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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pure Joy, Sheer Pleasure

My little friends want to do a lot of adult stuff, really rushing to grow up. I can’t blame them; I was the same when I was their age, building a fire under a thatched roof house and pretending to cook vegetables (shredded leaves) in a big seashell balanced on three rocks. Imagine the shock of my grandmother? I got a painful pinching afterwards, not really comprehending how I could burn the house down (as she had said) with my teeny-weeny fire! Not even sure how she found out after I had returned the box of matches exactly the way I found it on the highest ledge in the kitchen, scattered my tools in the garden, and buried the embers in the sand. I thought she must have a photographic memory, a super-sensitive nose, and Superman’s x-ray vision!
So as I pulled dandelions with Fiskars Weed Puller, which looks like a scooter to the kids, the kids stopped looking for bugs in the garden and came over.
Child: That looks like a scooter! Why are you pulling the dandelions?
Me: Because they’re weeds. They’re not good plants here.
Child: Why are they not good? They’re beautiful.
Me: Yes, they’re beautiful, and I use to gather them, too, when I was a child. But they’re invasive.
Child: What does invasive mean?
Me: It means they spread too much and take the space of good plants, which is not nice. The good plants won’t have space to grow. They also spread a lot because you blow their seeds, right? But that’s okay, I used to do that when I was a kid, too, because it’s fun.
Child: Can we help?
Me: Dunno how you can because this is hard, and it’s got sharp claws to grab the whole thing including the roots so it doesn’t grow again in spring.
Child watched as I stuck the claws into the ground, on top of a dandelion. I pressed the extension down the ground with my foot. She could hear the crunchy sound of lawn grass, dandelion leaves and roots being grabbed by the claws. I pulled the weeder and voila! The whole package was out.
Child: Wow!
Me: Yup! There’s your dandelion all right. And what are these?
Child: The roots! Now there’s a hole in the ground. We can play golf!
Child started helping by stepping on the weeder and enjoying herself as I swung the tool to and fro before pulling. She then ejected the weed into a bucket and took the bucket to where I had dumped weeds the previous days. Her little brother had his turn, and everyone forgot about bug hunting. Jamison/07/13/2017


Can't recall who shared a chapati recipe, but many thanks indeed as I was able to make some for my whole week's supply for quick and easy meals - no need to get ready-made ones from the store. Very economical. I tweaked a little bit with S&P and garlic-flavoured oil. Next time, I'll put in some herbs or minced veggies in the dough.

On Mike Cernovich's white privilege

Lina Jamison Quite a challenge for all of us, so much like dealing with road rage. Would we stay calm, composed and in control, or...? As a child, I was once riding in somebody's car when someone recklessly cut in front of us so our driver had to slam on the brakes hard and we all screamed in the car. He got really upset, so he chased the car despite his wife's plea and abruptly cut in front of it, too, forgetting that he had his whole family in the car and children (like me) who were supposed to look up to him as our model driver. I am thankful I didn't start driving with this temper. I grew up reading the Bible, trying to comprehend why I had to turn the other cheek if I were slapped on the right cheek. Later I learned about being kind and compassionate to people who are mad at the world, which, for me, is similar to turning the other cheek. Why? Because these people may be in pain, lost, confused... and didn't know how to deal with life's challenges. They may be suffering physically, mentally, emotionally... and need help. I don't think I need to respond to them negatively and fuel their anger. As one dear friend also taught me, I should always respond with "God bless you".


Today's experimental smoothie: carrots and apple, no sugar added (NSA). Very good!


Today's exercise: manually mowing a fraction of the backyard for an hour. Uh-oh... Me and my crunchy bones!

Tiger Lilies and Scarlet Beetles

My tiger lilies come back every year despite scarlet lily beetle infestation. This one's a survivor.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gentleman Frank

It was a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. Frank.
Glad to see you walking up and down these halls,
Not attached to any bed, wheelchair or walker,
Just gallantly striding in your business wear
As if you knew where you were going,
At times pushing other residents in wheelchairs
As if you were a visiting relative.

You’d stop and chat with me incoherently
And I’d smile and nod my head or ask questions
So you’d know I was listening and interested in your thoughts
Then you’d stop repeating yourself and profusely apologize,
Perhaps realizing your words weren’t intelligible anymore,
Or that I was the wrong person who should hear them.

But who knows what goes on in one’s mind with dementia,
Where memory is distorted and reasoning is impaired?
No one knows for sure, and it shouldn’t matter, I guess.
One can keep on looking for a cat or a sister long gone,
Or tell a story from the past as if it was from yesterday,
Or incessantly ask for directions or what day or time it is,
Or accuse one’s family as thieves or strangers,
Or believe that a perfect place is flooded or on fire,
Or turn into a crying, screaming, kicking child…
As long as one’s treated with love, care and compassion.

Mr. Frank, you will always be remembered
As the gentleman that you once was
Not for your thinning hair and hunched back
Nor your incomprehensible utterances and apologies,
The confused and frustrated look on your face,
And the silent tears you shed.

Oh, Manhattan! (2)

In your maze of steel-and-glass skyscrapers,
adorned by neon lights and electronic billboards,
is your bumper-to-bumper traffic,
with honking yellow cabs and black limousines,
mixing their fumes with the aromas
of burgers, hotdogs and salty pretzels,
served daily to your obedient slaves.
Oh, Manhattan!

These lines I wrote in two thousand and nine.
Eight years after, a daredevil girl so bold
Climbs the highest structure like a cat with many lives
And does her yoga pose for the wireless world to behold.

She looks down from where she perches like a hawk
And sees them “cockroaches” scurrying out of their buildings
For their precious lunch and beloved coffee to keep them afloat.
Soon they’re back in their holes like school kids do when the bell rings
And labour four hours more to earn their loaves.

Slaves, roaches, mice… in the hustle and bustle
Of industrialization, commercialization and modernism
They keep the world turning with a muzzle.
As long as there’s a bit of convenience, there’s no schism.

Amortization, credit cards, installment plans,
Fastfood meals, free wi-fi, endless entertainment…
Management knows how to tickle and stop the bands
From forging associations and gaining commitment
From loyal workers who won’t bite a hand.

Biting the hands that feed you is a no-no
For we’d rather keep the status quo
Never mind the colossal divide that we know
We simply turn a blind eye and go, go, go…

We go run the economy that we choose
As long as we’re given a bit of morsel
The unwanted crumbs of the CEOs
Pay our bills, feed our children
Until idealism one day they let loose.
Jamison/06/10/09; 05/21/17

Chocolates Made in Heaven

You drag your heavy frame stuck in a wheelchair
To the shop where you find real pleasure
By the sheer smell of sweets and simple treasures.

And, oh, the sight of all these chocolates!
You grab two regular bars and put in your bag.
I say no to that. They’re not the NSA kind.
I reach for the bars in your bag and return them
To the shelf, offer you cookies and chocolates
With no sugar added. You shake your head,
Tell me again that you know your body well
Better than your doctor and family members.
You want the regular chocolates.

Of course, you never win and I send you out
With whatever the doctor approves of.
At times, it’s harder when I have to call a nurse
For you’re leaving with nothing but your raging craving
For only one bar a week I should be giving.

You say your life sucks for you can’t get what you want
I say you ought to think of your condition,
But you rant about your situation.

On days when you don’t look at the chocolate collection
And ask for something else, a décor to liven up your room
I let out a deep sigh. We’re not fighting over sweets this time.

Truly your life has been a drag. Too early to be confined.
Too early to curse your diabetic diet.
Too early to wish for the end of it all.

You and I. We fight over chocolates for two years.
I try to cheer you up, you try to be grateful.
I wish the fights could go on, but your wish is granted.

On the first of August your heart set you free.
I did not even see you smile in the summer sun
For I was vacationing in my tropical haven.
Ben, oh, Ben, I pray you have…
… chocolates made in Heaven.

Thank you, Dr. Dimalanta

‘Twas time for poetry reading on DLSU campus
I came because I heard you were coming
Another poem from my mentor from Olympus?
It’s been twenty year; your name I still sing.

You came quietly and walked slowly to your seat
With the usual dignity I’d always known
Despite the uniformed nurse listening to your heartbeat.
I felt a stab in my chest where poetry you’d sown.

Somebody else read your piece
While you sat motionless and expressionless
As the crowd tried to comprehend each verse
Just like before when your “Montage” was the best.

We gave you a standing ovation
And you forced a smile that didn’t seem yours
My heart ached and wished I had a potion
That’d vanish whatever ailed the beautiful you.

Soon people crowded over you with compliments,
Forgetting you shouldn’t get exhausted.
I wanted a turn, to thank you for each moment
In UST, your brilliance and passion shared.
For Bienvenido Santos and the stories of Filipinos abroad
For the prose and poetry of Palanca winners
For your humility despite your horizon so broad
For being the gentle woman that was never bitter
Despite the times when nothing seemed fair.

I really wanted to…
But my bleeding heart had to let you go.
And now that you’ve peacefully come and gone
Among the burning literary stars you’re now one
Jamison/11/13/2010; 05/21/2017

Three wonderful women (2)

Nancy, Donna and Ophelia
What do they have in common?

Nancy was resilient and persistent,
Walking in the halls of the care center all her waking hours
Never finding what she’s searching for with patience
But back to her quest even after a fall, and the scar she acquired
Never mind the wheelchair she had to maneuver thereafter.

Donna was a woman of simple elegance,
Of immense beauty and pure strength.
Smiling at everyone in church she forgot not once.
Her husband’s hand she always gently held,
And when she must, spoke in whisper.

Ophelia was a wife, mother, poet and mentor.
In her poems an enigmatic, burning passion.
With humility despite the name and fame she bore,
With gentle manners despite being our bastion
Until the very end, a creative soul filled with compassion.

What do they have in common?
They’re lovely women I’ve admired
And they all left me this fall,
In such quiet dignity and grace
-- enough to make me love them more.
Jamison/11/13/2010; 05/21/2017

The World of Leonardo (1452 – 1519)

Born in the town of Vinci in the Tuscan hills,
The bastard child of notary Piero da Vinci
With his woman, Caterina,
Leonardo was God’s gift to many a man.

A keen observer and lover of nature,
Thirsty for knowledge and talented for sure,
Soon a hardworking teen apprentice
To Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence.

A master moving to Sforza’s Milan thereafter,
Extending time and energies to music like an entertainer,
To weaponry, sculpture and scenography,
Mathematics, architecture, anatomy and geology.

How did his Last Supper come to be
On the wall of the Dominican monastery
Of Santa Maria delle Grazie?
A genius with powers so heavenly?

Back in Florence, Madonna Lisa posed for Leonardo,
Third wife of merchant Francesco di Bartolommeo del Giocondo,
Alas! La Gioconda or Mona Lisa or Woman was finished.
With an ever-intriguing, puzzling, delightful or dreadful grin.

Tired and friendless in Rome, Leonardo was passé
Not a Bramante, a Michelangelo or a Raphael,
Forever distracted by other inclinations,
Couldn’t bring anything to completion.

“Tell me if anything was ever done…”
Whispered his notes as an old man,
Painting his last: St. John, so mysterious
And drawing the world’s end: The Deluge.

To live a thinker until sixty-seven
And painted a little more than a dozen
So much unfinished, so much unaccomplished
In five hundred years, everything unexplained.

Such Heaven-sent, a mystic wonder
In a manor house at Cloux found shelter
Thanks to young King Francis I
For Leonardo’s wisdom, he searched.
Jamison/05/24/2017; Philippines

She Walks the Streets

Half-paralyzed, she walks the streets
An old woman in her house dress,
Unhurried, in this summer heat.
Whilst the buses dash, the people rush.

Her left hand holds a sign: Have pity on me.
I need medicines…
I walk past her and stop for my purse.
She patiently waits…, mutters a thank you.
I nod my head and force a smile
And pray she need not walk a mile.

I feel a stab in my chest,
Wonder if she has anyone who cares,
Thinking one day I could be her
When all else is gone but half of me.
I pray that her soul be whole,
And her feet lead her home.
Jamison 05/25/2017; Philippines

Four Haikus

Haiku: Global Warming
Used to go to bed
In pajamas and blankets
Now, sweaty naked.
Jamison 05/25/2017

Haiku: Heat
Feels like earth’s burning
Then pitter patter comes rain
Leaves too soon. Fire wins.
Jamison 05/25/2017

Haiku: 12 Hours in the Air
Read Animal Farm
Saw three movies, laughed and wept
Six hours to go.

Haiku: Encyclopedias
Who knows what they used to be?
Decors in Taipei.

Summer Heat

Feels like dough in a fiery kiln,
Sticky and then burning,
So the inattentive baker
Quickly douses us with water
Which bounces off our burnt crust
And leaves us hot, hot, hot.
Jamison 05/25/2017; Philippines

Leonardo’s Prophecy

Ever-fascinated by water’s movement,
Leonardo saw mankind’s end
Through a Deluge,
Employing his twisted and rounded lines,
Showing our helplessness in a merciless time,
More than five hundred years ago.

I’d say the Earth ends not
As Leonardo or the Bible foretold.
But as my skin is itchy and sticky and hot,
I’d say the force of fire would be none to hold.

With an atmosphere laid bare
We’d be blinded and burned,
Scurrying underground like hares,
But the Sun shall have us churned,
Chasing us to the ends of our universe
Not a chance for another world to traverse
Jamison 05/25/2017; Philippines

How I write... (2)

"How do you write?" someone asked.

I'd say lines sing to me at night
as if from a nagging lullaby
that keeps on humming till it's daylight.

I'd say lines sing to me on long rides
when drowned in humanity
tides of thoughts fill my mind.

I'd say lines sing to me when intoxicated
with a strong emotion brought about
by winning or feeling defeated.

I'd say lines sing to me through a sight or sound
like a lei of sampaguita blooms
strung by tiny, innocent hands.
At times too tight or loose, too fat or thin,
too short or long, still fresh or withering,
or just right... and smells like a virgin.

These lines I wrote in two thousand and nine
Eight years after, I’m face to face
With an award-winning writer I wish was mine.

With all his joys, pains and sorrow,
His hairs and tattoos and burning passion,
Gaze at his hurt eyes like there’s no morrow.

He says stories come to him in his sleep
As if dictated by his mighty ancestors
And he, as their tortured scribe, they keep.

I beam and blush in ecstatic delight,
Astonished that we have something in common
Though we’re worlds apart at night,
When the wonders of this universe come to visit
Like the muse Absinthe to the drunken poets
Now I have a master, in my teacup to fit and sip.

What am I doing...

Makati, Philippines:
What am I doing on this Japan-made train?
Watching people in business wear.
They rush in and out at every stop,
Trying to beat time and get to the slippery top.

Bucharest, Romania:
What am I doing on this midnight train?
Sitting next to a local lady in black
Her thickly-painted face creases
With the chewing beat of her gum.

She reads a book in her lap; I, my Blue Planet guide
Her fishnet-stockinged legs cross and uncross
As her German boyfriend waits at the station.
She says I shouldn’t trust their taxi drivers
And insists to drop me off at my hotel.

Manhattan, NY:
What am I doing on this squeaky crowded train?
Staring at after-work angry faces lined with pain.
Tired of their daily grind and endless climb
Searching for something they can't seem to find.

A young couple stands like tangled snakes
French kissing like running out of summer Slurpees
Oblivious to everyone’s delight, disgust or horror
Not a care on board this sweaty, steamy, bumpy ride
Just the electrifying adolescent love or lust

Calgary, Alberta:
What am I doing on this Stampede train?
Admiring hopeful faces of all descents
European, Asian, African… in this oil county
Ready to line up for free pancake and sausage breakfast.

What am I doing on this train, I can never tell
But I’d better get off into this chilly Alberta rain
And stomp my cowboy boots on the street puddles of summer.
Uh-oh! My antiquated Parisian boots are taking in water
Reminding me to get a job, cutting short my wandering...
Jamison/07/02/08; 05/20/2017; Philippines

Fickle-Minded Boy

My three-year-old friend, wanting to grow up fast,
Hangs from the fireplace or the blinds
Then lands on the floor like a proud gymnast.
Climbs the window sill and up the cabinet
And poses like reaching the peak of the Rockies.
Climbs up the shelves and cupboards
Like monkey bars he hoards.
Hangs on the backs of chairs while we sit
Smart enough to jump down when we stand.
Slides down banisters, turns everything into trampolines.

Warned of dangers, he starts showing off --
Landing on his two feet safely, or getting down ever so slowly,
Careful not to get bumps and cuts, or break another bone
And brags: “See! I’m a big boy now. I’m not hurt.”
But my heart jumps like a scared cat
With every move he makes, this little man.

While watching The Incredibles tonight
My sleepy friend, like a baby, sucks his thumb
“I thought you’re already a big boy!
Why are you sucking your thumb?”
The supposed big boy whispers: “I’m still little…”
Surely, tomorrow’s a different story.
Jamison17 June 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Misheard English

In a Kindergarten class:

Teacher: Please say present if your name is called, or absent if your friend’s name is called and he or she is not here. Can you say the word present?
Children: Present.
Teacher: Absent.
Children: Absent.
Teacher: Alexandra.
Alexandra: Present.
Teacher: Martin.
Martin: Present.
Teacher: Samantha.
Child: Upset.
Teacher: Pardon me?
Child: She’s upset.
Teacher: Why is she upset? Where is she?
Child: She’s not here. She’s upset.
24 March 2017