Robert Hass has issues with Rilke. I have an issue about Hass having an issue with Rilke because I like them both. Anyway, here’s an epigraph courtesy of Rilke: “In the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone.”
It’s my second time to have a literary crush. Believe it or not, I budget my energy for literary crushes. They’re of the supersonic kind leaving myself breathless so I need intelligent allocation of that energy.
It’s different with my tendency to worship works, say of Gregorio Brillantes’ or of Plath’s. My regard toward Judith Butler is different, too, since her fighting arena is literary THEORY. She occupies a different niche.
The first crush is on Conchitina Cruz (*blush). I got tongue-tied when I saw her for the first time. I remain tongue-tied.
I’ve had puppy crushes back then, but only these two count.
The second one is on Tanya Davis.
I got to listen to her using MOG (via proxy, oh yes, suck it, a$$holes). It is only now that I discovered she’s on Youtube!
This girl is amazing, her writing is fresh, and she has a deep, sultry voice the kind that will lull tempestuous beasts in the bowels of the earth.
She has a Jodie Foster vibe.
And she values her solitude.
I love her work called Art and another titled How to be Alone. These two are my bibles.
She’s Canadian (Canadians are brilliant — Alanis, Alice Munro, Tanya Davis). She has a book out titled At First, Lonely. She’s one of only three spoken word artists I respect (most make me guffaw). She’s a poet laureate under Halifax, and she has albums out titled, Make a List, Clocks and Hearts Keep Going, and Gorgeous Morning.
I almost sacrificed my principles for someone utterly bad for my system of “alone” practices and mores. That person became proactive (for the first time) than I am and put an end to things.
I also know friends who are like me, but they’re still scared of taking that leap. They don’t know that when they leap, they’d be weightless, and for the first time, they’d feel how it is to fly.
How To Be Alone
by Tanya Davis
If you are at first lonely, be patient.
If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone once you’re embracing it.
We can start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library, where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books; you’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there.
There is also the gym, if you’re shy, you can hang out with yourself and mirrors, you can put headphones in.
Then there’s public transportation, because we all gotta go places.
And there’s prayer and mediation, no one will think less if your hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.
Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid being alone principles.
The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by “chow downers”, employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town, and they, like you, will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.
When you are comfortable with “eat lunch and run”, take yourself out for dinner; a restaurant with linen and Silverware. You’re no less an intriguing a person when you are eating solo desert and cleaning the whip cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies. Where it’s dark and soothing, alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then take yourself out dancing, to a club where no one knows you, stand on the outside of the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching because they’re probably not. And if they are, assume it is with best human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats, is after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you’re sweating. And beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things. Down your back, like a book of blessings.
Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you. Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there are always statues to talk to, and benches made for sitting gives strangers a shared existence if only for a minute, and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversation you get in by sitting alone on benches, might of never happened had you not been there by yourself.
Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if after awhile nobody is dating them.
But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.
You can stand swathed by groups and mobs or hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company.
But no one is in your head. And by the time you translate your thoughts an essence of them maybe lost or perhaps it is just kept. Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those “sappy slogans” from pre-school over to high school groaning, we’re tokens for holding the lonely at bay.
Cause if you’re happy in your head, then solitude is blessed, and alone is okay.
It’s okay if no one believes like you, all experiences are unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting, life’s magic things in reach, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, and the community is not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it.
Take silence and respect it.
If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it, if your family doesn’t get you or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.
You could be in an instant surrounded if you need it.
If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it.
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.
How to be Alone
Where the Ocean Meets the Greenery
..I need to see a specialist. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious, but it’s all in the mind. Do you get it? If you’ve spent time with me, you’d be sure to know what I’m talking about.
I don’t have sociopath tendencies, but I do have some mild strains. I can name a number of instances, and I’m sure quite a handful of people will volunteer to give testimonies.
In a recent party, I asked a doctor-to-be if some of my tendencies are related with what I need to have checked. Using her state of the art gadget and her medical references, she said yes and a lot more, as in a lot more (but I didn’t understand the bulk of what she said because my attention was straying away. She sent me the file because she knew. Good girl. Haha!).
(Let’s insert a line from one of my favorite songs by Rilo Kiley: “I’m bad news, bad news, bad news”)
Anyway, so another good friend said it shouldn’t be a strict script that I am to live by. I could change things. I know I could, and I’ve been trying, but it’s not a piece of cake. It’s akin to an invisible cannonball that I carry around wherever I go.
So picture me looking for a stick of happiness outside a village where my uncle resides. I finally found a store selling one. I found it odd that the helpers there were too perky. I chatted them up (you know my alter ego and my nosy self that just needs to bombard people with questions as if I were on a perpetual interview assignment), and in the course of my prying, Ate gay (as in he’s this cute, gay boy) cried. Yes, I made a stranger cry. I didn’t get it, but my sister instantly got it. Later on she would say, “Siyempre, malungkot sila kasi malayo sila sa family nila. Nagwo-work sila on Christmas Day.”
And I said: “Oh. Di ko na-gets yon. Automatic ba yon? Shucks, pinaiyak ko si Ate gay.”
(Insert another line here, this time from an Aimee Mann song: “And everything I’m doing’s wrong, but at least I’m hanging on”)
Ate gay forgave me right then and there to the point that he wanted to usher me in and join them for a round of beer and videoke. Yes, at 10AM.
In other news: I’m just so glad Christmas is over.
One highlight of doing groceries in this crazy season is catching this slogan on a guy’s shirt: “feelings are boring, kissing is awesome”. The rest are just about my compliance to social norms and watching my mother throw tantrums. It scared me because I saw a facet of my future self if I live long enough a la deirdre burroughs minus the bank assets and the amazing wardrobe. @_@
Aggressive femmes are scary, and they fit the mold that I fear most. Yet, I remain captivated and fascinated by women. I’m just welcoming the return of my old self who just took a slight detour these past two quarters. It’s about molting right back to my old skin. “Look, the old gang is back.”
People are okay but I prefer the company of books. – Cathy Thorne
When the time came for yearbook write-ups to be submitted during fourth year high school, I saw through classmates who were extra malambing to me. Some whom I hadn’t bonded well enough suddenly wanted me to compose their yearbook write-ups. It was a tricky endeavor because we weren’t that close. What do I say in the write-ups then?
I came up with a few tricks, and none complained about their respective write-ups. This is one of those instances when writers are really of use, and you don’t know if that’s entirely a good thing.
So when friends wrote to me out of the blue or for “just because” purposes, I would sense something new like a polarizing blue of a planet’s ring that streaks across my forehead. It was that surprising.
The photo here shows three greeting cards. The one written with a pencil came from my sponsored child through an organization I support. I have been supporting John Paul’s schooling for about three or four years now. Whatever happens, I always make sure money is allotted to him. I haven’t met him, but the letters from him show a bright mind and a loving character. His favorite Christmas food is sopas. How simple yet how…tragic.
The second card in black ink came from a special friend from grade school who sent it to me one regular day in high school. Back then, Valentine’s Day was kind of a big deal for the students. You could actually feel the undercurrent of tension, it singed, and it bored through your pores. Either you waited for someone to invite you as her date or you invited someone to spend the day with you (day meaning lunch break, recess, and those two to three hours you can squeeze in before the school bus leaves or before you get picked up by your loyal sundo). You shuttle between the two or you remain nameless, you remain un-invited (don’t you just love that word?).
I think she invited me to spend the day of commercialized romance with her, but either she went home early (she lived in the far fringes of the world) or I was busy with my club duties back then, but based on her words, we didn’t get to enjoy Valentine’s Day together. Hah! How things could have turned for the unpredictable.
During a play when I performed as a dancer and she was production head of a job that required her technical expertise (though I never found out where she got that training), she would step out of the booth and watch me perform. Every single time. Under the glare of the spotlight, I would spy her outline, and I would feel lighter. I would feel lighter.
The third card is from my barometer of goodness, my bedrock, one of the rare loves of my short life. She continues to be one of my “still point[s] of [my] turning world”. She breathes life into this quote sent by another of my still points: “The void in the heart does not accommodate itself to a proxy” (Les Miserables, Victor Hugo)
Merry Christmas, people. I would celebrate when the holiday hoopla is over. The Christmas Grinch in me is still overwhelmed by too much brightness and perkiness that just prick our egos.
During an exchange gift session, one of my friends gave me three music CDs.
The Best of Prodigy
I recall after every high school and college exam, I would crank up my favorite cassette tape/CD of the moment to drown in noise. In high school, the stress of being in an honors class and maintaining one’s rank was sometimes so overwhelming I could get lost for hours listening to music. Prodigy’s Fat of the Land was one of the most played tapes in my collection.
The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan
I can’t recall when I started being addicted to The White Stripes but it was definitely in high school when I was a fledgling idiot and they were a fledgling duo. Few duos could grab me this insistently and this graphically. If you haven’t listened to them, shame on you.
Simply Red 25 Greatest Hits
The source of the gift explained the relevance of the CD. It was during prom, and we were the only ones who were able to relate with each other when she mentioned the song. Years and years after, she still has that nugget of memory, and she passed it on to me.
I hate perky people, but I love cheery and gay music. Here’s to Simply Red’s Fairground. While playing this video, imagine U.P. Oblation with a large white star behind him. So gay, so lovingly gay. As Molly Shannon’s famous flick character would say, “SUPERSTAR!”
works. (scoot away if you’re fed up)
Paper Monster Press has been very kind in including my poems (although they never tell you that you made it; I feel slightly marginalized because of my not having an FB account).
Last August or September, the Dream Pop issue was released. I’m glad my prose poem, How Somebody Mimicking Joy Williams Would Talk One Morning, found a niche there.
This month, Paper Monster Press released its Queer Punk issue with my work, Parallels, included. Note that Paper Monster Press includes aural and visual pieces from other artists, too, apart from our humble words.
Over the moon. Am just tad sad for not being able to attend UP Writers’ Night. Paper Monster Press people were present at the said event selling copies of the Queer Punk Issue which, by the way, has a bad ass cover.
Thanks to my queer and dear friend, Jordan, for letting me know that my work made it to Queer Punk and for these lists and these images. Kinda makes up for the disappointment over the “vanishing” of an office that owes… Oh I’m gonna shut up now.
DREAM POP ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS
Jim Pascual Agustin (Tubig-alat sa Ating mga Mata)
Jack Alvarez (Chemistry)
Joyce Marisse Amon (Sending Out)
F. Jordan Carnice (Ghost)
Marella Jem Castro (“I Suppose You Are Real,” said The Velveteen Rabbit)
Jose Jason Chancoco (Astral Travel)
Gigi Constantino (Light Captured)
Christa De La Cruz (Reprieve)
Danilo dela Cruz, Jr. (Ang Araw na Para sa Kanya)
Lolito Go (Sa Pagkalalake)
Eva Gubat (How Somebody Mimicking Joy Williams Would Talk One Morning)
Sinta Isaac (Espongha)
Mark Alvin Jabrica (Listen To Your Mother)
Melay Guanzon Lapeña (Continuity Study)
Veronica Laurel (Waking)
Jenni de Leon-Slater (Colin)
A.B. Mendoza (Dry As Leaves)
Patrick Quintos (1:00 a.m.)
Thirteen Salonga (Encounter #1)
Dott Seki (One Man Universe)
The Dunes (Going Under)
Eggboy (No Way Jose-Alternate Version)
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (Postlude to Fervor)
Identikit (Tiny Fractures)
The Informations (The Wind and The Stone)
J-Solo (Riding Waves, Passing Time)
KR-O.K (Run To Me-Beegees Cover)
Lipstick Tears (Will You Please)
Minimal Pop (Le Rêve)
Monochrome (Grey Sky Manila)
Neuter Lover (Find)
Phantom Sizemore (How To Kill a Giant Robot)
Pogs (Sticky Dreams)
The Standards (Espinosa)
QUEER PUNK ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS
Ayn Frances dela Cruz (Red Balloon)
Chinedu Jonathan (Cedars of Lebanon)
Christa De La Cruz (Rent)
David Neves (Final Thought 2)
Elan Sastine (Artemis and Callisto)
Eva Gubat (Parallels)
F. Jordan Carnice (Cushions)
Lolito Go (Suicide Note)
Paolo Domingo Macariola (Framing Seconds)
Ria Bautista (XVII)
Tofi Alonte (Shadowtale)
Zeraph Dylan Moore (Pre-Op Beauty)
Jeanilyn Kwan (Identity Crisis)
Daniw Santiago (Bagyo)
Elaine Lazaro (Ilang tala sa isang araw na pamumuhay kuno)
Emmanuel Halabasco (Kung bakit magaspang ang mukha ng buwan)
Jim Pascual Agustin (Lakad-lasing)
Jorge aka Munds
Archo “capitalist” bastard
Paige de Guzman Maquiling
Mitten (All That I’ve Got)
The Heart Foundation (Stereo Lab)
The Bernadettes (Oh! Oh! Oh!)
Scantron (Sweet Song!)
The Serial Heartbreaker (Frida Boy)
Skies of Ember (I’ll Be Your Mirror)
Monochrome (Between Tranquility and Impending Death)
Pogs Fortes (Toke a Little)
Goodleaf (Dub Pilipinas)
The Presidents (Long, Long Time)
Lions and Acrobats (Hanging On A Cliff Named IV Drip)
Read Our Lines (The Natural)
Fherrond (The Analyst)
Method (A Bitter Farewell)
stuck waiting for our teacher, we were forced to bond with one another. thus, there we were, twenty- and thirty-something students looking like refugees and scrambling for topics to sustain the conversation.
now i have a new gay friend from that same class. he asked for my surname, and he clarified: wait, sa iyo ba yung river poem sa free press website? i said: yes, sa akin. sabi niya, ang ganda, gusto ko siya.
the heavens opened up, the eternal truth’s hand reached out to help me ascend a la Constantine. i was poised to leave this hellhole…
ally mcbeal moment aside, i was giddy, and i said, thank you because this is the proper behavior to exhibit. suffice it to say that my river poem was well-received by both old and new friends, from people who count.
and my new gay friend also loves the writers i love: denise levertov, kay ryan (who’s a lesbian!), mary oliver (who’s also a lesbian!), and louise gluck, to name a few.
a sorta fairy tale for that day.
i’ve raved about this poem several times to friends, and i’ve posted this twice here on weight of words.
my reposting of this work by Stevie Smith is my homage to every one’s “dark place” because sometimes “[by] casting out the devils, you cast out the best thing that’s in you.” (F. Nietzsche [who else did you expect?])
Not Waving but Drowning
By Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
From Collected Poems of Stevie Smith. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Source: New Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988). Copied from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/poem/175778