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

a dragonfly/zips into a tower–/what I remember (a 9/11 repost from filipineses09)

September 12, 2011, 1:55 am

It’s still for me a searing memory…that morning 10 years ago

a dragonfly/zips into a tower–/what I remember

Visit to a Hallowed Ground

I looked on a shallow dish of dirt, raked and dug out, and still seething. From where I stood at the portico of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street from across what used to be the World Trade Center, I gazed and gaped incredulous. How could it seem so small, so nothing now?

That now hallowed ground I had once walked on, eyes up where the twin towers held up the sky, was raw like a vulture’s leftover meal — the vulture that had zipped into it from the same sky.

The smell of burning still tarnished the air: it was sharp and pungent. Thin spirals of smoke still seeped off the ground where the dying has not ended. There was a stench in the downtown train I thought must be someone’s mess or as the friend I was with said, could be the cleaning agent used. And then, I realized it was the stench of decaying flesh.

For the first time on this visit to New York, three months after the disaster that the world now calls by its date, September Eleven, I finally lived the nightmare.

I could not recognize turns on the streets I learned by heart a whole summer I lived in New York. I had to let go, and be led on by the steady stream of people, moving about in a daze like me. We have walked into a city that was pummeled, ripped, and blown in parts; it felt strange.

The buildings around the World Trade Center, once glinting towers now scarred and wearing ashes have turned old and looked haunted. Delis and coffee shops serving breakfast at 8:45 that morning have grown frost where they had stood still. (In which of them had I once shared with a friend the tastiest sticky bun ever one morning we walked this far?) But I had yet to find the remains of that day.

We had stopped at every cross street that opened to Ground Zero, and hung our heads. We had stalled, holding back tears, where instant graves had blossomed on wrought iron fences or granite walls. The graves drew out the grief, and tears gave names to what were earlier anonymous faces: A wife to one of those still missing stumbled into a huddle, and crumbled to the ground, touching a framed picture adorned with ribbons now frayed and fading. She had visited this grave each day since. A brother to one still lost crept from behind us quietly planting another candle where what he lit last night was dying. He had no way of telling if his brother was among the dead; he was still missing like many who walked into that ordinary summer day but whose bodies have not been found.

A wind ruffled the pages of a letter a grandmother had pinned on a young woman’s framed portrait, detailing how her oh so innocent two-year old son regaled the family with stories of a visit to the zoo in last weekend’s tearful dinner. A scrap of lined paper, bold scripts now blotted, was a young boy’s inspired poem on the heroic death of those he didn’t personally know. The ‘graves’ were now a mosaic of grief; none of us who strayed into them could stay around for long.

Memories of the nightmare played on. On these same streets, thousands of wounded had limped, transformed by terror and grief. Some had lost their hair in the fire, others, half their faces. The sirens had screamed, flying through the night and days from then on. New York congealed into a mass of the helpless hurt, the faceless who came to help, and the cops and firemen who gave their lives to others whose names they had no chance to ask. Blood flowed from cut limbs, and also from veins held up for the taking. This city of spunk and internal faces broke into a weeping, sobbing, moaning humanity. We, who lived through the nightmare whole days on end on television, could only imagine half the reality then.

From St. Peter’s portico, we glued our eyes on those giant combs of steel, the cranes that moved clumsy marionette arms; the diggers had not stopped sifting for remains. They had gone deep underground, out of our sight. After this visit, when they hit what used to be the Cortland subway stop, five more bodies turned up. But where we huddled, necks craned to Ground Zero on this visit, there was nothing else we could see out there. What I kept staring at instead, and like perhaps those strangers around me did, were spots on the ground that held memories, my own…

(read the rest of it at my other blog filipineses09, just click on my blogroll. Also I’m trying to double check this: this was nominated for a Pushcart Award 2010 by Sketchbook but I cannot find my record of it. Perhaps because it was just too overwhelming, almost incredulous, that I lost it but I know I’ll find it or maybe not among my messy files.)


September 12, 2011 Posted by | background, diary/memoir, lyrical prose, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Night Scents: the truth about roses (for One Shot Wednesday)

Evening has fallen, tarnishing all translucence. Daffodils, for one, sprayed like comet behind a picket fence, are now turned-down copper bells. Magnolias, that crowd of plump cheeks on Warren Avenue, now doze on bruised faces.

Only dogwoods on front lawns seem to take evening fall with grace. Their crown, a dull mantle in daylight, has turned into iridescent lace while on the ground ivy has thickened, breathing like a ghost.

Not colors but scents have taken over life in the dying day. But nothing like vapors that seem solid like steam or fog or mist, just weightless molecules spinning in the air.

‘Fragrant’ seems paltry if it were to mean the scent of violets blindly met along a cypress hedge on Montgomery St.—a bouquet part spicy part sweet like a potion for a faint spirit. ‘Perfumed’ weighs gaudily on jasmine for its scent from a terrace on Battery St. descends as faint as a memory—fleeting like all moments that come back to haunt.
The nose, is it? Or perhaps the heart leads the nose to track down the scent of roses. Some flourish in unlikely spots; they trap the heart in a patch back of a kitchen on Riverside, for instance. Here, rose bushes wear open faces. No secret chambers there.

Even in the evening, rose blooms thrust up as if to sing—but not to sing, perhaps more to sigh. Listen then and breathe for in opening their lips, their scent also escapes. Note that only in the evening this truth about roses is revealed: their scent hints at sour drops and salt sprays, tears and regrets and the million contradictions lodged in the heart.

Copyright (c) by Alegria Imperial 2009
Published in Eleventh Flash in the Pan at Tiny Lights magazine

Posted for One Shot Wednesday 53rd week at One Stop Poetry, that inimitable gathering place for poets and artists. Check out what we share and do hop in!

July 6, 2011 Posted by | lyrical prose | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

haibun: my first shooting star (para mi hermana, Margaret)

A haibun attempt as promised for Margaret, mi hermana de mi alma, in a comment on Stargazing at haikudoodle

I wrote this as a journal some ten years ago when I stayed at Angeles Estates in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, the Philippines’ central plains. Nothing but acres of rice fields, edged by the Sierra Madres the sky most evenings did tantalize. One evening I finally caught a shooting star…

It flared in the shape of wings, and was gone in a blink – my first shooting star.

Before then, a moon was sailing past its fullness, but brimming in the edges. It was cruising toward a thin veil of clouds, sailing through an iridescent sky. Its ride must have been bumpy on the grainy surface, but dreamy from a tender blue light beaming underneath that sieve.

In the glow, the lawn turned murky beige, the leaves of the escarlatina (frangipani), dark and glinting; and the gumamela blooms, pallid and droopy.

My eyes were trailing a white dog, yellowed under a weak moon, when the star must have started to skid. When I turned to break a branch to whip the ground and drive the dog away—that was when I glimpsed the flare.

It had vanished before I could breathe. I laughed; my laughter had bubbled off my heart without my coaxing. When I turned for someone whom I can tell of my star, the night had turned: the moon had burst out of the clouds, the blooms began to glisten; and the dog was gone.

shooting star—
a flap of wings
the same sky?

AE gardens during the day

Escarlatina in the sun

Also posted in with a few paragraphs which I attempted to translate in Iluko. More pictures and information on the estate at

December 17, 2010 Posted by | haibun, lyrical prose, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Nothingness: A Reflection

For this epiphany, I wrote myself a check of $800. What do you think?


I struggle through pain and nothingness with bouts of happiness and calmness of mind everyday. Maybe, I, too, suffer from some kind of mental illness I haven’t dared to find out. What’s certain is my constant search for peace that at times seems to end only for the battle to begin again. Here are some whiffs of calm wind that had helped:


“Restless until my heart rests in thee”, thus, St. Augustine simply puts what ails man. All Truth seems poured into these seven words, truths that Jesus lived and died for. He showed us and taught us what these truths are but why did He seem to make peace such an impossibility, indeed?


Why is life impregnable? Why is living a crucible? Jesus had a consistent answer—because to walk with God, to go home to Him in eternity is to shed the world at every single moment with every thought and every act. Otherwise we, who have wakened to this true path but have not really given in or have not learned to will what God wills or to simply break our will and turn it over to Him, will never find rest.


Until we ‘die to ourselves’ and be nothing in this life, as Jesus says again and again, our journey back home will be wrought with pain. “Die to ourselves”, how do we do that? Not to seek comfort or consolation for what we do, and to deny ourselves of that, which makes us happy (a momentary lift), perhaps? Pain is in the nature of this life, Jesus assured us. If He knew of another way to peace and salvation, being Truth Himself, he would have shown it certainly, shown something else other than having been impoverished, derided, betrayed, and crucified by this world in this existence, this finiteness.


No wonder, as St. Teresa of Avila once chided Jesus in all her humaneness, He had so few friends. Maybe, if we acknowledge our nothingness we could be considered among the few.


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March 27, 2009 Posted by | lyrical prose, reflection | , , , , , , , | 1 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.

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February 15, 2009 Posted by | lyrical prose, reflection | | 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