2019.

Before we met, I lived countless lifetimes with crumbs in my hand, secretly waiting for someone like you to find me. I came with a caveat: “Broken. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” I have been falling in and out of love with half-way lovers and waging wars with internal demons for nothing more than a promise of a moment’s peace. Despite knowing this, you came to my door and made a home on the front porch while looking for a way in. For the life of me, I still do not know if you relish in the agony, or simply possess a heart too big for this place.

For all it brightens, love casts the longest shadows — I know this in theory, but have never had the forbearance to see beyond the pain and earthly flaws… until you. In all the days I simmer in the ire caused by your shortcomings, I think back to all the times when you and all your virtues sat with me, unwavering and unruffled. For every wall I put up, you found a way to break through. I finally surrendered not because you proved yourself worthy, but because you showed me I am worth loving. For that, I am grateful and beholden to mirror you devotion and patience.

If I could give you the world, I would. But since I can’t yet, let me offer you a piece of my heart for now — a promise made in good faith. Herein lies a tiny part of a massive, complicated tapestry that has been torn countless times only to be stitched back together by kind, loving hands before your time. It has been beaten bloody and raw, but has found a way to become shiny and new. It is a gift I have given to too many, all worthwhile — each hand has basted every crevice, every valve; some parts made heavy and stiff, others sewn resilient and forgiving. There is no version of you too ugly or too dark that will turn it away. I pray that I can show you, just as you have shown me, that your worst parts are also worth loving.

There is a stillness in my breaths whenever you come by. For every minute I spend with you, I awake to the truth that I have never really known peace outside of myself until now. For every late night stirring, you bring a calm that puts an end to the restlessness clawing at my throat. With you, it only takes a moment for all the frost in the pit of my belly to thaw. Your hands are the warmth that puts me back to sleep.

This past year threw us too many curve balls for our liking. We may not have always acted in each other’s best interest, but I need you to know that you are still my home. For every time I say your name, I still live for the aftertaste. They say love is different every time, each with its own truth, but I like to believe the one I have with you makes any other love I have known a lie.

Here’s to love, here’s to faith, here’s to doing better for ourselves and each other from this day forward. As we sail through life, until my last day’s dying breath, I will always choose love. For as long as you are here, I will always choose you.

I’ll love you always.

For L.

I know relationships are nebulous — they can uplift and defy gravy, or they can lead love-drunk sirens into the bog. I have drowned in the quagmire many a time. I have been saved by well-meaning, but tempestuous boys many times, too. But while they got me out, my body and mind didn’t leave.

The body never forgets. Pain creates a hypervigilance that manifests like frozen embers. You can never put a finger on what sensations are there, not really — they are low, hot trills that permeate the crevices of your skull, the valves of your heart. They tingle and then numb. They leave the body through the path carved along your spine and diffuse into the atmosphere — taking every bit of hope with it.

You are then left empty, as if there is no more of yourself to lose. You become a shell yet again. The hollow hums, then vibrates until it becomes unbearable. There is a burning need to fill the void with more bodies, more trinkets, more half-meant promises. I know all this. I feel all this.

It is not your fault. The world can be a ghastly place. And while people can heal you, they can also wound you. The closer you let them, the deeper the cut. You are in survival mode like your ancestors before you; like the ill-fated lovers of a bygone epoch. You have not much choice left except to fight, flee, or freeze — and right now, you are frozen still while the earth violently shifts below your feet. You can stay there and never again feel, or you can drag one foot in front of the other and heal.

You are allowed to feel weak, but you are not obliged to make yourself more palatable for the consumption of others. Allow yourself one more choice. A new way of living requires a painful awakening, releasing, unlearning. Allow yourself to soften and exist in the delicious place of the present. Allow yourself to feel small for a time until you suffocate under the weight of the narrow space, until you tire of the affliction of wasted time, that you force yourself free.

Let go of burdens heavier than your broken heart. Revisit decrepit tombstones to remember what you allowed to die in order to live. Revisit dusty shelves sagging with lessons drawn from all the places you have been.

When you give your weaknesses space to breathe, you allow the right people to see the fabric of your soul and where the threads are damaged or worn thin — to which they, at minimum, will do no further harm. Instead, they will ever so carefully start to weave their own threads in places where you are laid bare and bleeding. Some will depart, some will stay, but each will leave a masterpiece in their wake — a tapestry meant to drape on the shoulders of the willing and the worthy.

There is a magical life ahead of you. I pray that you live it.

Lighthouse.

In high school, my friends and I would go to the park every Friday to hang out at the only tempura stand in the city at the time. It was every student’s go-to whenever one gets a hankering for some unhealthy street food. Fried tempura with Coke was as gourmet as allowance-bound high schoolers from a small city could go. Get your fill for nothing more than 20 pesos, exchange stories, and share a few laughs before heading home. While the exact date escapes me, it was on one of those Fridays that I first saw you.

You reminded me of those reluctant characters I saw in movies: A boy too tall for his age, back slouched, hair slicked back, and eyes transfixed by the ground like it was the most interesting he’s ever seen.

How peculiar, I thought. How ironic that the shy ones stand out to me the most. While the world tries to grab my attention, my eyes will always gravitate toward the ones who aren’t trying; the ones who stand still and beam like a lighthouse bringing a lost ship to shore. My eyes have always searched for the horizon amidst the chaos of the sea. It wasn’t love at first sight, but the shy boy made an impact. It simply didn’t occur to me then.

My next memory of you was in college: A boy still too tall for his age, back slouched, head with wild, cascading curls, and eyes looking straight at me this time. It wasn’t long before we became social media friends, but never friends in real life. Our social circles never fit. Our stars never aligned.

My wanton proclivities have led me to believe the whole thing as unfortunate. College is one of the best times in our lives. We made the poorest of choices, but never with each other. The outcome would have been much less romantically favorable then. Though, I can’t be sure if it would’ve been less fun either.

As it happened, we both grew up to be the kind of snobs who swore off dating anyone from our hometown. Too familiar, we said. Too intertwined. We’ve lived and loved elsewhere since.

All the people I’ve gotten familiar with have had many virtues and have taken me to many highs and lows I have come to love, but they have never been you and they have never built me your brand of home.

I have walked through life with a practical disenchantment that so many have in this day and age toward love. God forbid I fell into its clutches once again, I prayed. I have avoided romance like a medieval plague. But, as with most beautiful things, this love story snuck up on me out of the ether like a not totally benign ghost.

As far as first dates go, ours was the best. I look back on that day with a smile on my face and a disbelief of how things changed my plans little by little, and then all at once. Humans are wired to bond. It was my folly to think I was the exception.

Love, man’s greatest drug and delusion. Love has left a few bodies in its wake. The great survivors will be the ones who never stop figuring it out. I hope we never get tired figuring it out.

It’s been an incredible year. We aren’t perfect, but we try. You are the lighthouse that brings me closer to shore each day; the horizon amidst the chaotic sea. You have grown into a man who’s just the right size and shape to fit into the cracks of the armor that’s kept me truly safe from a world in turmoil. In return, I can only hope to love you a little better.

As I trace the arch of your back, I hope to one day be the reason you’ll stand a little straighter, taller, lighter. I cannot be sure how long life will keep us together, but I do know that our possibilities are greater than the uncertainties. I have walked this earth for almost three decades. I have walked it with you for only a year, but you have made all the difference. How you did it still baffles me to this day. Never stop.

I’ll love you always. Happy June 1st.

For D.

Most days, I look down at the wreckage of what once was a heart. My soul made heavy by the dreadful weight of melancholy. Most days, I live in a tyrannical regime of clocks and calendars. My thoughts fall from porous hands into silent waters. Most days, I hide my heart and give away my body. My skin screams violent protests against my fallen convictions. Most days, I am an imaginary friend standing outside while looking in. An entire universe separates me from a world where I do not exist.

I am a ghost, most days. Exhaustingly morose at worst, seductively haunting at best. Like clockwork, my hands betray me as they shake with the volume of all the words that fall out of my mouth. They can no longer catch them. They can no longer contain them. So I find myself constantly hurling strings of letters and syllables about hopes and dreams and fears and failures at people who say they want to make sense of the haunting, only to find out they will always fall short.

Most days, I am a voyeur. My feet take me along cobbled streets lined with bare-window brownstones and my eyes catch a glimpse of the animated life within. When I passed by your window, you let me in. I told you I was born, like my mother, in a storm. Because of that, I sail troubled waters to live up to form. I like to keep my heart tucked away from prying eyes, never to reveal too much. In it are wounds that are too profound to heal, while some have set so heavily into scars they feel like braille. I did not know you would have reading hands. Such hands hold a cup full of high life, that is they have lived a life without me. I did not know you would have kind eyes. Such eyes have seen the world for what it is, and now they only see me.

I cannot remember a time when I violently wished to stay in one place. I cannot remember a moment when I became weary of being cynical. It used to be that I remember tenderness only through the haze of my dreams. Now, I taste it on your lips. Now, it seeps into the textures of my skin. You have made all the difference.

I will wait for you all week. Every week. For as long as this love permits. This love is a voluptuous exile of our choosing, an oasis in the middle of an arid world. I have had the pleasure of meeting past lovers who had the power to lift reality for a while, who simply had roughly the right shape to fit for a time. But you weren’t made to fit. You were made to radiate radical softness in a hardened world. Here I am, soaked to the bone in your light. The empty parts now filled. My old and worn soul made new.

If my intention for this opus still escapes you, put simply: I love you.

Gravity.

I know now where the moon goes when it sets

in your eyes.

So majestic its gravity

that the tides in my blood fail to resist.

So I crash into the rocks at your feet

and yield to the dark pressure of your kiss.

This love will be the death of me,

but I will let it.

For I am nothing

if not the aftermath you leave

in your wake.

Sunset boy.

My sunset boy in a sea of sorrows,

do you know I worship the gods that reside in the hollow of your neck?

We were both born on hallowed ground,

my bed is our witness.

Hold me as I moan songs of pagans.

Kiss me as I sway to the ballad of your lies.

Your skin radiates carnal bliss

and I inhale every bit greedily.

Let’s hum the unsung melodies of this permanent fate.

We are too big for our skin,

too morose for the dripping sunshine.

We wear our anguish like brand new shirts,

words come too close for my liking,

careless promises taste of honey and leaving.

Bedroom eyes and measured steps,

my knees made liquid.

Let repetitions be staged,

I implore you.

I adore you so horribly.

A fear & a wish.

The sirens came after my thundering heartbeats

screams of rescue pounding on the door

You with the syrup hair and bedroom eyes

Words, wine-sweet medley

I drink them all up

until the glass is half empty

I prayed to the fog

addressing a loan god

Summer insomnias amidst body heat

Scent like the heady aroma

that rises from the earth

after rain

Let’s make homes out of the echoing silence of this paved uncertainty

Ego, larger than life

yet cowering deep within

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightmare and the daydream

Loving intent hidden in confined spaces

of a black hole heart

I scurry away

Love is the specter that hides in the closet

the insidious shadow under the bed

How many times have I made a home

in the belly of this beast?

So I scurry away

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightingale’s song to the poison in these veins

So I sway

to the ballad of your singsong voice

I dance

to the twinkle in your eyes

There is no way out

there is only surrender

So why do I

refuse to answer the door

and hide?

Still you.

The moon shines bright as longing begins to afflict me again.

I turn on the light to take down the dream of you and me.

Can I resurrect the parts of me that died when you left?

My darling, how can I turn back time?

I loved you at my prime.

It seems that my heart has peaked.

My soul is still yours.

It’s still your warmth I seek.

My freckled lover, how do we start over?

Life has been unkind to the love still brewing inside.

How do I unlove you?

How does miles of skin unlearn your touch?

Today, there is no more you and I.

Tomorrow, I will keep living a lie.

For K.

Woman,

wear your scars well.

Let these proud mounds of flesh reflect your healing.

Let them serve as a reminder that the wicked may have wounded you,

but you never faltered.

Let them remind you that you are resilient,

that your body is a temple meant to be worshiped by the pious.

You are your savior.

You are your own brand of divine.

Let your walls crumble.

Nobody is out to get you,

not anymore.

Let love shine through.

Let your kindness seep into the cracks that brought lost boys to their knees.

You are the beauty that tamed the beast.

You deserve forevers and galaxies and so much more.

Is it courage to stay?

Perhaps the only difference between me and other people was that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset; more spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.


How do you satisfy an insatiable woman? How do I justify to you, dear lover, that I simply adore you with all my trembling feet and hands, but I have myself, above all else, up on this pedestal I can’t get down from.

I have planned on leaving, leaving to chase dreams that have always been a hair’s width out of reach. Will you wait for me? Will you make me choose?

How do I justify my self-love and not have you see it as conceit? Oh, the ache I feel for the possibility that no man will ever measure up to even half the person that you are. I may never kiss another again the same way I kiss you. Will you grant me respite if I come writhing back with defeat in my eyes, my failure ripe for parody?

I ponder, ponder, ponder: What if I may never want to? There’s a whole world out there, I might just sweep it off its feet – a long shot, but nevertheless a possibility.

If reaching for the stars at the expense of this affair will be the best decision I may ever make, then I shudder with both excitement and dread. The former, I am not too keen on.

I think, I hope, I yearn to land on the moon instead, have stars envy and love me from a distance. From a distance – all they will ever be are specters from afar, grainy and cloudy through spectacles tainted by the color of you.

The idea of you, us, has rendered me blind to the aftermath of settling for comfortable domesticity. For a while, that was okay. For a while, you were enough.

If you so make me choose, then I will favor to leave, leave you for me. I pray to the universe to give me the courage to do so. And this is where my dilemma further thickens: Is it real courage to leave? Or is it courage to stay? Where does the absolute bravery lie?

Tonight, I rest in silence. For all my tomorrows, I shall decree a choice.

At this very moment, I look up at the skies above and see my moon shine brightly.