March 14, 2018

I was wearing your shirt from that night but people thought I was just wearing my own albeit a size too large or maybe I lost weight and couldn’t let go of favorites. The words we had shared still made noise in my mind like marbles in a tin can and I had to be careful nodding to everything I heard for fear of wanting to text you. What danger had I been in that night that I felt only you could protect me from? You had said sex was like a buffet: you sampled from different sections, unlingering, and on your birthday it was free. Why did everyone want to fuck the birthday boy, anyway? You had said there was something inherently arousing about it but that we had been digressing and I should really go back in bed. I was not a buffet section, I had wanted to point out. Hardly a proper entrée, but your intentions had been left predictably vague and my defenses expectedly tenuous that night. Was it your eyes? You were something and you made me almost forget the many times I warned myself about getting in affection’s proximity. Oh, that night, that night, that night you and I. And then tonight — of all nights — I see you again after eight months, and you see me, and you’re coming over with a smile because you see what I’m wearing and you recognize it. You say, “I know you.” And I go, “Do you?” In my head, it sounded cool but now that it’s been three seconds, four, five, I become more and more disgusted with myself, please turn away, leave me alone, please. You step closer, feigning seriousness, locking me in your gaze, stroking your hair like it was the nineties, your right index finger in slo-mo as it comes in contact with my chest three times in time to you saying, “I. Know. You.”

It is then I find out: it is your eyes.

“Do you?” I repeat, a dare.


Only In Dreams

February 13, 2018

He sat on the rattan chair, his arms up on over and behind his head so that his shirt was slightly raised to show some skin and hair on his stomach, one foot raised and propped on the porch banister, the other on the garbage bin that had the peels of the bananas we had for snack. He blew spit bubbles into one of the lazy ’94 brownout afternoons, humming a tune from his new favorite band.

Once every few moments, he would ask me questions that always went like, “What do you think about Buddhism?”

Almost always, I would say, “I don’t,” and would catch him consider me — a little annoyed if I was reading his furrowed brows correctly — then look away to resume spit bubbling the day away.

We weren’t what I would call best friends given that it was hard for men to use such labels. But who was I kidding, we were just boys then and everything new was everything best. I talked to him about this, asked if he saw a future that had me in it. I guess he always knew for one time he said, “We will always be together until we couldn’t.”

I didn’t set much store by things; it was the nineties, things would be different. To be honest, he was always in my mind but I never thought about him too much. I guess that’s how it was with people you were always with, the constance of their presence relegated them to being afterthoughts almost. But back on that porch that one afternoon was different. Different because his shirt was up a little and I saw more of him; different because he kept on putting his tongue out indulging in that stupid mannerism of his.

I caught him catch me staring. 

“Hey, Edam?” I started but was interrupted by the strong rumble of the power coming back on. 

“The power’s back,” he said. 

“Should we head back in?”

He stroke his chin, frowned as though troubled, and said naughtily, “I wonder what would Buddha do?”

He got up and led me inside his house and into his room. He gestures with his index finger as if to say, “One second.”

He fumbled with his casette tapes and opened one with a bright blue album cover. 

“Side B. It’s their last song. Listen, and tell me what you think,” he said as he slipped the tape in and pressed play.

I settled myself on his bed, lying down, him at the foot looking down at me, intent for changes in my facial expression. The song was slow, deliberate — almost as though its elements were separate. What it also was was long and at around the fifth minute mark, it broke down only to slowly build itself up again to a climax. I could see you nodding your approval from where you stood, and I must have been nodding along. 

The melody dying, you asked, “So, what do you think?”

What I really wanted to say was I feared that was all we were going to be: a crescendo that ultimately built up to nothing. That given all the time, we wouldn’t because we couldn’t. That I’d risk it, anyway.

But what I said was: “You know what I’m thinking.” 

I heard the radio’s play button click back up as it reached the tape’s end as I watched him climb on to bed and all over me.  



December 27, 2017

That night we had friends over, you called me into the kitchen to tell me what you said was something urgent. What that urgent matter was turned out to be lettuce; we were out of it. I offered to drive to the nearest store and you said that while I was there, I should also get half a dozen lemons. For the tequila, you said.

That same night a few hours later, I stared at you while you were sleeping. You chastised me several times in the past when you had caught me, and told me to stop acting like a demented creep. I had thought that you meant that lovingly but one time, you totally blew your top off and semi-accidentally broke my nose when you had woken up with my face a few inches from yours.

It was hard to read you. I would tell you about the books I’ve read in the hopes of you telling me what you taught of them and maybe learn a little more about you. In the rare occasions you actually offered a remark about the men in the books I read, I paid attention knowing that most men were cut from the same cloth, and therefore how most men were just like you. Yet, it was those things that made you different I paid more attention to.

You were one to say only a few words and when you actually did talk, you would quote stuff like: In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. Other times, you were direct to the point like: Buy some lettuce. Buy half a dozen lemons. For ze tequila.

I loved you, anyway, and in many ways.

In between Jung quotes and trips to the grocer, we delved into recreational drugs. We had started off with the light stuff which made us woozy and giddy, then gradually intensifying as though following a strict itinerary. When we hit rock bottom — or high, which made more sense — doing lines on toilet lids of some nondescript club in the defeated pursuit of feeling something, we had a talk and allowed us a month or two of weaning until we could totally break free. When I asked you why we even had to do it, you just shrugged and told me that life was short and that mistakes were often better committed intentionally and planned. I had wanted to point out the contradiction in that statement but why give you another reason to talk less?

It felt true that trust was about vulnerabilities. And you were that and more: the place I feared the most, and the space I run to for safety.

There were times when we would go to outlandish out of town trips. One time — this was early in our days — we would just stare out to the ocean. Me, counting the waves until I could no longer. You, just seemingly staring. Us, in a bench that was much too small for two. I had often wondered whether you were counting with me and it gave me the thrill of my life imagining that you stopped exactly when I had. I curled up to you, reached my hand inside your shirt, up to the stubble of your chin, and buried my face in your neck and breathed deeply. I wanted to tell you how I was just looking for someone who could be sad and bored with me. Someone to mess up with. I knew you would like that. After all, in all chaos there was a cosmos, in all disorder was a secret order. But I kept my silence; I had been good.

Some days, we would both skip work and just look at each other as we sat on the bed in our underwear. We would hold our hands mid-air. I would kiss you everywhere I could and whisper how you were mine. You would kiss me in a way that told me I was yours. We would stare at each other and smile and right there I would have told you how I loved you but I was scared you would just continue smiling.

But later that one night, right before we fell asleep, tired from hosting our friends and a shot too many of tequila, you softly touched my cheek to make me face you as we lay in bed.

“I love you. You know that, right?” you said.

I just smiled as inside my head were sounds of things rearranging. This is the sound the universe makes when it changes, when it dies. And the sound the sun makes when it breaks through the horizon. I must be smiling because there goes my cosmos, there goes my order.

“I didn’t,” I said.

“I always have,” you replied, looking reflective.

“As early as that time we were counting the number of waves in…where was that again?”

“I don’t remember,” I said as I, like in countless of times before, felt fear, curled up to you and buried my face in your neck.





originally posted a few years ago. edited today.



November 27, 2017

It was the fear of forgetting — it consumed me. So at the start, I held you in juvenile affection, baby talked my way through the twists of truth. But it had worked and you responded in cutesy, so in higher and higher regard you rose, until I felt you must have needed the cushion of my failures handy on which you could rest yours when they burdened you. But it ended, and so in anger your memory resided inside my heart, cankered with hate but at the least remembered.

When we argued, I clamored you gave me more than what you did. I would say I could work with anything, how you could not trust me, but never with nothing. Your silence would get me so angry that I would find my fingers feeling your many triggers and buttons, and I knew them well because it was I who had put them there. We would go to bed at war then woke up next day wondering how it was we could have been both tired that no one packed and ran in the middle of the night.

During our time together, I would always imagine you in your deathbed, beckoning for me to move an ear next to your mouth. You whispered words, some I caught, most I had to guess. I also imagined telling you how we had met for the thousandth time. I changed it every other time but you never seemed to care or remember. Once I told you that in an alternate reality but in the proximity of the same universe, we had met at the dance floor. At one point you played a song that you would later claim made some boy cry. You didn’t know but I was there, listing in my mind the expansive collection of words I would later unload on you. I was there at the back, in the darkness of the large shadow you and your wings cast.

I swear I was there, ready to take you on.



November 20, 2017

I met you at a Halloween party. You were as lanky as your photos suggested but the presence I always assumed you had was even thicker in person. You were wearing wings — bright yellow with dark spots. I would later on find out that you removed them because they had kept on smacking people right in their faces. That night, I also found out through a friend that you kept a music catalog online, produced when you were sixteen and when asked by people what you were really about, you would still direct them to those four songs. Long after our encounter, I found myself listening to them one by one wondering whether you had left clues on how best to pick you apart.

Truth was I probably fell in love with you between my third and fourth beer. With just enough moxie and a pound of luck, I found you at the bar alone, wingless but floating, it had seemed to me. I told myself no way, this particular creature was made for better times and better words, but just as weird things always happened right before 3AM, you spotted me, unconscious to the fact I was already next to you.

“Hullo,” you said.

“Radiohead,” I said as though continuing a conversation.

“I’m sorry?” you asked, surprised.

I made a note of how your forehead made three small creases in between your eyebrows; they made my heart flutter and it was more and more apparent to me that there was no way I would make it out of the conversation alive.

“You reminded me earlier of Radiohead’s Let Down, not that you are in any way, or, or, maybe you are, I don’t want to assume you are amazing, but clearly you are, it’s just that…wings. There’s a line in that song about growing wings and you grew them. Earlier, at least,” I finished, disheartened.

You smiled and shrugged.

“I think I know the one, yes. But do I know you?”

I swallowed, feeling my poor fluttering heart slowly getting gangrened. I never really understood why people said here goes nothing but that exact moment, there went nothing.

“Listen, I adore you. I’ve been adoring you. From afar, alright,” I wave my hands, panicked, “no, no, not in a stalkerish sick way or anything. Well, at least not more than what I guess would be socially acceptable,” I sighed.

“And I’ve seen a lot of adorable things in my life and I also like making lists, you know? And your existence has only recently brushed the outside of the bubble of the things I was aware of and you’ve blasted through the top twenty of the absolute most adorable things. Easily number eighteen or maybe even seventeen. Right next to dogs wearing wigs.”

What did I just say?

You chuckled at that and, good lord, my heart be still, please, or it could be a medical emergency. That laugh — bursts of four guttural sounds that seemed to come out of your mouth, traveled by air for a bit until some reached the bones that must have made up my ribs, vibrating so that the atoms resonated the sound a million times until the waves reached my rejuvenated heart, caging it.

“Oh shit. That’s it. You’ve just entered the top ten. We’re done here. You’ve got to know me now or you’ll end up in a book I would in the future write. A good, fat chapter, surely,” I finished, unaware where all this was coming from, or where it was going to.

You laughed some more and took out a stick of cigarette, put it in your mouth, and patted your pockets but I was quicker to offer with some matches I had in my mine.

“Vintage, I like it,” you said, the cigarette bobbing up and down with every word. Behind the smoke, I could barely make your face out.

“So list-maker, what’s your name?”




November 3, 2017

“I’m not even going to remember your face,” I told him; it was the truth, his features were like lines in the sand and his voice like the howl of the wind as it went through trees.

“I come by light of dead stars at night, taking shape, whatever you need to get you to sleep,” he said.

“On days you suffer from this emotional warfare you insist is good for you, I am a good record that plays through those earphones. I must insist you are too hard on yourself.”

He paused for a drink and reaches across the table, placing a hand over mine, and continued: “On nights you are restless with the loss of friends, I am a note on your wall reminding you why you matter more than the space you take up. In weakness, I am your second wind. In strength, I am the ditch dug years ago you will fall into so you can spend some time alone to relearn humility. And I will be the offered hand to help you get out –”

“What is your name?” I interrupted.

He waved his other hand to dismiss my question.

“– When past loves are blind in anger at you — and they should be — I am the candle offering to appease their ghosts, praying that while you have been unloved, you soon and forever will be. I am the promise of again. I am forgiveness. I am the accumulation of everything you’ve learned, and the wisdom to throw it all away. And when you wake up, I will be gone and you will not remember why you needed me in the first place,” he finished.

He pressed on my hand harder, then leaned closer and whispered, “We’ve been friends a long time.”

Then he told me his name.



August 18, 2017

Hey, he said he still jerks off to your memory, hard for your phantom kisses. He told me about that one time you drove out for some late-night roadtrip and near Sta. Rosa exit, you had asked him to pull over so you could do more than just ride cars. He found moonlit romantic, he said. But let’s be honest, I told him, there was nothing romantic about what you did and he countered, dirty can be romantic, too. Anyway, at night he sleeps in different shirts — all yours. During really cold ones, he wears them all, so in the morning he peels himself off layer by layer, hoping with every article of clothing your ghost gets put in its place. He told me he sometimes even cried and that must have looked stupidly profound — an overgrown onion crying at its own shedding. Last night — and this is the reason I am telling you all this — he sent me a text saying he was looking at gun catalogs online as though asking for my opinion which one was a bargain. I replied the same way to everything that made me feel awkward: with misplaced humor. I asked him why buy a gun when a belt and the bathroom door would do the job just as well? He replied with an upside down smiling emoji. What the fuck does that even mean? Fifteen minutes later I was knocking at his door and he opened it, let me in where we had a couple of beers and watched dude where’s my car for the millionth time. And when the credits started rolling was when he started telling me everything: the jerking off and the fear he could love no one else.

So, there. Give me a call. Guns go on sale, too, you know.