The Tale of the Four Swans

There was once a quadruplet of girls

who were born with wings

These girls were never seen alone

for they had each other as home

One day, the youngest

found a very beautiful lake

but the sisters refused to go with her

for they did not know the place

It was their destiny, they said

to think and live exactly the same way

so the youngest hid her true wishes

One night, while her sisters were asleep

the youngest went out of bed

and snuck out for the first time in years

She found the wide lake so dazzling

And here, she felt most free

But her sisters had found her

and they decided to punish her

by cutting out her wings

so she could no longer leave

“But sister,” the youngest said,

once her wings fell

“If we are to live exactly the same way,

shall you not suffer my pain as well,

shall you not look like me this way?”

And since that night

the four of them had become like

the swans who could not fly

painting by reme junior (dance of the little swans)

Story of the Lonely Moon

One night, the moon disappeared.

It was strange, but what was even more bizarre was that nobody seemed to think that something was wrong.


The streetlamps provided enough light, they said. And nobody needed the moon, anyway.
Nobody except a girl named Aliah. For she loved the moon so dearly.


One night, as Aliah was crossing a bridge, she saw a boy lying down on the riverbed. He was alive but barely so. “Who are you?” asked the girl.“I’m the moon,” said the boy. The boy explained that it was his wish to become a human and now it was granted.


“Why?”

“Because I did not want to be lonely up there.”


Aliah then asked him what his plans were. Discovering that he had nowhere to go, she offered him companionship. Now, Aliah was not the type of person to easily trust others but for the boy, she made an exception.


For a few months, they lived together as friends.


The boy thought how strange it was that Aliah had nobody else in her home, while the rest of the village kids live with their parents. Aliah told him that she had been orphaned since she was very young. Her grandmother who had kept her had recently passed away.


And now, she was all alone.


“Don’t you feel lonely?” he asked her.

“I have memories of them with me. So when I feel lonely, I just think about it and it’s enough to make me happy.”

“Are memories enough?”

“It’s not. But better than nothing, right?” she told him.

He smiled. “I guess.”


The next morning, the boy had woken up early to ask Aliah to come with him to the foot of the mountain. There, he would bid farewell to her and return to the sky as the moon.


When Aliah asked him why, he simply told her,

“Because I’m not lonely anymore.”


“But when you go back up there, won’t you feel lonely again?”

“I won’t. I now have memories of us!”

“But are they enough?”

“They’re not. But better than nothing, right?” he told her.


Aliah smiled.
–nl

Untitled

I write about wanting to die a lot of times. It’s not that I’m suicidal or anything. I don’t hate life at all (I mean not entirely) but I just feel like something has to be better than this. It’s just too sad to think how the universe is so wide and yet we’re all stuck in this ugly, cruel world.

I just feel like I don’t belong here.

Does it mean I’m all eager about the idea of death? Do I romanticize it? Do I dream about it?

To be frank, I’m not. I’m actually scared of it. Call me a coward but I’m really, really scared of it. And I think I’m not alone in saying this. Most of us have a fear of death because it’s so uncertain.
We don’t really know what would happen– would there be an afterlife? Would our souls wander in endless darkness, just floating aimlessly, slowly getting sucked in a black hole? Would there be hell, heaven? Anything in between? Would there be a god or was the universe just faceless all this time?


Maybe, maybe there’s just nothing at all. You just simply don’t exist anymore. Your soul, all gone. Vanished. Nothing left, not even a trace. Your bones would remain buried beneath the earth, but nobody sees you, and not even yourself so you’re just as good as nothing.

All the memories inside your head and all the footprint of life would just be engulfed in a void.

It scares me, I guess.

When I say I want to die, I don’t mean that I don’t want to exist anymore. I want to, but just not in this world.

We Want Strangers to Understand Us

Your reality is different from someone else’s.

You could walk in the same place but see different skies. You could live in one neighborhood, but experience a universe poles apart.

The old man beside you could go home to a dying cat. The driver on the street might be waiting for his cheating wife. And there’s a kid on the street selling roses—enough said.

From a distance, everything looks simple. We follow the street signs, we move in chaotic synchrony. We wear a façade. A model of society that philosophers and social scientists have been struggling to define.

But if you look deeper, there’s a part of us that longs to detach from this world. As much as we want to belong, we want to feel distinct. We want to feel special, at least to others.

Because the truth is, no matter how different our realities are, we also long for someone to share it with. We want someone to step in our reality and see what we see.

At the end of the day, we want to be understood.

But for others to understand us, we must understand them too.

words: nl

photo:Ezra Bailey/Google

Deception

The city sheds its last wink of light

as darkness beams a haze of lies

The parasite awakens as all men cry

not to fear, but to admire!

For men are fools, senses blind;

Reason is but a dose of crime

to the stage hailed by thespians

with an audience of mindless swine!

-nl

art by vaxo.lang

The Shame in Pride

Philippines, they hire you for cheap

and your women sell their daughters

for a night’s worth of meal.

Philippines, they laugh at your diplomats

and steal your seas under the daylight

but your president will still kiss their fucking ass.

Philippines, your Marites goes to church

 at Sundays yet worships the death squads on the streets.

Philippines, they call you

 the sick man and the poo-wipers, and your youth fake their accents,

dye their hair blonde, and bleach their skin white.

Philippines, their dream is to forsake you.

Philippines, what are you so proud of, then?

That Hollywood extra who has a “Filipinx” great-grandmother

whom he probably never even knew?

That pageant where the less Filipino blood you have,

 the more qualified you look?

That Chess player you never supported until he was claimed by another?

Philippines, what can you be so proud of,

when your people make themselves a joke?

***

Faux pride will not do anything except probably worsen it by making it appear how famished we are for validation.

First world countries don’t give a damn about it. They have real sources of pride: their technology, economy, cultural values, and good governance. I hope one day, the Philippines will boast something it can truly be proud about.

Dore’s Waltz

Papa, the smell of juniper and mint lingered

on your breath

as you pecked me on the cheeks

your beard pressing like rugged pavements

You said, shh don’t let mama know

You buried your face on the pillows

the empty bottle bursting into smithereens, the stars blinking

Then there were footsteps, like drum beats

without a rhythm

a loud gasp, a bobcat screeching

a fox gone hysterical

Shh, you whispered, curses showered on your back

off to your dreamland, you once said

cause wars were not meant for little girls

but I heard them anyway

inspired by My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roetzke

Famished

The sun is famished

Slightly euphoric

The greens have fainted

Nights,

           Metamorphic

A sinking horizon

Hamlet looming

A stale visit

mocking of a Raven

Madness

a mirror stain

phantom and flesh

wooing a moonless stage

The rivers wilt

the dark reaps

a silent woodland,

sculpting a cliff.

Emptiness


Emptiness.

It’s your eyes glued to the ceiling, watching the moths dance around the flickering bulb as your back sinks under the cold, heavy duvets.
It’s the paralysis, stuck in a hypnosis.
It’s the inactivity; a prologue of some goddamn eulogy.

But sometimes, it isn’t.
Sometimes, it’s the restlessness.
Sometimes, it’s you fidgeting behind a desk, your fingers tapping over the rim of a coffee cup gone cold.


It’s your pulse chasing a storm and riding a tremor.


It’s staying up until the wee hours, testing how much longer your lids can stay open, and cursing the moon for being too bright.
It’s filling, and failing, an insatiable thirst.
It’s tiring out your bones and driving your sanity to the edge.
It’s the frustrated sigh.


It’s you pushing the volume of the headphones up, letting the music blast until your ears bleed out, hoping to mute the voices.


After all, emptiness can be too loud.

—nl

Photo: @merymaglionico