A Flash Fiction Trio

Fiction by | August 26, 2007

Physical Experiment
If there is no net force, there can be no acceleration.

She met him in her Physics class, listening attentively from his seat in the front row. What is there to know about the law of gravity or Newton’s laws of motion? Only abstract concepts made tangible by experiment. But she taught this to her class anyhow. Like she did not admit that opposites really do attract, and that objects inevitably fall, and that bodies of matter do not move unless something (or someone) exerts some kind of force on them.

The net force on an object is proportional to the acceleration that the object undergoes.

The interested look in his eyes made her uneasy. She felt like one of her peers in high school who fell head over heels in love with some cute teenage boy winking at them in the hallway. The boy’s eyes gleamed with admiration and when he smiled, she swooned over him.

For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

Once, while walking down the pathway alone, he offered to carry her books. She could not even stare back at him as she handed him the books. Both of them spoke sparingly. But he would whistle against the cool, crisp air. And he had such a confident and majestic air about him, so that when they walked side by side, he wasn’t a boy anymore but indeed a full-grown man.

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Mandoliman

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

They say he is my brother.
Of dark brown skin and
curly mane,
he smells of brown earth,
for years living with little water.

The first time I saw him
was for diarrhea.
The second for schistosoma.

The third for worms and diarrhea.
He smelled of yellow earth
drowned in vinegar and gas.

But I like my brother,
template of innocence, alien dreams.
What is your name? I asked.
I’m Mandoliman, but call me Jim.
And your sisters at the bedside?
They’re Evelyn, Margie, and Jane.

I’m Mandoliman Marancing.
I don’t know my father and mother.
My older brother is a bum.
He got killed over a bottle of rum.

I smell the blood and the rum,
the future of little Mandoliman

Dahil sa Isang Libro

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Minsan sa aking buhay
Ako’y nagmistulang patay.
Humihinga nga na parang tao
Ngunit tumigil na sa pagtibok ang puso.
Pilit kong hinanap ang liwanag
Ngunit balot sa kadiliman ang aking daan.

Tumigil sa pag-inog ang aking mundo.

Hanggang ako’y nagising hawak ang isang libro.

At tumibok nang muli ang aking puso.
Narinig kong muli ang musika ng buhay.
Niyakap ko bawat salita ng natagpuang libro.

Bakit ganuon?
Nagsimula ang lahat nang dahil lang sa isang libro!
Binago ng isang libro ang aking buhay.
Isang librong tanging may larawan
Ng isang lalaking may koronang tinik sa ulo.

Banana Cue

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Kanina pa kumukulo ang tiyan niya
Ngunit walang pumapansin sa kanya.
Napakadungis ng kanyang mukha’t katawan—
Sindungis ng saplot na basahan.

Isang ale ang naawa,
Inabuluyan siya ng isang piso.
Tumakbo siya sa nagtitinda ng banana cue.
“Makakakain na ako!” aniya sa sarili.
May ngiting gumuhit sa payat niyang pisngi.

Kinaumagahan, nakitang nakabulagta
Ang batang palaboy—
Namatay sa gutom dahil
Ang halaga ng banana cue
Ay limang piso na!

Tulang Tumututol

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Paano kung ang tula ay may presyo?
Puwede nang pambayad sa bus,
sa dyipni, sa traysikel,
sa eroplano, sa grocery,
sa ilaw, sa tubig, sa kuryente?
Siguro lahat ay makikinig.

Paano kung ang tula ay may katawan?
Magpupursigi kaya itong ibenta
ang kaluluwa sa bangketa?
Paano kung ang tula ay maaari nang
pambayad-utang sa puting may-ari
ng pandaigdigang kalakalan?
Maiahon kaya nito ang Pilipinas sa kahirapan?

Ano ba ang magagawa ng makatang tulad ko
Na hanggang sulat lang ang kayang gawin?

Salut

Poetry by | August 23, 2007

On our sixth anniversary
your parents surprised us
with ice cream and cake.
You cooked my favorite
dish and I brought sweet
red wine. We drank
to each other’s
happiness with a dagger
gleam in the eye. A toast
to a long life, knowing
this would be our last.

Mandy

Nonfiction by | August 19, 2007

The members of the Davao Writers Guild regret the passing of fellow writer Josie C. San Pedro and express herewith our condolences to her bereaved family. In her memory, I would like to publish here for the first time an essay that I asked her to write sometime in 2004 for possible inclusion in an anthology I was then editing with Agnes Prieto. The book, Fallen Cradle: Parents on the Loss of a Child, was eventually published by Anvil in 2006, but did not include her piece on her son Mandy because she was not able to return it to me on time after I gave her suggestions for its revision. It was a loss for the book. Now with her passing, she has taken with her a substantial amount of Davao history yet to be written. It will be some time before Davao will find another chronicler of its peoples and times as fervent and well-loved as Tita Josie.

Ricardo M de Ungria
President, DWG

All his friends were there—during the wake in the house, at the church, and at the memorial park. They had sent him off with an affectionate farewell.

When Mandy left for work on that fateful morning of April 26, 1996, it was with his usual jauntiness on board his prized motorcycle. The next time I saw him was in a corner of the emergency room of a hospital as a doctor and several nurses were to work up his heart.

He never woke up. I wonder if he had heard me imploring,” Mandy, don’t give up. Fight, Mandy, fight. Don’t leave us.” Did he hear me praying to God Almighty to give him a little more time with his children?

His life was just beginning, with a loving wife and three beautiful children—ages seven, five, and three, and with another on the way, still floating at four months in his/her mother’s womb. This one will never see the smile on his/her father’s face or feel the warmth of his loving embrace or taste the sweetness of his kisses.

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Me, the Keymaker, and the Quantum Mechanics Bar

Fiction by | August 12, 2007

One day, just as I expected it to be, I met the Keymaker in the cyber highway. So I told him “Hey, let’s go to the quantum mechanics bar and order a shot of neutrino. It’s cool, we don’t have to pay anything because the glass is empty anyway. Then, let’s chat about the keys to the mysteries of the universe.”

So off we went and entered into the weird quantum mechanics bar, for it only has one door from our Present, the only one there is in the entire universe for us to enter. Yet once inside, the quantum mechanics bar peeks into countless portal doors of multi-universes that co-exist with the universe behind our Present door. Rumor has it that, along with the Present Door where we entered, there are other distinct portals with doors from our past, to the future, and to our parallel Present universes. The strange thing about the rumor was that there will appear an inevitable portal that sooner or later we must enter because that portal leads to our Future. Yet, in the quantum mechanics bar, anything can happen, though the bartenders and customers who patronized the bar smugly treated such inevitability as ‘rumor.’

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The Rebirth

Poetry by | August 12, 2007

it was not the sun
that died that morning
but us finding darkness
more comfortable.
we dropped our tools,
dropped to our knees
and crawled back to
the womb of memory
and there we dreamt
of better mornings, warmer sunshine.
But how could we know
while we floated in the belly
of silence and cold?

limbo is the worst place.

in another world,
we were ready to die again
suffocated in this sac of stagnancy–
but a push and a heave,
a breathe of protest
against the bred silence,
and we pass through another birthing.
this one slower and more painful
until we see
the light
again
and burst out laughing.

My father standing very still

Poetry by | August 12, 2007

His face half-lit by the sun
half-lost in a thought that follows someone
from the window he sees his children
faces brightly packed with purpose
impatient with a pet sunning on the driveway
and their mother’s first message of the day

He knows the fine hours are over
the neighborhood cars all starting
grinding to dust the singing of neighborhood birds
then they will roam the streets and the city
will growl like an awakened beast
he loves the beast nevertheless

He loves what he does not have to get used to
if at its designated time and place
because everything moves a little closer home
he says to himself
including those that hurt my ears
and those I have never heard

In the evening my father tells his story
in a voice ripened by his own silence he says
a street is stretched longer
by cars that speed on it
the length shoots beyond space
beyond what men see and know

When cars speed on
they iron out the heavy trudges
left by men whose footsteps know
the weight of the universe
cars have no feelings
they do not understand what footsteps are all about

My father comes to stand very still
by the window late in the dark
when he finally goes to bed he speaks
to himself his hands clasped as in prayer
a day always turns itself in he says
no more innocent than men it needs sleep