recorded readings

Upon Leaving the Tropics – Reader Video

Here’s a performed reading of my poem Upon Leaving the Tropics from my chapbook, Out of Time (more about that later). Many thanks to the marvelous Red Lacson Ramos for recording this poetry reading. It’s amazing how literature can gather like-minded people together.

You may also follow me on Twitter if that’s your sort of thing. Or you can do away with the noise and rambling and stick to my site. Here’s the entire poem below.

Upon Leaving the Tropics

For the first time, I felt like a foreigner.
A friend from Washington asked:
“How is winter in the Philippines?” It never

Occurred to me that some people did not understand
Tropical climate. I had to explain that we only have
Wet and dry seasons, where snow only appears

On TV and movie screens. I see now
Why adaptation is a prized skill in the past
Millennia. To move meant to change and become

A new being. The consequence of failure: An entire species
Dying out. But I have to admit, this fact alone will never
Help me get used to the cold. I am likely to freeze inside

Myself, long before my body dies. Which is why I am
Afraid for those of us who conformed to lead
Unreasonably comfortable lives. We made it

So the future could be easy. A roof on our heads,
The security of careers, practical knowledge passed on
To our children. No one teaches us other ways

To adapt. No one tells us there is danger
In never leaving: We tend to believe the illusion
That everything stays the same.

But I’d like to think it’s more like wanting
To convince ourselves good things
Remain only if we stay.

My friend Caroline told me, “People who constantly
Want to leave are always lonely.” I don’t remember
Asking why. Routine takes over. Change escapes us

Though we feel it everyday. Ten, twelve, twenty years
Go by. Did you find what you were searching for?  
Caroline left seven years ago and never came back.

She’s tasted wine in Paris, walked the edges
Of cliffs in Arizona, and dived Hawaiian reefs.
As for me, I wish to stay here precisely

Because everything fades away. I choose to hold things
Close to me for as long as I can. Like loving the sight
Of sunsets and orange skies, knowing the color

Of sunlight in Mars is a cold pale blue. Perhaps one day
Humans will colonize the Red Planet too, but for now
I am glad to be alive, where my life first began.