Sepia

[Poetry]
by John Patrick O. Chang

 

We were never gentle.
We were tumultuous and fiery and always wild
with passion suffocating the walls of our veins

lacerating euphoria free from each strand
so much that when you walk into the room
your steps become wrought-iron shoes

banging on cobblestones arrayed in such orderly manner
paving way to the trembling chambers of my heart;
so much that when I swivel against your beating chest

I try to hold it down and bottle up those milliseconds
just like we all want to bottle up the most perfect of sunsets
of bloody tangerine bed sheets and bruised, coral lips and bloodshot eyes

and fingertips from too much suman and asukal
or more than the right amount of fermented wine —
my mother believed my excuse for coming in at dawn

despite my tempered gait from the relentless pain
of your gluttonous claws against the skin of my back
and between my thighs. I wanted to bottle up your heart

and feed it stardust and timelessness so that finally
the world will never have to wonder why after all
these years we were never gentle; we were resilient

against wars and dynasties and tragedies alike.
Darling, we were never gentle; we were loud
and historical and life-eternal.

Darling, we are alive.

 


 

Roots

[Poetry]
by John Patrick O. Chang

 

Was is what we say when those we love are gone — such as,
Manuel was a good man. He was the type to live off the measureless
land of the brave with no penny in his pocket but purpose in his

poor heart. He moved with motivation to see what the new sun
brought each blusterous morning in every new town that would
become every old town by the night fall. And I loved him, my

mother’s father. Because he kept his mind in motion with sights and
smells and sounds that I can write about but never know — not the way
that he knew, or Celine knew— she, his wife, my mother’s mother —

whom he met at twenty-one and married quickly, yet loved slowly.
They ambled together for over fifty years. Love, he was always telling me,
is something you just have to have. And I watched him all my young years

as he smoked packs of unfiltered Marlboro Reds he kept in his left
t-shirt pocket, as he took me to Roy’s on the first Saturday of each month
for a buzz cut, as he told me stories of his wandering days and the

wondering moments that brought him to wake each morning that would
compel him to move on to the next town, to see what it was all about —
he was chasing love. And he found it in Celine — she was his beauty,

with hair as dark as the bottom of the ocean. She grounded him, tamed
the husky traveler as no town was able to do. She would make him coffee
in the morning before leaving for Jeannette Glass, would kiss his forehead

in the evening before putting beef rending on the table, would cover him
with a multi-colored T’nalak cloth when he fell asleep on the sofa during Johnny
Carson — because she loved that man as much as he loved his journey

to find her. It turned out that your grandmother was the trip. That thought
lingered with me years after he said it. It lingered when I heard about
the rain-soaked turnpike west of Atlantic City; it lingered when I heard

of the overturned semi carrying Australian beef; it haunted me when I
learned of their minivan crashing into it at sixty miles per hour. But it
comforted me when I learned that the dead parade of lovers with Manuel

holding her hand, so that they may travel together to spaces the empyreal
dark cannot touch for as long as the stars burn in the skies over
the measureless land of the brave, and everywhere.

 


 

 

John Patrick O. Chang John Patrick O. Chang was born on August 18, 1996 in Zamboanga City. He was raised in Jolo, Sulu by his loving parents alongside his three siblings to which he is the youngest. At an early age, he dreamt of changing the world on his own little ways. Presently, he is enrolled at the Silliman University Medical School in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. Now, at the age of 24, he aspires to finish his medical degree and become a licensed physician so he can go back to his hometown and serve as an extension of God’s healing hands here on Earth and influence people to chase their dreams just like the way he did.