Thank you, please come again

She dreamt about you last week.

I nibbled on my breakfast today -- bread and a thinly sliced orange. It seemed enough at the moment, but I snapped somewhere. I let her tell me off for being unreasonable while her hands did dishes the way you taught her to. She never wastes water.

She said you were both running.

This morning she had tiny baby dolls dangling from her ears. Being seen doesn't bother her anymore as much as it used to, but that doesn't matter to you because you always saw her. And I'd like to think you still do. She was beautiful today. And always.

She laughed softly. "Imagine her running," she said. But somehow, I could.

Last week, she got a bright red alarm clock with a built-in radio. Old songs as much as possible, please -- the soundtrack of our late nights. The first night she figured out how to work it, I lay on the bed the same way you used to, one leg crossed and one arm over my eyes, laughing. Did you laugh? I can copy your laugh too, you know.

She said you both knew why you were running.

It's a jungle in there, and I'm not always allowed to explore. But sometimes, she lets me cross a river. Lets me through some vines. And I tell her, "Baby, I'll stand out here with my little torch and wait out the rains. I'll help you map this place out. I'm a little lost in here, but I'm not leaving until these footprints I'm following lead me right next to you." She just smiles. Did you know that your footprints are there, too? They're all over the place.

She said you made it into each other's arms.

I hadn't cried over you in a long, long time but that Sunday morning I drew her in close and we dampened each other's shoulders. Laughed a little. Cried some more. Got dressed. Carried on.

I miss having you in my dreams too, but it was nice of you to say hello. Know that you are always welcome. Maybe next time you'll stay a bit longer. We'll have your coffee ready.

Thank you. Please, come again.


Her gravestone says "You will always be loved". Miss you, Lola Chichi. Just when I thought I had nothing to write about you anymore, this poem came.

Watch this woman

Watch this woman.

See how she comes in with the sun on her face, every wrinkle is a mark made by golden drops, each line a story of a time she laughed, stories she probably can't remember but will try to tell anyway.

See those hips and how they sway. Those hips are strong enough to carry centuries of culture, and she's closer to a hundred than she is to fifty, but if you ask about her dancing days you'll see those hips still know exactly where they're supposed to be. Believe me, I've asked. That afternoon, we spent a good hour twirling our wrists to invisible Spanish-sounding guitars, feet darting across imaginary bamboo poles, gracefully closing the gaps between generations. I wonder if this is what she'd like to do in eternity.

Watch this woman. 

See her hands, how they are always so full yet also always so empty. What she's holding never stays with her for long. This is how she loves. Her hands know nothing else but to love. Her hands love me when they pack my favorite food into plastic Tupperware for me to take home, her hands love me when they do their magic mending on the rips and tears in my clothes, her hands love me when they insist on doing dishes so I don't have to, her hands love me when they show me which ingredients to pour into a bowl so I can have her bread pudding anytime. This woman's hands could feed armies and she does it like everyday's tomorrow is a final battle.

See her eyes, how God must have placed diamonds instead when He made them. See how they twinkle whenever someone she loves enters the room, how they glitter whenever someone she loves speaks. See how clear are the tears that so easily flow from them, how all it takes is a single tug at her heart for it to become a spring. See how pride gleams from them whenever she travels miles north to watch this woman. 

And Lola, this woman wants you to know that she watches you. And she sees you and her love for you often leaves her without words, except right now. And this woman wishes she's got numberless days left to watch you, but for now she says let's keep watching each other, until the day comes we are both dancing before the face of eternity.


A spoken word poem for my Lola Sony's 80th birthday last September. Her bones are strong but her heart is stronger.


the incomplete thesaurus of loss

1. ocean
1   the whole body of saltwater that covers nearly three-fourths of the earth

blue, deep

words related to ocean
the emptiness of you, probably, covering nearly three-fourths of everything I see
the weight that stretches on from one day to the other
and I’m still learning how to swim

2   an immeasurable depth or space

chasm, abyss

words related to ocean
hollow, black hole
everything you left me with
I’m wondering if I loved you enough, because there is still so much left over


2. empty
1   lacking contents that could or should be present


words related to empty
the chair to my left at the dining table
the room downstairs
the bed with white sheets

the chair to my left at the dining table, with you telling me I shouldn’t eat cake for breakfast
the room downstairs and me knocking again and again because you always kept it locked
the urn beside Lolo Ferdie
supposedly, home

2   not expressing any emotion

expressionless, numb

words related to empty
you, when they told you for the third or fourth time that you were decaying
you, taking everything they told you to take, even the ones you hated
you, climbing up and down steep staircases, clutching my arm
you, that one night we came into your room to pray for you
you, except for a few rare moments like

you, telling me old love stories (and Hollywood starlet gossip)
you, telling me stories of the island you still call home
that one night your lungs refused to let you breathe
the last night, when I made you promises

3   having no meaning

meaningless, senseless, pointless

words related to empty
September that year
especially October, the first birthday without the celebrant
and November
and December

January the next year, when I decided it was time to start healing


3. piece
1   a broken or irregular part of something that often remains incomplete


words related to piece
your voice when I’m watching black and white films, even the ones you probably haven’t seen
your footsteps when I stand by the hallway that leads to your room
your name when I absentmindedly scribble
your eyes when it’s night and the stars are out
scattered everywhere, on everything, always

you now, in a place where windows are wide and pearls dangle from the gates


4. morning
1   the first appearance of light

daybreak, dawn

words related to morning
the day I stop writing sadness and you in the same poem
the day I learned that the pain is just a reminder that I still love you
the day I stopped fighting a battle that’s already been won
your last breath

refusing to let rivers flow through my words

2   the point at which something begins

birth, beginning

words related to morning
knowing that there is a time for everything
not filling the void, but building around it
not picking up pieces, but letting new ones grow

your last breath, birthing the beginning of peace


CW 10 assignment - Write a creative nonfiction in a nontraditional form.


we will always have the same sky

Last August I found out that you can still make me cry. And to think it’s been three years.
Brother, I have always been afraid to write about you. I have always been afraid that you would somehow find my poetry, my prose, whatever you call these letters I stitch together and see that my embroidery looks kind of a lot like you.

That city used to be a safe place after home. But last August I also discovered that there are landmines under almost every sidewalk. Those places have traces of the ice cream we ate, our laughter on the train, echoes of all the poetry and music and stories we gave each other. Each explosion pushed my lips into a smile, maybe even a small laugh, but only long enough for it to be choked out by its dark smoke. Now I see bloodstains in the footprints you left behind.

I only cry for the dead, but you saw how I cried over you at the apartment elevator that night. You might have told me to stop, but I'm not sure. You might have hugged me. I’m not sure. All I remember is street lights, the taste of wet salt, and you looking like you were having a hard time breathing. Know that I felt the same. Or not. You once gave me a list of people you’ve lost, and I used to wonder why God never let me lose as many as you have. Maybe He knew that I would barely be able to handle you.

I haven't heard you breathe in years. All I see are your Instagram pictures and Facebook posts, intangible you. I can see you have grown in some parts. I hope you have. But I also see a lot of tiredness. And pain. And change. I don't think I can make you laugh anymore.

I don't know what your plans are now. I don't know if you still want to make everything you said you’d make, if you still want to go everywhere you said you'd go. But I hope you know that my door is always open. And even if I will never hear you knock again, somehow I am comforted knowing

we will always have the same sky.


CW 10 assignment - Write a creative nonfiction about a first. (I actually wrote this a few months ago but just fixed it up for the class because I'm running low on time and creativity to write a new one. Oops. Might turn this into a spoken word piece. Might.)



she slips in silently
seeking sanctuary, and
every step is a prayer.

father, forgive me for I have sinned.
father, forgive me for I have...
deaf god, dead god.

too many horizons hold his heart
he is hardened and headstrong, yet
every step is a prayer.

father? forgive me for?
father, forgive me for...
deaf god, dead god.

we won't wake to weeping
walking with our veils pulled tight
over eyes, and we know it. maybe
every step is a prayer.

father, forgive me.
father, forgive --
do you hear me?
deaf god
dead god
do you hear me?


CW 10 assignment - Write a poem using different sound devices based off an artwork at the Vargas Museum. I picked Noberto Roldan's installation "Archangel."