A Blue Rose


All I asked was a blue rose.

That blue rose never came.

For years I watched you search far and wide for that single blue rose. It took all those before you finally realize that a blue rose is impossible.

I am sorry, my love. I am that blue rose.

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Forever Drafts


I write and write and write,
endlessly through the night.
For with the words I bleed,
my heart I freed.

Papers stained with tears I shed,
papers hidden underneath the bed.

I write and write and write —
endlessly through the night —
stillborn verses and paragraphs,
remaining forever drafts.

Break-up Blues


This is what happens after a break-up.

First comes the overwhelming sense of empowerment. Finally, you are that single woman who needs no man in her life. You are independent. You are unstoppable.

Then, stealthily, loneliness creeps in. You are happy yet there is no one to come home to and tell why. Or you had a crappy day and there is no one to rant on. There is no one to share food with (and hell, food tastes so much better when shared).

Suddenly, you miss his soft hands and purring voice. You miss his scent.

There really is a price for choosing yourself. Is it worth it? I hope it is.

Blackout


The dark is captivating.

Lying in the dark is falling unto a bottomless well,
bringing me closer to a new world I cannot see.
Dead to the world yet alive, I wonder,
What does this black, empty space hold?

In the dark lie mysteries.
In the dark lie the secrets of the universe
that we are yet to uncover.
Fearful and restless, I wonder,
How long will they wait to be found?

In the dark lie stories
no one dares tell.
In the dark lie truths
no one’s prepared to hear.
In the dark, they lie,
screaming silently,
pleading to be known.
Guilty but hesitant, I wonder,
Am I ready to listen?

In this blackness I stare,
blissfully,
until the light are turned on.

Suddenly, the world is dismal and expected.

I saw you…


For a moment, I thought it’s you.

He walked just like you — hips steady but shoulders slightly swaying. He ate just like you —- cutting the meat into tiny pieces and taking time to chew each morsel.

I never realized I miss you until I can see you in random strangers.

I need your advice…


I am the kind of person who ignores Messenger requests (I receive mostly spam) so I noticed this just now. I know it is quite irresponsible of me not to notice this almost a year ago (was it because I was too busy adjusting to work life?) but I am thinking of responding. What do you think? Should I reply?

messenger

Shadow Syllabus


“Secret: I have to plan first and THEN abandon the plan while still remembering its outline.”

One of the skills I developed during my first year of teaching is flexibility. I find that when I strictly stick to my lesson plan, the students are not interested as much as when I let them direct the learning process on their own while I listen and comment, prodding them to figure things out on their own. So yeah, totally relate. ❤

Sonya Huber

  1. IMG_3738I’ll tell you exactly how to get an A, but you’ll have a hard time hearing me.
  2. I could hardly hear my own professors when I was in college over the din and roar of my own fear.
  3. Those who aim for A’s don’t get as many A’s as those who abandon the quest for A’s and seek knowledge or at least curiosity.
  4. I had bookmarked a citation for that fact, and now I can’t find it anywhere.
  5. The only way to seek knowledge is to open your hands and let your opinions drop, but that requires even more fear.
  6. The goals and outcomes I am required to put on my syllabus make me depressed; they are the illusion of controlling what cannot be controlled.
  7. I end up changing everything halfway through the semester anyway because the plan on paper is never what the living class ends up being about.

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Never Call Yourself a Writer, and Other Rules for Writing


Having read innumerable writing rules, I first thought the article is just another one about writing. However, I found one truth that I never realized, until now:

“Deep down, we all want to be poets.”

In the literati ladder, the poet occupies one of the highest rungs with his enigmatic way of making music with the pen as her instrument. Thus, which lover of words would not love a poet? Which aspiring penman would not look up to a poet and aspire to be one himself?

But alas! Not all of us can be poets. We can all write but not all of us can make verses sing because that is a gift poets are born with. Because poets are born, not made like the rest of us.

Still, we keep writing verses, hoping that with each poem we take one step up that ladder. A long way to go, yes, but still a little bit closer to that coveted spot because no matter what they say and what we know, deep down, we all want to be poets.

Sometimes, not even genetic endowment can restrain the desires of the heart.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

shawna kenneyBy Shawna Kenney

First thought, best thought; revise, revise, revise. Write first thing in the morning when the mind is alert; write at night and never while sober. Do it alone, in an office with the door closed, surrounded by books; write in coffee shops, surrounded by stimulating characters and conversation. Use traditional quotation marks and capitalization Unless You Are a ‘Genius.’ Journal in longhand; always type fast. Sentences longer than three or four lines are unacceptable and tedious, unless you are William Faulkner, William Beckett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jamaica Kincaid, Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, David Foster Wallace or one of those other people who can get away with it. Short is good.

Write with an ideal reader in mind; fuck the audience. Never show anyone an early draft; find a workshop for feedback. Write to please everyone; quit workshop and hire an editor. Take classes…

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It’s Just A Name


Note: All right, I know this is not microfiction. But let’s face it, this is probably the last short story I will ever write. This was a requirement for a literature class I took during my senior year in college. I know I have never been comfortable with writing fiction but I thought it would be great to share this and finally face rejection bravely (for I shy away from longer pieces of fiction because I am afraid of criticism).

It was an uneventful Friday night and all three of us were cooped in the house, eating a dinner of tuna spaghetti. Bored, we spent the evening just like any family (minus Mother) on quiet Friday nights— in front of the T.V.

We were watching the probably most controversial teleserye of the moment. Commercials promised that the night’s episode was a must-watch so since we had nothing to do, we decided to watch it and see what was hooking everybody. But before Angel Locsin could slap Maja Salvador, my brother grabbed the remote then the screen went dead.

“We’ve had enough of that. Thank you very much,” my sister said.

“Can’t believe how people eat up this stuff,” my brother said.

As I turned the T.V. on again to find a better show I replied, “People always love the unusual.”

My brother shrugged and went back to the kitchen to get more pasta. My sister had finished hers and has found a magazine to read. Neither of us said anything but surely we were all thinking of the same thing.

The dark weather in the house dragged me out and I found myself in my favorite cafe. It is an unpopular one (that’s why I like it) but with the hell weeks looming in, the shop is unusually full of students in loud group study sessions. At this moment, I love the noise. It drowns unwanted thoughts.

I pulled out a book and tried to read to brighten mood. But I was not even halfway through the first chapter when a tall, older-looking man came and asked if I were alone. I nodded. I did not trust him but I did not feel like lying. It can be tiresome.

“Can we share the table? All are taken.”

I looked around. Indeed, no table is unoccupied. But he can go find a seat in a different shop, right?

Probably seeing my hesitation, he added, “Please? I really like this place.”

Well, I do, too. “All right.”

As soon as he sat down, he made a polite attempt to talk. He said he is an English teacher. With that said, the awkward chitchat turned to an actual conversation about literature and, eventually, words. I could not remember how we got to that part but he asked me this: “What’s your least favorite word?”

I was stunned. I know my favorite word but I am unsure of my hatest word. It changes, depending on my mood. Right now, with the bitter aftertaste of the dinner at home that I escaped from, one word is burning my tongue. But I cannot see why I have to tell this to this stranger. One has to guard her filthiest secrets with her life. But then, I probably wouldn’t see this guy again, anyway.

“Illegitimate,” I said. Trying to look disinterested, I pretended to be too absorbed with studying and started highlighting random passages in my book.

“Oh.” He motioned for the waiter and seemed to have no intention of leaving. It bums me more because I really wanted him to go away. I hated the sound of that Oh.

After ordering, he turned back to me and said, “Me, too.”

“Oh…” Now he has my attention. No more elaboration is needed for me to get what he meant.

“Copycat,” he replied with a smirk.

Goodness, I hate this guy. How does he expect me to reply to his revelation? I feel you, dude?

“So what’s your story?” he asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“Tolstoy said — wait, do you know him? The Russian guy who —“

“I know Leo Tolstoy,” I sharply answered.

“Right. Well, he said: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is —‘”

“‘… unhappy in its own way.'”

“Exactly,” he said. “So what’s your unhappy family story?”

At first, I found it ridiculous. This random guy just barged into my me time and now he’s asking me to tell him my family’s story? Who is he anyway? But then, maybe it’s about time.

There are five of us — my brother and sister and our other brother and sister. My brother, my sister, and I belong to Mommy. The other two belong to the other mother. But to Daddy, there is always five of us.

When I was little, I was entirely unaware of my family’s real status. In my earliest memories, we were just like any normal family — a mom, a dad, and their kids living under one roof. We ate dinner together on weekdays and go out on weekends. Mommy and Daddy would put us to bed with bedtime stories. Birthdays are all about cakes, candles, and lots of gifts. We spent every holiday together. It was a rather happy childhood. But I started asking questions when I was around ten years old.

When I turned ten, it was then decided that I was old enough to attend sleepovers and overnight pajama parties so I spent a lot of Friday nights in my friends’ houses along with other girls. I get asked a lot but when it was my turn to throw a pajama party, only two girls showed up in our house. Back then, I could not see why.

When I was in my friends’ houses, I noticed how their houses are almost the same as mine — there is a Sto. Nino altar, a T.V. set in the sala, a framed picture of the The Last Supper in the Kitchen beside or in between a large pair of wooden spoon and fork, and lots of framed pictures on the wall. There is only one thing that is strikingly absent in our house: a wedding picture of Mommy and Daddy.

One Saturday morning, upon arriving home, I decided to ask my mom why their wedding picture is not up on the wall or displayed by the coffee table. I remember how scared I was when I saw the face of my naturally confident mother turn white. I knew immediately something was wrong.

“The picture is not that important, dear. I could not remember where I had put it.”

She was lying, I know. If pictures are not important to her, then why is it that our photo albums were the first thing she grabbed when there was a fire across the street? But she woud not tell me so I went on to find the picture myself.

In the attic, I found a shoe box containing old photos, mostly of my mother when she was little. I was thrilled with what I found (though it was not what I was looking for) so I brought down the shoe box to my sister’s room, as quietly as I could so Mommy would not notice.

We were having a great time looking at the old pictures when, surprisingly, we found a quite recent photo of a teenage boy and girl that we could not recognize. Just as my sister put it back on the box, I noticed there was something written at the back.

To Papa, We miss you so much. Love, Kate and Kiko.

“Who is Papa?” my sister asked.

I turned to her nervously. “Daddy?”

“That’s impossible, Ate,” my sister said confidently. “He’s Daddy, not Papa.”

My sister went back to the old photos but I stared at this picture. For some reason, Kate and Kiko suddenly looked familiar.

Seven years later, we met Kate and Kiko in person on Daddy’s funeral. They were already in their late twenties and were already professionals while I, Mommy’s eldest, was only seventeen and barely in college. I was right the entire time — Daddy was indeed Papa.

When I first saw their picture, I had suspected we were of the same blood but deep inside I was not entirely convinced that they actually existed. Seeing them in flesh during our father’s funeral was like waking up from a beautiful dream only to find nightmare in reality. And that nightmare is the horror of realizing that the life we had been living was not what it was. For seventeen years, I lived a lie. It was unfair. My siblings and I did not ask to be born to this kind of situation.

On that day, I could not cry. I was angry at everyone — at my parents for keeping their secret, at Kate, Kiko, and their pretty mother for showing up and pushing our family to the corner, at my friends who would not treat me the same way again.

My brother and sister were both silent. They could not believe it. This is the stuff that only happens in movies. It does not happen in real life. Or, if it does, it happens to other people, not to my perfect, happy family. It could not be. There must be some mistake.

But soon, just weeks after we buried my father in the ground, there were talks of us, three children, taking up Mommy’s name instead. It was the legally right thing to do, they decided.

I went livid. They have no right to strip me and my siblings of our name. We lived that name and brought honor to it, too. What right have they to say we do not deserve it just as the other two do? Are we not our father’s children, too? But my aunts and uncles shook their heads and said I have to listen to them for it was the rightful to thing to do. My mother said nothing.

So here we are, both fatherless and nameless.

“So that’s the story of how, in his death, my father took my name with him to the grave,” I ended the story. There is more to it but I have said too much for this stranger.

“What’s in a name? ‘That which we call a rose —“

“‘… by any other name would smell as sweet.'” I took a sip of my coffee. It has grown cold. “Why do you like quoting classics?”

“Because it makes girls swoon and they don’t even notice it wasn’t exactly original.”

I grunted. “Weh? I don’t believe you. All girls know Romeo and Juliet.”

“No. Trust me, most don’t. They only know ‘O Romeo, Romeo!’ and that they both died in the end. You’re one of the smarter few.”

My cheeks burned. Heavens, swallow me now, please.

He noticed and smiled. “Seriously though, there is absolutely no reason for you to worry about your name. It’s just your name. It’s not you. You did not name yourself — your parents did that for you— but you chose to be the wonderful person that you are and that’s what’s important.”

I could not help but smile. I’m starting to like this guy.

“I told you mine. Now, tell me yours.”

And he did. But I am not telling you his story for that is his to tell. What I can tell you is that his is an unhappy story entirely different from mine. But he has found a way to liberate himself from the question of his true identity for, as he had said, one does not name himself. He said I can, too. I could only smile and say, “I hope so.”

“You will,” he said. “Remember, it is you who determines the kind of person that you will be. Bad circumstances are mere inconveniences. They don’t define you unless you let them to.”

The cafe is turning quieter as the college kids start leaving.

“I think I should be leaving. My sister must be waiting for me at home,” I said.

“I’ll walk you out.”

Before I turned to leave, I thanked him. I honestly had a good time talking with him. He thanked me, too, then we said goodbye.

“I’m sorry but I didn’t catch your name?” I turned and called back.

He waved his hand in dismissal. “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a name.”

“Oh. ‘K, bye!” Then he was back inside the cafe.

Walking back to the house, I realized he’s right — it’s just a name.

Should I stay?


For the past weeks I have been itching to write but I pushed away my notebook, afraid of polluting it with my melancholic musings (just as I did years ago when I was sad teenager). It was my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to avoid negative thoughts and feelings and I have no intention of breaking it. After all, I deserve to be happy, right?

But I just can’t feel happy right now.

I knew that at some point, the honeymoon stage will end and doubt will come but I never expected it to come this early. I never thought that my students will ever break my heart.

Recently, several students claimed that they have learned nothing from me. It hurt. I am hurting so much that the all the maybes have resurfaced and have now made a monster who nibbles on this passion that I have held on to all my life.

Maybe I really suck at teaching.

Maybe I am not what they need.

Maybe I have been wrong all this time.

Maybe I screwed it all up again.

Maybe mom’s right — maybe, a medical school is where I truly belong.

Or maybe, I should pursue a career in science, just as I was trained to do.

I thought passion and determination was enough. I thought I was enough. But as it turns out, I am not. That hurts when you think you have given all that you can.

Lately, I have been thinking: Should I stay? Do I love them enough to stay?