the year of lyrics: a poetry project

my search for inner-peace, one poem at a time


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Day 314 – You Bring Out the Filipina in Me

Inspired by: Sandra Cisneros’ “You Bring Out the Mexican in Me” and Bao Phi’s “You Bring Out the Vietnamese in Me”

You bring out the Filipina in me.

The jeepney-riding miracle worker.
The island sweetheart of art.
The gutom na ako, but not really in me.

You bring out the Filipina in me.
The war-stricken tropical paradise,
pained by martial law under Marcos,
trampled by the feet of Imelda and her closet of over a thousand shoes.

The anti-Colonialist mindset that might set the world on fire.
The tainted skin that refuses lightening creams.
The Illocano and Kapangpangan and Tagalog and Spanish
rolled into a single dictionary in me.
The easy to assimilate into American culture
because of English-infused classrooms in the motherland.

The Magandang Gabi, lechon-eating,
Soon-to-be doctor and lawyer in me.
The OFW working in the Middle East,
sending remittances back to children,
or the daughter of a US Navy officer,
for he joined the Americans out of necessity.
And yet you still bring out the true Filipina in me.

The young, activist peacemaker,
that yearns to clean up corrupt acts that plague the Philippine Sea.
The “I want to return to the homeland to give back”
because that all I’ve worked for.
The wealth of knowledge,
once I graduate from college,
need to make a difference in me.

You are the one I turn to,
and turns to me for love,
for my home is built with always-open doors.
With it’s plastic-covered couches,
fully-stocked pantry piled high with
cans of Spam, dried manga, sweet condensed milk
walis-swept tiled floors,
and sometimes kneeling on piles of kanin for being naughty in me.

You bring out the feisty,
ghetto-fabulous wannabe itim in me.
Yeah I said it.
The lover of all R&B and jammin’ to old school rap in me.

You are the rays of sun on my very own flag,
the guiding stars that surround me.

You have taught me the truth of mahal kita and salamat,
for I love to give thanks when it is not required.

Oo : you, have been woven into the mosquito nets that shield me.
You are the protector of me.


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Day 308 – Unkempt Matter

I thought by creating space, I would be more free
Free to fly, like a bird, without any regard to boundary

But it’s not like you can create space, nor can you create matter,
It exists and is difficult to deface
But does it really even matter?

See, I stand before you on this elevated space,
Preaching to you the thoughts I wish I could erase

But clearly I’m not making and progress
I give up so much but come out with far less
And my fists are screaming
Dreaming of unleashing
The sense of confusion that fires from within


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Day 307 – Wedding Cake

I hate it when patriarchy subjects us ladies to the domesticity of life,
I know I don’t belong in the kitchen.
Regardless of whether I’m a man or woman.

And it doesn’t matter my culture nor my creed.
Somewhere along the line, mankind planted a different kind of seed
Into our lifestyles and understandings…
History has been sewn up with threads of inelastic reality
And the supply and demand for the hearts of women remains unchanged.

Though, I must say misogynists hit the nail on the head when it comes to the kitchen.
Okay, not all women love to cook.

But me? I have an affinity for all things related to the art of cooking.

I have affairs with my sharpened blades, they quickly remove the excess mess of life.
My smooth, wooden chopping boards can withstand all of my karate chops.
Those dishes that lie so unfaithfully in the sink, they get a good talking to every so often.
My patience grows thin with them, but sometimes I really don’t mind washing away their accumulation of grime and hard work.

As the daughter of desserts, it is my ultimate duty to produce birthday cakes
For those special days, and create tried and true baked goods to please the parents.

While I can’t help but wander back into the kitchen on days when the sky is filled with gloom, I am both guilty and proud to say I fit perfectly into the patriarchy-shaped metal tin.

I stand behind all that I create with my two hands.
Did I mention that I do wedding cakes too?


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Day 302 – From the Sponge, To the Boiling Pot

*Inspired by Sarah Kay

You were enticing, though I knew you could burn me if you really wanted.
And I was warned to be cautious around you, since you have a tendency to boil over.
But for the record, watching you from across the kitchen was my favorite thing to do.
Encompassed in your sleek pot, with a handle for which one is to gently lift you.

See, though I learned to wash away filth, I always soak in those around me.
And I’m guilty of absorbing you more than a time or two.
And cleaning up after your messes weren’t always easy.
But I got the job done.

Part of me feels that I’m unfinished, with all of these holes in my being.
But I know that I’m just open.
I put up no boundaries to guard from unwanted adventurers.
No, I simply let them in, and trust them (perhaps a little too much).

But with you, I was more than eager to drink you in.
And you’d warm me up with your tenderness.
You were the best kind of mess I could clean up. But also the worst.

Sometimes, you know, you’d just sit still, at room temperature.
Difficult to read, I was not sure how to move around you.
And when the fire was hot enough, you’d boil into tantrums of
Scalding-hot oblivion. Your bubbling water would threaten to attack me.

And on those off-days of yours, you’d evaporate into thin air.
You’d release into the atmosphere as steam,
And soon you’d be out of my reach.
I couldn’t contain you even if I tried.

One day, I hope that you can condense back into the
Pores of me, for they are empty.
Waiting to be replenished
By your abundance.

See, I believe that you have the ability to change.
To freeze into a solid.
Perhaps be my sturdy brick of ice that cools me down when I get a little to hot.
And when we’re both at a calm,
You can melt back into your,
Ever-moving self,
And dance with me.

‘Cause I’ll never stop wanting to wash up after you.
Even if you’re on the other side of the kitchen,
Sitting atop your stove-top pedestal.
I have the window’s sunlight behind me,
And I’ll let it shine to you.
And maybe you’ll come back home.


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Day 246 – Stop Searching, Just Go

To search the mind is a dangerous thing.
Often we choose to organize our thoughts into neatly tied packages.
Or we leave them astray, tossed in an untidy sprawl of confusion.
But our downfall is not from the action of searching.
Our demise comes from that which we dwell on.
Single out one thought, and another cycle of fear is created.

What if I get hurt?
What if I lose against Love?
What if I am not accepted?
What if I am not recognized?
What if I fail?

Too many what-ifs – Too many questions.
And from these fears, we are introduced to a discoloration of life.
And we are starved from our potential.
Too many questions of what might not happen,
As opposed to welcoming what could happen.

Ah, tonight let it be heard.
Let it be sung on high,
And let it enter your mind yet again:
Harness your thoughts, and be only an acquaintance with them.
Introduce yourself, then let them pass.
Let them live on, but not stay hostage in your mind.
And once you learn to let them enter and depart with the movement of time,
And acknowledgement,
You will learn.

You will get hurt, but you will heal.
You will lose against Love, but she will always hold you close.
You will be rejected, but you will accept more beautiful offers.
You will be overlooked, but you will shine with humility.
You will fail, but you will learn of a new answer.

And that new answer will carry you home.


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Day 245 – Less than Excited Taste Buds

“If you can cook, recession money doesn’t matter. If you can cook, time doesn’t matter… My wish is for you to help a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
-Jamie Oliver TED Prize Wish: Teach every child about food

Yes, it hurts to know that there is another way to suffer.
And it comes from what we eat?

Gone are the days that each home gathers to
Create a most delicious meal,
Together.
Cue the excuses:
But I have a broken family.
I don’t have a traditional one. It’s not as it used to be.
I have no time, this is the best I can do.
Times change and we must adapt.

But to adapt to this?
I am ashamed.
I am hurt.

Corporations, with your evil bidding.
Another commercial flashes,
Drawing lines,
Forging borders so difficult to cross,
Mass producing to excess,
Imposing regulations and
Forcing upon us that which should not be called food.
Sculpting our minds so that we accept it.
And learn to forget regret.

And on this soil alone an oversupply of waste:
Fast food, processed, boxed, packaged, weighed.

How delicious? Cannot wait to dig into another (un)Happy Meal.
What a steal!
A bargain!
Only a few bucks and I’ve got myself a dinner.
And the sickening flavors churn with additives that I do not know the names of.
Oh, I thought I was educated, I can read, can’t I?

How about a little bit of a change.
And alteration to shake up the bowl of popcorn,
To wake up a population blinded from scorn,
Can we not SPEAK UP for our rights to live?
Fight back those who are too harsh to forgive.
They who decide what we put in our system.
Time is running out, why won’t they listen?


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243 – Cloud Nine

I could have lived in a world
Ruled by impossible cruelty or royalty
Dictated by the selfish desires of fictional characters
Driven mad by the sense of an all-powerful notion or energy
Where the oceans can rage in continuous mutiny
And volcanic eruptions are not pleasantly distanced by borders
And disasters are not confined to square screens and undefinable space

No, today some live in a world much worse
Ruled by the intentions of the wealthiest beings
Dictated by the influences of greedy (yet real) leaders
Driven mad by condemning stigmas and stereotypes
Where the oceans bathe in toxic scrutiny
And panoramic corruptions are more violent than tectonic plates
And disasters are belittled as we are divided by creed and race

And though faith can sometimes be hard to come by
I know to rule my mind with the courage to challenge power
I will dictate my dreams into attainable goals
I will drive into the depths of certain vicissitude
Where the oceans sing in enchantment and harmony
And the earth trembles with approval of changing currents
And disasters are welcomed and transformed into lessons worth learning

Yes, that is the world I choose to live in
And I have hope that others will choose this world too.