Tuesday, June 07, 2016

poetry in motion

he dabbled in poetry.  they were amateurish, sort of, and his verses were simple but they connect and they communicate and amuse which is what poems are supposed to do.  most of his verses were about himself and his craft and about the persons he gets to tangle with. or, box with.

for, he was a boxer.

and he gets to be inside the boxing "ring" which is of course a squared arena fenced  in with ropes where he and his opponent hit each other with gloved fists until the better man triumphs.

before him, the sport of boxing was mostly about physical power and sheer violence.  boxing was most times two gladiators with tensed muscles and strained physiques raining devastating blows at each other, toe-to-toe, till one body succumbs to the fatigue, the hurt, and the humiliation of defeat.

he changed all that.

for he was a poet.  a poet in motion.  as one of his verses declared, he

stung like a bee,
floated like a butterfly ... 

atop the square ring, he danced; he showed spectators that boxers are not all brawn, but, they have brains as well; that boxing can be a "thinking" sport, that physical power and sheer violence can be overwhelmed by strategy and planning, by grace in movement, by poetry in motion.     

he always declared he is The Greatest. his boxing feats in world heavyweight division will attest to this.  yet, many say that his greatness even lies outside the boxing world.  he has become an icon, especially for the colored man, for he has shown that one can rise beyond the pigmentation of one's skin, if one can will himself to do so.  as he did.

he is gone now. he died June 3.

Muhammad Ali.  

so long .. tonight i will relive the pinpoint jabs, 
the Ali shuffle, 
the gladiator's smile, 
the rope-a-dope,

the poet in motion ...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

before May ends ...

i was looking out my window and i realized it is almost the end of May.  i remembered having heard a tv newscaster announce that the weather bureau had already officially declared that the rainy season has now begun.  it is true, the rains had indeed come more often than before and their duration had been longer.  the sweltering heat and dryness of summer would soon be replaced by the cold and wetness of the rainy season.

i can still hear the complaints and the rants and even the curses of people who have been discomforted by the hot summer months. and yet, i know, there will also be complaints and rants and curses as soon as the rainy months kick in.  this early, there was this occasion of rain where the volume of water delivered caused flash floods in many areas.

The season has many facets.  here, in my corner of the globe, it is either summer or rainy season.  in other places, it is interchangeably winter, spring, summer, and autumn.  each brings its own challenges and color to people's lives.

the Sages and Wise Men admonish us -- whatever season we find ourselves in, we must seek joy, specifically, inner happiness.  we must find contentment.  one must not wallow in the discomfort that the season brings but rather strive to recognize the brightest colors of that season whatever shades they may be, feel the energy it offers, accept the liveliness of being it doles out, see its own beauty, listen to its unique song.

for, Life is like this.  countless are its facets.  it will offer us many ways to live.

what is certain is, no matter the way of living we are in, Inward Joy must be our lot. 

let us find the Secret Smile of the Infinite.  this is inside each of us.

before May ends, when the Sun is up and burns the paved road, i will stand by the roadside and let the  heat slide over my skin, and cause me to sweat and soak my shirt, and parch my throat and make me thirst;  i will watch the dust rise up, i will feel the dry wind singe the slender spears of grass and the green leaves of the mango tree and make brittle its branches; and i will listen to the songs of the brown rice birds ...

for Life will be different after May ends ... the rains will bring a different life ..

Monday, April 04, 2016

in the garden, humming honey

it's  already 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun has slowly turned golden in the west, about to tuck her rays here in my corner of the globe, but still, the heat was very palpable and heavy on the the skin. no wind whispered among the green and brown of the plants i was watering.  no spectator birds either on my rooftops. no bird songs to amuse me this quiet afternoon. a tinge of loneliness surged in my heart.  i concluded my watering and watched as the last silver droplet fell down from the water hose.  it was unusually big and it hit a tiny white flower brushing my knee.  it's weight caused the flower to fall to the wet pebbles by my feet --

 " oh so sorry, little one, " i whispered to the little flower, " how careless of me!  " 

-- but i know the Infinite decides when one's time is up.

i stood silent, alone, there in my wife's garden. i have learned over the years, when melancholy hits you, just let it be, and be aware of your heart, close your eyes and watch steadfast inside, and let the inner ears listen ...

suddenly, I remembered this song by Bobby Goldsboro -- Honey -- one of the most poignant love songs I ever heard in English.  i hummed it and let my eyes become wet.  i don't know if the songwriter, Bobby Russell, just made up the story inside the song, but it sure made this afternoon sadder ... here are its lyrics ....

See the tree how big it's grown
But friend it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big.
I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it
Was just a twig
Then the first snow came
And she ran out to brush the snow away
So it wouldn't die
Came runnin' in all excited
Slipped and almost hurt herself
And I laughed 'til I cried
She was always young at heart
Kinda dumb and kinda smart
And I loved her so
And I surprised her with a puppy
Kept me up all Christmas Eve
Two years ago
And it would sure embarass her
When I came in from workin' late
'Cause I would know
That she'd been sittin' there and cryin'
Over some sad and silly
Late, late show

And Honey I miss you
And I'm being good
And I'd love to be with you
If only I could

She wrecked the car and she was sad
And so afraid that I'd be mad
But what the heck
Though I pretended hard to be
Guess you could say she saw through me
And hugged my neck
I came home unexpectedly
And caught her cryin' needlesly
In the middle of the day
And it was in the early Spring
When flowers bloom and Robins sing
She went away

One day while I was not at home
While she was there and all alone
The angels came
Now all I have is memories
Of Honey and I wake up nights
And call her name
Now my life's an empty stage
Where Honey lived and Honey played
And love grew up
And a small cloud passes over head
And cries down on the flower bed
That Honey loved
And see the tree how big it's grown
But friend, it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big
I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it
Was just a twig

i coiled the water hose and tucked it away. the golden sun still has not fully tucked away her rays and when i looked up they still lit a small cloud passing overhead ..

ah, melancholy ...

Monday, March 14, 2016

the reluctant gardener listened

ever since the wife implored me to be temporary caretaker of her beloved plants while she is away this leafdropper has always been a reluctant gardener.  not that i don't love plants.  it's just that i am sure i have not the green thumb.  

during high school days, there was this extra curricular subject where we were taught to hoe and tend garden plots by ourselves and to drop our chosen vegetable seeds and nurture the seedlings till harvest time.  i must confess my grades on this subject were terrible.  i have had this opinion that what's needed only is to religiously water the plants.  the sunshine and the gentle breeze and the generosity of Mother Earth will take care of the rest.  i discovered for vegetables such was a bad opinion.

yesterday, i again reluctantly came out and sprayed water on the wife's plants.  I don't even know what they are. I noticed they've grown so well these past months. they were robust and strong and green and upright.  some have already flowered.  beautiful, delicate white ones.  i am sure they're sweet-scented as well.  new leaves and stems have steadily grown but they were shooting forth in all directions.  the thing is, growth has somehow filled up the spaces between the plants and they are now appearing constricted.  something must be done to free some space.

i pulled out the pruning shears.  i don't know where to begin.  i am sure the plants are expecting me to do something.  i looked helplessly.  lost.  i fixed my gaze intently on the juxtaposition of the branches, twigs, leaves, flowers.  intermingled.  intertwined.  i knew the birds perched on my rooftop were observing me.  spectators all, warbling joyfully about this lovely day.  the afternoon sunlight gave silvery gleam on the beads of water that still clung on the leaves and twigs and stems.

i lifted the pruning shears and gently placed it over an unruly sprout.  i thought i heard it said, "go ahead, prune me!"  i did.  I kept listening for the go ahead whisper.  for the permission to cut. i kept pruning. lifting the shears over and gently placing over the spot where i felt I needed to cut.

leaves dropped, twigs fell, branches as well.  space being released.  constriction bring corrected.  i also heard something like, " can't breathe, please unloose the soil over this spot, " or, " i am vulnerable here, my roots are exposed, please cover me. "

i did what i was told as i kept listening.

finally, it's done.  everything looked pleasantly in order.  the birds were quiet now but still perched on my rooftop.  the sun has slowly turned golden and about to set.

i took the stickbroom and swept the cuttings and gathered them inside a garbage bag.  freshly cut plants have this particularly enticing scent.  

i felt relieved.  thank you, my plants, for helping me.

i am pretty sure if I'll be graded this time,  i will have passing marks. 

Happiness is time well spent.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

far margarita

so ...

i can't hug her personally nor plant a soft kiss on her forehead or more sweetly upon her lips,
she is miles across the seas and skies,
far is margarita.

I hug back this sunlight that hugs me now and warms my heart
for I know this same sunlight will hug her too, later, and she will embrace the same,
and her heart will feel the same warmth I felt,
and be assured, and be comforted.

i cannot physically hand her a rose today
i remembered giving her flowers just once during the courtship days --
a good friend knew i will visit her and my friend picked flowers in her garden
for me to gift margarita, 
they were white, and yellow, and pink, and delicate,
and they all smelled good,
and they made margarita smile --
those flowers whose names I never knew of were long gone now
but whenever I close my eyes, I see them inside,
still fresh and delicate and smelling sweetly,
and i remember her fond smile ..

so, Today, Valentine's Day,
I will be celebrating this day of hearts alone,
but deep in my heart i won't be 
Margarita, my wife, will be here,
hugged tightly, kissed sweetly.

i will be in a quiet.corner of our humble house
a cup of steaming, black, brewed coffee near me
cuddling my guitar
i will be singing the song i made for her, only for her,
whisper it gently to the wind
who will whisper it to her
Today, Valentine's Day .....  --

" don't anybody stop the rain
from falling down Margarita's hair
let the gentle raindrops fall and settle down her head so fair;
let their coldness touch her
let their pureness wash her
don't anybody stop the rain from falling down Margarita's hair;
let her know how you love her
let her know how much you miss her
and tell her how just like the rain
you'd love to kiss Margarita's hair
yes, tell her how just like the rain
you'd love to be on Margarita's hair .. " --

my song is done
my heart is dancing

Happy Valentine's Day,

Monday, February 01, 2016

the hesitant rain, or the Beloved at play ...

i looked up at the sky and i saw the clouds are so gray and thick.  even the sunbeams are getting difficulty piercing them.  i instinctively knew they are pregnant with accumulated water.  The promise of rain.  January had started on a hot mode and the rains will be a welcome respite.  a mischievous, elated smile formed on my lips.  i am about to water my wife's garden.  she had requested that i take care of her cherished plants while she's away.  i agreed of course but such additional task takes some precious personal time which I could use for my other pursuits like reading blog posts of internet friends or writing a blog post of my own.  so this impending rain will be a great help indeed!  i'll have some more free time.  and so I confidently tucked away the water hose and slipped back inside the house.  i grabbed my daughter's ukulele and started to capture the notes for one of my favorite jazz standards, Misty.

i am in the midst of my ukulele version of Misty when the rains started to drop.  here we go, i told myself and the plants, enjoy the rains.  they came, the raindrops, heavy and big, plopping down on my rooftop and on the plants' leaves.  but, wonder of wonders, like a short burst of gunfire, the rains stopped!  so sudden, so abrupt, roughly two minutes, and it's gone.  even the pregnant clouds overhead were gone, the grayness faded.  the Sun, that's nowhere before, is flaunting her silvery beams again.  the sunbeams speared me thru the window.  the birds, which somehow scampered away during the gray spell, we're back, twittering incessantly, with their own version of Bird Misty.  I shook my head in disbelief and went out back to my wife's garden.  I grabbed the water hose and sprayed the plants with water.  there was a promise of rain but the rain reneged on its promise for some reason.  I have to fulfill it.  

back inside the house, i looked at the ukulele which i left on the sofa.  the urge to play Misty is no longer in me. the Infinite, the Beloved, Life had played with me again.  I realized it is not just me.  i believe many others had experienced this -- 

when one is so confident that everything is right in one's corner of the Universe, that what one expects to happen will happen, especially when the tell-tale signs are there; then, all of a sudden, without any warnings, the expectation did not come to pass, and one is left befuddled, bewildered, momentarily lost --

times like these, i realized one should not demand an explanation from the Beloved, from the Infinite.  one should just surrender, and, make an honest effort to make things right and good again in one's corner of the Universe ... 

the Beloved is at play ...

i picked up the ukulele and cradled it in my arms, like a newborn child, i closed my eyes and hummed Misty,

the urge to capture it on the uke came back and my fingers amateurishly danced on its fretboard and tapped the notes, dropping like the droplets of the hesitant rain ...

Monday, January 11, 2016

an early disappointment

Christmas, done. 2016, had marched in into every one's life with varying degrees of fanfare and expectation.

i will not deny it. i have very high hopes that the early days, the first two weeks of January will bring me gladness of heart and fulfillment.  i have been so positive.  December 31, i was at work.  an hour before the advent of the new year, i cloistered myself at a quiet corner of our office pantry and closed my eyes.  focused my attention at the center of my forehead, a finger's breadth above my eyebrows.  the Sages say this is where the Soul is seated. with utmost love and reverence, i silently offered my prayer of thanks for the blessings I got for 2015 --
      thank you, Beloved, for the fortitude and strength and health you gave me and my family to overcome and hurdle life's challenges; for the joy of camaraderie and friendship, and for keeping us in Thy Holy Company ....

then, i continued with my plea for this new year --

      O Infinite, dear Beloved, you know my heart's aspirations more than i do, but at this particular moment, this i humbly ask of Thee.  i know you gave me a gift of song.  without much effort, You allow me to create melodies, tunes.   i believe You gave me this so i can be an instrument of Thine to share warmth and lightness of heart to fellow beings.  for many years now i kept this only for myself uncaring that i have not attempted to become the instrument you designed me to be.  But now, this is what i did, Lord, i entered two songs to a songwriting competition.  this is my attempt to submit to Thy will.  i know this is a sure way to share Thy gift of song.  if it is Thy will, let at least one of these songs to be considered ...

i ended my plea with thankful reverence and surrendered it to the bosom of the Universe.  it has been taught that once you have released your prayer or plea to the Infinite you need not think anymore about it.  let the Universe determine what is appropriate.

It is the second week of January 2016 now and i believe the songwriting competition is over.  the top twenty finalists have been chosen.  not any of my songs was considered. 

 i felt sad. 

 my daughter comforted me.  she said, " i was able to hear some of the chosen songs, Father, and your tunes were nowhere near the format of the melodies the judges preferred. "

" do you think i should create such like tunes? " i asked her.

" well, i know you can do it, but, if you follow their formula just so you can be chosen, i don't think you'll be happy, Father.  You should create music you love .. there are other songwriting competitions, let's try to find others where your songs will fit, where you need not follow others' formula .. "

she's absolutely right.  well, this is an early disappointment but the year is young and 

the Infinite has made known its will for this time.

i will just whistle my tune for now, and wait ... and look for other chances ..

if any one of you out there had experienced an early disappointment like i did, just let it be,

whistle a tune for now, and wait for other opportunities ...  

Friday, January 08, 2016

christmas misses and new year hopes

been so dormant lately, the Muse has not visited. although the festive spirit began spreading over when December 1 kicked in, still unexplainedly, i sort of remained aloof from it all.  yet, one cannot but feel it in the air, the joyful excitement of Christmas and the hopeful expectancy of an incoming new year.  the stores have begun propping up their Christmas and year-end slash down sale offers. and hordes of people flocked to the malls and stores to prepare.

then, suddenly it's done. the holidays were over.

forced the mind and the heart to reminisce on the year that had just passed.  christmas was over again and another year had just kicked in.  i reread the first posts i wrote for 2015.  for me, 2015 was just a so-so year. not dramatic, just an average year, materially especially.  i was able to hold on a few pesos, fought the urge to spend them till the new year, 2016, had planted it's very first step in my frontyard.

Christmas misses --

 manong Pedro, my favorite street sweeper, had passed away way back last March and i have this lonely 100 peso bill in my wallet. i used to hand this over to him as my gift and he breaks into his tired smile and fighting off a cough thanks me, "boss, this is so much.." ;

Nanay Luding, or Claudia, my mother-in-law, also passed away, just this middle of November, and one time before Christmas, while my daughter was cleaning up her room, i saw her hold up an old Christmas card and mournfully said, " i will miss Lola(Grandma) Luding .." and I remembered Claudia has always been this person to write letters and send actual greeting cards to her loved ones. in this digital age, I know so very few are hanging on to keep on writing actual letters and greeting cards ...

i missed spending the holidays with my wife... it's different when you're sharing special times with the one you hold dearest in your heart ... the holiday songs mean more, the festive air more vibrant..

New Year hopes --

for the Muse to visit me as often as She can;
for the Infinite to keep me in its Holy Company;
for abundance and Peace to finally grace our country, not just for a select few, but for all, especially after we have chosen new leaders (another elections forthcoming);
for good health and material blessings ...
for the Infinite to let me share my gift of song ...

Let me share with everyone this prayer from one of my favorite Indian saints, Paramhansa Yogananda ---

Lord, teach us to feel
that Thou art the Power behind all wealth
and the Value within all things
finding Thee first we shall find
everything else in Thee.

Happy New Year to all of us!!