12 Feb

Ini-epic kita.

Cezaruis 2013

Aside 4 Feb



What they have in common with the centaur

And the mermaid is they’re half a creature

Each of the other’s imagination –

She a simile and he, metaphor

He’ s a passage in scripture that’s obscure

She’s on his face like illumination.


Cesar Ruiz Aquino 2013


23 Jan

The Moon itself had shown no sign

it was coming to an end, looking to wax and wane

forever. It came, disappeared, returned

as it had gone, if not quite, being horned


Like a thing unveiled, a birthday presence

within us, if flung at the sky. Then came the occurence.

Everyone was having a strange dream of the Moon.

A boy dreamed there were two. A fisherman


That the sea had gone to the Moon and it rained fish.

A crone, that she suckled a crowd in a nightmare drought

of milk and honey. A chess genius, that he saw her

on the 65th square, virginal, untouched, yet with child.


An electric light thief, that the moon never

existed, there never was a Moon, and so on

and so forth. Each dream, taken in isolation

was a reclining Buddha ride on Moon River


But occurring as they did, together, they transcended

the dreamers. It was an epidemic of dreams

and hardly had people begun to talk about it

when the dreams abruptly stopped, the dreaming ended


A back to normal that read abnormal signal

number two. For it’s one thing to say

the dreams never happened,  but never dreamed –

no one had dreamed any of this at all?


Sleepers stirred, talked, shouted, moaned

grew stockstill as if their doubles were marooned

on a dream that floated, that was pure dream, there

being no dreamer. It was then people


Without catching on, caught on. This was how

the living grasped the end: It is now.

As for the dead, they rose and wished they were dead

seeing at last what the species must die for:


Moon, earth, sun stars – in that order.

But how could one have missed the acronym?

Already the hero of a thousand, he flew (the word

sucks, he had been on the Moon all the time


Had taken no journey. He was on top

of a rock formation in space, some poverty-stricken

landscape of a once opulent imagination

he had some time recognizing as his own)


And there they were, the lost folk, the Moon

people, ourselves in nebula – in the dream it was nebulum

upon whom descended the relief we feel when rescued

though in deeper shadow, penumbral, in eclipse


When he saw her in that cavern without a wall!

She was possessed of a shyness, like a bride at her nuptial

who is in truth just one girl among others

yet when their eyes met, what he was was hidden


No longer – no longer a vortex, like the Devil legion

he was one – he was the one! But a maiden

as she was, the power was hers, she was the power

that fixed him as he was: Child of the Moon


The earthsend who got to the Full Moon

with a single bound, The Man Who Saved The Moon

a child! a boy, the boy who never grew

being the boy in the legend who in the netherland


Stopped the sea with his forefinger, who drew

the sword from the stone, who riddled the wind, who slew

the giant with a slingshot, who wrote the sultan’s new

rubaiyat, who bore the ring at the Moon’s wedding


And could have cried in wonder at the perfect resemblance,

woke still dreaming at the sight of the old crone’s

smile – she floated motionless on a bottomless joy!

but his own feelings were in shadow, were shadows.


Moon people died sweetly. Dying

To them was as honey, as wine, as nectar, as water

whether drunk from some mountain stream

or drenched in from a sudden summer shower.


As ornaments they wore the thorn, the lightning, the snake

as most certainly she did, the young one

except just now, for among Moon people

to stress that the body was a thing of the rarest make


Celebrants in a rite went as bare as possible;

thus the Moon-queen was the one least dressed.

Moonlight became her, yes, her tresses curled

her lips red, her eyes bright from within


If she spoke but a word, he imagined a bird

call would follow. If she drew a step closer

he knew he would pick a scent from a lightyear

away, himself imprinted with attar.


He’d see her still were she to turn invisible!

No one could be that beautiful and not love

life where he came to be – without the ring?

The ring-bearer does not have the ring yet he brings it!


The old one looked inward and saw all;

the young one met his eyes because her glance

was outward, she was seeing things unfold;

the old one had seen all this before, and therefore


No longer watched.  Or did she? It was not just

a resemblance. He had missed it, how could he?

How could he not? It was impossible to see them

one, yet they were, they were one!


Light as a leaf, as a feather, he was gone

everything was light he was not flying

but gliding in space like a leaf, like a feather. At certain

moments his descent was suspended and he was floating


In midspace, and fired by a terrific volition, made

like an acrobat describing circlet after circlet, gift

upon gift, the gift of Moon! He was a moonbeam

drawing nigh, and the night, the universe, was a minus


One symphony that caught him, no matter how random,

no matter how soon or how late, no matter how mindless,

how free his move was. No one was watching him

that he knew, except gramercy! perhaps an elf


Of an angel watching him as he watched himself

while down below the mid-earth rejoiced: All things

are moonlight, even the sun! there is only one

shining in the dreams of the sleepers. For in the night


Once more the grass grew, the flowers bloomed.

The stars fell, the sea traveled. A spider

wove rival patterns to a somnambular

insomniac’s steps as he paced his room.


Cesar Ruiz Aquino


Wild Wind Beauty

15 Jan


Even the wind halted,

gazed spellbound

at your curls

ringlets, rings


on its fingers, hands –

offered (you did not hear)

to retrieve your hat

that got caught


on a queer


a moon that molted

above it, islands


ghost caravels

upon the sea.

Even the wind

saw things


Cesar Ruiz Aquino



9 Jan



Since a merely sensible universe negates God

A lover cannot, alas, trace eternity’s lines –

Not once kept infinitely awed:

Everything revealed is carefully spun, swung  on nothing

Such invisibility extends mere eyesight not seeing

My one text, one rhyme, one love anthology


8 Jan


Fish shining sees the moon.

A Reading of ‘Word Without End’ by Ralph Galan

21 Dec

A Close Reading of Cesar Ruiz
Aquino’s “Word Without End”

East, the horizons and all the learning
Lost. Sick for Siquijor or Avalon
O I could for the sheer sight of her throw
Verses away! Let the Virgins carry

Virgule widdershins upon the fairy
Earth, the same that on the world’s first morning
Left her traces, her face an eidolon
Of whiteness for the chilled blood to know

Or for one word and one word only go
Void as days all misspent for the starry
Echo of a night come without warning
Like a thousand thieves stealing on and on

Love, tongue-tied, is my Tetragrammaton
Opening no door, giving leave to no
Vendaval that, priceless, she might tarry
Even as the sands and there’s no turning

– Cesar Ruiz Aquino



A cursory reading of Cesar Ruiz Aquino’s “Word Without End” seems to suggest that the poem is difficult to decipher, if not utterly cryptic. It appears on the surface level that the entire poetic enterprise relies on euphony and wordplay alone, a welter of melodious and mysterious words without any internal logic or overall design. But this is not completely true, for the poem has a regular structure of four quatrains written with ten syllables per line and a revolving rhyme scheme: ABCD, DABC, CDAB, BCDA. Furthermore, a much closer and deeper reading of the text reveals that there is a hidden narrative beneath the surfeit of images and metaphors.

The poem begins with a sense of direction, or more precisely a position in the compass: East, where the sun emerges and the point of origin in most cultures, as well as a mixed sensation of dislocation and a loss of knowledge (“the horizons and all the learning/ Lost”). It is immediately followed by a yearning for enchanted places: Siquijor, the mystical island in the Visayas famous for its sorcerers and soothsayers, and Avalon, the mythical burial place of King Arthur where legend claims he will rise again to heal and unite all of Great Britain.

The cause of the persona’s bewilderment is identified in the third line of the first stanza: a virtual goddess whose mere presence (“O I could for the sheer sight of her throw/ Verses away!”) can induce him to compose poems which he will scatter at her feet or toss to the wind, as if his masterpieces are not worthy of her consideration. The last line that runs on to the second quatrain expresses the poet-persona’s archetypal angst (“the same that on the world’s first morning/ Left her traces”): an old man’s (“chilled blood”) desire for a much younger woman with the fairest of complexions (“her face an eidolon/ Of whiteness”). Eidolon refers both to an idealized image [It has the same etymology as the word idol.] and an ephemeral vision, further enhancing her divine but protean nature, like the elusive nymph Daphne when she was being pursued by Apollo, the god of poetry and patron of the arts in classical Greek mythology.

The enigmatic and esoteric atmosphere of the objective situation is further enhanced by the deployment throughout the poem of unique words that are seldom used in ordinary speech. Aside from eidolon, readers might encounter for the first time such obscure terms as virgule, widdershins, vendaval and Tetragrammaton, among others. But what exactly are “Virgule widdershins”? According to the lexicon, a virgule is a small diagonal line (/) that connotes the availability of two possible choices (either/or), like yes or no, now or never, etc. On the other hand, widdershins, which is German in extraction, is to move in a counterclockwise or opposite direction to the apparent course of the sun, hence a motion from West to East. Within the context of the poem, this unusual combination can probably allude to a magical rite or a pagan ritual, since the act is to be executed by Virgins “upon the fairy/ Earth”. In the Wiccan tradition, after ritual magic has been performed, a witch closes the magic circle by drawing in the excess energy with an atham or ceremonial dagger in a widdershins fashion before sending the absorbed energy back to the ground.

The penultimate stanza reinforces the persona’s desperation for his winter-spring obsession, which has taken its toll on him, the way it has robbed him of precious time “Like a thousand thieves stealing on and on”. But a single and singular word from her suffices to cancel out (“go/ Void”) his endless waiting “for the starry/ Echo of a night come without warning”, that fateful evening when the alignment of the heavenly bodies becomes auspicious for the fulfillment of his heart’s desire.

The last quatrain is both a summation of the poet-persona’s emotional condition and its cyclical nature. The adored and adorable lady, the object/subject of his deepest affection does not utter even a solitary word (“Love, tongue tied”) towards him. The arcane term that follows, Tetragrammaton, has multiple meanings: in the Hebrew language, it is the unutterable and ineffable name of God (Yahweh or Jehovah) represented by four consonants (YWHW or JHVH), or etymologically speaking, it can be any four-letter word, which in the erudite persona’s consciousness he conflates with love as embodied by the beloved woman, hinging perhaps on the adage that “God is love!”

Because she does not say something, brought about in part by the persona’s failure in making the first move for fear most likely of outright rejection, no portal of communication becomes available to them (“Opening no door”) and no powerful natural force is released (“giving leave to no/ Vendaval”) to prevent her inevitable leave-taking. Vendaval is the gusty southwesterly wind off the strait of Gibraltar often occurring during winter time (another allusion to his twilight years), which is within the framework of the persona’s mind the necessary energy to delay her departure (“that priceless she might tarry”). In the last line of the poem, he recognizes that this is the point of no return, that there will be no second chances (“Even as the sands and there’s no turning”), that metaphorically and literally the sands of time are running out on him.

Tetragrammaton is the all important clue to Aquino’s poetic puzzle, for it is the “word without end” of the poem’s title, which is none other than love, for as the clich goes “love makes the world go round.” To further enhance the cyclical characteristic of the persona’s impossible desire, the poet employs a circular acrostic, in which the initial letter of each line of all the four stanzas when read downwards are actually word variations of the same four letters, the persona’s own version of the Tetragrammaton: ELOV, VELO, OVEL, LOVE.

An important side note: The number four figures prominently in the poem’s framework. In numerology and in the Kabbalah, four represents the physical world: There are four basic elements (Earth, Air, Water and Fire), four points in the compass (East, West, North and South), and four seasons in the temperate regions (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), et al. Aside from the fact that the keyword, LOVE is a Tetragrammaton, a four-letter word, the poem itself is composed of four stanzas with four lines each, a standard quatrain, which means that all in all there are sixteen lines, or four multiplied by four (4X4). Furthermore, each stanza of the entire poetic utterance is made up of forty syllables, another significant number divisible by four, which has biblical resonances: Noah and his family lived inside the ark while it rained for forty days and nights during the Great Flood; led by Moses, the Jews wandered around the desert for forty years during the Exodus; and Christ ascended into heaven forty days after his crucifixion.

It is also worth noting that the last line of the poem does not end with a period, or any punctuation mark for that matter, and that the entire piece can be read as one long and looping, breathless and breathtaking, complex and compound sentence, replete with numerous subordinate clauses, so similar to the inescapable labyrinth of love with its serial corners and serpentine corridors, where an infatuated person can easily lose his sense of direction and where time ceases to exist, turning a privileged moment into an eternity of hopeless longing.

Cesar Ruiz Aquino’s “Word Without End”, therefore, is a poem about unrequited love and its delicious but devastating effects on the besotted persona. For love is the most mysterious and mystical of experiences, transforming and transporting the Self into another realm in the arms of an Other, whether real or imagined, accessible or otherwise.  #