Jela Dela Peña

2020-08-21 | 8:03PM

pluck the strings (and shuffle closer)

The wooden logs lining up the ceiling remind me of a street game I used to play in my childhood. Like the rectangles of chalk on the asphalt, guarded by the enemies. I had to trick them into thinking I am passing through their right when I am sneaking through their left. I held their gaze, praying for my eyes to not betray me. My leg shuffled closer to the left while swinging my torso to the right, when a guitar string was plucked. Snapping me back to my position on the mattress on the floor, limbs all tangled up against each other. Snapping me back to the warmth of your embrace, sticky against my waist. Though I try to tune out your snores by focusing on the chords flying in the thick humid air, I can not lie they make a good song together. Like two pairs of feet dancing around on chalk lines, bodies twisting in a game of trickery. So I pulled you in tighter, and closed my eyes to the hymn.

2020-05-07 | 12:38PM

orange shadows on the carpet

A duvet is tangled on top of the plush blanket. Crumpled layers in the heat wave that persists through the night. This warmth that could not seem to reach the chill in my veins. My ears are filled with some song that sounds like the gentle crashing waves. It all passes. I lift up my forehead from my sheets. The light projects orange rays on the sharp edges of the furnitures, on the bent leaves of the potted bamboos. Someday. The legs of the chair cast delicate orange shadows on the carpet. I mush my cheeks back onto my sweat stained pillows. For sure. My eyes close just enough to blur the soft orange hues onto the hard lines of the penumbra. Certainly

2020-05-27 | 9:03AM

a knife to the ribs

We say those things. No meaning behind them. Sometimes we would add an endnote, to brush it off. To lift off the heavier, scarier connotations of it. Like a huff of breath behind a tight lipped smile when a joke didn’t land. Awaiting for validation. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we would just leave it like that. At nights where I need a boat to carry me back to the safe grounds of reality, after hours of floating onto the sea of nothingness. Or at nights where we both had a bit of a drink and the world seems alright. I yearn for things. But whether it’s just a physical need to card my fingers through your hair or a deeper craving to be known inside out, is what I’m not certain of. Yearning for things I could not possibly have. It’s like a knife to ribs. I can keep it there till the sting kills me slowly. Or I can give up and pull it out. Yet I don’t. I want to push it in harder. 


at the back of your throat

Do you want to delete their taste from your memory? Not just their kisses, or intimate episodes; even someone who you literally never had a lick of. You know they put a flavor on your tongue by their presence. Drinking it all down as they give you more with every second spent. They are the cherry slush that gave you a brain freeze. They are the poutine you had when you were stoned high. They are the watermelon fumes you inhaled from dusk to daylight. They are what the sun would taste like when it’s diving into the ocean. They are the adrenaline you get after the roller coaster drop. A time may come where it goes to a full stop. But whenever you think of it, an aftertaste at the back of your throat is where it hits.

23 DEC 2019

scarfing the lake

Wisps of oranges and blues were the colors of the skies that afternoon. The sun was dipping behind the clouds, bleeding its colors on the horizon. Its lingering flares have melted the ice on the lake. Savouring the last warm breeze, I loosened my scarf that still smells like your expensive perfume. Crack, crack, crack, roared every step of my feet. Yet I sauntered further into the edge, fishing for memories of you. The sound of ice shattering underneath my heel was so faint compared to my chest breaking into my ribcage. Not noticing the sun setting at the speed of my racing heart, sharp chilly breeze started to shoot through my bones. I caught myself wrapping the scarf around myself and froze in place. Only the hymn of the water coursing and the hum of the cars in the distance seemed real. I need to plant myself back onto solid ground. Your shaky boat only sails to empty destinations. No cold wind can make me keep this pretend blanket of warmth that reeks of your skin drowning in sweet oils, of your false words masked in honey drippings. Let the tide take you away, I have my own ship to navigate.

20 DEC 2019

two menthol sticks

Good, but not enough. Savouring every menthol fumes. Licking each chaste headrush. Teetering towards that nicotine aftertaste. Coating the back of my numb throat. Not enough (but what is). Unfeeling, dazed. I want more. What did I want; when did I start wanting. Home is on the other end of the GPS, yet here we are by the side of the highway. Complying to my mindless whims, maxing out recklessness in the middle of chaos. I just wanna see the cars passing by, I said, for the last time (it was the first thing I did with him). I dragged you out of the car, out into the cold, to the edge of the rails. The lights emitted by the speeding machines outside his balcony have always drawn me in. You took out two cigarettes, pop it open at the bottom, you told me, twice. I tried to search into your eyes; pools of transparent liquid with deep browns underneath; melted epoxy poured over scorched maple leaves, but then I looked away. How can something so warm be so painful? I turned to the fresh snow on the ground, to the roaring cars next to us. I wanted to climb up the rails and run. Taking my unfinished menthol stick with me, and the dangerous curiosity for the depth of those brown orbs. 

2 DEC 2019

stars lost in a desert

The skies approaching night time were a dark bluish grey, a blank murky canvas. No twinkling little bulbs are seen overhead, for they’ll all lying low on the horizon, boxed in cement infrastructures, dancing in their own cells. It gets colder and colder as my pace slowed down, content in keeping you at a distance like this. My ears are blocked by the breeze, along with the hymn of the passing cars on the highway; racing and racing and racing, it must be so sweet to hear melodies at the speed of light, isn't that what we’re aiming for? To catch up with something that’s unmatched, to keep up with the pace of someone ahead of us. I’ve been told a multitude of times that it’s not a race, but why do I keep feeling left behind? Blinking reds and greens and blues and the harshest of yellows, but my eyes are trained on you. Maintaining my pace at this distance, as I watch you from afar.

19 AUG 19

winds transitioning

I’ve made enough love with the sun; resting face down against the sand, kissed by the scorch of its flame, the skin of my back absorbing all it can give. Every inch of me glowed, not one speck neglected by its love. Its heat was my companion for a while, leaving me humid, parched for water, ablazed from the inside out, that one can trace its searing marks through the criss-crossed lines on my shoulders. Though, once you’ve decided to make love with something and it reciprocates, it’s hard for the goodbyes to leave your throat. Even harder as it does not want to leave. As I lay awake in my bed at 3 in the morning, the pitch of the scale impossible to reach the level of tranquility to enter the world waiting for me on the other side of my pillow. As I lay down hoping for the sheets to cool down faster than they could, to take away all the heat that I am shamefully asqueezing out of my body. I anticipate to be wrapped again in the biting cold, to swim in layers of fabric, to hide my mechanical flesh vessel from prying eyes of the world. I had to bid farewell to my summer affair, but it’s hard, especially when I’m already yearning for the winter to embrace me, while my other hand is still in the other’s.

18 JUL 2019

nicotine in my lungs

The boat has arrived at the ferry. The sirens are going off to signal the end of the travel. People spill out onto the docks in every direction. The sinking sun casts streaks of pinks and yellows upon the gloomy aftermath of clouds that squeezed out all the rain they’ve got. We have reached our destination. We have gone our separate ways, without looking back, without parting words. As I put forward a foot into the ramp and a foot out of the wobbly steps of the boat, I pocketed my coat for a drag of smoke. Although it is now a knee jerk reaction to seek your presence at moments like this, it is now futile to do so. The weight of the paper bundled in my other hand is jostled as people pass me by; papers that contained the most mesmerizing blues I’ve ever seen. They’ll always live in the ink of these writings and in the recesses of my memories. Standing by a little longer at the edge of the dock, I stared out into the sea and savoured the nicotine left in my lungs. 

10 JUL 2019
swaying alone in the dark

The “imp of the perverse” is the urge to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation for the sole reason that it is possible for wrong to be done—otherwise known as, a call from the void.

Bright purple neon lights blare from up above. Bass from the speakers are loud enough to squeeze our eardrums and clench the muscles in our hearts. The music bleeds ecstasy out into the pink ocean of people. Agony driven screams and subdued exhales of the crowd are drowned out by the guitar riffs. It’s a ten-minute ballad about the internal battles of every faceless person, swaying alone in the dark recesses behind their eyelids. Dreams of slow, slow, slow dancing with someone in their kitchen at 2 in the morning, bathing in the single dim yellow light of the overhead stove bulb; only to find themselves in this sea of as equally lonely souls. Memories of stinging wounds, of stitching them, of slicing them back open, of patching them up again, and of repeating the cycle. 

3 JUL 2019

hot afternoons on cold kitchen floors

It was 38 degrees out. Waves of humid hellfire breeze through the screen doors of the kitchen patio. Leading to the balcony, two empty polyester woven chairs lay across the what seemed like a sizzling cast iron ground. Cranky of propping up their backs against the wooden chairs around the dining table, all the sudden the chilly tiled floor of the kitchen looked as inviting as a glistening pool of clear pristine blue waters in the middle of the desert. So, sprawling across the white porcelain squares they went, and the first melodies of the music filled up the air made of solar flare. Songs after songs were played, tears after tears were shed. I was looking up at the border between the window doors and the ceiling, dreaming of scripts after scripts, weaving senseless violence into unbreakable cosmic bonds. I looked to my right and saw you, lost to your own world too. For all the profound emotions I seem to lack, were all painted upon your face; your creased brows, your shut eyes with openly flowing stream, your scrunched-up nose, your quivering lips, with the lyrics tracing the outline of your mouth, as if you don’t want anyone to bear audience to your pain. Realizing right then that I have tried to reach out, I withdrew my hand back and decided to let you be in your own peaceful solitary in that moment. Basking in the setting sun, content in being lost in our own worlds in the presence of each other, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to show our raw cries; it was a hot afternoon where we paused the time on the cold kitchen floors. 

26 JUN 2019

pink clouds over gray stones

Shades of roses are casting upon the thick smog floating above the twinkling lights of the buildings. Dotting the plateau are shimmering lights, like broken crystals sprinkled in a distinct pattern. Behind us is the sun slowly kissing the skyline, dipping into the beautiful unknown, into the other side of wonders. the orange lights reflect on your face, setting light upon those eyes almost the color of the rarest emeralds. Your feet hang above the ground, your hands firmly planted onto the sculpted stones; a never-ending russian roulette with gravity. The hues of pinks and oranges get dimmer as the stars below the horizon become brighter. Everything moves at the speed of light, changing; constantly, constantly. But the twinkle in your eye held theirs, and I wondered, if they are always gonna be the same. 

31 MAY 2019

part 1: icicles floating above

We were spinning, higher, faster. The wind blows hard enough to punch the air out of my lungs. My voice is long gone, my eyes are scrunched tight. When I flickered them open, I was greeted with the icicles floating above, as we go against gravity.

part 2: ripples down below

Soaring up, up, up. Oh the pleasures we get from being close to death. The pale orange that the sun has become is shrouded behind the wispy smoke of clouds. The gears whirr and shoot us straight up into the sky only to be pulled back down to earth. Two seconds of time slowing down, of time freezing. Every ticking sound traveling in waves, every particle floating in a space vacuum. Two seconds of our mortal existence being questioned into choosing to accelerate upwards or spiral down. Of our souls being torn apart between wanting to leave this fragile vessel and being one with the celestial dust. But things needed to go back into their respective places, my feet desired to be planted back into the ground, as my gaze longed to be staring back into yours.

15 MAY 2019

entropy - inevitable deterioration



1.PHYSICS a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.

2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

The laws of celestial mechanics dictate that when two objects collide, there is always damage of a collateral nature. Two souls who find themselves at cross purposes. A union, commanded by the stars, that is destined to ignite fires. The shared dream to bring forth chaos, with intertwined hands, and no one to spare. But what catalyzed this fated meeting? Such fiery blaze that seems too bright to be encapsulated in a desolate land. In a world that is crawling closer to its doom, the existence of these orbs, containing the coldest of colors yet depicting the hottest of flames, is almost impossible. Their unlit wick, all for the taking, caught its spark, as all the universe has planned to. Two opposite poles pulled together by nothing but a red string, a thin fragile thread that can get looped and tied and balled up into a pandemonium. This companionship brought together by anarchy and will be broken apart unless they resist, hand in hand, the entropy.

2 MAY 2019

the calm after the storm

The murky clouds fall away to reveal a blurred image of the sun behind all the misty material, like a wire gauze over a faintly glowing mustard orb of dust and vibrating magic. The waves have calmed down, the sailors have went home. You are still situated on your tiny wooden raft. Floating. Drifting. Savouring the sweet caress of your unfinished business with the reaper. You lie down on your back, crossing your arms behind your head, and staring up. You feel the touch of the waters beneath you, cradling you gently, rocking you back and forth, bringing you to your caramel laced sleep. It’s getting dark, you whisper to no one in particular. It’s gonna be dusk soon, you breathe out, in tandem with the heartbeat of the ocean. And it’s fine; the storm has passed. You can let go.

18 APR 2019

a beautiful siren waiting to drown me

[Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac]

That’s how the universal law of gravitation works; when you meet a person that you were not expecting to appear on your tracks, things are bound to happen. For a reason. The stars do not align themselves for nothing. Roughly 15 minutes to kill. Setting out the ship to orbit around the desolate wasteland; searching, searching, searching for a temporary settlement. Perhaps a familiar face to chat over small things with would be pleasant. 15 minutes of idle talk won’t hurt. Then there it is. A beautiful siren waiting to drown its next unfortunate, gullible victim. The very being whose existence gives you both the most dreadful feeling at the pit of your stomach and yet the most euphoric high you subtly crave. So you rapidly steer your ship towards your sweet demise; your compass all forgotten in your pocket, pointing anywhere but north.

16 APR 2019

crystal blues and falling out of love

It was a goodbye. A terminus. An endpoint. My chest hurts. It contracts in pain. It seems as if a wave of cold breeze passed right through me. Stabbing me straight in the core. It felt as if I got wounded from a sea warfare and I barely survived the shipwreck. I ended up washed ashore on the rocky floors of this cave whose ceilings are reflecting the crystal blue lights of the waters. It gives me a sense of calm. Longing. Relief. Hope. Farewell. Bittersweet goodbyes. You were beautiful. You were never mine. I would never even dream of caging your bright soul. Being able to watch you soar from afar has been good enough. You were (and still are) my favorite blues.

26 MAR 2019

like corals in shallow sea

The water is not a deep ocean blue, no, it’s not the kind where you are situated in a small boat and the waves around you are big and roaring, the shade beneath you matching its depths, dark and ready to swallow you up any minute that you show a moment of vulnerability, no. It’s the color of the water closer to the shore, where you’re safe and sound, where you can jump out of your tiny boat and look down to see that the sand floor is just a few meters away, corals softly breathing with the sway of the tide, no threat lurking around. You can hear the sound of the waves against the rocks by the shore, you can hear the sea kissing the land, the light of the gentle waves reflected on the low rocky cliffs, discoloured gray with pale blue and cool green, and hint of orange ochre on the cracks. The sun is setting but still quite high up the horizon, and the water absorbing every bit of light it’s willing to give, taking whatever particle it’s emitting, enveloping it all the muted sirens of the sea. No harm will come to you here, it sings, for I will keep you safe. The salty and crisp air blows through your face, you close your eyes and let the sun caress your cheeks, like a long lost lover, starved for your ethereal existence. As long as you’re by my side, it whispers, you don’t have to be afraid. So you let go, so you let the tides pull you in. Here, where, with me.

20 FEB 2019

steel blue against the dusk

It was an ecstatic yet quiet moment. Those eyes of steely pale blue gray looking into mine. It was but a solid line around the rim, and enveloping the center is a big disk the color of the bottom of a swimming pool, untouched and calm. All of it accentuated by the redness on the corners of his eyes and the dark hues blotching the skin underneath it. His pupils are blown due to the nicotine being passed between us. It was mostly him who takes the poison from it, him who dragged me out to smoke with him. I was gasping for air when he offered it. Don’t get any ideas, he said, lending them his jacket. Don’t even worry about it, I reply, gaze flicking back and forth from his eyes to the fading dusk behind him. Thinking how his orbs might be purest shade of blue I have seen. Then there was a moment of clarity, one second of silence where they just drilled holes into everything and nothing at the same time. I never fish my phone out in the company of someone, out of respect for the other, out of respect for just enjoying the moment. However, in this frozen period of time, it’s all that I want. To somehow capture how he looks bathed in the humble blue light of dusk growing dimmer with each passing minute. To desperately, painfully try to keep a tangible memory of the sight of this single entity who holds all the secrets of the ocean in his bewitching steel blue eyes. 

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