jornales

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

shadows (a haibun)

shadows–
how much longer
can we stay?

Shadows have always fascinated me. As a child, I chased them or rather searched for them. Under trees at high noon when the crown of an acacia tree from across our balcony but covered its root space like a clipped parasol, I’d creep to it and hug the ancient roots, basking in its shadow. By the stream where my grandmother scoured the soot off the iron rice pot and skillet, I’d haunt the silken strips of shadows under bamboo grooves and waited on the engorged shadow of a kingfisher that never failed to fly by; damselflies swarmed around that time, too. But by then, I’d be drawing on the dance of bamboo leaves on the steady current for a clue on which side of the stream is shallowest for me to swim. My grandmother had learned from snoops that I sauntered alone at high noon by the stream–even took dips, shedding off my clothes to wear her pandiling* or tapis** (sarong-like cloth) that when soaked weighed on my body and tended to slip off; I had by then showed signs of turning into a woman. Upbraided, I stopped creeping under the shadowed stream for a while. It was then when I began exploring the wooded orchard of a grandaunt and got chased by a swarm of bees I had disturbed. My granduncle had heard my screams and came with a mosquito net plus some kind of obnoxious spray. I suffered a few stings that my grandaunt soothed with dabs of burnt molasses syrup. I had since then, confined my fascination for shadows under ruins and buildings that block the sun off. Why this disdain for the sun, a friend once asked. What answer could I give for some things I have none?

half
of who we are–
shadows

(Prompt from a free-wheeling discussion with Rick Daddario, 19 Planets Art Blog that you can click on my blogroll, about a would-be no-goal project we have on ‘moon and shadows’.)

*Iluko, the tongue of the northernmost region of the Philippine archipelago I was born with
**Pilipino, native language of the Filipinos derived mostly from Tagalog, the dialect of the central plains in Luzon, the biggest of 7,100 islands, where Manila and also my region are located. Filipinos speak four major dialects of the 87 with Pilipino (and English in its varied adaptations to tongue and colloquial expressions) spoken in most of the islands. I speak but can’t write proficiently in Pilipino.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Alegria Imperial

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August 23, 2011 Posted by | haibun, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

this change of name (to celebrate Vancouver’s 125th year and my soon-to-have Canadian citizenship for One Shot Wednesday)

it is
a matter of spelling
only
this change of name

or am i fooling
the skies i look up to
the clouds
none i can name

the mountains
that shimmer
stealing in in stead
the names

of mountain ranges
facing East
among its jungles
my spirit roosts

alien snow
now smoothers
my laughter
i drift aground

is earth
unlike the sun
untouched
by sorrow?

i hear
from mourning doves
the language
of dawns

i mismatch
evening clouds
in my dreams
the chill stays

yet the sparrow
shares its songs
that seep into my sleep
lull my world

i regain my name
on Hollyburn
where a lotus by itself
on the lake

such poignancy
mirorring my loneliness
soaks the sun
as if enough

i trail the buds
lined along the Fraser’s North Arm
winding down and up
the river bed

the tide cuts a line
between my dreams and the sky
ripples catch my breathing
in rhythmic sighs

i’m scaling the breast
of Burnaby Mounains
my soul resists
its longings

i’m close to home
close to sinking
in the foam
skirting Horseshoe Bay

an eagle skims
my rhyming
my longings weave
in and out of the air

on a skein
of cherry blossoms
once only paintings on scrolls
i learn to haiku

thinking of moths
in my childhood those slivers of light
that die on the light
and fade in the morning

on my waking
i am who has always been
the city aground on my steps
whose name i can now say

even in sleep–
Vancouver

copyright (c) by Alegria Imperial 2011

Written for Vancouver’s 125th anniversary (supposedly for a poetry collection but whose deadline I missed, and also in celebration of my soon-to-be Canaadian citizenship–I’m taking my oath in a few days, after four years of my arrival as immigrant). Posted for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry, the inimitable gathering place for poets and artists. Come share your art and check out a great number of terrific lines from other poets.

July 13, 2011 Posted by | free verse, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

dawn, a bilingual poem in English and Iluko for One Shot Wednesday (re-post)

In the spirit of first anniversaries that One Shot Wednesday is celebrating, I wish to share an exhilarating moment I’ve had when my poem in Iluko, the dialect I was born with but never wrote with until now, was published, my first ever in the dialect, in Bannawag, a vernacular magazine of the Ilocanos in northern Philippines I read as a child.

Writing from the spirit for me is true writing. While I’m re-learning my tongue like a child, I find in it each time the soul of my expression. The source of my anguish must be its imprisonment in the tangled web of borrowed thought and language. But kneading them together now as in this poem has allowed me bouts of sheer joy. I seem to be writing through this ‘duality’ since then–the borrowed cultures or cultures that impinged on my birth or even in my mother’s womb. And my anguish has lessened since I acknowledged who I am and of what I’m woven.

(as featured poem in winningwriters.com Newsletter, Spring 2010, a loose translation in English by the author with some nuances substituted as in some verbs, which in Iluko already imply a subject, and nouns that need no adjectives)

startled,
stars fell in the dark
among leaves
pining over lost suns–

loves
that light birthed
drowned in the roar of the
faithless

unbidden
a freeze crept,
swaddling
the newborn

leaves whirled
onto a fractured cloud,
stars splattered, blinding
the lost

jasmine blossoms
curtsied
as if penitent
shedding their petals

in the palm
of the newborn blossoms
bloomed into a garland for
dawn

(Iluko version as edited and published in Bannawag, the Ilocano vernacular magazine of the Ilocos region in northern Philippines, May 16, 2009)

agsapa

naimayeng
dagiti bituen idi mangngegda
ti as-asug
dagiti bulong iti sipnget
narba
dagiti pinatanor ti lawag
iti danarudor
dagiti agam-ammangaw

awan pakpakada
ti yuuli ti lam-ek
kadagiti di pay nabungon
a kaipasngay

nagkaribuso
dagiti nayaplag a bulong
bayat ti isasangpet
ti ulep a makapurar

nagkurno
dagiti hasmin
kas man la agpakpakawan
narurosda

iti ima
ti maladaga
nagbukelda a kuentas
ti agsapa

Copyright (c) 2010 by Alegria Imperial

Re-post from 9/22/2010 for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry, the inimtable gathering place for poets and artists that celebrates its First Anniversary today (tomorrow?) Wednesday! I joined in only halfway in November last year after I stumbled on it in patteran’s page. It’s been a blast to get to know the most amazing, the most talented, and gifted poets and artists here. Check us out!

June 29, 2011 Posted by | lyric poetry, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

ember/beggang (iluko/english haiku )

morning ember
fanned
by broken word

beggang ti agsapa
naparubruban
ti puted a sarita

I wrote the original in Iluko, the language I was born with but hardly spoke and never written with as an adult, trading it with English, a borrowed language I thought was really mine. Iluko of the northernmost edge of the Philippine archipelago traces its roots in Austronesian language. Rediscovering it has been exhalarating! The truth is, I am writing in both languages now with a deeper sense of where both seem to spring from–my being.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | haiku, language views, poetry | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

willow tree in Pilipino

I take a break from the haiku that I usually post here and would rather reply to someone who got to this site searching for the word willow in Pilipino (the national language of the Filipinos). 

I don’t think we have one like we don’t have a Pilipino word for snow–we call it hielo, which means ice in Spanish (Pilipino and some other Filipino dialects have a lot of Spanish words, understandably imprints of 300 years of colonization). Citing both cases of the willow tree and snow demonstrates how language is deeply entrenched in culture, the totality of one’s being layered over by influences of earth, air, water, living things, language whispered, sang, murmured, chanted, stated, shouted, screamed, written for one to read under flourescent light, Coleman light-flood, moonlight, candle light–how we whine and laugh and cuddle up wordless or word-ful, with what flowers we offer our sighs, what trees we carve arrow-pierced hearts, from what looming shadows we scamper away, what wings we shot down, what edges of cliffs we plunge off to get to our dreams.

Borrowed language, borrowed tongues entangle the mind like words to describe autumn turn into phantom leaves in tropical groves narra trees crown. Red and gold in song  that trail sorrow are mimed on plastered walls in made-up nooks while out on a window in constant blaze, a row of arbol de fuego (fire trees).

In languages like mine born of life, a borrowed word–just one, say cry or sob–fail to bring out how anug-og in Iluko (the dialect I was born with of the 87, one of which is Tagalog out of which Pilipino is derived) pictures a bent figure broken in grief, shaking with spasms of pain, sobbing an animal cry that escapes from the depth of caves. Dung-aw, simply translates as lament in English but in Iluko, unravels a dirge a man or a woman unleashes during a wake. A woman veiled in black sadness has wrinkled, creeps to the dead kneels  and beating her breasts, relates a life story now a dirge on the footmarks which those attending the wake follow in sorrowful steps, sniffling, but some chuckling, too, with humor thrown in–what life is ever without it?

Language is as mysterious as the spirit, indeed.

Yes, I recall willow trees along a highway that ribboned a small town still miles away from mine. I named them but they didn’t seem to root in my mind. When I came to north America and walk by them through the four seasons, their name, willow, took on a breath as in one of my sequences published in The Cortland Review, Issue 39, May 2008 and the haiku pieces I had posted here.

No, dear friend who’s asking if there is a translation of willow tree in Pilipino, there’s none I’m aware of.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | language views | , , | 2 Comments