Exposed.

I slit my wrists open and the exposed vein bled out the horrors of my barely-there childhood. My chest echoes hollow from all the pain and crying. I am birthed to be nothing more than a dam of misery. I am birthed to be nothing more than a shrine of my mother’s lost youth.

I was born on a September night while storms brewed in the horizon. My mother bled like she never did before, her hips dipped in and out of pain. I was born from the ashes of her dreams. Her sorrows gave way to a life full of promise and yearning.

Her bed is where she will lay unfulfilled for decades to come. I am my mother’s savior — all her hopes made flesh. For a moment, as most women are wired to feel when spawning their young, all her failures seem so trivial as she looked into the eyes she carved from her flesh.

But I still catch her in daydreams. She traces the silhouette of her “maybes” and “if onlys” as if she could bring life to them just through wishing. She lives through me because it is the only way she knows how.

Her skin bleeds rose petals from the thorn crown she wears. Her floor scattered with relics from her adolescence. What hopes and dreams died with her that day she found out she is with child? What medicine does she take for her restless heart?

She said her life has been multiplied by four; that she is reborn one child at a time. Still, she gets lost her in daydreams. We are her surrenders. We are her hopes and dreams and “could-have-beens”. She comes to life sipping on our tantrums. She sinks her teeth into our tears.

But my mother is also the monster under my bed; the bottomless canyon I keep falling into. Her name conjures nightmares and I constantly slip into the void of her creation. My mother has carved me empty.

Written on my wrists are the words she repeats into my ears:

You have surpassed all I am, all I ever will be. You will be my saving grace — all my dreams realized. You will pull me out of the gaping wound of my own mother’s doing. You cannot leave me behind. You will save me. Please, save me.

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.

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.

Epic.

Girl arrived 30 minutes late, insisted she pay for dinner to absolve the guilt. Guy, not one to be upstaged, paid for it anyway.

Girl persisted she compensate for drinks. Guy caved.

Conversation flowed until the first rays of morning.

“I’m not looking for a relationship,” Girl declared in a haze of booze and cigarette smoke. Girl was certain.

“Me too,” Guy answered warily.

First dates couldn’t have gone any better. Theirs was something out of a romcom — flirty banter with a side of cheese.

With eyes half awake, he saw through the public face of a life in chaos and heard the hum of a hungry heart.

His soul was of a drifter seeking reprieve from uncertainty, hers was worn from tragedy.

However, it didn’t take much for her to love him. It only needed a leap of faith she wasn’t keen on taking.

Yet.

Months passed and his moon tugged on the tides in her blood.

“I love you.” His stare all the treasures of Egypt.

He had the kindest eyes. Ones that sought hers and told her everything will be okay.

In that moment, she believed them.

“I love you, too.”

A dreadful weight was lifted as the proclamations hung in the air.

They breathed them in and the words permeated the lungs, the heart, the skin.

Such beautiful sin.

Gentlemen, send for the cavalry. The heroine has been slain.

One chapter has ended. Another one begins.

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.

Shot glasses.

The tides swell with excitement

as the moon rises to its throne,

as the stars take a dip in the ebony sky.

Behind the brashness of the wind,

behind the poise of the waves,

is a dribble of melancholy life

that savored the same,

that whimpered the same.

“Where does the sun go when it sets?

We all know sunsets can only last for so long.”

These questions beat on,

like martyrs in search of the wounded.

Never stopping until they taste

the bittersweetness of the truth.

It is here,

at the bottom of this glass.

It is here

that you’ll find the raw,

the wounded,

the sublime.

Here is the place

where broken hearts go.

Here is where the sun

goes to die.

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.

Limbo.

Here we are,
always on the cusp of I love you
always bracing for the fall without really jumping in
The hollow of my hand
still ivory-full of you
as you say goodbye each night
without really wanting to.

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?