Posted in Shutterbug Blues, Verses

Menyala Malam

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“Lanterns at Twilight” – Cebu, 10 November 2017

light
the lanterns
as the
night deepens;
raise them
high
for all
to see.

guide
the steps
of those
who wander
lest they
stumble
in the
night,
lest they
lose
their way
and be
lost
for good.

and i
strike
a match
against
the darkness
and let
my heart
catch fire
in the
hope
that i
may guide
the one
who seeks
me
to my
side.

and i
will wait
with all
who wait
upon this
shore
as the
evening falls
around us
and the
stars
come out
and the
light
of each
heart-lit
lantern
leads our
beloved
back home.

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Posted in Shutterbug Blues, Verses

Senja

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“In the Garden at Dusk” – Cebu, 10 November 2017

in the
garden
at dusk
perfumed by
frangipani
and the
soothing
songs of
birds
nesting for
the night
join the
crash
of waves
upon the
shore
and my
thoughts
are far
so far
away.

contemplating
the distance
the space
the time;
knowing
how absence
only leads
to longing
and i
am silent
unable
to share
these unquiet
thoughts.

and i
breathe deep
of the
salt air
and bide
my time
if somewhat
impatiently.

Posted in Shutterbug Blues, Verses

Closing the Garden of Memory

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“What Lies Behind the Gate?” – Singapore, 11 October 2017

i step
through the
gate
into this
garden
where the
broken
are made
whole.

my crosses
too heavy
to bear
and my
heart
in fragments
in shards
from one
beating
too many;
seeking
solace
and refuge
and silence;
the chaos
has all
but done
me in.

and i
sip
from the
spring
that flows
within
and power
surges
through my
veins:
vision clears
passion kindled
mind
made to
rest
as the
past
is washed
away
by cooling
waters.

and i
step through
the gates
unfettered
unbothered
unbowed
and i
lock the
past
behind the
gates
and throw
away
the key.

Posted in Shutterbug Blues, Verses

Para los Ausentes

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“Bloom/Blur” – Singapore, 12 October 2017

flowers
in profusion
for a
life
lived well
and a
story
told well
and a
deed
done well.

a celebration,
a commemoration
of things
past:
vivid memorial
of what
was;
of the
words
that came
before
and the
thoughts
that came
after.

raising
fond toasts
to the
absent
on their
long journey
beyond
mortal reach
on the
day
the veil
between living
and dead
is thinnest
and the
two sides
of reality
meet.

Posted in An Exercise in Prose, Shutterbug Blues

Celebrating Life in the Face of Death

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“Those Who Came Before Us” – Paranaque, 31 October 2017

I was never really keen on Halloween; at least, not in the American context that involves gory scare-fests in the form of horror films or television shows. In which case, I’m also none too fond of the American contexts regarding death and the afterlife.

People nowadays have this fascination with death for all the wrong reasons. Horror franchises play on multiplexes across the globe regardless of season. Vampirism and lycanthropy have been romanticised: made fascinating, tempting in an erotic fashion. The dead are seen as evil and that death itself is the beginning of goodness knows how many macabre scenarios in modern popular literature and culture. (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead.)

We frighten ourselves with even the barest hints that we are but mortal. We freak out over the symptoms we read about from spurious “health” sites; we become paranoid about going out lest an accident or some unsavoury element ends us all of a sudden. Whenever loved ones are on their deathbeds, we scream and cry and wail and bargain with the Grim Reaper that they may not be taken.

Death remains, alas, the biggest taboo for civilised humanity. It is something to be feared, dreaded, and even loathed. But, in reality, death is a natural thing – a beautiful thing, if one would only take the time to put things into their proper perspective. A classic prayer among Catholics begins thus:

Lord, help us to see death for what it really is:
The end of poverty and the beginning of riches;
The end of frustration and the beginning of fulfillment;
The end of fear and the beginning of tranquility;
The end of pain and the beginning of joy;
The end of weakness and the beginning of strength.

To understand death, in my personal opinion, is to actually celebrate life. To consider and appreciate what we have; to remember those who went before us; to honour their wisdom and kindness; to know – and to most certainly accept – that we too, one day, will close our eyes a final time and embrace a life beyond the frailty and imperfection of our mortal bodies.

We in the Philippines celebrate the lives of those who have passed on by way of annual graveside visits on All Saints’ Day, as they do in Mexico (la Dia de los Muertos.) We remember our loved ones with prayer and music; family reunions and flowers; good eating and the sharing of memories of a time long past. It is not the gory slashfest of the west, but more of a celebration of lives well-lived, time well-spent. It is a time of remembrance that also serves to remind us of one of the most fundamental truths of life. It is a time when we must face up to the reality that, for those who have gone ahead, pain does have an ending – and so do suffering, grief, and loneliness.

Death is not the province of bugbears and monsters. It is not something with which to frighten young children or the emotionally susceptible. It is a reality that we all must face eventually – and one we can bravely face with faith, hope, and a quiet acceptance – and the truth that we will be reunited with those whom we have lost.

Let not grief overwhelm us, or a sense of loss embitter us.
But out of our sadness let there arise a new joy for so much given to us.
Cast out our fears and let not our hearts be troubled.
Let Your spirit of peace come alive within our experience and hurt,
our sorrow and isolation, our sadness today and loneliness tomorrow.

Posted in Shutterbug Blues, Verses

Milestone: Intersection

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“Middle of the Road” – Singapore, 11 October 2017

at this
intersection
this juncture
where paths
meet
and part
i stand
silent
even as
the world
roars
and reels
and rushes
’round me
contemplating
the next
step.

wary
of stumbling
blind
and headlong
into chaos
afraid
of the
unknown
unseen
unpredictable:
yet i
steel
my nerves
grit
my teeth
and take
that first
step
and hope
against hope
the path
i choose
is right.

Posted in Art and About, Verses

A Matter of Distance

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“Bound for Distant Shores” – Vladimir Kush, date unknown

two thousand
seven hundred
seventy –
a number
too big
to fathom
just now
in terms
of the
distance
between two
souls.

it’s not
like the
talk
we had
that morning
at breakfast:
meal
for two
unintentional
it happened
by chance
and the
space
between us
was just
a table’s
breadth.

but distance
is distance
is absence
is solitude
is driving
me
to distraction
to destruction:
my mind
won’t sit
and think
or focus
as my
heart
is trying
to fly
away.