Sunday, September 24, 2017
IN MEMORIAM: JOSE VICTOR PENARANDA
Jose Victor Peñaranda, one of the Philippines’ premier poets, a recipient of the Gawad Balagtas from UMPIL or Writers' Union of the Philippines for his body of works, and declared Poet of the Year by Philippines Graphic magazine in its 2015 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards, recently passed away at age 64. Galatea Resurrects is honored to feature a selection of his recent poems below, followed by more information about him.
Galatea Resurrects thank Alfred A. Yuson for helping us feature some of Jose Victor Peñaranda’s poems:
LIKE A POEM
Feeling like a poem today
Not as strange as people say
A cup of coffee and mist of a song
Don’t really mind if something will go wrong
There’s no claim of stepping out of a dream
Mornings don’t really mean what they seem.
Last night I was struck by a moonbeam.
Feeling like a poem today
Not as purple as people say
Here’s a chance to create this rainbow of unrest
This rain of remembering to put barricades to test
Recall the truth where roses soak the heat
When a cat misses a sparrow by a heartbeat.
Last night I met Mount Apo in an empty street.
Feeling like a poem today
Not as unexpected as people say
Who cares about turning into vapor
When clouds can absorb you as a favor
So journey far and never feel alone
Manage to get lost in someone else’s zone.
Last night we found each other at home.
September 21, 2017
I lean on the honesty of a window
To recognize the pliant bamboo,
To appreciate the useful broom
Made of mid-ribs from palm leaves.
My mind relates easily with the ordinary,
Expands itself into a garden where a child
Can play and exchange pencil for a rose,
Where I can claim a portion of the day
To rest habits in parenthesis.
It seems the right thing for me to do:
Invite you to share this familiar space
So we can probe the migrant nature of birds
And dwell in the pleasure of our laughter
I shall burst like a pod of seeds
At your bright touch or consign myself
To be a poem hanging on a clothesline
Waiting for you to pass by and read me
Slowly, release me from words delicately...
Find home wherever we may journey.
We are two faces of an old silver coin
Saved from the legend of sunken galleons;
We seem different but peculiarly the same.
Your presence made me timeless:
I became an island to your surrounding sea,
Wilderness to your expanding universe.
Our existence depended on each other
Like the shifting realms of dark and light
Resting on one another in equinox.
Some people said we should be similar
Like one raindrop following another,
But we knew better than the weather.
Having met each other by skin of touch,
Combustible as kindling, our bodies turned
Incandescent, weightless as palm wine --
My memory giddy with priceless history.
As we grew older we turned into lovers
Restless for each other’s happiness.
January 1, 2016
START THE DAY
Start the day with the crow outside the window,
With the morning light spilling from mountain rim
Start with the frost on the grass,
With the mist stranded in the valley
Start with the cold and the ache between the loins,
With pages of an open book left unread
Start with sitting still, a prayer, a blessing
Then begin imagining how the day unfolds,
How work tends to occupy so much space
Start again by acknowledging sources of attention:
Patience from gardening, imagination from cooking
Passion from poetry, kindness from those
We learn to love without fail
Proceed by preparing a simple meal
As I crossed
a path in the garden
my mind turned
lush and curious,
wondered if it
was my fate
all sorts of seeds
from our kitchen,
for fallen stars
As I was about
the door to the library,
I felt a sensation
on my forearm,
a bristle on my skin,
slight and green:
An innocent clinging,
a mantis praying.
July 5, 2017
PURE AS PRESENT
The problem with you, someone told him,
is you traded a sense of security for history;
You perform poetry as duty to family
Unwilling to yield the mystical for the practical.
What's odd about you, others told him,
is you feel at home in strange places;
You find community wherever you journey,
The rhyme in time to commune with jasmine.
He offers no opinion, even when people talk
About the festivals of corrupted nobility,
About a cheering majority that couldn't
Recall lessons from parables or lost marbles.
He prefers to meet the wilderness,
Be among friends who are pure and present,
Who return to the site of massacre
Without bitterness or feeling helpless.
They spend time to teach children who walk
For miles to school hoping to lose their shyness,
Believing education will be an adventure
Even if there are no subjects on happiness.
He elects those who reclaim forgotten fields,
Working among farmers mired in mud and debt
So they could learn together from the rain,
Recover for their children the talisman of pride.
In rich and fragrant sources of their sadness,
In the chanted rainbow of tribal memory,
In the lost confessionals of rainforests,
In the hearts of those who are river to the sea.
He knows no tension when an owl loses a feather,
No strain on rattan when woven with kind intention,
No stress in being among the blessed restless
Those who take a quiet stand and understand.
Sept. 16, 2016
Memory, a scent
of cinnamon and flavor of tarragon,
Lingers where gravity
is weakest and my presence leaps.
I, who have been made
in the likeness of song, embrace
The sadness of sand and stone.
Only the beating
of small wings in the forest
can create a lullaby for stars.
Only moss will dare to care
for driftwood at nightfall.
How surprising, quite unsettling
when someone invites me
to watch the rice fields in moonlight
to free ourselves of paradise.
6 June 2017, Las Piñas
I am morning light
when mushrooms on bamboo fences
blow spores in the air,
divining for opposites in quiet agreement.
I am untouchable, unpredictable,
soluble in magic spells, rhythm of rivers.
When someone looks at me
with eyes of opal delight
I bend molave into a rainbow
to tell a story.
14 August 2017
Morning approaches, bare and golden,
Whispering, seductive as fallen light
On moss, touching without forgetting...
I'm woven into silence in this wilderness
Where birdsong is released from the leaf
By a vow of the ephemeral...
Slowly, the universe emerges from sleep
Knowing the moment when all is God...
Somewhere, a tree clings gently to the breeze
Jose Victor Peñaranda authored two collections of poems, Voyage in Dry Season and Pilgrim in Transit (both published by Anvil Publishing), and a collection of poems and prose on his experience in Bhutan, Lucid Lighting (UST Publishing). He has also written poems in Waray. “Bimboy” worked and travelled extensively as a researcher and capacity-builder in community development projects in the Philippines, Bhutan, Macedonia, and elsewhere.
He was named the 2015 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards Poet of the Year by Philippines Graphic magazine. He has also been honored with a Gawad Balagtas by the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas (Writers Union of the Philippines) for his work as poet and writer.
A committed advocate for the environment, Peñaranda also worked as a journalist, holding the post of managing and opinion editor of the now defunct The Evening Paper in the late 1990s. He has been engaged in development work with international organizations, leading him to stay for several years in Macedonia thence Bhutan. He has done similar work locally, in Samar and Leyte and various areas in Mindanao.
Posted by EILEEN at 11:39 AM