Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sorry we're close, but I really wanna make out with you now

This is exactly how I feel:

I am--

but I really wanna--

with you now.

Oh how so close we are, but still so far!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fairy Tale

by E. Wong
for Lea, as promised

Unlocked are my doors
as are my windows, nothing
is ever unwelcoming
in this glasshouse—


comes into my home
like an old friend who shares
stories I’ve heard before.
The same light escapes
my translucent walls without

saying goodbye—Oh how
I would like it to shake
hands with me, whisper
to my ear, or kiss my cheek,
but no—light, for all its wild
brilliance, always succumbs
to the announcement
of dusk. And now I wait
for you, my dearest


Are you lost in the woods?
Shall I send you the fireflies
from my red lantern
to show you the dirtroad
which leads to my doorstep?

I want to say ‘I love you
tonight,’ but I do not.
I might have loved you
yesterday, or perhaps,
I would tomorrow.
Sometimes, I love you,
Sometimes, it seems you
love me, too.

O beloved prince,
the tower you erected
in my dreams await
your limbs, won’t you climb
to feel me now, and fill
this emptiness?

Let me hug this tree
while you’re gone
This old folk keeps
me safe and warm,
I step softly on its roots
and then we dance
to nocturnal melody
of its rustling
leaves, its swaying

Who dares divulge
the moon’s dark secret
that her mad brightness
is but affections
lent by the god
of incandescence?

O what could be more
enlightening than to witness
sunrise after a very long night
But light still has not arrived—
my own shadows are lost
in this pitch black

I want to sleep with you
under the stars tonight
But there’s somebody else
in your arms, a woman
who is not me—You caress
breasts that are not mine,
Always, always,
we make different loves
under the same sky.

I shall keep
waiting for you then
in the rain, under the sun,
or in vain. Would someone,
anyone, please wake me
when it’s time to raise
my lantern?

*Artwork: A sketch of Ornusa Cadness by Carl Zeno Manalo.
**Poem is originally titled "Mistress Monologue"
***Poem has reference to the film "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991), directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Handle with Care

by E. Wong
for Plam-Plam, freshly-dumped.

Handle with care this box I wrapped in fancy paper
for inside is my heart—Take it, please, it’s for you,
I had plucked it off my chest, like precious
oyster shucked—

                                   Or do you want oyster instead?
Let’s call the waiter then so he could read to us the French
on the menu. (Perhaps he could read you too?) My head
is splitting, I can’t find the meaning of this film-like scene,
oh, that’s right—(is tonight’s the night?)—there’s nothing
in my head—for I had lost my mind, five seconds ago—
Or five years has it been? And yet we have not—Still,
we are not. Now I smell coffee—

                                                               Let me save you
from this dire indecisiveness in choosing what to order
by having caffeine—yes—and with milk, not cream.
And mister waiter, please, no sugar for this lovely lady,
for I have provided her all the sweetness in the world.
So, my beloved, did you like the movie?—(Did you even
like me?)—Here comes waiter with our coffee. Mine’s
Espresso, sugar-free—(for I have given you all)—Look
at my drink—so black and so pure. And yours,
Cappuccino it is—classic and tasty, yet so frothy
that everyone here could drink from your cup
and still has froth left to line your lips—(oh, baby,
I so want to kiss you now)—but first, I have to go
down on one knee and give you this box—

(And the candlelight burns
                                                                       burns out.)

The lobster on the next table is no longer lobster,
and the champagne bottles—they’re just bottles now...

Oh, baby, are you refusing this box? Or what’s inside it?
Won’t you at least take a peek?—
                See how perfectly red it is!—

                             How tirelessly it bleeds for you!—

I have loved you longer than all my patience would endure,
yet you, my sweet goddess, won’t accept the greatest
thing a man could ever give?—

                                                 And so, won't you please
handle with care this box I wrapped in fancy paper,
for inside is my heart—(Perhaps it’s best for us,
perhaps we’re done)—But take it, I beg you, take it,
for you don't have one.

Read also:
Prayer, Time, The Village II, or Irony.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Weight is Over

(Or, Let's talk about healthy diet, for a change)
by E. Wong

My good friends who know me so well would be so surprised to learn that my current (weekday) diet consists almost exclusively of these two:

Garden salad

Ingredients: Cucumber, carrots, curly lettuce, tomato (sometimes), croutons (I love croutons!!! One of these days I will write an ode to croutons), parmesan cheese, and Clara Olé salad dressing (Asian and Thousand Island are my fave variants; Caesar is so-so; and I hate Ranch!).

Tuna Sandwich

Ingredients: Wheat Bread (I usually buy Uncle George bread; Gardenia is too costly!), curly lettuce, slices of cucumber and tomatoes. For a whole week’s worth of tuna dressing: 2 packs of Best Foods Mayo Magic (not mayonnaise!), 1 can of Corned Tuna (drained), a teaspoonful of super-minced onions, and generous sprinkles of McCormick spices: fine black pepper, basil leaves, and Italian seasoning (thyme, rosemary, savory sage).

Note: The parmesan cheese and McCormick spices are not required ingredients—I’m just really lucky that our apartment doesn’t run out of these.

Photos taken using my age-old Nokia phone.

So why did I say ‘surprised’? Well, I probably (used to) have the hugest appetite ever, and I would lose the little finesse I had left when it was food-tripping time. Before, I would eat just about anything offered me, be it home cooked meal, fast food, or street food. But now, I barely eat rice during weekdays. One of the little personal victories I had since New Year is this simple discipline on food I've imposed on myself: no unnecessary carbs and cholesterol (of course) during weekdays, and I would only ‘indulge’ in ‘sinful food’ during weekends when I get to be home in Laguna and by then would usually go with my little sister to the mall and, predictably, dine out in Jollibee.

And this is not even about vanity (or not primarily a matter of it). During my pre-employment medical exam last year, I was found to be a little overweight and “pre-hypertensive.” Also, my family has some medical history of diabetes (mother’s side) and heart problems (father’s side). I had planned to get back to a healthy lifestyle right then, but it was only at the beginning of this year when I got serious into living clean (and probably try to bring back my Machete body from my college days :-). So aside from this healthy diet, I’ve been doing a lot of walking, I've (semi-)quit smoking, and if time permits (or I’m not too lazy), I workout in the gym at the office.

(Plus, another upside of this diet is it actually saves me more money. Doing the math with the whole week's "healthy" groceries, I spend less than a hundred bucks for what would be worth all my meals per day!)

Of course, I miss those eat-all-you-can’s sessions after work. I miss cooking spaghetti in the apartment almost everyday. I long for those guiltless episodes of taking gluttonous snacks either alone or with friends. I sorely miss my eating-without-thinking of siopao, siomai, pastries from Julie’s bakeshop, Country Style’s Triple Choco Boom, Mini-Stop's cheesy tuna kariman, KFC’s Double Down, isaw, chicken skin, proben, Angel’s cheeseburger, Angel’s cheesy footlong, and all those (mostly greasy) foods that define my simple happiness.

It’s not to say that my happiness now has become not simple, but time has come for me to uhmmm, well, ahhh, I don’t really know exactly what or why. What I know is that there’s no need to justify wanting to be healthy, right?—



(especially when your heart is so sick… And I actually promised myself not to write about love or heartbreak! Tsk tsk…)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This is not about violence

by E. Wong
for the Zusuaregi drunkards on Saturday night

And so when I stab my chest
it isn’t to kill myself fast
but to prove if rumors are true
that what lies beneath contains
all my yearnings and madnesses
But though a magical dagger
I use, there’s still no

for my brain has long been dead
And so I have to smash my head
against the wall—not cement
but wood, for I like the scent
of varnish conjuring memories,
mostly romantic, the rest
erotic—but what else
on my mind

but fairy tale envisagements?
Yet I am still standing, so I chop
off my feet that had walked towards
your home, which felt like my home
Next gone are my trembling hands
which once upon a time
held your hands

Now with all this deep red dripping,
splattering—you might as well swim
in my sea of blood which tastes
sweet without the bitterness
of the living

And my cadaver: no longer one
body, but chunks and pieces,
little bodies with no sense
of heart or mind, of pain
or hunger or sadness

But then, even without
orchestral music— violets,
yes, violets, and more violets,
fragrant, beautiful flowers spring
from my corpse all of a sudden—

Oh what a lovely night
to die again

Artwork is a painting at the Louvre in France

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feel in the blanks

by E. Wong Martin

Dear _________,

Tonight, on this first night right after Valentine's day, I’d like to tell you that my _______ soars even higher despite not having any memory of being with you yesterday. I hope you had a good one; did someone special give you ________ or chocolates, perhaps?

Well, I have nothing to give you but my _______ which are smooth and eternal. You cannot touch them but you can feel them on and under your ________. You may post them on your _________ or copy them on paper, and you may even memorise them. My words are your words, so please own them like the pillow in your pillowcase.

My beloved ________, forgive me that I could only offer you my stories. You may even call them lies, but I would make them beautiful ones. Who needs truth in this world, anyway, when you are all I think of and talk about? You, my dear ________, are both my sweetest lie and greatest truth.

Please do not believe those movies and soap operas which impose that for love to be “great” it must be measured by time and _______ and tragedies. For though I only met you ________ ago, I know you like I know the taste of water. I know you so well, yet there’s a whole lifetime ahead waiting for us to learn more ________. Won’t you teach me the ways of your people, you pretty ________ from that enchanted island of lovers?

Do you still remember the first time we kissed? It was like—pardon the clichĂ©—fireworks! I hope you can still taste the memory. A kiss is as _______ as our fingerprints. I kissed you, and you kissed me, as if God’s most fascinating creations were not men and women but our lips and tongues. Please do not ______ our kiss, for it is as sacred as the moon, as shining as the midnight stars.

Love is not ______ without the lovers. And love is not blind--we are. So please do not resist this wonderful blindness. Do not betray your heart, my sweet ________. What is the point of all life, if we would not face unexpected deaths such as falling in love?

But if I had to cut this tree down before the seed even germinates, then so be it. Please, my gentle _________, always, always keep safe. And take utmost care of your sunshiny smile and your camellian eyelashes and your ____________ on your left shoulder which I loved to caress.

Reach for those big dreams of yours which endeared you to me even more, but which I cannot be a part of. Someday, when you have climbed the highest of mountains, look far deep onto the valley. Somewhere I’d be there, a tiny speck in the distance looking up to you with immeasurable happiness. For you.

My dear ________, I love you like I love the rain pouring on a summer day. And it hurts so much not that you don’t, or can’t, love me back, but that you don’t, and won’t, know how much I am in love with you.

Though you’re not mine, I’m yours,


Monday, February 14, 2011

How to spell 'Melancholy'

by E. Wong Martin
for Mitsiku

Our lesson for today is about happiness
and how one writes it with a capital letter,
perhaps bold, or do you prefer
italics? The principal says
that it may be found among the piles
of unread books, or the mouldy sandwiches
from the canteen. Now we will give you
ten seconds
and ten years to spell it correctly,
and when in doubt, you may consult
our school janitor—just please do not insult
him on how he always stinks of beer
because it is not alcohol you smell
but the long years of sweeping,
and waiting, and weeping, and cleaning off
semen or dried tears on the floor.
You are not required to turn
to your science books, as they don’t yet
have a theory on fireworks and sex,
or forgiveness
and loss. But when you say
‘one,’ it means ‘two-halves’—simple
as that, really. Do not tell anybody,
but math is the secret spouse
of grammar. Probability (or is it
statistics?) has it:
One day, someday,
you can write it again, perhaps faster,
perhaps with bigger letters, perhaps
in Bisaya or French, or even sign
Remember, left or right
hand, it doesn’t matter, for as long
as you have an eraser ready.
Remember, wrong or right,
we do not deduct points for as long
as you do not cheat.
Do not put any period, too—
now this is very important in all writing.
Most of all, when you do,
close your eyes, but keep
that thing in your chest open…
now what’s that called again?


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You"

You're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
And I would still be on my feet

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Village (II)

by E. Wong Martin

And just like that, without any need
for laborious introductions, the hands
of time shake the hands—or what
could be considered hands—of the village’s
two escaped livestock, both beauteous
and precious—goats, or are they sheep?
They are too gorgeous to be called goats,
and their sheepish smiles are so lovely
you will not need to drink milk
in the morning. But now, only one
of them relishes this nocturnal
freedom, as if the other is just waiting
for a scapegoat in the farm. One eats
grass, while the other just sniffs it.

The happy sheep quips: I could eat
this grass forever! But the other sheep—
not happy, but not sad either—
does not recognise the words,
despite being the smartest sheep
in the village. The happy sheep,
despite not being the smartest,
is not stupid either. So he stops
chewing and lays himself beside
the other. The sky is too starry

for them to worry about snoring,
but the happy one knows this much:
when dawn breaks, the lamb
of some god will take away
the sins of the village, and only one
of them furry fugitives will be
pardoned. So while the night
is young and their flesh warm,
the happy sheep gets up slowly,
stares at his partner in crime,
and before running off, he licks
the other’s cheek and says:
this is the taste of sweet grass.

Artwork: "Two Sheep Under a Mountain" (1988, Thorfinnur Sigurgeirsson)
Read also: "The Village"

Thursday, February 10, 2011


by E. Wong

On the day that the cottony clouds in the sky
were actually made of cotton, I saw a grasshopper
looking up, not at me, but to his god above,
perhaps my God, too, there, in the city’s final
green field, staring at the heavens in a regal
posture, and at that moment I thought he was
not the usual crickety creature—my prey—
but a mantis, that bizarre insect bestowed
with the licence for supplication, and so
I told him without hesitation, Hey, Mister,
would you be so kind and pray for me?

‘And what would you like me to pray about,
dear lady?’ the little insect enquired in his ancient
voice. I would certainly hope that it rains today,
so that this heaviness upon me may be washed
away. He shook his tiny head, ‘it cannot be prayed
for as today the clouds are made of cotton.’
He said god, or God, has not yet invented
cotton rain. But it is not a lovely day, I retorted,
despite all those cottony clouds above. I pleaded:

I need rain! ‘It cannot be done,’ the old grasshopper
insisted. ‘It’s a beautiful day, just as when you first
hopped past these grasslands a hundred years ago.’
I started to cry, but without tears, as the sun
was too bright and intimidating in the sky.
Then in my frail frog voice: Can you pray then
on my behalf for the sun to bleed today so the world
can bathe in red with me? But the insect made

no further rebuttal; instead, he chewed on the green
and turned his back towards me, jointed. I jumped off
in defeat towards the core of the city, broken.
But in my deep frog hunger, I leaped back to eat
the insect’s head. But the old praying imposter
had hopped away before I could catch him.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Damien Rice's "Elephant"

This has got to die
This has got to stop
This has got to lie down
With someone else on top

Saturday, February 5, 2011


by E. Wong Martin

Are my hands
Sturdy as a farmer’s
Precise as a surgeon’s
Flexible yet controlled—

Perfect for driving you home,
or where you want to be
But tonight, sweet stranger,
Would you please drive me

Are my fingers
Deft as an artisan’s
Swift as a plumber’s
They’re sharp yet graceful—

Perfect for a Russian ballet
Or late night Thai massage
My fingers like exploring, too:
Could I possibly make a map
Of you?

Are my palms
On which can perfectly fit
A burger, or credit card,
An apple, your heart…

My palms, my fingers,
They are all yours now
As I wish yours are mine
Is it okay if I hold your hand
Just for a time?

Artwork: "Holding Hands" by Angela D. Mathew

Thursday, February 3, 2011


by E. Wong Martin

(1) There was once a story that starts with something like once upon a time.
(2) But I’ve forgotten what comes next…
(3) There are too many once upon a time’s, that’s why.
(4) Or too many princes and princesses. And knights-in-shining-armour and damsels-in-distress.
(5) One of these days, they should all meet up and drink all night until they couldn’t recall anymore who their destined partners were.
(6) There are too many storytellers, too. I am not one of them.
(7) Storytellers are liars. I am not one of them.
(8) They always have ulterior motives beyond the glorification of fiction.
(9) Or fictionalisation of glory.
(10) Storytellers don’t always tell stories about others; sometimes it's about themselves. This is not one of them.
(11) There was once an old woman who lived in a brick tower who had never heard of any of those storytellers’ stories.
(12) Well, okay, let’s say that she had been told just one single tale.

(13) This particular story tells of a young soldier who has won countless battles for his mighty king.
(14) Well, let’s say that the woman was one hundred years old. But she didn’t know it because there was no calendar in the tower, only a clock that had been ticking for a hundred years as well.
(15) Because she was very old, she couldn’t remember the exact tale. Her memory so muddled, she owned the story as about herself.
(16) One of these days, the young soldier would rescue her. But from what?
(17) The old woman thought again, she had lived a whole century just fine, so what on earth would the young soldier save her from?
(18) In the recesses of her mind, she discovered an ancient word: loneliness.
(19) One of these days, she said to herself.
(20) But the days had already turned into months. Years. Decades.
(21) She fumbled that part between her wrinkled breasts, the place that, as far as she could remember, held her heart inside. Where are you, my sweet soldier?
(22) I have been waiting too long, she cried.
(23) With what remains of her strength, she grabbed the clock off the wall and threw it out the window.
(00) The tower was too high for her to hear it break.

Artwork: "Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamit," (1981, Anselm Kiefer)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


by E. Wong Martin

You are such a sad drink,
my hot friend decaf, why
did you let them take

your soul just like that?
Now you do not taste as sincere
or sensual; do you even hear

the protestations of the cup?
You may have earned some
finesse, but baby, you reek

of false bitterness! Swirl
with as much sugar as you can,
but never will you ever be sweet

again. So now, sleep, forever
if you want, I'd rather stay up
with my chocolatey friend.