Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Fine Day (Grief Subverted)

In g-mail chat, he asks
"How are you my friend?"
Shall I tell him like it is?

That I woke up late
To alien lethargy
Limped to the kitchen
And found we ran out of coffee?
That I called out to trusty Ate Owet
Scrambling for my purse
Until silence reminded me she climbed
Bus and ferry
To splurge a year's wages
On a fiesta by the sea?

That before I finished the cup
That passed for cafe latte
The phone rang and a message said
An old friend
Single, childless, frail, and lonely
Passed away last night
From a heart attack, the doctors say
(But virtually from a broken heart)?

That after checking text after text
The news was neither joke nor hoax
I took the guilt road welltravelled
Counting the times I didn't have time
To hug-talk the precious hapless
Who looked for love
In all the wrong places?

That I rode cold car on way to chilly office
Past the raving village idiot
Shaking his fist at imaginary foes.
Past a committee of beggars
Jostling like the children they are.
Past a megaphone blaring
Thanks to all for trust and votes
As inside a lump grows
Where my sorrow resides?

In g-mail chat at the office
He repeats: "How are you my friend?"
I smile and say I'm fine.


Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Anna. I'm sorry to hear that your old friend has passed away. I hope that your friend will find happiness in the after life.

Leah said...

Hi Anna,
So sorry to hear about your friend. I said 3 Hail Mary's for his soul.
Funny how we always ask "How are you ?" and do we really want to hear if someone is not fine. When you are fine, so will I be kind of thing. Somehow, the sadness and un-fine-ness of others can rub off.
So let's just say hello or hi when we want to greet someone. Unless we really care enough to hear how someone is doing.

auee said...

You made me cry. I'm sorry for your loss. What you see as a guilt for not spending an hour or two with your friend, made me think really hard about my friends. I don't neglect them as email made it easier to pretend you're in touch with a forwarded mail. But some have problems as big as mine and yet I haven't found the time to call & hear them out. I will now.

Yes when we're casually asked how we are, we are expected to say "okay". Can the counterparty handle the truth anyway?

Gina said...

Hoping that after you've grieved, you will be fine. Life is too short to be lived with regrets. As we learn from past shortcomings and mistakes, we become better persons and that's what matters.

exskindiver said...

your poetry spoke to me.
the subtle sharing of your feelings compels me to dig deeper into myself--instead of turning away and pretending i didn't feel anything.
poetry rarely does that to me.

sexy mom said...

how are you my friend?
the downside of g-chat/g-friendship. there with just the click of a button/a mouse, so convenient. but does one feel all? see all?
i can say "i'm fine, thank you, and how are you?"
sometimes cold, sometimes all for the sake of courtesy to answer back a greeting
but once friendships have developed, the cold "i am fine" will not be interpreted that way. one sees through and feels through what the other is feeling at that very moment, and one lingers for more talk. and that is friendship.
thanks, Annamanila, for the friendship, which i cherish!

Belle TH said...

anna, so sorry to hear about your loss. when my mother died, i relayed the message to a friend of mine through simple poetry. take care dear anna.

houseband00 said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, Anna.

I also feel sorry for the grief you are going through. We all regrettably wish that we were there by a loved one's side when he or she goes.

Hang in there.


Dear Anna,
I didn't realize when you were consoling me, you have your own sorrow. Thanks for the soothing words. I really appreciate it and we don't even know each other personally. Blessed this mind which invented blogging as there is now more space for sharing despite distance. May the muse keeps on kissing you

diogenes said...

Are you a fiction writer? Why I ask is because reading your post the line between life and fiction seem to be blurring. We human bear the loss and move on. There is no other way. Is there?

BTW, we can all share what is actually happening to us. That helps. No?

sheilamarie said...

oh Anna, I'm so sorry to hear that =(

vernaloo said...

my condolences Anna...

Anyway are really a great writer...I can't write something like that.

rhodora said...

This is soo wonderfully written, Anna!

I'm sorry about your friend. I too, once had a friend who passed away. He hanged himself. How I wished I was able to talk to him before he committed that drastic move. I could have talked him out of his problem, and who knows, talking to him could have made the difference.

Hope you are feeling better now, my friend! *Hugs*:)

julie said...

As poetic as always.

How sad it feels to lose someone we know, we love. As people say, only when someone is gone do we realize the kinds words and loving hugs we should have said and done were not going to be heard and felt.

I just hope you are ok, Annamanila.

dimaks said...

indeed, it is time, and we should make the most of it

the philosphical bastard said...


mitsuru said...


lazarus said...

very nice poem!

even if we're sad or hurt inside, we still smile and say, "I'm fine". The reply may seem to be a cliche. Had he followed it up or looked deeper into our eyes, we could have told more, or shed tears. But we stop and just swallow the lump on our throats.

Thanks for sharing! And I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

ladycess said...


ang galing ng poem mo. :) this reminds me of a post from jim paredes. sabi niya, there are times people would ask you how are you. and for a while there, youre stumped, youre suddenly flooded with so much info, but then, would this person really want to hear about that, or would this person rather hear the customary "fine, thanks." and even if it seems the person is genuinely interested, do you really want to talk about stuff. it happens often to me too. ayan, nangyari din sa iyo. thats why blogs are great :) o ayan, at least for now, we know that youre fine, not fine as in great, but fine as in just getting by.

ay, may 16 pa pala ito. i hope youre better now.

sasha said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, tita. I hope he/she rests in peace.

Alam mo, we're all kinda like this sa poem mo. We really want to tell the real state we're in but would suddenly change our minds thinking if the person asking really cares. And do we really want to dump our sorrows to someone else who's just being polite and making small talk? :)

Btw, tita, may announcement na ako :)

Happy weekend!

pining said...

so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend...
your poem is so sad, but beautiful at the same time...

Major Tom said...

So eloquent wordplay here...I enjoyed it a lot. Although I am so sorry to hear bout your friend...

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Anna. Read your message for me through Sheila Marie. Thank you for taking time to visit me. I'm sorry about the problem with my comment link. It's been stressing me too. I'm finding ways to revert back to the old blogger comment link but there were some codes I earlier erased and now I can't figure out how to retrieve them. Life! I promise to let you know as soon as I fix my commenting service. Take care!

snglguy said...

I'm sorry for your friend, anna. In a way, your friend's story might as well be my own...

Rolly said...

Taking off from your sadness:

"The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled by the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the world wags and who wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear of distrust, and never dream of regret.

- T. H. White, The Once and Future King

SASSY MOM said...

Condolence, Anna!

You really write so well ...

By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and supporting my BIL. Hopefully, he'll make it!

ladycess said...

hi am, also known as myrna co :) you were featured in cathy babao-gulla's article in the inquirer (together with other pmn moms like noemi, connie, t. julie, etc). so thats how i found out your name. your beautiful header was there! oh im so kilig for you :) and thanks for your message on my tagboard.

ladycess said...

ah.. you mean, yung sa iyo header lang, yung sa kanila, the whole page? pero ang laki ng header mo dun ha. bina-browse ko pa lang yung article header mo agad ang nakita ko :)
been trying to add you on gmail, kaya lang, parang napaka-strict daw ng settings sa computer ko ayaw mag-add ng contact :) anyway, my gmail add is cmpapas.
limitado nga ang tagboard. you have to cut your messages.

anna said...

Lady Cess!

LOL! What I meant was when i turned to the continuation page of Cathy's write up(where most of the blogpage photos were) -- I didn't see ode2old immediately. I saw Noemi's, Julie's, Connie's blogphotos. But not mine ... simply because it was so big and in a way out of place! I was looking at the page for a long time, disappointed. LOL And I was wondering why people were texting congratulations. i was going -- 'what for?' ay naku.

I am -- i dunno -- duh, a big duh. That or it must be true our eyes sometimes miss the big ones. hehe Eh ako lang yata yung hindi nakakita ... samantalang memorize ko na yata ang bawat pixel ng header ko.

anna said...


Thanks to all who felt for me and said so with condolences and sympathies.

I am not really sad for my friend who's now safer and happier than anyone of us down here could ever be. I am sad for those who are left behind, including me who has a baggage of could-haves and would-haves.

This will pass of course. But as ROLLY says, I should not let the sadness pass without picking up something or other.

And SINGL, I suppose this is a classic story of wrong choices .. but who knows what is happening in heart of hearts. And you ... you got a lot of things going for you. Shall i count the ways. haha obvious naman you're productive and talented and a fine writer and observer of events. You're fine. Sige na, approach mo na.

anna said...

Sexy Mom!

I didn't know we would be friends too, kasi I hesitate to be friends with those sexier than me. LOL joke We really hit it off, didn't we? And I know how kind and sincere you are!


Why is it that your writing is uncannilylike poetry? I am tickled that my prosaic poetry "spoke" to you.

anna said...

Verna,Rhoda. Major Tom, Bituin, Pining, Sassymom, Lazarus!

Thanks for the good words about my poem for my friend. It really began as prose. I wasn't happy with the way it read. And I was at that time poetry-inclined, with Bituing Marikit's tula reverberating. So I restructured it. Ayun. Mabuti naman nakapasa sa mga kritiko. Kritiko nga ba -- kay babait.

anna said...


I can't read between the three dots. Knowing you're a fine poet, i do not want to know what's really there. haha joke

Philosophical bastard!

Ah yes.

anna said...

Leah and Auee!

A friend really said "how are you" that morning. And I let it hang for a while .. and then finally said 'fine.'

Maybe it's really me who have trouble telling other people my troubles.

This friend was sad that I didn't trust him enough with my grief/guilt.

anna said...


Di ko gets.

Delighted to see you.

anna said...


Your comment is a simple summary of the quote about learning from sadness that Rolly sent. Ty

anna said...

Julie, Sheilamarie!

Thanks. When I say I am fine now, I think I mean it. Just ... sad. a kind of brooding sadness that doesn't really make me dysfunctional.

anna said...


The line is blurred, isn't it. I guess that is my style of writing. I don't say too explicitly the thought but in roundabout ways. haha

Sometimes, it takes me a bit of time to unfreeze.

Gypsy said...

Hi Anna
Sorry to hear about your friend.
I sometimes do wonder about the "I'm fine" replies I get from friends to my "How are you's." I wonder how many are really fine. But I understand.I do say that,too, sometimes--even when I am not.

niceheart said...

Very nice poem. I am so sorry to hear about your friend.

Last week, I also heard about a high school classmate's death. Died in his sleep. We had a heart ailment. The classmate who told me about his death only had good things to say about him. I wasn't really close to this classmate in high school and I felt like I never really got to know him. And I felt kind of sad because of that.

niceheart said...

I mean, "He had a heart ailment."

amgine said...

aawww so sad. =(

Annamanila said...


Thanks for the good word about my poetry. Sometimes, when you can't express explicitly, a poem, even a trying hard one, is better.

Annamanila said...


Oo nga eh. ty for sympathy.

Toe said...

First of all, congratulations on your mention at the Inquirer.

When you mentioned in my blog that uso yung tula, and then I read this poem... naku naman, ang layo naman nito sa kalokohan ko about my bulutong. :) This is beautiful Annamanila! I'm so sorry about your friend.

Annamanila said...


Did you see my header (the one dimaks designed) at pdi? I almost missed it.

Cute nga ng bulutong poem mo. Nakaka-harhar (taking off from Verna LOL). Sa tutuo, si bituin marikit nag-inspire sa akin mag-blog patula. dami talagang pwedeng gawin sa blog ano? we're only limited by our imagination.

You and honey both okay na?

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