grace is in that sea of people
grace could not help but drown us all
grace is in that sea of people
grace could not help but drown us all
I have been working so hard lately that for the past few nights, I fall asleep in a snap when I only intend to lie down for a minute, to rest a bit before I do my chores. I have been ending up sleeping with my contact lenses and work clothes on.
I have been dreaming weird dreams too. Last night, I dreamt I was wading through a shallow pool in a sunlit room, looking for my contact lenses in the water. I saw some lenses and tried them on, but only one seemed to fit, the left. So as I went on through the dream, I had only my left eye seeing clearly.
But I do not want to tell you about weird dreams right now, reader. I want to tell you about a fact. A fact that just hit me yet again, yesterday, as I lay down on my bed, reluctant to get up out of uncured fatigue, despite the sleep.
I remembered my poetry teacher, The Baptist, all of a sudden. I have been wanting to visit him since November last year. I just might this February. It will be Valentine’s soon, anyway. Must bring something nice for The Baptist and his Rose.
That’s when the fact hit me. My teacher, through the life he is living, has proven to us all that a poet can live a happy life. With his life, he is showing that it is possible for a poet to live in comfort, and with love. My teacher came out of the slums, defying poverty. He won the heart of his best friend, another artist, and by this defied beliefs that two artists cannot live happily ever after because, as some would put it, something must be sacrificed. All I know is, while he has been living quietly in love and graciously, he has always been giving us good work. Masterworks. Both tackling light and dark, without having himself suffer in the dark anymore, as he who has known real hardship and has risen from it should know better than play with one’s life by deliberately going back to the things that hurt, just for the heck of it. My teacher may have been the first person to show me how it is to be truly creative. His life is a life of good defiance. It is a life triumphant.
And all of a sudden, all of my doubts and fears were just washed away. Not that I was thinking I’ll have it exactly as he has now, though I’d love that, but a blanket of reassurance just braced me. If my teacher is victorious, I can be too.
Actually, to a degree, I already am. The mere fact that I am fully sustained by writing, and by kinds of writing that I love (for the earth, and through travel), is a triumph.
The only thing within my power that I have not accomplished yet is the 30 poems. And hopefully there’ll be more after them.
Considering everything that I have gone through – years of hopelessness in the bureaucracy, numerous rejections from men, problems about my health, the long and hard fight for freedom – I am still here, unbelievably alive. And not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I’ll ever be where I am now, seeing the seas I have seen, meeting gracious people on the road, working with the kind and generous men and women I work with now.
And all the while, back in my twisted angsty youth, I thought I’d just slip away into oblivion. I was actually prepping up for the possibility that I would just collect all my verses once I feel that the end is near, and ask a nephew or niece to dispose them, as I fade away. I was all set to be my own version of Emily Dickinson.
My teacher once said in class, to address questions on obscurity in meaning, after a classmate jokingly pointed out the mystique in Dickinson’s obscurity, “nag-iisa lang si Emily Dickinson.” Tough words from a man toughened up by life. But ever gentle, ever kind. Besides, our class was a class of hardheads. We needed ‘tough’.
And between a Dickinson and a Bautista, I’d take the latter kind of life. Apologies for the preference, I just love my teacher. That man who was kind to me at a time when other men were either hurting me or running away from me. That good man who treated our class as if we were his own children, welcoming us in his home, sharing the love of his Rose to us. The man who, to this day, is teaching me, more than just through poems, but through his life, a good life.
Grace. Real. Here. It hit me warm against the chilly morning. I got up and set out working.
not a word misplaced
in Mr. Yorke and company’s
good little light of a song
that “sawed off shotgun”
that “place on a mission”
all that’s “lost between the notes”
all that running away all that looking back
all that having too much and coming back
“to focus again”
you’ve been it all
and “there is nothing to explain”
let that be your comfort
[This post marks the start of a blogging experiment within this Project 52 series, as declared in post 32. Twenty posts on music. To be written within the duration of one record each. Strictly stream-of-consciousness, with no editing once posted. I would go back to correct misspellings, though. Did I spell that right, misspelling?]
I used to sing Bodysnatchers on my way to the lady who sells huge pan de sals in a makeshift stall next to the gate of the courthouse I used to work at.
Power breakfast, I’d call it, one giant pan de sal, double the size of my fist, with one peeled and crushed boiled egg as filling. Altanghap more like it. My one big meal of the day, to last me the whole bundy time. “I’m alive!”
I never saw it coming that I’d walk past that gate for good. The meals nourished me good, I guess, gave me just enough strength to go.
I never saw it coming that before that would happen, I would get to date a friend’s brother, and that on my way to him, I’d be singing “she looks back, you look back”.
I never saw it coming that I’d actually like a date song.
I never saw it coming that the guy who gave me this record would vanish without a trace. And in silence. Maybe he was taken away by bodysnatchers.
God bless him. I thank him.
In Rainbows is a record in transit, and for people in transit.
The beats to me are pulses, and the echoes are drones that are dreamy. It’s nice to dream when you’re trapped.
I remember, when I used to study in that little university within Intramuros, that one which bore the motto “truth and fortitude”, I used to pass this long underpass. A vandal wrote NICE DREAM on the wall of it.
And that’s from another record. The ailing one, The Bends.
In Rainbows is not in pain. How could it be?
It’s the hymn of a peon freed from a leash. It’s what she hears while she’s running. Just listen to how Jigsaw Falling Into Place races against its own heartbeat.
And then, rest, and a moment of reckoning, by the time Videotape’s heavy slo-mo footfalls are heard.
There is comfort in rainbows.
Right in the warm belly of our dirty, pretty city…
Rancid’s And Out Come The Wolves. Which means Nanay could now throw away my tape. But not the sleeves!
Coldplay’s Parachutes, X&Y (“still my heart and hold my tounge i feel my time my time is come let me in unlock the door i never felt this way before the wheels just keep on turning the drummer begins to drum i don’t know which way i’m goin’ i don’t know which way i’ve come hold my hand inside your hands i need someone who understands i need someone someone who hears for you i’ve waited all these years for you i’ll wait ’til kingdom come until my day my day is done and say you’ll come and set me free just say you’ll wait you’ll wait for me”… they sound like Johnny Cash!), and Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, and A Rush Of Blood To The Head.
Led Zepelin’s II, III, and Coda.
The Clash’s Sandinista.
Alice In Chain’s Jar Of Flies.
And I got Mga Gitarista (featuring Jun Lopito, Francis Reyes, Mike Elgar, Barbie Almalbis, etc.) and an Apo Hiking Society thing for my bro, who was with me by the way (he had to buy strings from Raon). Oh, and corn-on-the-cob! Munching on it while walking towards Espana.
But nothing beats the joy of seeing OK Computer at the shelf of M1 Glorietta last Thursday, after another exam. A heart that’s full up like a landfill. I guess I’m not that jinxed in Makati, afterall. I did spend my 30th birthday there, and singing The Rose. And with my dearest friends cheering me on and holding me close. Oh how quickly I forget!
That’s exactly why I need mister pen. He helps me remember. Like he just did, right now, here.
Thank you thank you thank you…