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 313 – Confession #4: Be Open

To be open is to:
Paint your soul in the colorless blends of ever-changing ribbons of light
Guide ruthless demands into sorrows of submission,
While you shuffle into rooms devoid of utter silence and violence

Yes, to be open is to allow for the most viscous lava to flow into treasured places
Where treasure is replaced by the scalding unknown
Where you give in to the abilities of higher powers

Welcome the most unexpected visitors

Allow for chance to balance on the tip of the scale
Spin the sphere on the tip of your nail

Leave it to the improbabilities and incivilities
To decide fates that have been written in indistinguishable ink

So if today is the day to be open,
I hope each day is as bright as the suns that awake the night sky
For you must always be open to life


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Day 240 – With Clarity

Seeking a way out — but reminded: there is one
For now, there is no way that has been proclaimed
No exit sign above the selected doorway
Nor are there ending credits to signal the release

Instead, a seemingly endless space of time
Where the stars are stretched light years apart
And sound travels slowly, cries taking years to reach help
Pray that there is no further offset in the balance

For a beam exists, wavering in doubt
Yearning to present this way: out
And the toil and desperation, a call for mercy
Oh, someone please present us mercy

Send us on to less threatening tides
Stop the clouds from voraciously engulfing us
Keep the stars strong, shining deep through the darkness
And the light from the moons reflecting and rejoicing

Somewhere, this way awaits us
We search in distress, but with hope
Not with intimate honesty, but with clarity
So when it presents itself, we shall know the way.


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Day 239 – Arrival

I searched through towers
Stacked high above the ground
Hesitant piles, ready to fall
And lose balance

I drove miles through exhaust
Billowing from metal machines
On miles of pavement, waiting to trip me
With rugged potholes

I impatiently contemplated
On seemingly plush and comfortable
Cushions and curves, swallowing me
Into the coldness of its clutches

I anxiously chased thoughts
And reality at late hours
Disturbed by inhibition, pressuring me
To give up and give in

But I received compassion
Without my own action
It arrived so unexpected, grinning at me
With faith and affirmation


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Day 224 – North Star

I don’t know how many times I’m going to say it, but please reach for the stars.
They’re always free for the taking – I’m telling you, they’re ours.
They may often seem out of grasp, so distant and beyond your sight.
But honestly you’ve got to try – and push on with all your might.

I know the sun sets and leaves us be, but the darkness is not forever.
For the dawn does arrive again – and sheds more light on your endeavor.
See, it is written that you are to dream, and swim in seas of sweet elation.
So move forward, and remember – it’s the journey, not the destination.

Though the path appears treacherous, it’s not impossible to overcome.
For this life is never easy – so don’t give up, do not succumb.
You must recall what you are fighting for, use your values to drive you forth.
You already know the way – so follow your star and just head north.