For All the Wars Inside Me

Ruby reading in Seattle, 2010 (photo from Ruby’s Facebook fan page)

For years now I have followed a young Pinay (=Filipina American) artist and activist named Ruby Veridiano, whom I believe I have mentioned a couple of times on this blog before. I believe that currently, Ruby has just returned from working with youth in the Philippines to promote literacy, but she is also a dope-ass spoken word poet (she also almost became Alicia Keys’s head blogger a couple years ago, but that’s another story!). I had the pleasure of watching Ruby perform at La Raza in San Francisco’s Mission District back in 2006 (when she was still part of the Bay Area-based iLLiteracy poetry troupe). Though I myself have never been much into the spoken word scene–since, let’s face it, this blog is the furthest extent of my own artistic creativity–Ruby’s work knocked me out that night and I have not forgotten it since. Perhaps it’s because she’s a young Pinay, around my age, baring her soul through her poetry with utter honesty and vulnerability. I found that so, so beautiful and inspiring, and I have tried to keep up with her work ever since.

Ruby’s book, Miss Universe. From rubyveridiano.com

In particular, there was one poem I watched Ruby perform that really stuck with me, and for a time I’d scoured her videos on YouTube for footage of it but couldn’t find any. But, years later (and I am clearly still a huge fan!), Ruby has recently released a collection of her poetry called Miss Universe as an ebook, which you can buy online for only $5! I was sure to snatch one up right away, especially because when I had tried to get my hands on a physical copy of Miss Universe a couple of years ago, I was disappointed to learn it had been a limited printing. Much to my delight, within the e-book I was able to find the poem that had sounded so much like pages from my own diary when I heard it spill from Ruby’s lips at La Raza. As I have, I know that Ruby has grown as an artist, activist, and individual since she wrote it, but I still think her Miss Universe work is really powerful, especially to young women of color (and those of us who still battle the same insecurities as the teenaged-versions of us from time to time… which, come on, is all of us). If you like it as much as I do, grab the e-book… hella cheap for 52 pages of complete inspiration.

****************

For All the Wars Inside Me

Truth one.

I’m not always confident
I never know how to begin any of my poems
Wonder if I know how to use these words
Like I’m supposed to
Worry that I’m not able
Uncomfortable under pressure
Have trouble believing I’ll live up to expectation
Can’t even write anything for myself anymore
I’ve flung myself to the mercy of an audience
Attack myself as my own worst critic-
I think these days
I want to stop calling myself an artist
Just human
With faults and feelings
Like anyone
And these testaments serve as peace treaties
For all the wars
Inside me

Truth two.

I don’t read the news everyday
I wish I were writing more race poems
For the revolution
I don’t know all the politics or the war in Iraq
Instead
I find myself fighting a losing battle
With my embarrassingly helpless obsession with love
And yes I think too much
And if I tell you my most fragile secret
It is that
My worst fear is ending up alone
And I want to write for healing
But all I’ve got are these aching words
That so eagerly want to take shape of a lover’s curve
Bend adjectives to form the brims of eyelids
Swell into belly
Catch fire
After friction
Tremble
Like aching muscles
Exhaling against touch
I miss making love
As much as I miss writing real poems
Like I miss being honest
Like I miss being needed
But for the record-
I believe that lovemaking
Has saved more lives than any protest demonstration
And a kiss
Has freed more of us
Than we will ever give it credit for
Love is a movement
I’m on the frontline
And I’ll still keep on fighting

Truth three.

My battles start erupting
Along my sides
In this extra flesh that bulges from my waistline
My belly is where most of my insecurities gather
The place that mocks me the most
It reminds me I am disgusting
And sometimes it’s hard to be inside myself
And I remember how annoyed I am at my mother
Not only for her criticisms
But for inheriting her hips
Tomorrow I wish my clothes will make my feel skinny
Too often I forget to be beautiful
Curved out like this

Truth four.

I am bare after exposure
Raw like fresh wound in saltwater
!is is the most honest I have been for far too long,
My first real testament in months
I lay it down,
A peace treaty-
For all the wars inside me*

Ruby Veridiano
*Quoted from Ishle Yi Park’s poem, “City” from The Temperature of This Water
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