Last night, I was at the White Wall Poetry event These Spaces at Sev’s Cafe for Fringe Manila and I am so thankful that they took a video of my performance (Thank you, Franz Pantaleon!).
Here’s me, reading my poem Primitive (or Love in the Time of Mobile Internet and Grindr):
Primitive (or Love in the Time of Mobile Internet and Grindr)
There is a deliberateness to this distance you’ve placed between us;
and the fact that it has been more than a month and I still don’t know
if your name is really your name and if it is possible to be falling
for a torso with a brain and a personality to match mine.
But that’s what’s happening here, right now, and I’ve come to measure
the passage of time between my texts and your reply and the last time you called.
But the words that have been thrown back and forth between us
and the questions that are answered and the ideas that are given form
from these not-so-casual conversations have started to weigh down on me
and I do not want to reduce you to merely a photo of your gorgeous torso
and the ease with which you fling words at me.
I want you real; I want you to be a person of substance, not that you aren’t substantial
but you are not corporeal, not yet flesh and bone, as if I’m still shaping you
out of the ether until you gain enough confidence to just exist in the reality
of where I am that you can face me, see me, touch me, feel me.
Love is not a reduction — I will not reduce you to an idea — and I cannot fathom
that this connection can be diminished into a string of code of ones and zeros
and that all we have between us are words and promises and laughter and more words.
Love is more than that, it’s bigger, it’s tangible and textured and layered
and it involves every one of the senses, every one, not just hearing
and not just what can be imagined and what touches my heart.
How is it that you do that, anyway? Reach out from that nothingness
where you reside, bridge that distance, and grip at my heart and make me feel
when I am just lying in my bed, alone, but not alone, because your voice
is on the other end of the phone that I hold to my ear and I’ve begun to think
that that’s what your skin feels like. The cold surface of my phone. On my ear.
And your voice, loud and clear, even if you are not physically there.
How is it that we have come to this when there is so much that is filled
with what we do not know of each other, and what I don’t know of you,
because I’ve told you so much of myself and I’ve made myself as real as I can,
as whole as this sort of communication would allow: full bodied photos of me,
my face, close-up shots of my tattoos, telling you my name, what I do, who I’m with,
where I’m going, where I was five minutes ago, five days ago, five years ago?
I feel primitive — wanting more and finding this so incomplete — and unable
to adapt to the changing nature of relationships in this digital age where
one can feel so close despite having never come near enough to breathe the same air.
There was a time you couldn’t feel this way with someone until you’ve seen them in the flesh
and seen them interact with the world and now it’s all ideas and imagination
and words, so much words, and promises, and laughter, and snippets of real life.
Or am I the one guilty of reduction? What is so wrong with all these ones and zeros
if they add up to mean that I am loved and you feel loved by me?
And do you? Do you feel the force of my caveman club, hitting you in the head,
and my hand clutching your hair dragging your unconscious body into my cave
with every word that I type: my “what’s up” and “hope you’re having a good day?”
Do you feel it? Do the ones and zeros add up and do they paint that picture?
I may not want to call this love but I will not reduce love to only what I know
and I don’t know what else to call this feeling I get when I see a message on my phone
when I wake up in the morning and it’s from you.
Can I still be a caveman and carry this smart phone with any conviction?
Or must I evolve like the rest of the world?