Category Archives: Paperjam Poetry

Song for the Sovereigns


Song for the Sovereigns

Darden Avila

Wear your opinion like a hat:
on top of your head,
proud and gorgeous,
a shield and a statement.
Let no one tell you
that this color is wrong
or the size is silly–
it is your hat and not theirs.

Wear it when the sun is too stubborn
or when a storm is too sullen.
No weather ever stayed for good so keep your hat on;
You are protected by your confidence.

Wear it not because it is fashionable and worn by many
but only when you are convinced
that it paints your violent political heartbeats a picture.
Its feathers will not be ruffled,
like the cultural creases of your tongue
will not be ironed out into oppression.

Criticism is but a patchwork
in world of ragged cliches and
worn-out woes.
Our thoughts are threads
and there will be days
where everything will feel
criss-cross and frail and shabby.
You will hurt,
you will come undone
and you will end up with stitches.
I assure you this.

But I also believe that
you will emerge in the extravagance of learning–
You will wear your independence
like your second skin
and you will not be afraid of being naked
You will grow wings and roots
and you will cherish both
because now you fully understand

that bravery is your way of dressing up to the nines

that there is but one way to take off your hat—
when you’re so overcome
by respect and reverence
that you are compelled to offer everything you wear and believe in,
in exchange of a crown: greater wisdom.


Nostalgia for Breakfast


Nostalgia for Breakfast

The scent of rain
takes me back on staircases
I no longer remember;
Memory, Gravity and Kisses–
these slippery roads we hate but
can never say farewell to–

reasons for rooftops,
warm hands,  lone cup of coffee on an
innocent thursday,
songs about flying.

Blankets of blue
and pillows fluffy
in promise of gentle storms
all of them hanging,
beckoning me
from uphigh —

Your footprints are always
engraved on the sky.

I miss our messy issues.
It’s unfair:
When I think of you
I still think of tissues

All the morning-afters
whisper this clear:
You were once here.

12 December 2010

Anatomy of a Virgin


Anatomy of a Virgin

by Dardenitaaa

Eyes that had seen the nothingness in everything
Tousled hair of tangled nightmares
Sensible ears secretly vulnerable to all silences
Nose devoid of all seductive scents
Lips in different shades everyday, but only kissed by the very air she breathes

Unmarred neck, like a lone lighthouse on a beach no one visited
Shoulder blades that never rubbed against anyone
Pointless bulging breasts that has never been anybody’s base
The navel which was forever kept hidden by the skirts of decency
Waistlines unexposed, hips that never knew sensuality
Legs, too weak from unrequited desire
Knees that were never bandaged by anyone when it bled

Hands that would always be strangers to a firm grasp
Feet that never sojourned  uncharted places
Head, empty of adventures, of imagination
And a shapeless heart
Forever incapable of sweet, reckless heartbeats

*first published in Explotar Magazine Vol.1 2010

In Memoriam of a Nationwide Heartache


I know I’ve been gone for a long while, so I’m making up for the unexpected hiatus by posting up my very first poetry podcast, of which I am featuring one of the poems dearest to my heart.

Exactly a year and a day ago, I remember myself watching the Quirino Grandstand Hostage Taking through the evening news, and crying afterwards. It happened around the height of my academic growth, wherein I was taking classes about Comparative Government and Philippine Public Administration; a time where I have fully embraced the socio-cultural commitments of my chosen career path. And then, the horror happened.

Anyway, that same evening, I stayed up all night and wrote this poem which I eventually recorded days later. It’s very long because I was so caught up with my emotions then–hence, this lovechild of misery, frustration and an outburst of love and hurting–for my country.

I entitled it, “At natutunan kong mahal pa rin kita”, because it pretty much sums up everything I feel towards my motherland. It’s a poem set in my mother tongue, of course; even though it’s not the language I am most comfortable to write in. Pardon the sucky editing, though. And the hoarseness of my sad voice. Oh, and that’s the Piano version of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’ set in the background, by the way, because it’s so appropriate and beautiful.

Note: Best listened to with your eyes closed! Hee. ♥




Four Octobers later
all my preludes still sucked
and still the best feeling in the world
is writing poetry in the dark
while lying next to you as you sleep
Some things last forever:
like your obsession for all things ancient,
your clumsily-typewritten attempts at poetry,
my love for tragic paperback boy-heroes
and your walls with glow-in-the dark crescents
or even my journal-ripping habit
whenever you break my heart.

Some things are meant to be missed:
like our secret Spanish phrases,
favorite French kisses, Japanese food
and random drives all over QC
as we lulled our lives away for hours.
Oh, the things we do when we’re in love and bored.

Some things are too painful to forget:
like starless skies
and awkward goodbyes
and you lying next to someone else
while I ripped journals, yelled Spanish expletives,
and wrote poetry in the dark.

Expiration Date


June is all about freakshow weather, outrageously-heightened bibliophilia and the inevitable hibernation (read: oversleeping). I guess when you’re all holed up and alone within your cerebral sanctuary, you might somehow realize how it’s a sad thing that these storms are in fact, the closest to winter the Philippines will ever get. And you might also be pensive enough to wade (or wallow, whichever the case might be) through your old stuff, and well, contemplate, just for kicks.

Today, I was pensive enough. I’m actually bed-ridden and shivering, too. And yes, I went through a pile of junk I wrote back in the good old days. I found my dog-eared copy of Manilayo’t Manilapit (Gulong sa Bubong at iba pang Manileno Blues), a 2010 Literary folio where seven of my poems and a short story got published.

Here’s one of them, a poem I crafted one humid evening, the September I turned eighteen. I’ve entitled it Expiration Date, for a reason I could no longer remember. Art and Illustration by my lovely artist-friend and school-mate, Isabelle Chiang.

Expiration Date by Dardenitaaa

Straight Jacket


I was in the midst of tidying my bookshelves a few days ago, when I found my seemingly-forgotten pile of literary folios from yester-years. I leafed through the dust-caked pages and scanned through my earlier works, (I became a literary writer for the College paper when I was 16.) with mixed, fluttery emotions surging involuntarily—the jittery embarrassment of recognizing how amateur I have been during my days on the verge of practicing my voice as a poet, and of that serene sense of relief and okayfine, a tinge of accomplishment, upon having realized how much I’ve grown from that silly scribble of thought. Excuse me for a moment while I face-palm. Ah, well: All of us were once beginners, aren’t we?

This is Straightjacket, one of the five poems I wrote which found their way eventually published on the XI Volume of Shades of Gray, Evoking Imagination. Art Illustration by Ingrid Tan.

Straightjacket by D.Av

Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder


Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder by dardenitaaa

Ennui used to be so convenient, until:
my shapeless silences became too much.
Between my messy room
and my empty head, I wait—for nothing,
for no one, in particular.
Which is cluttered, which is clean—
I do not know anymore.

Of the idleness, of the incoherency,
I will always be afraid.
Perhaps until:

My songs grow bones
and my heart takes wings.
Only then will I scavenge the words, the chances,
and pieces of myself
that long ago I thought garbage.



TearJester by dardenitaaa

We had our laughter and handkerchiefs ready.
Your smile was sunlit and
everything else was shadow;
I am a barefeet child seeking
for a ground where i can play.
Your words were cobblestones and warm

and jagged–
you told me you love me,
on an April Fool’s day.