Monday, November 17, 2008

Nomads of 4th street, old old poems, and the weary life of an obligatory journalist

A “TWILIGHT” party in honor of Stephenie Meyer happens downstairs—while outside, wildfires spread through the southeast of Riverside and northwest of Santa Barbara—but upstairs, the second poetry reading by the “Nomads of 4th Street” at Borders Bellflower here in Long Beach remains unperturbed. Twice this month (Nov 1st and Nov 15th), we had a pretty inspiring turn-out, and we also sold some chapbooks and CDs! Amidst economic funk, post-election trauma, and pre-holiday anxiety—little, simple pleasures of life and living such as this, sure feels good.
Now, I’m amped up—feels like all I gotta do is write more poems. Should I finish unfinished poems now? Undone poems about an insomniac vampire who hangs out Waffle House, a rambling dirge cribbed from an Eagles’ CD cover (“Long Road Out of Eden”), a love poem that I haven’t quite nailed after years of attempt, a “secret” sonnet for Anna Faris, a discourse about gods who lost their houses on foreclosures.
The Nomads will be hitting the campuses soon, as well—CSU Long Beach, Whittier College, Long Beach College, UCLA, plus “gigs” in Canoga Park, Redondo Beach, Orange, Venice Beach, and Los Angeles Echo Park-Melrose Blvd `hood.
So many things to write—only to realize that today is Sunday, and I should get down to work again. Five articles a week. Tomorrow, I have to run to Freddie Roach’s Hollywood gym and check out boxer Manny Pacquiao’s media workout, this Friday I have to stake out outside Gateway Sheraton Hotel with protestors (Philippine president Gloria Arroyo will be delivering a speech inside—I’m not really interested with what she’s got to say, but I’d like to listen to what her people feel and think). Then on Friday, I will be in Pasadena to cover a Macy’s store reopening. It’s a good thing that, in between those obligatory forays, I got some “eating gigs” to attend to (ie restaurant/food reviews). Food is always good or effective to balance big city funk.
A week in the life of a working class journalist.
Few nights ago, I came across a line from an old poem (written in Tagalog language): “Hindi ko bibilangin ang galos sa aking pusong iniwan ng iyong pagpanaw, bagkus bubuhayin ko ang iyong alaala sa pamamagitan ng maingat na pagtahak sa bakas ng yapak na iyong iniwan...” (Loosely translated, “I will not count the wounds in my heart that your passing have inflicted, instead I will relive your memories as I carefully trace the footsteps that you left…”) This is from an old poem, “Awit sa Musa” (Song for the Muse).
Those lines were inscribed on “Freedom Wall”—in front of the tomb of a Filipino youth named Sigmund. Shivers crawl all over me—and then I surfed some more and saw titles of my Tagalog poems (that I left in Manila in 1998) published in an anthology from the University of the Philippines. I tried to click them (so I could read some) but I needed to buy them with credit card or paypal.
The consolation was, I chanced upon a friend’s (who is in Canada) journal with a line from my many ramblings: “… just hearts cutting through barriers, the beam of moonlight giving clarity to a metaphor or a guitar note. We can do the bonfire.”
I kept on repeating this “news” to friends (of what I discovered online)—like a kid who just saw my face on Staples Center’s giant screen. “Look, they actually read my poem…”
Makes me think of a really morbid thought. What happens when I die? Will people gather my words and publish them and share them to people? That’d be an honor. I still don’t know how to sell myself. I just write for the sake of writing. I still feel so good when other publications and media outlets reprint my articles—although I know I will always be underpaid and overworked.
What am I talking about? All I want to say is—I wish I am a poem. Nomadic but magical. Invisible but invincible. Just happy as it is—the way it is. I wish life is that simple.
See you on our next reading, m’friends!

1:24am. 17 Nov 08
Long Beach CA


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