Why this Isn’t a Haiku

1 March 2018

My pa taught me
putang ina
and wow,
the suddenness
of joy, the stun
of beauty:

how life is taken best
when taken by surprise.

He taught me
the jangle of keys at night
meant he was home
the brown bag in his hand
plump with the promise
of dumplings or sweetbreads

that a week of work meant
Saturdays tasted sweeter
and Sundays blazed brighter.

He taught me
the three meanings of shuffle
two good
one sad:

the riffled peacock tails
of playing cards
those snappy rainbows
of aces and jacks;
the effortless astronomy
of boogeying with mama

as she twirled and spun
and whirled and hummed
around the steady axis
of his smile, her feet
approximating the twinkle
of stars, his own gliding
sliding in that inch by inch
unruffled shuffle to
syncopated time.

Oh my papa taught me:
he taught me comics
he taught me words.

Areglado? he would always ask.
Agreglado! I would reply.

And as time passed
he taught me
how to wade
through boilerplates and contracts
how the intricate constructions
of syntax and phrase
restrain the larceny of men
in ways no poems can.

How he loves life my father;
oh how he loves the game.

And that man over there
stooped and shuffling
so gingerly, so carefully
so daunted by the treachery
of cracks in the floor
of unexpected steps,
shuffling more carefully
than he ever shuffled cards
shuffling in the grip
of gravity and time
that’s the man who taught me
the slow sad shuffle
of loving someone for life.

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