Readers say that my pieces are not light but bruised, burdened, bad for the soul. Heavy with sadness and sorrow only few poets know.

Like Linda Lingbaoan Bulong who had said, in all seriousness, that my poems always carry the thought about life lived and experienced so deeply, so deeply sad.

Or the missus who had threatened a number of times that she would never visit my blog again if she ever sees and senses how sadly I look at life.

Well, there had been other complaints bordering on my being a provocateur par excellence of the serious, the less comic and its plain absence.

And so I promised myself to be wakeful next time, wakeful of the other side of life no matter how I feel deeply about injustice, about basic inequities, about the lack of happiness even if we all have tried to pursue it at all cost.

For indeed, it is true: that life is a yin-yang thing, a left-right, an up-down, an antithesis of everything and that the only way to get out of this is to be wakeful, to be attuned to what is there, to what is necessary.

And then this requisite, fundamental as it is: live only for each moment.

Each moment is more than enough, not the long projection towards a future that we are not certain of, to be conscious of that which matters now, here--in the here-now.

So that is what I have done to start off my day today, just for today.

I woke up from a fitful sleep, the dream of happier days looming large like a promise fulfilled.

So I thank the spirit of life, the Lord of our breadth, the giver of our strength each day that we get out of bed.

I go to the altar in an instant, a few steps from my bed, the altar I reclaimed from the books I have bought but many of them have yet to be read.

I grab the clear bowl with the old water, the water that I offered to the spirit last night.

The spirit of life has to be fed, nurtured, nourished.

I go to the bathroom, turn on the faucet and throw away the old water.

I wash the glass bowl with soap and warm water.

I make sure the glass bowl is clean.

I fill it up with fresh water from the faucet and go back to the altar to offer it to the spirit of life.

I lit an incense, the Black Love I bought days ago from the liquor store.

I smell the scent of Black Love, perhaps some concoction of a witch from some place, the witch possibly a diviner of the good fortune awaiting us all.

I utter my silent prayer.

I thank the god of life for this new lease on life, this new day, this new wakefulness about how to live life the best we can under difficult circumstances.

As I stand before the altar, I remember my sister saying: You have to have strength and good bones to be able to come to terms with what America offers.

She continues: Many of us here had to put in seven or eight years before we were able to move to another phase of immigrant life. That is a lot. The key here is: Are you ready? Manong, everybody wants to come here. Every Filipino wants to come here. But not everyone is made--and meant--for America.

I pray: Let this America metaphor remain in the heart. Like Carlos Bulosan, let me see that America is a promise of the good life but it does not mean only this place where sacrifice is a must.

Give me grace to live, o Spirit of Life, I continue to pray. I speak now in silence, total and entire.

Give me wakefulness, give me love, give me understanding, give me a heart to understand everything.

I move to the kitchen to brew myself a strong coffee to perk me up.

The caffaine is good company and it does not complain.

I bring my coffee to my window and welcome the new light of day.

There is so much sun today, I tell myself.

A. S. Agcaoili
Torrance, CA
May 29, 2006

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