that should only be uttered 

By those who mean them?

She couldn’t. 

So she waits. 

And expects 

As she remembers

Everything that happened. 
Daily Prompt: Expect 

Daily Prompt: Release 


I watched you walk away, 

I called your name out loud, 

But my voice just echoed in this room. 

You said I’d be safe in this place, 

And I believed you. 

But why do I feel, 

Like I’m not free

To even say goodbye to you?

Why is my heart crying out 

For release? 
Daily Prompt: Release 

Daily Prompt: Exceptional


There’s nothing exceptional about you,

Nothing that anyone will ever notice. 

You can go in and out of any place,

And people wouldn’t even know you were there. 

You may even laugh, but your laughter 

Is always drowned by others’ louder laughter. 

Your tears are yours alone, 

The world never bothers to ask

What bring them to your sad eyes. 
So now that your back is bent,

And your feet hurt when you walk, 

You think no one will miss you 

When you simply disappear. 

No one will come runnning 

To stop you from jumping 

From that bridge 

You walk every day 

Of your lonely adult life. 

But you have to know — you’re not exceptional. 

Not even in this. 
Daily Prompt: Exceptional 

Daily Prompt: Superficial


Why can’t we be

As pure as a flower

Growing naturally, artlessly?

Why do we have to pretend

To care when we don’t,

To feel when our hearts are empty,

To believe when we’re full of doubts,

To love when there’s only contempt?

They say if you live in society,

You need to socialize,

Be friendly, smile.

But what if society’s superficiality

Is killing you?

And you’re dying a slow, painful death

With your fake smile, and your fake laugh

And your equally fake concern

For your fake friends.

 
Perhaps this is part of living.

Perhaps life itself is superficial.

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

To be elastic is to be flexible, tolerant, resilient, to easily recover from depression or exhaustion.   

To be elastic should be everyone’s goal. 

I easily get angry, but I also easily get over the anger which sometimes annoys me because I think people shouldn’t just be allowed to readily forget the hurt they caused you. But that’s me. 

I also get depressed so easily, but let me walk around a quiet park and give me solitude and let me have a good cry, then I’ll be fine. 

Fuzhou Normal University

Jimei University

I like to think I’m “elastic,” but my husband doesn’t think so. He always tells me I’m stubborn, and maybe he’s right. But there’s one thing I’m 100% certain of — that both us have some “elasticity” within us or we wouldn’t still be happily married after 11 years! 

Have a lovely weekend! 💕
T. 

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

Daily Prompt: Sympathy 


Where were you …

When a baby was crying in hunger, 

A mother was grieving over her dying child, 

A beggar was looking for shelter in the cold? 

You weren’t there, 

And you refused to see

Or to even think of them. 

And now you weep, 

Alone, outside your once happy home, 

Certain that nobody will come

To comfort you in your grief. 

But don’t worry…

Somebody always does, 

And most likely they’re the ones,

You once despised 

For their silly faith 

In love, sacrifice, generosity, forgiveness and sympathy. 

Daily Prompt: Sympathy 

Daily Prompt: Peculiar 

There was nothing special about her 

Nothing unusual,

Nothing that would make one 

Take a second look. 

Then one day, people saw 

Not her ordinariness, 

But the peculiar way 

She died for the man 

That no one else could love. 
Daily Prompt: Peculiar 

Daily Prompt: Roxy’s Moxie


Roxy lived

Hiding in her shell,

Afraid of showing

Her true, bright  self.

Then she met him

Who showed her the world

And how to survive in it.

Though now he’s gone,

She still remembers

How she finally got the moxie

From him whose name is Rocky.😜

Torment

img_5999

 

The savage in you

Like to tickle me

To death – you

Relish seeing me squirm

When your hands start sneaking slowly

D

O

W

N

My arms, my waist

Then up the sides of my breasts

Where your fingers deftly move

Like a pianist’s hands on the keys

Or a wolf’s claws on its prey.

 

July 5, 2000

(Written 17 years ago when love meant something totally different. Sigh.) 

 

Daily Prompt: Savage 

Daily Prompt: Savage 


Your roots savagely grow down 

From you, growing faster and stronger 

As they reach the ground 

And later strangle you. 

You from whom they came from. 

If you could stop them, 

Would you? 


(Banyan trees are also known as “strangler figs” for their “strangling” growth  habit. The roots descend from the branches and grow a pseudotrunk that makes it look like it’s strangling the main trunk. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of a pseudotrunk although I’ve seen so many here in Xiamen. I chose these two photos for the way the roots seem to grow savagely from the branches.) 

May you have a CALM week, not a savage one. 💕😁
T. 

Daily Prompt: Better


Blue, blue sky

White cottony clouds,

Cool breeze blowing the hair from my face,

Warm water touching our feet,

And your soft little hand in mine

Holding tightly, afraid of being let go,

Days like this are few and far between

And make moments like these

More precious than anything money can buy.

Until next time, my dear son,

When things will be better
.

Daily Prompt: Jolt 

A KIND OF ODE TO THE DURIAN 

They say you are 

Thorny 

Heavy 

And stinky. 

But when I see you 

When I smell you 

This tired and sleepy body 

Jolts into wakefulness…


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smell of durian as much as my sisters HATE, HATE, HATE it. Like they say, “its strong, pungent smell either delights or repels. ” 

Durian: does it jolt your appetite? Or does it jolt you into running as far away from it and as fast as you can? 

Have a lovely week! 
T. 

Daily Prompt: Jolt 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Security 

A rainy Friday afternoon
Couples huddled under one umbrella
Bodies touching
Feeling secure
In each other’s arms.

A lone egret
On a quiet boardwalk
Soaking wet, yet
Looking secure
Even as it flew
Alone in the rain.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Security

Old Age and Dependency in Neruda’s Don’t Go Far Off

dont-go-far-off
Mindanao, Philippines 

Don’t go far off by Pablo Neruda

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

I like the hesitation expressed in the repetition of “because,” as it seems the speaker seems unsure whether the reason he is going to give for asking the other person not to go too far even for a day, would be reasonable enough for the latter. And to me, he succeeded in sounding convincing with his use of the imagery of the empty train station – empty of not only people, but of the trains as well as they are “parked off somewhere else, asleep.” This last line of the first stanza emphasizes his feeling of emptiness – everyone and everything else has gone and they are asleep (not dead, just having a rest), which I think signals what the speaker himself is going through (revealed in the last line of the last stanza.)

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

His demand not to be left alone becomes urgent as he argues even an hour would be too long. He knows himself and knows that slowly but surely anguish will come in full force. I think “smoke” here refers to fear that can overwhelm a person and make one’s heart rate grow faster thus “choking my lost heart.”

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

Whereas in the first and second stanzas, he gives reasons for not wanting the other to leave him (he will be waiting, feeling empty; he will be full of anguish and be heartbroken), in the third stanza, he reveals further that he is not only thinking of physical distance, but emotional as well – “may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.” These words show the total dependence of the speaker to the other person. He never wants to lose sight of this person (“Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;”), nor to have this person not being in the present with him. From not being able to be without this person for a day, then for an hour, then for a second, the speaker obviously relies heavily on the other person for his existence.

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

Normally, I would be very cynical about people being too dependent on other people, emotionally. But I totally understand that certain people like the elderly and young children, and people with certain developmental disorders cannot help being so. And this is how I see the speaker of this poem. He is not a young and healthy man in the best years of his life. Rather he is old, and nearing his end and fears dying alone. This is not a man speaking to his lover, but a mere human being asking the one he trusts not to leave him, physically and emotionally.

This is not a love poem.

A couple of times, I have heard old men, who when they were young, were once brave soldiers and then, stern fathers; but, as they became old and frail, they became fearful of being left alone, begging their children not to leave them. This, I find extremely sad.

This is perhaps the saddest Neruda poem I have ever read.

 

Here’s the Spanish version (probably the original)

“No lejos de mí un solo día”
Pablo Neruda

No estés lejos de mí un solo día, porque cómo,
porque, no sé decirlo, es largo el día,
y te estaré esperando como en las estaciones
cuando en alguna parte se durmieron los trenes.

No te vayas por una hora porque entonces
en esa hora se juntan las gotas del desvelo
y tal vez todo el humo que anda buscando casa
venga a matar aún mi corazón perdido.

Ay que no se quebrante tu silueta en la arena,
ay que no vuelen tus párpados en la ausencia:
no te vayas por un minuto, bienamada,

porque en ese minuto te habrás ido tan lejos
que yo cruzaré toda la tierra preguntando
si volverás o si me dejarás muriendo.

 

 

This Time Tomorrow

thinking of you

By this time tomorrow
I won’t see you open your eyes as you wake
Nor see you smile when you look at me,
Nor feel your little arms around my neck,
As I usually do,
When I greet you “Good morning!”

By this time tomorrow
I will be thinking of you
As the plane takes me
Away from you.

I told you I was leaving
But I am not sure you understood.
I wish I could make you understand,
That I just want what’s best for you,
Even if it breaks my heart.

Don’t hate me for this.
I promise I will be back.
You will wake up one morning.
And I’ll be there.

Home is where …

img_0390

I’m home,

But somehow it doesn’t feel the same

I have time alone now, something I have always wanted

But somehow it doesn’t feel as comforting as it used to be. 

Your bedroom door’s open, 

And I turn to look at it

And I see your wheelchair in one corner,

It’s gathering dust. 

The curtains and the bed sheets were changed this weekend 

Like you were still going to lie on your bed 

But this room has not been occupied for months. 

It’s  a strange feeling — knowing you’re never coming back 

But like you’re on a vacation somewhere far. 

Maybe you are. 

I hope you’re happy there. 

 

Mother’s Day without Mom

momsday

They say the dead don’t see nor hear
But I don’t know for sure
I just wish you could…

See that I need you
To hug me like you did
When I needed a hug
Just because…

Hear me wish for you
To come and comfort me
As life gets a little too much
And I feel …tired.

I still keep wishing
You were just a phone call away
That I could still tell you
What’s making me sad,

And you’d reassure me
That everything’s going to be all right
And that you pray for me
Every single night.

When I was a child,
I couldn’t wait to grow up
But now that I have
I sometimes wish

I could run into your arms again
And close my eyes
As I bury my face into your neck
And smell your scent of talcum powder,

As you theatrically sing and sway
Making the sadness go away,
Turning it into giggles
And then rambunctious laughter.

Mother, how I wish
I could just be
Your little child again.

Goodbyes

GOODBYES1

Some goodbyes are sweet — 
You smile and hug and kiss 
And say the word, believing
That you’ll be better people 
When you see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are bitter —
You turn your back 
Perhaps with tears 
Or with a frown, hoping 
You’ll never have to see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are not meant to be —
You think it is over 
That the last chapter has been written
And another one cannot be added. 
But then a sequel is started. 


Some goodbyes are inevitable — 
You hate to part 
You know you shouldn’t 
But you’re not characters in a book 
Or lovers in a rom-com….

These goodbyes leave you feeling cold and empty 
Like a house stripped 
Of every furniture, curtain and picture,
Of every sign of being lived in, 
And all that’s left is a hollow sound 

And the echo of one’s sigh 
And the memories of a voice…

Such is the goodbye that, in my ear,
You gently whispered
As you kissed away 
A tear on my cheek 
And softly,
Quietly

Left me
For good. 

*****

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long..” is a line from one of my favorite Neruda poems, “Tonight I can Write.” I think it’s a beautifully sad poem that captures not only the pain one feels at the thought that love has gone, but also the courage to imagine that the person one has loved so passionately will eventually move on.

Tonight I can Write by Pablo Neruda:

Click here for the English and Spanish versions.
Click here to listen to Andy Garcia’s reading of the poem.

 

You’re special

special1

Dear Son,

You are special to me
Not in the same way
The world calls you special
Because you can’t speak
The way kids your age do,
You can’t throw a ball
Like most 5-year olds do
You can’t even catch one
Though we’ve tried to teach you
Over and over again.

You are special to me
But not in the same way
The world sees you
Because you flap your hands
Or jump a thousand times on the trampoline
Or recite your books from cover to cover
Instead of talking with people.

No, you’re special to me
Because I see what the world can’t see
How sweet your smile is
When I finish a line that you start to recite;
When you leave your toys
To run to me just to give me a hug;
When you snuggle close to me
Because you want to be kissed;
When you ask me to sing
Your favorite song
Or read your favorite book.

You are special to me
Not only for who or what you are,
But also because, in your simplicity,
You have taught me —
Patience and understanding,
Humility and gratitude.

And most all you taught me
Love that expects nothing in return

Save for that sweet, little smile
You give to me alone.

Thank you, Son.

Love,
Mom

On Words and Immortality

sonnet 18

I personally know a few people who look forward to the discovery of making humans immortal. Although I’d be very happy for and proud of humanity should they make such an achievement, I don’t think I will be around long enough for that, and I don’t really wish to become physically immortal.

Having recently seen someone I love suffer, I cannot see the point of prolonging one’s life if one is unable to function normally, both physically and mentally. It is heartbreaking to see a fellow human being’s condition deteriorate like that, especially when it is one you hold close to your heart. It makes you wish you were suffering instead of them.

So, no. Immortality in the physical sense is not for me.

I have said before that I would probably reconsider if life could be painless, and one could remain young and healthy. But I think that is too big a dream for humanity — one I find extremely hard to hope for.

However, some people have successfully immortalized themselves and others they cared about thru arts and literature. There are too many works and artists and writers to mention them all, but one poem that promises immortality thru poetry that has really stuck with me since I first read it as a student is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The first two quatrains of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 explains why the speaker cannot possibly liken the subject (supposedly a young man but some people insist it’s a woman; it doesn’t matter to me) to a summer’s day. The third quatrain explains further how time nor death cannot rid the subject of his/her beauty.The couplet promises eternal life to the subject, saying, for as long as people can read this poem about him/her, he/she will always live.

And the poet has been proven true to his promise. We are still reading about the young person’s beauty. You are reading about it now as you are reading my post.

To me that IS immortality.

How (in what way) would you like to be immortalized? 

The Tryst

writing is my lover1


As I lie in bed 
Waiting for the husband 
To put down his book, 
I think of the words, 
Imagine them flowing,
Hearing the sound,
Savoring each syllable. 

As soon as the light is off
I wait a little more
For the eventual snore
A sign that I was free 

To get up 
And to be 
With my lover. 

I check on the little one
Sleeping like an angel,
And then, quietly, I go
To meet with my lover,

For my lover makes me feel 
And think 
And smile.

My lover heals me 
And comforts me 
And helps me move on. 

As I step into the room 
And walk towards the table
Where everything
Will soon commence,

I say to myself, 
Now I can do this. 
I can let the words out. 

I am in love with words. 
And writing is my lover. 

 

smiley

If it isn’t obvious yet, it’s written tongue-in-cheek. A reaction to the questions asked of me recently: what I’ve been doing with my time and why I like being alone. 🙂

Why do you write?

Like you used to

missing miming 1

For my Miming

Today I read something that made me laugh
And I thought of you, and for a second,
I thought of picking up the phone
To tell you the story,
And hear you laugh
Like you used to.

But then I remembered
That I had already said my goodbyes
That I won’t ever hear your voice again
Nor ever see your eyes disappear
As you laugh at my silliness,
Like you used to.

You’re no longer here.
That’s something
I have to get used to.

Insignificant

img_20160331_171302.jpg

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

You’re like …

A tiny, withered leaf
On  concrete ground —
Invisible except to those who look down,
Unappreciated save for a few sensitive souls
(Who see it and wistfully smile)
Too small to catch anyone’s attention
But for the sweeper’s who thinks
It does nothing for the neatness of the ground.

——

Some people feel so small; they feel they have nothing to contribute to this world, that nobody knows them, that nobody likes them. They are worse off than Dostoevsky’s man from the underground, who at least thinks/knows he is smart.

These people feel that when they finally leave this world, nobody will mourn them, nobody will remember them. There will be no flowers on their graves.

I feel small, too, but only when I think of the massiveness of the universe; I feel I am extremely insignificant. What does my life matter to the universe? It will go on, and not a thing about it will change when I die because I am just a speck of dust in its vastness.

But then again….

One may be small, seen and appreciated by only a few. But who needs too many people in one’s lifetime? One cannot possibly know all their names and all their stories. One only needs a few sensitive souls to see through one’s soul.

Though one may be small, insignificant to most, one can be the world to somebody else. One can make oneself the center of somebody’s universe by one’s selflessness and sincerity and generosity.

Make your life matter. 

 

 

Neruda’s “If You Forget Me”: A Lesson in Loving

1458787384042.jpg

Centennial Park, Iligan, Philippines

Whether Pablo Neruda wrote this poem for his country, Chile, or for his wife, Matilde Urrutia does not make much difference to me. I like the kind of love portrayed in this poem. I like the tone of the speaker as he warns his lover …

“If you forget me

I want you to know
one thing. ” 

It is not the sound of a desperate, pathetic lover who begs or promises to continue  to wait even though the other has moved on.

It shows a speaker who thinks and is not controlled by silly emotions, a speaker/lover who demands reciprocity in a relationship.For truly, if one can be, and is reasonable, one will demand reciprocity in a relationship.

(Even God demands, commands love and faithfulness!)

“If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.”

Who wants to be forgotten by the one person you cannot forget? Of course, trying to forget someone is easier said than done. The more you try to forget, the more you will be reminded. This is perhaps the speaker’s way of saying, “Don’t think  I will be pining for you. I will forget you before you can completely forget me!”

“If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land. 

“…and my roots will set off/ to seek another land.” This is how it should be. One should be brave in seeking and starting a new life and not waste time and energy on someone who has forgotten.

Yet….

Though the poem begins with a kind of warning, a threat as to what the speaker can do should his lover forget him, it ends with a promise, an enticement as to what he can give if his lover remains true to him,

“…ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.” 

Reciprocity.

  • Click here for the English version of the poem
  • Click here for  the Spanish version (Si Tu Mi Olvidas)
  • Click here to listen to Madonna read the English version of the poem.

Playing Dead

 For My Miming


You used to play dead
When you felt
I wanted
Too much attention.

You would close your eyes
Stiffen your body
And hold your breath for a minute
Not making a sound, not moving an inch,

Making me think
You were dead
That you’d left me
And it was my fault.

You used to enjoy telling people
How scared I was as I shook your body
How hard you tried to control your laughter,
And how smart I was
To tickle your foot to “wake” you up.

Now as I look at how your lids don’t move
As your eyes are closed
Your body stiff and cold to the touch,
I am tempted to tickle your foot again.

But I’m not a child anymore
And I know this is no longer the silly game
That the once-goofy mother
Used to play with her youngest child. 

The machines don’t lie
You’re gone.
You have really left me
And you won’t wake

No matter how many times
I whisper in your ear
Or squeeze your hand
Or kiss your cheeks.

The game has ended.
And I lost.

 

Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Be grateful. Move on. 

   

Sunset at Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 

One of my favorite poems that I can recite by heart is Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I kept reciting this poem to my baby when I was still pregnant, and even after my son was born. HBO’s Classical Baby The Poetry Show includes a reading of this poem by Susan Sarandon, and it is now my 5-year old son’s favorite part of the video.

A thought came to mind today as I watched my son give me the sweetest smile when the video clip began. A few months after our son was diagnosed with Autism, my husband wished Eli would not grow so quickly. Today, only for a moment I wished Eli would never grow up, so people can excuse his strange stimming habits, his speech delay and other autistic traits. Every now and then  I worry about whether or not he will be able to live independently, when my husband and I won’t be around to look after him anymore.

Frost’s poem talks about how we, once in a while, encounter something that makes us wish could last at least a lifetime, but we all have other things to do — duties, responsibilities, roles to play in other people’s lives — so we have to move on, continue living our lives.

The speaker in this poem though was truly in the moment. He   noticed his surroundings: the snow-covered woods, the frozen lake; he heard the sound of the harness bells and the wind. He also used his imagination (“My little horse must think it queer…”), and was quite aware not only of the lack of danger (…He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow), but also of his responsibilities and of the life he had to live,   (But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep.) 

Oftentimes I look at my son and wonder what life will be like for him. Will he ever be able to speak like a neurotypical person? Will he be able to read by himself the books that he loves for me to read to him? Will he be able to write down his own name?  But then I stop myself from doing this, and instead do things with him. Not much use wondering about the future when so much of it depends on the present.

What I liked most about Frost’s poem is the idea that though we can (and we should) live our lives — face our responsibilities, fulfill our duties, find our way in the darkness — we can stop once in a while and just enjoy what we have in our lives: food on our table, clothes to keep us warm (or cool), roof over our heads,  air we breathe, water we drink, family, friendship. And love. And faith that everything will be all right in the end.

Thank you. Salamat. 谢谢。

As you lie there 

 


What goes on in your mind

As you lie there, awake but unable to get up?

What dreams do you have

When pain killers stop the pain

But play tricks with your brain

And make you smile, or frown

Or scared like a little girl

Crying out for her mom,

While asleep?

Do you hear people talking

About you,

How you have changed?

How it breaks their heart to see you so?

Do you hear us when we talk to you?

To tell you that we’re sorry,

That we love you,

And that we’ll be fine,

No need to worry?

Travel Woes

 

Afternoon clouds over Visayas, Philippines. I was so excited to see this cloud formation. Looks like a duck, don’t you think?

 

Pack. 
Unpack. 
Pack. 
Unpack. 

I could fill this page 
With the same words
According to the number of times
I had to 

Pack. 
Unpack. 

Barely had the time to start shedding 
The pounds from stress eating  
And I’m stressing and stress eating again. 

Someone once said to me, 
When tragedies pile up
Then you have a comedy. 

How come I’m not laughing? 

March 3, 2016

The excitement over meeting at night

 

meeting at night

No moonlight photos because I found I have never taken good enough photos of the moon. I seldom go out at night these years. Sigh

Click here to hear a reading of the poem. 

(So why am I talking about love again? Because I’m tired of hearing people tell me I look tired or miserable. In short I’m tired of feeling tired. Logical? No? I don’t care.)

This poem has a sister poem called “Parting at Morning.” But I don’t want to talk about parting. Meetings are exciting. Partings can be beautifully sad or sadly beautiful, both of which are my usual preference, but I’m not in the mood to be sad. So, exciting things for now.

Now let’s imagine this man traveling on a boat, obviously all by himself, on a dark night and crossing quite a distance (“three fields”) to meet with his lover  — a woman (this is Victorian poetry, and we know Browning wrote this for his wife, Elizabeth Barrett, so.) He braves the darkness and the distance to be with her. One can feel the excitement in the imagery in the third and fourth lines of the second stanza. In the darkness — a small light, and a soft familiar voice.

I’ve read some analyses of this poem, but not thoroughly because I do not like to be influenced heavily by what others say about this poem. I prefer to have my own understanding of any poem. We did read this in our poetry class some twenty years ago (ouch!), all I remember is the sound of my professor’s voice reading it. It was always relaxing.

I digress. 

This poem is often interpreted as having a male speaker because the poet is male. But read the poem again and imagine the speaker being a woman. Does that work for you? It certainly does for me.

Reading this poem in the 21st century, one may ask, why can’t the speaker be a woman? Surely, women can “gain the cove with pushing prow”? Women can cross “three fields” to get to the secret meeting place? I bet a lot of women have braved weather and distances to meet with a lover.

But whether the speaker is male or female is not my main point. My main point is actually quite simple: when you’re in love and you have to meet with the object of your affection, meeting in secret, especially at night, can have its excitement that for the moment you wish would never end.

But of course it ends. Duh.

 

 

 

 

On Trying to be Good

 

Sunset over Mindanao Sea (Bohol Sea), Philippines

My heart has been “battered” for weeks now, so I’m not praying for more; but these days this sonnet has been like an earworm (brainworm) in my head.

Holy Sonnet XIV by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 
 

People raised to believe in heaven and hell, or just raised to be a good person and to be sorry for doing bad things,  most likely feel guilty for being bad and continually endeavor (and, perhaps, still fail) to be good.

The sonnet expresses that desire to be good (to be with God) again, and the supplicant is willing to be cleansed in any way (by God) just to become pure again.

Perhaps because it’s the Lenten Season, or maybe it’s just because somebody reminded me of this sonnet, that it’s stuck in my head, but it’s been awhile that I have not prayed like this.

Arrogance? I don’t think so. Too busy living? Maybe. Had enough? Well….

Mother’s Memories

You stared blankly into space  
As if looking at something 
That only you could see. 

Then you opened your mouth to speak 
About old friends and the fun times you had with them 
And how there was only peace among everyone 

You said you wanted to go back to the old house 
With the people you say were your real friends. 

We wish we could give you what you want. 
But the house has been gone for over half a century 
And your friends’ tombstones have even faded 

I wiped a tear away as I felt I was no longer in your memory. 
But I braved myself to ask,  “Do you know who I am?”
You turned to look at me and softly said my name, 

 And added, “My dearest child.” 

On living, loving and leaving

shakespeare1

Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou may’st in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day, 
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire 
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by. 
   This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

There has been much debate on the meaning of this sonnet, particularly the last couplet:

   This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

What is the young man supposed to eventually leave before long: his friend or his own youth?

I will not join in the debate, but I am quoting the sonnet here because I was reminded of it (and John Donne’s Sonnet 10) twice today: first, when I read this poem by John White called Laughing about it ; second, when I read Temple Grandin’s tribute to Oliver Sacks, who also wrote a moving article reflecting on his relationship with his Orthodox family and the Sabbath.

Whether the speaker meant that the young man had to leave his friend or his youth, to me, is not the point, rather that the knowledge that one is leaving something valuable makes one appreciate it or love it even more.

My first real understanding of this line happened one summer day when my best friend and I stood in a forest, listening to the sound of the leaves of the trees as the breeze was passing through, and I said it was beautiful I wish it could last forever; and he said it was beautiful simply because it was not going to last.

(Not long after that my best friend left, and for a while, that memory always made me cry. But with time, I have learned to call on that memory, and it just brings a beautiful feeling.)

If we truly love someone or something –a place, a person, a pet or life itself —  the knowledge of our imminent leaving of it/them will make our love for it/them even stronger.

Perhaps it is the best way to live every minute of our short life here: to always remember that we won’t be here forever, that we are always about to leave. Perhaps then we can love wholeheartedly, not only for a minute or an hour or for a day, but for a lifetime.

Love in the time of Computers

How many times have I fooled
Myself into hoping
That you’d come
Knocking at my door
To surprise me
To make me smile
Like you used to.

Why is it so hard
To store in this brain
That you had moved on
But left everything
For me to process
And decode the meaning
Of your sudden leaving.

Isn’t it enough
That you had left
(Not the country,
Though I sure wish you would!)
And that you see me
See you happier
Without me?

But ah, this brain
This brain has faulty programming.
Its memory is full.
It cannot store new data
And none can be deleted.
It can only self-destruct,
In due time.

On Growing Old

“I grow old… I grow old…                                                                                                                                                             I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

-T.S. Eliot

I have a lot on my plate lately, and don’t have the time to be quiet nor to have a good conversation with people I can really talk with, so yesterday as I sat down to rest for a few minutes I thought about how many strands of white hair could be growing out of my head. I decided to just laugh about life instead of worrying about it. I’m not ready to dye my hair.

Beautiful winter afternoon sun in Jimei

Winter afternoon sun in Jimei

With every misfortune,
And every disappointment,
And angry and hurtful words,

With every neglect
And every apathy
And unwelcome silence,

I can feel white hair
Growing out of my scalp.
I swear I can hear each strand
As it wriggles its way out.

And I look at myself in the mirror
And I look for those strands of white
There’s one close to the right ear
And another one by the hairline,

And then there’s none.

Perhaps those two came out
Because I worried
That because I worried,
I would grow old.

Musing on mornings

Jimei has a beautiful campus. I walk to work around 7 in the morning four times a week, and each time, I walk slowly so I can enjoy the scenery.

I am a morning person. I get up at 4:30 in the morning most days and do my ritual of making coffee, reading the news, mopping the floor, doing a 20-minute workout, grabbing a bite, then taking a shower. If I miss one of those in the list, I get a little disoriented.

These days the morning air is so cool that when I open the kitchen window and hear the rustling of the leaves and the merry chirping of the birds, and feel the cool touch of the breeze on my face, I am reminded of two poems: one by Wordsworth and the other by Hopkins. (I’m serious. If you have ever been taught Poetry by a professor as poetic and romantic as Dr. Anthony L. Tan, and lived in a convent — trying to become a nun– for a few months, then you’ll understand my way of thinking.)

 

IMG_1142

 

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge 

By William Wordsworth

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

 

IMG_1154

 

God’s Grandeur
Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 

Even though I am no longer so certain about the existence of God, the beauty of the morning somehow brings back my sense of gratitude to the creator of such beauty, and since in my simple brain, there are no other candidates for that position, then let it be God for now.

Early morning, I find, is much more beautiful than night time. (Or is it just that I am getting old and can no longer appreciate the beauty of darkness where sweet words are whispered and gentle touches are felt?)

When I take an early morning walk, and see the dew on the leaves and feel the damp earth, and hear the birds sing, and smell the grass, I am always filled with that kind of bliss that makes one want to love the world and to desire to be a better person deserving of such wonder. For someone who has been waiting for death since she was 20, this is one of the very rare moments when I am actually happy about life, one of my Sisyphus-reaching-the-top-of-the-hill moments.

The awareness of the ephemerality of these moments is probably what makes people, like me,  appreciate them more.

Like everything else in this world, they come to an end, sometimes too soon, when I start hearing the honking of vehicles and seeing people push and shove each other to get on the bus to get to work.

But this is life. I am just grateful to know that there is time, when I need it, for nature to refresh me and make me ponder on how good it is to be alive.
IMG_1162