Naya Valdellon Oct 10, 2008 16:02:10 GMT 2
Post by thepoetslizard on Oct 10, 2008 16:02:10 GMT 2
Naya S. Valdellon grew up in Manila, Philippines and has worked as a magazine editorial assistant, freelance copy editor, content writer for a website design company, and literature and writing composition teacher. She graduated in 2002 with a BFA in Creative Writing from the Ateneo de Manila University, where she was Associate Editor of Heights -- the university's official literary publication. She was a fellow for poetry in English in the 38th UP National Writers Workshop (2001) and the 41st Dumaguete National Writers Workshop (2002).
She is a recent M.A. in English and Creative Writing graduate now based in Toronto, Canada. She loves cats, cooking, chess, crosswords, and crazy concoctions.
A homeless man jumped into the path of an oncoming Metro Rail Transit 3 train between the Santolan and Ortigas stations yesterday, killing him instantly…He was around 30 to 35 years old and was wearing a black T-shirt and white underwear.
—Philippine Daily Inquirer
Black and white—that’s all we know
of the man posted on today’s paper
who bypassed guards, climbed the street-
level fence, and teetered on tracks
like a tricky lie. Between grit teeth,
between two stations, he leapt
to a conclusion. Others lost their train
of thought. Nothing here is neutral—
not the photo of the hobo wooing death
without his pants, nor the caption
calling him first casualty, nor the stain
of newsprint on our palms. Having read
the facts, we must write the true story:
a reason for despair—though loco-
motives rumble in our gridlocked minds;
a home to track down—where a pair
of slippers lies spurned on the stairs
and a bed, that has creaked its last, waits;
and a name—a word common enough
that if one of us had spoken it in caress
or curse, it would have rushed like a rumor
over billboards and vendors, and echoed
in his ears, and made him turn. That split-
second spin of his head is our invention.
If he doesn’t pause, this poem will contain
a crash punctuating his body’s confession.
If he is spared, we will take our places
on the train—passengers whizzing past
the precarious, all of us almost casualties
wanting to be saved beyond this page.
(This poem is part of the collection that won First Prize for Poetry in the 2004 Palanca Awards)
"Fireworks in the Rain"
When the others get up and leave
a line of empty cups like ellipses
on the table, we hesitate to end
our sentences, or let this flow
of words trickle down to one
final drop. At Cafe Memento,
it's never the last day. You take
your time here, another cigarette,
and ask me about him--initial
letter of my ancient alphabet
starting with a capital A. Smoke
swirls in the shape of questions
you haven't begun to ask. Let me
share this keepsake of a moment
with you: the first time he drove
me home, the September sky
showered rain-commas. I wasn't
even seventeen then, nor versed
in the syntax of strokes and sighs.
His car had just slowed down
on my street, when the burning
bursts of punctuation appeared--
yellow dashes, fountains of slashes,
asterisks, apostrophes. He paused
mid-phrase--what else could we do
but watch the sparks of language
smolder into place? The scene
seems contrived, but we brewed
enough explanations, as we did
for love. It was a festival's opening
event, he guessed, or a celebrity's
birthday present. While I pictured
a man with parentheses for ears,
lighting fireworks from that past
New Year in the rain. Why do we
concoct such stories--to find out
why we start in the first place?
I finish my coffee, as you stare
intently at an ashtray overflowing
with endings. Memento is closing
along with the day, so let this be
our souvenir question: tonight,
do the stars glow like periods,
or embers of exclamation points
blazing, blessing us to begin?
Meritage Press/Babaylan Speaks
"A Dance Lesson"
Remember that the earth
moves under your feet
as you dance, turning
in a constant pirouette
even as you spin
across the studio floor.
Bear this in mind
as you pivot on one toe:
the secret is to find
your center strength
to keep you from falling
as you turn around yourself.
And even as your leg
swings skyward into
a graceful arabesque,
keep one pointed toe
steady on the ground.
For you are a dancer,
and though your movements
mimic grace in flight,
you must always return
to touch this earth
that dances under your feet.