Monday, December 08, 2014

Postcard poem

This one's going out to someone out there. I haven't sent you one in a while, but I have no doubt you'll figure out its provenance.

[ Click to view larger. ]

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Throwback Poem

Was rummaging through my files and found this prose poem I had written way back. Thought I'd do some revisions.

[Twilight 3 (2002) by Viggo Mortensen, from "45301".]

Beholder *

Gait still unsteady, he stops awhile, shakes off the last lingering moments of sleep, picks up his steps, bare feet trailing gravel as he ambles down the path, where everywhere is quiet, save for the whispering breeze, a grove of glistening beeches, a fluttering carpet of rustling leaves, muted scurryings of some nocturnal animal still savoring the thinning layers of darkness as it yields to the first slivers of dawn.

In one hand he cradles a Hasselblad, that battered black box, cherished companion and aide, spies a vast canvas overhead, readies supple fingers flecked with paint. Aiming this extended eye, he minces memory into a succession of frames, striving to capture what he knows will not keep still.

The ephemera he collects are as elusive as he, as silent, unobtrusive, fleeting manifestations in a world revolving too fast for appreciation, instances too rare for mass distribution. Furiously he shoots frame after frame, now and then shifting vistas on a single scene, oblivious to the observers who gather at his feet as the tide of day washes over the beeches that now seem to cover all the lands.

They look on in awe, marvel at how his feet barely touch the ground.

For he is both collector and subject, both hunter and hunted, both light-painter and point of interest, perceived only by the sharpest of sights. Magnified under lenses, he stands against sky, a quiet light blazing, burning his own hole in the sun.

*[This piece was a pre-cursor to Beholder II, which I posted here.]

Monday, October 25, 2010

This is why

Several months ago I went to a poetry book launching, after not having gone to such events for quite some time. The author was an acquaintance of mine (hey, LY, I know you’re probably not reading this), someone who had said kind words about my writing, seems a lifetime ago. At the launch I saw my old friend R, and I know he’ll forgive me for saying this (you WILL probably be reading this, R), but at that particular moment I had not expected, nor wanted, to see him. R, whose friendship is inextricably linked to my short-lived stint as a "published poet" (I say that with sarcasm), whose opinion I valued the most at the time. A few years ago R had come close to going somewhere I did not want him to go, selfish admirer of his work that I was. Or maybe I’m twisting my memories and he’ll deny this ever happened. In any case, I had written this piece for him, and I hold this in the same way authors arrogantly love particular works they are attached to that they refuse to edit or revise a single word. At the time I had been in a euphoric mood, having gotten two poems accepted for publication in a literary journal overseas, a special edition on Asian writers in English. That I was experiencing this while I knew what R was contemplating, moved me to address him thus (R, you always knew this was for you.) -

Dear R,

It came in the mail today. My longed for future, distilled in two words.

Author’s proofs. Funny what they call them, like it was some sort of joke, some pun to torture us with, we lovers of words, we spinners of songs.

Two words, stamped in red ink. I never would have thought the world could be contained so concisely.

Proofs. That they’re wanted. That they’re yours. That they never again will be.

Was it not so long ago that I asked of you this very thing?

Two words.

I suspect that’s what we youngbloods have always wanted --- some tangible hook to pull us through the long haul, some tenable string to make us want to stay.

Well, they’re here now, R. Plainer than plain. Two words, stamped in red ink. I have them. My proofs. Mine.

And how wondrous, these things I now hold in my hands. The weight of it all has never been as immense.

- most fervently for R., itinerant poet: how I wish you would come back –

To cut a long story short, R did not abandon poetry writing altogether. I did go to that last book launch he had, and I loved the poems. So why did I not want to see him at that other book launching several months ago? Because I had pretty much abandoned writing.

I wish I could remember what we talked about in those brief moments as we stood at the back of the auditorium. I had meant to blog about it, but was unsure if I wanted R to read the said blog or not. I procrastinated and it never got written. THIS almost didn’t get written. I sat down a few hours ago to blog, with this specific content in mind, but my mind found excuses yet again to belay it. But I finally willed myself to just do it. So now I’m sitting in my room, alone, with all possible sources of distraction removed. (If I don’t finish this soon it might very well turn out to be some sort of sweat lodge experience, for even the amount of air circulating in the room is limited. Which is to say, neither the air conditioner nor the electric fan is switched on. And then there’s also the hunger pangs, which I should start feeling in a short while…)

So now what have I got to say? I’m pretty sure R asked me if I was still writing, and I must have said no. And he might have asked why. I must have given a stock answer like I was busy or did not have time or inspiration had not come. I know why, have always known why, and I suppose now is as good a time as any to confront it. Looking back at that time when I was at my most creative, I believe what allowed me to write as much was that I was at least content, and was able to easily turn inward, go to that place that allowed me to wield words. I have lost that place. Amidst the noise of real life, where before there were fragments, lines, imagery, metaphors I used to jot down on scraps of paper or a notebook, there are now hard facts, problems, truths that are hard to swallow but that have to be, to survive day by day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I used to write about puppies and rainbows all the time – hardly! And surely I had written enough pained, sad, ascerbic, or morbid pieces to be considered jaded. It’s not the subject matter that has changed, it’s where I’m coming from – I can no longer go into the quiet and create. I suppose you can say I have become so mired in reality that I can no longer imagine being anywhere else.

Now I'm sitting here wondering how I should end this entry. Back when I started this blog I had said this was not meant to be a confessional. I could go several directions from here, but I won't. Perhaps I will leave that for another day.

A concert under the pouring rain

He was supposed to have the concert here in May but it got postponed to October. I dilly dallied for all those months till about a couple of weeks before the actual date (October 1), but in the end I just couldn't keep away from John Mayer. Yes, the guy's got quite a reputation for being a douche, but I like the music and he is one of the performers I had been wanting to see perform live. So I went with my concert pal purplewalrus. Who knew that aside from being ready with our cameras, memory cards, batteries, and mp3 recorder, we would also be bringing along ponchos that night? Le sigh. To cut a long story short, it not only rained -- it poured.

Our seats weren't great. ...well alright, let's have the brutal truth. Our seats were crap. (My bad partly, sorry, purpsy.) We were in the Silver section, the center, behind the huge ass control booth. So apart from the structure and the control booth people, we had a really nice wideshot view of the stage with a John Mayer as big as my forefinger, and a small mass of people and umbrellas. And that's with me standing on my seat, see.

In any case I did not complain that much about the view. I could live without staring at John Mayer. The sound system, thank goodness, was superb. My favorite moment came in the middle of the show. I had said before that the ticket would be worth it if he played a few of my favorite songs. As it turned out, he played only 2. But this one song made everything worth it.

There I stood in the middle of the aisle, under the rain, and he did this song. I no longer minded that I could not take one decent picture, or that I could not video this particular performance. I just decided to experience it, and it was beautiful.

For his encore John did another song I had been hoping for: Edge of Desire. Good thing I recorded the entire concert, at least I'll always have an audio file *contented smile*. I made a video using some pictures taken by my friend Vinny -

Friday, April 02, 2010

Images from Angkor #5

My filing system must really suck, because it's only now that I've gotten around to uploading more pictures from my Angkor trip back in 2007. There are hundreds of images still to go through, but you can view the Flickr set anytime. This is one of my favorites -

"When I grow up I want to be an apsara."

Monday, February 15, 2010


...was the one I meant to post yesterday. Published somewhere sometime. Took a screencap because I'm thinking it'll be a bitch trying to format it in html, so I didn't even try. Yes, it's probably what you think it's about. (Click on the image to view it at a more readable size.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Digging up an old poem because I haven't written a new one in ages

Yeah yeah, snort and chuckle all you want my friends. I can almost hear you now. Oh what have we here, imogen the cynic posting a loooove prose poem on Valentine's Day. After not having blogged in ages! First off, it's not exactly a love poem, is it? Well, yeah, it's a different aspect of love perhaps. I was going to post a real love poem (one of the less cynical ones I've ever written) but then hah, apparently my files are not in this laptop. I've managed to find only this one. So.

No, I have not written poetry in ages. Yes, I have still been thinking of getting back to it. And no, I have not done anything about it yet. By the by, I might be able to write again. Don't rush me, that will only serve to delay it.

So for now this will have to do.

At the Reading

This must be how it feels they think, at a mountain summit, when all you have is rarefied air, as they watch him, study him intently as if he were on exhibit, on display. He, his face, his body, is a map as familiar as their own. It is a cartography that charts the precise beatings of their blood. He is the shore upon which their stares have ebbed and flowed, have lapped and beaten, waves upon waves, raging and restless, a vast ocean stretching infinite and boundless. But they are not at sea, not now as they view him, watch him, as tentatively he raises mug to mouth, fingers like lithesome vine imitating the graceful curves and delicacy of teacups. Ridiculous it seems to infer this from a man whose mere presence makes every woman catch her breath. Rather: long coarse digits caressing china, he raises it to mouth, the interminable interval before it reaches his lips mimicking a slowness with a too familiar agony they wish to share. Their gaze burns a path along his angular jaw, traipse down the prickly stubbles that cover the breadth of his chin, touch his neck, the adam’s apple that screams his sex. He raises the cup again in salute, takes a sip. From behind its wet rim he fixes a stare, eyes changing hue. They suck in the beginnings of a moan, jagged and strained, pain as sheer as the edge of a blade. Just as slowly, he puts down his drink, devilish lips curling, creases forming at the corners of his eyes. The room heaves a breath, generates heat as thick as skin, feints a swoon. All this and he has yet to utter a single word.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

David Cook in Concert 5.16.2009

Want a virtual concert right now? Here are my videos in a nice playlist, it's of the entire show:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hong Kong for some Mraz

(Drawing by Jinny Wu, a fan we met at the concert.)

I managed to take some video. Visuals ain't much, but the audio is excellent. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen?

Come... dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. -- Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen by Alan Moore.

So yeah, I've noticed. Watchmen the movie is not everyone's cup of tea. Some girls I overheard in the restroom noted: "It suuuuucked." Well, too bad for them. Coz I liked it! Is that entirely because I had read the graphic novel beforehand? Watchmen is considered a classic of its time, penned by the much adored Alan Moore. A few years ago when I started to read it I had already had a taste of Alan Moore's writing with From Hell -- hella of a place to start because egad, was that dense! A difficult read made only less so on account of my interest in the subject matter (Jack the Ripper). Thanks to that I was not put off by the first few chapters of Watchmen. Some who dismiss the novel as just another comic book hero story perhaps never get to that mindset where one can see beyond the artifice and the fantasy underneath which more philosophical issues are being asked. In an alternate universe where the United States is still in a cold war with Russia, where vigilantes, outlawed and now retired, live out painfully ordinary, sometimes miserable little lives, the one hero recognized by all is virtually a god, a naked blue figure called Dr. Manhattan, a seeming sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the entire human race. What does this god think of mere mortals? What does it mean to love a god, to be loved by him? What about the heroes of the past, how do they look upon their lives, their history? Do they long for it still? Or have they moved past it? Where do heroes go to die? Why do they become heroes in the first place, is it nobility or power? Is it a matter of choice? Or are they driven to assume alternate personas because they are just as flawed and damaged as the rest of us? Whether any of these is true or not, if any one of them could save us, save humanity, is any solution a justifiable act?

The movie, as good as it was, was naturally confined to the limitations of its format. In the graphic novel, the characters are so excellently explored that you get a sense of each one's pains. One of the things I loved about it was Dr. Manhattan's musings on the human condition, his recounting of his own transition from humanity to virtual godhood. For all his unimaginable power, Dr. Manhattan still did not know everything, and still marvelled as he reached an insight concerning his former lover Laurie (The Silk Spectre). (My favorite quote at the start of this entry is from that very moment.) I could go on and on but it's been some time since I read the novel, and there are just too many themes, too many details that I have already forgotten. (So yeah, I'll read it again someday.)

So yeah, I loved the movie. But that's just me. I love science fiction and fantasy because I sometimes find the more realistic drama genre too oppressive. Science fiction and fantasy, in contrast, present to us a hyper reality if you will, something that Ursula K. Le Guin calls "a psychological reality in the novelist's way", an "invention of elaborately circumstantial lies" underneath which are universal truths. Le Guin also notes that those who do not like science fiction describe the genre as "escapist". And it is, but only if you do not go beyond the surface. Otherwise, you're liable to say, "It suuuuucks!".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Curious indeed II

I had been waiting for this movie since July. Finally I saw it. A wee bit Forrest Gump-ish perhaps, but let me tell `ya, *whispers* I never really liked Forrest Gump all that much.

I'll make this short and sweet (because I had these notes months ago and I'm finalizing it only now). I've always said that the key to enjoying this type of movie, as with other fantasy stories, is to suspend disbelief. Once you are able to do that, accept the improbability of the premise as a temporary truth, then you're all set. Otherwise, there's a high probability that you'll feel cheated.

Random note: that whole kismet sequence with the taxi and the lady going shopping felt like a sore thumb when it shouldn't have been. It felt like it was extracted from a creative writing exercise and stuck in there. But you know what, I still liked it (because heck, I like `em words. Words + intriguing concept = win).

What intrigued me the most is that while watching, my brain was telling me this couldn't happen, yet my heart was also feeling the pathos, the sadness. Like the scene with the pimply teenager with Alzheimer's just about short-circuited my brain. It was an absurd mix of emotion and rationality -- it is exactly why I love this genre. The ordinary human condition transposed into an extraordinary, unnatural situation. Yes, it's absurd to think that a person can age backwards, but what does the film delve into? Abandonment, love at its first glimmerings, sadness, old age, death, all too natural, human concerns.

And then again, who's to say, I may just have been blinded by the sheer beauty of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, or extremely enthralled by the technology. (Yes, I have researched it. Way cool! Read this. *dork*)

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Canon Powershot G10

I've had the camera for a couple of months now, and so far I've been happy with it, given the expectations I had of it from the start. The key to my satisfaction? I knew full well that it could not aspire to be at the level of SLR performance. What I needed was an upgrade of my beloved Canon G2, something compact (that much easier to sneak inside all sorts of venues, heh!), light, and easy to use, yet can produce images at par, if not better than what I've been used to with my G2.

The G10 is a beautiful piece of gadget, retro looking but also sleek. The small size took some getting used to at first, but I got the hang of it. Now I'm very happy with it especially since it's easy to hold while taking videos, say at a concert. Whee! The audio is superb on the videos, too. Check out some samples in this playlist I posted at youtube: Michael Johns at Trinoma (Nov. 18, 2008). Below are some test shots I did. Not too bad, if I dare say so myself:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

For more info on the shots above, check my flickr gallery. (Click on each image to get the info for each shot.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Still on my favorite Christmas song

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is one of the songs in that David Cook playlist I posted below. It was a performance he did at the Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 3. He sang the song again for a Disney Christmas special which aired yesterday in the US, and this one is even better. My favorite line in the song is "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough" - Cook does it differently here. Whereas at Rockefeller he did it in his signature rock manner, at Disney he did a soft falsetto, and it's disarmingly beautiful, watch and listen:

I've always loved the song because it is both melancholy and hopeful. I have this vague recollection of a line that goes "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow", and of a Judy Garland version. So I did a little search, and found that Judy Garland actually is tied to the history of the song (I think I've read of the movie Meet Me in St. Louis in relation to the song, but yeah, trust my brain to file that correctly in my memory banks). It turns out that the "Until then..." line was replaced with "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough". Read all about it here. Given this, Cook's version becomes all the more poignant and affecting.

In any case, I can't end this blog without sharing this too. Here's the Judy Garland version, watch and weep:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Acoustic Cookie: consider this a gift

Yuletide is upon us and I'm still not done shopping. And this blog has not been updated for some time. Will do that during the Christmas break, but for now, consider this a gift. David Cook is at his best when he sings acoustically. Effing fantastic, I tell `ya. Here's a playlist I made (yes what, I have a youtube account. Blame Cook.) - it starts with his cover of Lennon's Happy Christmas (War is Over), then Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (my favorite Christmas song, whee!). For a bonus, I added in live performances (also acoustic) of songs from his new album (which btw, reached Gold status this week): my favorite, Life on the Moon, then Lie (also my favorite, made me cry the first time I heard it), and lastly, his single Light On.