Living with the Black Dog


(For the Bukas Puso at Isip Family Support Group)

The world is a witness how I tame the Black Dog,
how I befriend it at night when the stars connive
with the moon to devise a plot against me,
seeking revenge that insomnia accompanies me
as I become intoxicated with a passion
greater then Romeo and Juliet’s or Antony
and Cleopatra’s; I inhale sadness each morning
when the tug of war between reluctance
and my medicines, Valpros and Risperidone,
is the only setting in my mind, sometimes,
I forget to take a bath or brush my teeth for days
just as I forget telephone numbers or birthdays,
I juggle six jobs at a moment or do nothing at all,
staring at the ceiling with a constellation of dust
to taste the sourgraping from my parents.

The world is a witness how I embrace the Black Dog,
treating it like a new doll brought from a shop,
gifted by my own mother, it began when my grandfather
left me, an island inside an island, lost in the archipelago
of reasons while I sought for comfort in the arms
of idiopathic pain crippling me for years lest I succumb,
surrender myself to the fallacy that love is indeed blind,
that I need to close my eyes to feel his love for he just left
this firmament and that his memories would soon attract
happiness once more.

The world is a witness how I fondle the Black Dog,
keep it inside my encephalon for years, it barks
during yuletide season, I blame solitude for it freezes me
in a cold cell, a dungeon of grief when I count the days
when I will be free if I will be free at all, these are days
I spent in the hospital, a hive of broken promises, a vow
to get well soon only to give birth to a hundred promises
from the womb of this illness.

The world is a witness how I slayed the Black Dog
in a battle for sanity, I killed it and survived the attack,
I no longer fear sinking, sinking in the sea of suffering,
the world could testify how I learn to let go, to free myself
from dull emotions and dull ideas imprisoned inside my mind
for more than four years, the guidance from my family, friends
and doctors is enough to save me from drowning in the river
of oblivion, I would always be sailing in a tempest-tossed ship,
but I know I will survive, I will survive.

* * *

Sonnet I

This is my private mythology:
the wind chasing the runaway leaves,
snowflakes marching on the rooftops,
raindrops piercing the deaf city,
sunshine painting the garden green.
This is a Walden inside a Walden
where solitude crowds my days and
Nature’s company isolates me at night.
I walled this world with words
against the barbaric silence.
My tears water this garden,
zephyr brushes the trees and
the sun bathes the leaves its color.
This is my private mythology.


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