Nostos

Nostos’ official cover.

From the Author

“This zine is a small collection of poems written from the perspective of desire, yearning, and nostalgia. These are fragments of stranded intimacies, a collection of words we never got to say, and how we design ourselves to be vulnerable and how we prepare for the inevitable.”


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Numbers

Under dim lights and a pop song, they shuffled in a circle around
the reflected platform in a basement dance bar.

Their arms collapsed around their bare stomachs.
Their eyes fixed on the scraped metal floor.

On the stage, angels with no names in black heels hunch their shoulders
and shrink into the shadows.

A bell sounded, someone entered, anticipating.
She stepped forward with a required smile. Her knees shook in the spotlight.

She could be Diana. She could be Rose. She could be Mary.
Tonight, she is someone’s sin.

Tonight, in bed, tucked and neatly done, she will permit him chaos.
He will tremble in her world and make her forget herself.

A moment of fault disguised as love, only one would remember:
that she was desired not as a name but as a number.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

As Tori Amos’ Putting The Damage On and Silverchair’s Abuse Me

my wounds are not wounds.
these are remembrances on how you have disqualified me of courage.
i have given you permission for your cruelty. i was designed for this abuse.
you arranged me to be broken: you taught me to refuse my own valor, your kindness is callous,
and i hung my heart to this affliction like a question mark. and the answer was subdued to

this truth: the only known resolve to this was negligence. the whole idea of disregard
imbued on the skin, immune and irresilient from the terror of this devotion:
that this love was a thoughtful deception. you taught me to be undeserved, you showed me
how i was only whole in the collapse of your own making, and yet I was the one who
taught myself to repair.

i always shuddered before you: that was how i always felt the ache of the world:
to love you was to suffer the world’s loneliness.

i kept my damages as a tribute to remember and write this one
with nothing to my name but the sound of yours, how it was both love and pain.

there is no why.
tremble with a sigh.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Why You Shouldn’t Write Love Poems Anymore

Because each line is a note on suffering.
Each word is a reminder that we write better when we are shattered.
They say this is idealizing an emotional terror. You will liken your grief
to a scar from a wound that was self-chosen.
You will be forced to write lines that cut right through the heart because without it,
you might as well have written something about a fruit or that mother begging
in the streets while carrying her child in the rain.
If you will be reminded of how happy you once were,
smoke a cigarette, grab a beer, and listen to the saddest songs
in your music collection. Don’t write a word. Don’t think of words
and arrange them into lines of memories and metaphors. Recollection
is a knife that scrapes the bone beneath. Open the windows when you cannot breathe.
Each word you can think of would start a fire and no amount of crying will ever put it out.
Whenever you remember her, think of it as a random coincidence: there is no happiness
in happenstance. Time passes to remind you of everything you happen to remember.
Isn’t it tragic that you still say her name the same way? Do not gather words into sentences
even if longing confirms her absence.
Instead, write a story about forgiveness and oblivion.
Before you start with your first sentence, look up at the sky so you would know
that somehow you are trying to find your way back to yourself.
Do not write love poems anymore. When you do, this will be the last time
you will suffer these verses for her.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

An Error In Reading

Once, you read me a poem that we both compared to a key.
We assumed it could unlock one of the many doors we previously refused to open.
We spent a part of our lives figuring out why no door budged.
We both hoped one of them will open a new probability for us.
As we tried again and again, each month and each year,
way past what we considered forgivable,
the remainder of our lives have conceded to what it truly meant: maybe
we need a window, and not a door. Maybe the key, even after all these years, declined
to be defined by newly given wounds and resurgence of our suffering. Maybe you need
to read me the poem again and understand that, perhaps,
all this time, it has been a different key. Maybe it was intended to open a world for us,
unclasped from the pain we have given each other
to which we can only hope we have not suffered.
But I have.
Years passed; we never knew what we were supposed to open.
Except, I got it all wrong.
You read me the poem in a language I never understood.
It was never about the key.
It was about the door that opened for one of us, a long time ago.
It was about holding on with our hands open: the same hands that refused
to open that door. It was about our tongues and our mouths that abstained
from opening new wounds: wounds we always kept without a bandage.
And here we are, locked in this moment,
we will tell each other how much of this hurts, whose grief is worse,
and who will have the courage to open the door first: to empty ourselves of our lives
and nothing we could say would make us remain.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Epilogue

These are the principles of my completion:
Imagine contour,
shapes,
lines.
Such design defined
by your hurriedness
to own me,
name me.
Your method grew
out of your desire
to build a moment as memorable
as pain. Words are the stones,
precisely chiseled,
laid,
to build me up
just to watch me
break.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Angeles City As Sadness

Dedicated to the abandoned children of Angeles City

I could tell you how lonely the city is:
how dark it becomes and how quiet
you wish it would be. The flowers feel
displaced and the moment they bloom
is the same moment they remain
unseen. It is beautiful how forgotten
they have become. And I don’t have
so much words to say about them.
Outside, angels without rightful names
crowd the streets for leftovers and mercy.
There is an empty place inside that is hurting them:
perhaps the same place that keeps their hearts out
on their own: they have known enough sadness
to know how it has made them. There is more to this, I hope.
But so much stays the same.

This is an inescapable truth: the weather shifts, and the city remains
to remind us of what we refuse to remember:
we have become the shadows
of ourselves. And I have forgiven
the city for its unintended cruelty.

From the parish bench, I see how grateful they are
to the kindness of strangers. They share breads
and coffee from half empty cups: they have known enough joy
to know what would make them. There is more to this, I hope.
But so much of this will remain the same.
The truth is, they are part of this city’s unkindness.
Its negligence is their language. They cannot tell
the difference between the absence of hope
and how they are half of someone else: they are
kept secrets and stories told. As they plead
for the coffee in my hand and some change,
I wonder, if they knew what forgiveness meant,
would it make them whole?

I want to tell you how sad the city is: I could not.
They can: they have known enough happiness
for me to know what sadness really is, as the rain
slowly falls, trickles on its name.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

A Sketch for Mother and Son

For Lucila Baja and John Cielo Baja

Mother, I’m trying to sketch you
since I cannot write you a poem.

I wanted to say, even if I don’t understand how metaphors work,
how carefully your hands shaped me as a man through your labors.
I watched carefully how your hands mastered the art of spreading butter
on every bread you brought home. The same hands that neatly folded my shirts that
often got stained because I played outside too much. It’s the wonder of your attention
I am trying to capture with my pencil. And I make mistakes every time I draw.

I have drawn elephants and spiders out of my imaginary world.
I have sketched the full moon over Angeles while you stood under it.
But I couldn’t perfect your form. I remember that time one morning,
you were wearing your sundress. You had that smile: the kind that rivaled the stars.
Remember that? I will always remember that and I wanted to draw that memory
with my trembling hand. But I couldn’t. I wanted so much to capture
the details of your tired hands and your weary smile and you carrying on.
Mother, I will keep trying to sketch you.
I have bought more pencils and papers and I will have more

even if I do not know anymore how to live in a world where you don’t.

And if I can’t, I know you’d understand because you have designed my heart like a landscape,
where as a child, you watched me tremble and coil in fear and shriek in happiness.
I do not know what loss is really like. All I know is, I will have the memory in memory,
the pain from pain. This grief from grief made from words from words gathered
in this loss, only to reveal itself as words I wished I could have written as a poem

since I also cannot sketch you, mother. There are no enough pencils in the world to illustrate pain.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Love Letter To Bubba

Last night, you seemed so beautiful, so dangerously seductive, so different from others I have met and known: it terrified me that I could not understand how beautiful the terror that you hold, and the fear and longing that keep you together.

And we were exchanging words: the words we kept to ourselves, and words we were afraid to say. And for a moment, you fell silent. Steady. You were just listening to everything I said. And the sky was strewn with the moon and words I have said before.

You were staring still, intently, as if waiting for something immense, other than this moment. In the middle of everything I have said, you smiled. Your eyes glimmered as if trying to understand what makes us long for the moments to be stranded in each other’s arms.

And I have always known how vulnerable you are. But you’re still here, with a smile that renders the stars jealous. And I thought to myself, nothing resembles someone as much as the way they smile.

And you smiled. And it took me quite a while to recover.


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.

Taguan

I.

Hindi kasama sa panuto ang pagkukubli. Subalit palagiang hahabulin ng mga mata ko
kahit na ang anino mong ipinagkait ng gabi.

II.

Ang iyong lapit ay karagatan ang layo.

III.

Kahit ang nakakubling mga bato ay isinasakdal ang sidhi ng araw at pagtangis ng langit.
Dahil sa huli, kahit ang kanilang kabuuan ay masasaksihan ng mundo ang kanilang karupukan.

IV.

Naghahabulan ang ating mga mata sa kawalan hanggang sa bumalik sila sa piling ng himbing.

V.

Tinatahi ng iyong mga mata ang aking bibig sa katahimikang bago sa aking puso.

[Nangungusap ang iyong mga mata.]

Huwag ka lang pipikit sa muli nating pagkikita.

VI.

Palaging naghahabulan ang ating salita. Subalit sa tugma ng iyong pangngalan, palaging nagtatago
ang puso mo sa mga saknong.

VII.

Hinihiling kong masaling mo ako sa sa aking pagtalikod, sa hindi ko pagbaling.

VIII.

Nagsasalubong ang ating mga kamay. Umiiwas ang iyong paningin. Nagkukubli ang damdamin.

IX.

Bibilang ako hanggang kailanman.

X.

Dahil sa larong taguan ng puso, palaging ako ang taya.


Si Gari Vinluan ay isang awtor na nagsusulat sa wikang FIlipino at Ingles. Siya ay nasa larangan ng advertising. Kasalukuyan siyang nagsusulat ng mga maikling kuwento para sa isang tambalan na sana’y mailimbag ngayong taon.