5 Poems

In these five poems, Ainne Frances dela Cruz expresses a sympathetic sensibility, drawing the reader from observation to affective spaces. In “Form”, the heart is a Heideggerean vessel in which we are invited to “listen to it / Beat”, and this rhythmic space finds metaphorical form with the young man’s heart in “Beating the Drums”. In “Stars”, the space of Being is transformed into a kaleidoscopic display, where things “make you stumble on broken springs”. Such imperfect movement is explored in “Parallel Lines”, where the observation of crabs transforms into existential, purposive reflection. The perspective is inverted in “If these walls could talk”, where her cat’s gaze alienates; her existence becomes mere object in her cat’s maze—”a 10-inch nail”. Yet, like her other poems, we are always brought to the same moment: the moment which “gives shape / To a space than can contain” these things.

Beating the Drums

1)   In an old house, a young man.
In his hands, rough skin beating beneath his palm.

2)   Picture the man’s hair, long.
Entwined in his fingers are the tresses he used to love.

3)   He used to cover his face with his hair.
Now he covers the drums.

4)   Music catches the longness of time
He holds it in his hands, finger by finger.

5)   Every sound is a beat, every beat an echo.
He strains to hear long dead words.

6)   Skin to skin, he and the drums become one.
Echo by echo every movement drums.

7)   Today the drums beat as soundly as before.
Today his heart is a drum.

***

Form

Form is only a function
Of air, to give shape

To a space that can contain
It. Even the heart knows

This reason, listen to it
Beat, confined to a wall

Of muscle and skin, taut
As nightmares and as real

***

If these walls could talk

There’s a cat that lives
in my house.
I don’t see it
I only hear
the meows and yelps
that mark its catness.

So much louder,
so imaginatively egotistical
when it sees a mouse.

I search for its cat-eyes,
its cat-paws
its nine lives.

Wanting a taste of fang and claw
of whiskered fur,
sheathed velvet.

Too fast, our times never meet
I am stuck to a wall.
The cat lives
in a maze

forever going in and out
in and out
of my life.

And I a 10-inch nail,
a hair in its path,
will go on loving
behind cracks
from screen to screen
hole to hole

until it looks
and ravishes me.

***

Parallel Lines

One can find crabs
In swamps, burrows
And other unusual places.

They dig deep
And stay under
For long periods of time.

Their aloofness turns off neighbors
They live and die
Alone.

But even they
Seek to wander
Even they
Seek to commune
To trick God himself
Who has made them
This way.

And so they walk
Trying to overtake
Their very nature
Trying to cover
Ground before
Reality
Catches up with them.

But one just can’t get
Too far
Walking sideways.
And though we always
Want to do what is good
We somehow never end up
Where our feet
Wanted to be

***

Stars

Fireworks slice my skull into colours. Green. Yellow. Silver. Gold. Purple. Unnamed variations of light striating their scions in my brain. I gulp this madness with my skin. Unnamed versions of desire. Stirring slowly and clogging my heart. My heart. That with a moving crane one can stir up and dredge. Mud and viscous things. The desire to move entrenched upon skin. The desire to live outweighed by the habit of keeping alive. And yes. Only that. Only that which feeds.

What feeds us keeps us alive. In one version of the story, the man ate his heart because it was bitter. (Bitter things taste better in afterthought). In another version of the story, the man ate his heart because it was his heart. That which nourishes us keeps us alive. So all the fireworks in my brain. So all the explosions that echo in our skin.

Feed me. Oh, I always wanted freedom from this horrible hunger. That depends upon body clocks and clockwork oranges to satiate. I sing this body, electric with all its desires, and all its mad hungers, its mad flavours, its whirling, indigestible afterthoughts, that in haste, in haste, we bury and consume.

Slowly upon wheatfields (that makes one sorrow with its colours), one realizes, that beauty is colorless. It steals our colors. Entrenches in us ideas of fear. (Is there beauty without fear?) What strikes chords in our skin is only images of ourselves whitewashed against that greater image of God. And god is a thing to fear. A thing that brings madness even to angels. The nothing that was nothing before. A wandering star.

Always, I find myself drawn to bright lights and falling objects. (and you were a thing that fell fathoms deep, that fell down to forever-ness.). And I? Oh bright lights are drawn to things that shine and gleam. And in the dark. They make you stumble on broken springs.


AINNE FRANCES DELA CRUZ’s first chapbook Tumbleweed was published by Tiny Press, USA. Her works have appeared in Philippines Graphic, ANI (the literary journal of the Cultural Center of the Philippines), Under the Storm: an anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry, and various international publicatons.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila and has completed some units for her Masters in Comparative Literature from the University of the Philippines. She was a fellow for the University of Santo Tomas’ National Writers Workshop and the Montaggio Writers Workshop. She now writes for Gulf Insider, one of the leading magazines in Bahrain.

At night, she edits the awesome little zine called Paper Monster Press.

Photo credit: Victoria Lee

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