As I have mentioned last week, I will be sharing two more poems from Sir Jimmy’s award winning In Ordinary Time. Trust me when I say that it is difficult for me to choose my favorites among his collection of parables, poetics, and poetry.
These two poems, though, touched a core in me, primarily because I know the two boys who inspired him in his writing.
Sir Jimmy’s twin sons, Diego and David have been my former students in the university back in the Philippines. And I have always regarded them with fondness and affection, notwithstanding their quirky moods. David is especially close to me because he used to take Psychology as his major before he moved on to explore other options that would fit his creative energies and insights (both boys very much into the Filipino alternative rock scene – Diego is now into poetry and writing while David is trying his hand at graphic design).
Here are the poems celebrating fatherhood and days of youth and imaginary letters written far away. This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Sara Lewis Holmes in Read Write Believe. Head on over there to check out all the other poetry contributions this week.Toys from Ordinary Time, 2003 Now our boys have such toys as my brother and I never dreamed; Did the same spirit stir our make-believe? Yet outdoor was where we took its measure. But how could I wish it were otherwise for them, and would it be wise since other kids inhabit the same quarry where X-men wage their fantastic wars? Indeed we knew the hot spill of blood, with slingshots searched the bushes and trees, but also knew ourselves pierced where the world’s songs first were made. But those video games, those robots, armaments of glory, sirens of terror, must root their eyes in our politics and scavenge for hope in the world’s rubble. Something’s amiss, or toys perhaps have changed their meaning. In the overflood of their kind, they’ve lost their round of seasons. It may be the same with the world’s weather, but in our time, there was one season for kites when the wind seemed to make the sky rounder; There was another, for marbles and rubber bands, the earth firmer, the blaze of sunshine brighter; and yet another, for tops and wheels, as streetwise we vied for dusty prizes. And when the rains came, and the skies fell with the thunderclap, how we would run in drenched nakedness to dare a lightning race to the edge of time. But how shall I travel to my boys’ heart and break their dreadnought of heroes, and find, as when light breaks, the pieces of their manhood whole? O, their heroes create them, but if they could invent their games and stage their future, might they not surprise the hero with their fate?
This second one is not so much poetry as much as prose-poetics wrapped as an imaginary letter. So heartfelt and moving.
Imaginary Letter to my Twin Sons, In Ordinary Time, 2003Dear Davie, Dear Diego I am on an island called Oahu. Here there are many white people, they are called Haules. There are also Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos. I have seen the fields of sugar cane Where the Ilocanos worked when they first came over. How poor they must have been and lonely; No one could follow their speech to their own island home. There are very few native Hawai’ians; Their words which are the names of streets and buildings Outnumber them. “How could happen this be?” A long time ago, they had a queen, but soldiers came from America And took away her throne, and then all the land. Those who fought were killed, and then many more died Because they did not know the diseases that the soldiers brought – They were never so sick before on their island. But it is a beautiful island Perhaps because nature’s story is so different from ours. Trees and mountains and falls and beaches are her speech. And perhaps, because our own story is dark, We see only half her beauty, and only dream of good will and peace. I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty. Let me just tell you now About the Chinese banyan tree by my window. Tonight it is my father because his love Was like a great tree, but without speech. Every morning on that banyan tree Many species of birds are in full throat, So that now I wonder: would my sons, years from now, Gather from a tree’s silence my own heart’s affection, And in that moment know that once, while I made their world, I had deeply wished, when they shall have left that world behind, I would be the tree to their morning?