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papa osmubal
oscar balajadia [AS A way of starting: A poet's diary is not a daily written account of his life, not a gossipmonger's cup of tea, which makes it boring to read. Rather a poet's diary is a kind of logbook of ideas—ideas that may or may not become poems—therefore, it is not personal. And because it is not personal, it doesn't arouse interest at all. Alright, I retract my words, so let me say that a poet's diary is a written account of his life. But—yes, there is a but, and poets are good at this—his daily experiences are ciphered, so to speak, that they appear like they have nothing to do with his life whatsoever. Something like what Nostradamus did. But then the question is, why on earth do poets keep diaries? This is just like asking mountaineers why they climb mountains. This is just like asking why we need to breathe air and eat Tabasco- doused pizzas to live. This is just like asking why a mother tongue is a mother tongue even if it was taught to one by one's father or uncle. This is just like asking why plants won't give us oxygen if we don't give them carbon dioxide. This is just like asking why.... oh alright, I know this is just going too far and out of the track. Simply put: a poet who doesn't keep a diary or a journal or something that falls into that category is not a poet at all. This is the reason why when a poet passes away, he (may his soul rest!) leaves behind tons of papers which soon become a problem to whomever he bequeaths them, usually the members of the family. They have two ways of solving (read: getting rid) this problem. One involves a natural process. This process, though, proves to be too tedious to the agents involved—the bugs. They (the family members, not the bugs) leave the poet's papers in a room. The room has to be at the optimum temperature favorable to the purpose; it has to be humid. It has to be gloomy, if not totally dark, so that not much light should enter into it. The air and dust in the room should not be disturbed, so the area is by all means off-limits to any curious soul who wants to sneak in. By religiously following these instructions, the bugs are happy; and the job is not just done, it is done perfectly well with style and on the cutting edge. The other way is quick and drastic, yet has been proven to be effective—burn them. But latest scientific discovery flaunts that global warming is mainly caused by cow farts and the burning of departed poets' papers. Thanks to new technology those days are now gone, and the ozone layer is in the best of condition. Nowadays, when one wants to get rid of the poet's work, one just has to press the delete button (note: to know where this button is on your keyboard, you can use any encyclopedia or dial public emergency hotline for assistance), or soak the hard disc in a jar of beer and the stuff (which is formally called "estate") is —poof!—as good as gone. When it is my turn, I will call my kids and hand them my laptop and tell them, "Don't just press the delete button, you also have to clear all the backups on drive D."]

1.

From now on I will keep a diary:
I don't like history to repeat itself.

This is simply to avoid redundancy.

2.

Yes, it is not worth talking to people anymore
but that is not the reason why I keep a diary.

I keep a diary so that I have something to think of
once in a while in between birth and death.

3.

I was born, and... what else?
Life suffocated me with monotony.
And time greeted me with rust.

4.

Today, I woke up and greeted the sun.
So it accompanied me the rest of the day, the rest of the way.

5.

Tired from work, today
upon arriving home
my six-year old boy kissed me—

I felt my withering dust watered
and seeded with new life.

6.

On my way to work
along the street

I saw a million faces
dreaming of the moon

and a lone flower
gazing at the sun

7.

Go! but
beware!—

Your shadow
testifies!

8.

I was writing a letter to my mom.
I did not send this letter.
I threw it away.
Before throwing it, I read it.
After reading it, I murmured to myself,
"Whoever was that who had been trying
to write a letter to my mom?"

9.

An entry in my diary reminded me
I have a 5-year old son
who kissed me one Monday
for breaking my peanut jar.

Children are quite good
at breaking jars and mending hearts.

10.

I have just read my note to myself.
In it were urgent reminders
of what I should have done yesterday.

11.

Science uses math—
Math is exactitude.
Math uses science—
Science is reliable.

Man uses both
and yet, and yet
he is never exact
he is never reliable

12.

My son Lei Man Hou smiling while sleeping!
Is he dreaming of me?

Or maybe of the perennial clown
on his birthdays who is also me?

13.

It was just simply a sad day today.
I saw a bejeweled lady
walk her well-clad poodle
past a dirty beggar.

14.

Another sad day today.
I saw that lady again in the park.

She treats people like poodles,
And poodles like people.

15.

I have just been to church.
I am just wondering if
everyone saw me giving my offering.
Anyway, I wrote my name on the envelope.
God is not illiterate.

16.

On your way to—to wherever you want to go
and you find a flower.
You stare at it but can't see yourself in it.
Therefore you must start to think
because you sure have left yourself somewhere.

17.

Waking up this morning
I discovered something:

Through the mirror, I looked myself in the eyes
and learned why people hate me so.

18.

He has no poetry
in his eyes.

Such a life of pointless
and aimless pains!

19.

Dust that does
not burn?—

Therefore
Death!

20.

If you assassinate me,
use rose!

21.

how can
i understand
e. e. cummings
when his
is the grammar
of rainbow
and fire

22.

If someone, say Death, pursued you
and you reached a corner
where even an echo
could not escape,
what would you do?

23.

Three friends in the park with a pug-nosed dog.
One was a Portuguese,
One an Englishman,
and another a Cantonese.

"Busca, ai!" shouted the Portuguese, while throwing a stick.
The dog fetched the stick. "Que bom rapaz, pa!"
Throwing the same stick, the Englishman shouted, "Get it for me, boy!"
The dog fetched it. "That is a good boy!"
"Chap hei koi!" the Cantonese shouted.
The dog fetched the stick. "Kam lek chai!"

I was wondering if the dog was totally dumb
or just a plain polyglot.


[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages---but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).]

-Posted: 4:40 PM 4/5/09 | More of this author on eK!
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