for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

The encrusted heart

The heart curls

on its own in pain

turns into a suckling,

milking on its hurts.


It darkens

in the day—what

sun could pierce

the mirror of grief?


Ghosts haunt

eyes taunting

pain, reliving loss,

birthing fresh hurts.


In the night the heart

glistens with its wounds

lapping tears–those

globules of pain.


Around the heart

in vigil, slabs of light

await for a sign to

splinter into a million


points, to pierce

the heart of the mirror,

 to melt encrustations of

its own wounds.


The heart resists

locked in eyes on

the mirror of its

making, losing


the light each day

to nest its own rebirth.


Copyright © 2009 by Alegria Imperial/Posted  in

For this poem, I wrote a check of $700 for my ‘jornal’. What would you give me?


February 19, 2009 Posted by | poetry, reflection | , , , | Leave a comment

Fifth avenue: a setting

For having written this, reading it again and again, I give myself a week’s worth of daily wages $1200. If it were yours, how much is your ‘jornal’?

The sun is setting on the southwestern horizon, tracing its autumn route. No matter how glorious, it is never seen on Fifth Avenue: a sense of unreality pervades here; no shadow falls because skyscrapers bar slanting light and columns of smoke seeping off tunnels float eerily.

On the ground, the vast sky is but a dream. Only a narrow slit hangs above like a canopy propped up by towers of concrete, glass and steel. The tallest, the Empire State Building, shoots up like a needle that could pierce the moon. From up there, people, dogs, and cars, shrink as toys for King Kong.

Fifth Avenue at sunset grinds as if run by an infernal machine. The ruckus is maddening: cars rushing into any space, as if escape is possible, and people swarming onto the sidewalk like a shaken colony of ants. The racket is deafening: rasp of wheels, blasts from horns, wheezes from city bus air brakes, and unison wails of an ambulance, fire truck and NYPD cars in a rush to save a kitten – so the word from someone in the crowd is passed on – hanging by its paws on the terrace of a 20th floor condo on East 56th Street.

The swarm of people soon turns into a dark flowing mush that of bodies wrapped in thick armors of invisibility – the black coat, jacket, cape, cap, boots, and square-toed shoes. Strides are hurried; heads don’t turn, each one moves lost in private space. If a show window snares someone, she is not missed: the throng gets on, relentlessly. At cross streets, the crowd lurches to a halt, eyes riveted to a flashing light that warns, “Don’t Walk.” When the light switches to a command, “Walk,” the crowd, like wound up toys, obeys.

In the crowd, I am lost. I shed my name. Under my woolen cap, I wonder about the color of my hair. Beneath layers of cotton warmers, a jacket, and leather gloves, I cannot remember the hue of my skin. No one talks to me; I have turned mute. And when I say, “I’m sorry,” I sound as if I really am for something I can’t recall I did.

A pink sky falls on East 23rd Street where a triangle fans out from the Flat Iron Building’s rear toward Madison Square Park. I feel touched, and now I’m melting. With my heart, I listen to a soundless pink splash at dawn in Baguio, my mountain city perched from across the other side of the hemisphere. When I look up again at a slice of sky, night has crept in. An undertow pulls me to surrender. I stop. I stall. My heart resists.

Posted in in myjournal.thoughtbook

February 16, 2009 Posted by | lyrical prose, reflection | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love–what is it, really?

For this insight, I give myself a ‘jornal’ of $550. Quite high, isn’t it? But a friend pointed out how true, how true it is. How much value will you tag how you feel after reading it?

Love should begin on a blank stare contrary to what everyone thinks it must. If eyes meet seeing worlds not visible there, only then does love start on a ‘supposed’ note and from this will spring a host of the unexpected.

Blind—that’s what lovers should be but not blind enough to recognize the first opening, the gesture that bids the soul to flight. For flight to me, is the beginning of love.

But only momentary flight. Lovers span time and space in each first moment. They make landmarks of ordinary places and things. The first smile, tender touch, kiss, the first word of love. Breathing is always breathless with young love. Words bind magically. Moments remain enchanted.

Yet if love were to last it can’t be young always. Lovers must will to end the flight. In the fall, lovers must recognize each other still — stripped, bared already scarred. Love turns quite ugly but solid, roughly hewn and darky like a rock. If lovers turn away then, then love does not exist.

Posted in

February 15, 2009 Posted by | lyrical prose, reflection | | Leave a comment

Who is St. Valentine?

 I give myself a ‘jornal’ of $500 for this new knowledge. How much is yours?

Think red on Valentine’s Day and the image of a beating heart comes to mind. Run to a flower shop for roses and a love note to give to that special someone and presume your gesture like millions of others on this day began centuries ago by a lover. But who really knows how Valentine’s Day came to be. 

Vague ideas about it have always hovered in people’s minds. But a search for the real Valentine goes back to a pre-Christian practice, which was later layered over by some genuine act of “sweetness and thoughtfulness” from a “holy man”. The rite honors the Roman goddess Februato Juno in a “ lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls on the fifteenth of this month.” As in most manner of conversion to Christianity, pastors substituted the honored goddess with “the name of a saint in billets given on this day,” and thus, St. Valentine.

Who is St. Valentine? The few lines written about him have spawned a legend that in fact, there are three St. Valentine.  Closer look reveals St. Valentine as not three but just one, a “temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of the Roman emperor, Claudius, the Goth (Claudius II)” around mid-250 A.D. or the early centuries of Christianity. Valentinus was caught “marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians who were being persecuted.” While in prison, Valentinus is said to have tried to convert Claudius, who took a liking for him.  Such attempt proved fatal for the priest whom Claudius ordered beheaded at the Flaminian Gate in 269.

A clue as to why the emperor almost had a change of heart for Valentinus: the priest cured his jailer’s daughter of her blindness. A link if not quite romantic but “sweet” to today’s “love-crazed” tradition was Valentine’s having left a note for this girl where he scribbled, “From your Valentine.”

Did Valentinus ever exist? Yes, he did. Archeologists have unearthed his remains in a Roman catacomb although he was supposed to have been buried on Flaminian Way shortly after his beheading at the gate. It took another 200 years before he was canonized saint by Pope Gelasius in 496 AD and marked February 14th as his feast in honor of his martyrdom. 

St. Valentine wears red, the color of blood to represent martyrdom. In his portraits, roses and birds surround him. In Christian tradition, he intercedes or is the patron saint of engaged couples (for a happy marriage), the young (and confused), those with epilepsy, or those plagued by fainting spells, bee keepers, and travelers.

For the shy and the lazy, the feast of St. Valentine’s should make a great excuse to declare love just this once a year.






February 12, 2009 Posted by | culturati news/views | Leave a comment

Gotham in the Mist

The city rose lifeless in the storm this morning. It stayed glued on a seamless sky, receding in the mist like a legend. The huddle of spires, bell towers, smoke stacks, brownstone boxes, glass towers, and steel spikes, seemed timeless in the smoky veil that shimmered in the sun.

Yet, it breathed. Its breathing was a dull hum like the rhythm of waves in a nautilus held to the ear. And it moved like a ghost slapping potted annuals, and whipping skeletons of trees.

When it wakened, the city was a mad woman, flailing unseen in the wind, riding on the smoke that billowed from chimneys. When it came to life, the city spewed flavors in the wind that wafted the aroma of spiced meat simmering in broths, marinated fowl roasting, and scented grain steaming in pots.

I had watched the city wrapped in legend from an insulated window looking east. I saw the opaque sky ripped like a dome, letting out heavy vapors that suffused the horizon. And through the mist from the same window, I watched it move in the wind, and sniffed its aroma from hairline cracks. But I could not decide whether I lived the legend or the dream.

For this conjured memory of New York, I give  myself a ‘jornal’ of $350. What’s yours?

Copyright © 2001 by Alegria Imperial, NY/Posted in

February 12, 2009 Posted by | lyrical prose, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


She folds her arms on the table and turns a limp head to the window; the gray sky meets her sad eyes. She crumples on her slack arms and sighs, what lonely weather.

I watch her head drop on sunflowers blooming on the vinyl kitchen cloth where she works all day. The blossoms blaze around her. When she looks back at the sky, her eyes glisten with tears now pooling.

I snap out of my stare and tell her, it’s only the rain. But in my mind, I wail at the weeping sky, who is it that came snuffing out the sun?

Then I begin telling this woman, it’s only rain, and it’s fine too, like a baby’s hair. How could it hurt you? Look how it falls — like a touch. And watch how it splatters on that window — like sweet crystals that wash the grime and the sadness off the air. See how the sky would tauten soon — like the skin of a man’s arm.

And the woman laughs at the thought of a man’s arm crooked around her, scented sweet and strong by the rain. She laughs splaying her own arms over the sunflowers she couldn’t seem to see.

Copyright © 2001 by Alegria Imperial/Posted in and myjournal

For reading this piece again, and remembering the moment I wrote it, I give myself $300 as my ‘jornal’.

What’s yours?

February 6, 2009 Posted by | poetry | , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

Jornales. Daily Wages. Why have I chosen jornales as the name of this blog? I’m neither Spanish nor English but I was brought up on both languages and on both cultures. I speak and read only smatterings of the first, fluent in the second but I am much more. I live and  exist on many spheres of thought that come out as poetry, stories, essays, feature stories, news stories, scripts if need be and whatever shape or form words that seem to write themselves when I compose take on. I work hard to keep alive where I exist. And where does my “jornal” my daily wage come from? What is my “jornal”, my daily wage? Ahhh, that’s the mystery you and I will unravel in these pages. Welcome!

February 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment