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 309 – Rediscoveries

While you’ve been away, I think I’ve found courage
See, I’ve been trying to make sense of it.
I thought I had lost it in the darkness of lonely nights.
For a second I thought I never knew it.

Can you believe it?
I thought that I had simply lost it alongside my disappearing pairs of socks.
Like I had misplaced it among a mass of haystacks
As if I had simply laid it down while I finished another chore or two

Well, after some contemplative nights of
Wading through puddles of tears
Pillows damped by such rainfall
I arose

I lifted my falling eyelids,
Propped them up as best as I could and, boy, did I see the light

Can you believe it?
That I saw courage once more?
I found it in the footsteps that I was to take.
In the chess moves that I was to make.
In the pound and throb of my heartache.

I found courage when others would have surrendered,
But I know better than to give up.


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Day 305 – Youthful Expectations

If innocence wasn’t as pestilent as ignorance?
Wow, I think I could have erased a lot of high expectations a long time ago.
I could have saved myself from a lot of trouble.

Yeah, when I was younger, I viewed this world with wide eyes.
I stood with my timid posture, mind you, I was as shy as the sun behind the clouds.

I would hide away my secrets in my journals.
Yes, journals. Plural. I would get a new one every few months. I’d draw out the latest gossip and update on everything me. Lists of my friends. Crushes. Then I’d get tired of it and start a new one.

I colored coded diagrams and, presented my latest findings on friendship and jealousy.
And secretly, I wanted to be able to identify my biggest dreams.
Although, when you’re that young, you can only think about tomorrow:
The “I wonder if they want to hang out again?” questions.
My mind would never really answer.

Back then, it was simply more simplified.
And reasons to love never had to be codified.
I could memorize emotions like the lines on people’s faces.
I could read faster than I could speak.
I could count on everyone, because no one would let me down.

If someone was too cruel to hurt me,
I would be too blind to even see it.
I’d escape the claws of vicious green monsters;
It only took a little bit of distraction.

Satisfaction was a lot easier to come by.
Disappointment was quickly replaced.


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Day 304 – Trust Your Voice

I tell you, brother, I’m giving you the words that I write
Take the ink from my pens, they bleed as dark as night
With conviction, not contradiction, spin words out of control
Leave some scratches on the record, for the record’s got some soul
Soulful sounds echo lightly, sending vibrations down the spine
I’m sayin’, just trust yourself, and it’ll work out every time
Spring forward, don’t fall back; step up against the clock
Allow the rhymes to be the actions, and the power when you talk


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Day 303 – Sweet Madeleine

I’ve packed you safe into a neatly shaped container.
I label you as my breakfast,

And after an hour or so,
I give in and consume you.
But I’m still hungry.

I know sugar cannot sustain me.
I’m searching for some kind of substance.
I know that it’s not your fault,
Being concocted of copious amounts of
Sugar, butter, eggs.
So I won’t complain.

In fact, I praise you for offering me
Instant satisfaction.
As soon as you meet my lips,
I feel a sense of overwhelming joy.

How blessed am I to be able to
Enjoy your encouragement.

Still you leave me wanting.
I crave you more and more,
And I know that I can’t even have you.


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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.