climb

a few things...

the other week, a neighbor came to the house carrying a baby and a pair of scissors. i don’t remember having met her in the past, and for some strange reason, i don’t really fraternize with many of those who live in our community, although my mom seems to be very friendly with nearly everyone. she’s called a variety of things, like ‘nang, ‘nay, ate, tita, mommy, etc. so my mom called me and said someone was going to ask a favor from me, and i wondered whether i had acquired a reputation as a hair stylist for infants. the neighbor explained that it was her daughter’s first birthday and that it’s their belief that the child would grow up smart if a really smart person would cut some hair from the baby, which would in turn be kept inside the pages of a book. how they came to the rather hasty conclusion that i am a smart person, or that i am any good with scissors, i haven’t the slightest idea, but i laughed off the thought and the silly superstition, and said something like, “totoo ba yan?” she insisted it was, and called her son, who i think is more than 3 years of age, and said that i did the same thing on his first birthday. the boy is apparently a loquacious little kid, and they’ve interpreted this as early signs of above-average intelligence. what’s funny is that i don’t recall having done it, but i took out a lock from the sweet little child, and the neighbor already had a book ready. i think it was a tagalog romance novel. i do hope the poor choice of book would have no effect on the child’s reading preference.

* * *


i received a friendster message from francis today, and he was asking me if i could “teach” him to write poems. he asked about rhyme and meter, and whether a stanza had a fixed number of syllables. it’s not a totally silly question, but ever since i started seriously writing poetry, i’ve discarded most of these traditional notions, paying greater attention to how the words sound when they are said, rather than deliberately forcing succeeding stanzas to end in a rhyme. free verse notwithstanding though, i think i’ve written poems with a rather intentional musical quality about them, without however having to be constricted by form. not that i think traditional forms of poetry are bad, except that if you can’t rhyme the way dylan thomas and william blake and robert frost do, it’s better you turn your creative energies at free verse. and i’ve always believed that writing free verse isn’t all about cutting up a sentence at certain places. like i said, i think even without rhyming, you still have to be graceful.

having said those things, i would rather tell francis to read poetry, rather than tell him that this is how you write a poem. and when i say poetry, i don’t mean joyce kilmer’s “trees”. i mean works by auden, cummings, neruda, shakespeare, roethke, ginsberg, etc. writing is not unlike most things that need practice and exercise. and like most things, you need sustenance, so reading better authors makes sure you get better nutrition.

what troubles me though about francis’s query is whether i’m in a position to actually share anything remotely literary with him. in spite of my creative writing background, it has been ages since i last wrote -- or attempted to write -- poetry. the last one, i think, if i am not mistaken, was written during my first week in law school. i’d published a few at the time, but they were written during the year before i committed literary suicide. i still keep notebooks and loose pages of some early drafts. many of these poems will likely never be finished, and remain mere fragments. i do hope i can get to write again, and i do hope francis takes this seriously.

now where did i put those notebooks?
I should ask you to write a love poem of sorts if and when I decide to court someone in the future... HAHAHAHA.
of being loquacious
(Anonymous)
God Alman, you could've just said "I can't answer your question"...
... and to those two kids whose fate is to grow up garrulous because their mother had you cut their hair on their first birthday... God help them :)

-Francis
Re: of being loquacious
well francis, i didn't say "i can't answer your question" because i am in fact in a position to answer it. maybe not directly, just as i had explained, but at least, i can provide some guidance.

and those kids... well, it was their good fortune i cut their hair on their first birthdays. hehe. :D