The Habits of a Pessimist

             B.B.P. Hosmillo

The reason that he remembers so much and I so little is that he is a pessimist, whereas I am an optimist. A pessimist puts his golden age in the past, an optimist puts his in the future.
—Yi-Fu Tuan, Who Am I?: An Autobiograpy of Emotion, Mind, and Spirit


                                                         This rapacious silence
                                                                                                        wraps around
                                                                               our bodies
                                                                                                        at the brink of forgiveness,
                                    so we breathe and sink together,
                                                                                                        hallowed by a nocturnal light.
                                                              Your pointer finger
                                                                                                         writes in the air
                                       “have you a travel tomorrow?”
                                                                                                        and perhaps, perhaps
                                                                  my orderly room,
                                                                                                        an enterprise of my repetitive
                                                   ornamental compulsion
                                                                                                        is telling you
                                                     my eyes have no vision
                                                                                                        of the future: my feet,
                                                                  they are content
                                                                                                        with the hold of the soil that frames me
                              now; there is comfort in my home.


                                                                                                        But like a bored bear
                                         keeping the secret of survival
                                                                                                        in belligerent walking,
                                                                         you stood up,
                                                                                                        eyes traveling outside
                                                                      despite the fog
                                                                                                        a mask of the view.
                                                                      Chinese collar,
                                                                                                        one, two, three, four, five, six red buttons,
                                                                Dr. Martens boots,
                                                                                                        proud chest that linen cannot hide,
                              eyes disciplined to make mad lives:
                                                                                                        I am your record.
                                                                   My body imbued,
                                                                                                        threatened by nervous wobbles,
                                                                        in every rattan
                                                                                                        of a homestead chair
                                           read as a growing caterpillar
                                                                                                        in a consoling cocoon.
                        Outside is the hell of tropical summer,
                                                                                                        my skin feels
                            —there are no Viet survivors found
                                                                                                        in the 1984 war—
             and I have no water left: artificial genitalia
                                                                                                        are my only real possession:
                                                            a bottomless abyss
                                                                                                        compounding imagination
               without which a memory of what became
                                                                                                        a figure,
                                                                                 a delight,
                                                                                                        a subterfuge
                                                            in our togetherness
                                                                                                        will negligibly be
                                                                             a desultory,
                                                                                                        a desultory meteor in a haphazard course.


                                                                    Your wristwatch
                                                                                                        resists waiting
             —survival depends on mediation of death—
                                                                                                        each ticking
                                                                                                        the opportunistic moment of bliss.
                                                     When your body turns
                                                                                                        into a gallon of excretions,
                                                                            this heaven
                                                                                an egress
                                                                                                        and there your face
                                                                    wanes like a sea
                                                                                                        ebbing away
                                                         from every fisherman
                                                                                                        leaving prosaic marine relics:
                                                                           empty shells,
                                                                                                        light pebbles,
                                                                         another shell
                                                                     another pebble
                                                                     without a pulse,
                                                                                                        and these
                                                                vanishing bubbles.
                                                                                                        With your careful lips,
                                                                           sweet thumb
                                your filamentous black hair shines
                                                                                                        like a thirsty night in my mind—
                                             you will seduce your future,
                                                                                                        while our escape,
                                                                                                        in a now deceptive,
                                                                now daunting city
                                                                                                        to a vagabond’s deadly hunt
                                                             for nature’s beauty:
                                                                                                        I am your hiding place.
                                                       Not urban topography
                                                                                                        misses a single fabric of me.
                                                       My body is everywhere
                                                                                                        when you begin
                                                                  to dim the lights
                                                                                                        as your heavy eyes
                                                                                                        the last shot of the world.
                                                        Punjabi long-sleeves
                                                                                                        the color of a sallow,
                                            lolled letters in senescence,
                                                                                                        faded postcards
                                                                                                        “at the tragedy of reverie,”
                                                                        a rotten kiss:
                                                                                                        I am old treasures’ keeper.

B.B.P. HOSMILLO, author of a chapbook collection of fragments in series entitled Dear Good Night: A Yearning Project (forthcoming), is a Filipino poet and a critic of gender, neoliberal heterosexism, and queer precarity. He received the JENESYS Invitation for Graduate Student Research Fellowship in 2011 and the National University of Singapore-Asia Research Institute Graduate Student Fellowship in 2012. He is shortlisted in VOID poetry contest of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Hong Kong’s preeminent literary establishment. His poetry is featured in Under the Storm: An Anthology of Philippine Contemporary Poetry (2011). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Far Enough East Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Alice Blue Review and Nude Bruce Review among others. Currently, he is finishing his first collection of poetry that is deeply linked to Southeast Asia and Desire with the help of an arts and culture residency granted by the Government of Indonesia. His email address is bryphosmillo@yahoo.com.