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At a Cafe in the Morning

  AT A CAFÉ IN THE MORNING By Lu Sobredo Staring into space not from disinterest.  I am enthralled by the liveliness  of this place. Masked women gesturing with hands and fingers  pointed to their chests signaling  sincerity, I suppose—one to the other listening intently then reciprocating with cupped hands as though emphasizing a response. Now their heads bobbed front to back as if in a dance, their laughter seems to croon along with the music piped through the Café walls. The sun, victorious against the morning fog, shines through the expanse of the glass window, its brightness rested on my son’s dark brown hair accentuated by the sun-induced  reddish tint. The highlighted head of hair reminded me of my mother’s, my son’s maternal grandmother he has only met  through stories. Storytelling is central to my young years, ancestral stories heard and stored in a cup of tea  or a treasure box as told lovingly by aunties, their mothers, granduncles and my son hears them lovingly repeated fr
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A Rare Summer Road Trip

A RARE SUMMER ROAD TRIP by Lu Sobredo  More than one year into the pandemic in one’s golden years counting  blessings, mourning regrets, tracing etchings from times past. Distant  memory blurred by life’s losses; soured by warming climate and ash  coated air from fires—forests and grasslands suffocated from lack of rain.  This is not the California of my youth.  This is not planet Earth of my innocence, but more a semblance  of an ailing heart scarred with ravages of human neglect, disrespect  and dishonor. A universe wails in agony at its inhabitants’ indifference. Driving the stretch of highway from north to south, breath held not  in awe but in sorrow at the stretches of desolate places far too wide  for comfort; once gleaming in lush trees, vines hugging the ground  brimming of  plump seasonal colors and juices of late summer harvest.  The familiar sight is gone and replaced by barren farms; cows huddled  for shelter from the sweltering sun under a lone tree of broken dreams,  lost

Before the End Draws Near: Poem By Lu Sobredo

Before the End Draws Near by Lu Sobredo Only four days ago on Sunday, June 20, 2021, my best friend and literary sidekick wrote this in a message: " Sis, one of the best ways to rest after completing a first novel is to write a poem--or two---or three---or so I've been told---besides restless spirits never listen to our entreaties for rest and calm. No matter how humble or earnest they may be . . . much love to you . . . " My friend and brother Ken Miller sometimes knows me better than I know myself. And here I am, on Thursday, June 24, 2021, having finished writing a poem that would not leave me alone, stunned about what else is left unsaid. It's only fitting that I dedicate this poem to him, and to the shared paths of our common journey. Before the End Draws Near “To be or not to be” was not a question I entertained upon waking. For years such question was comforting only when illuminated in a play by Shakespeare, from a soliloquy I could parrot since age ten ye

When Cultural Virtue Puts Life in Harm's Way

By Lu Sobredo Fourteen hours after receiving the news, I struggled to process and put things in perspective. Writing has become a means of coping in the pandemic and during other life-altering events. So, why not now? Forgive me for the surge of thoughts and emotions that others within my family or community might deem extreme. But damn it, someone has to say it out loud. I grew up among a very loving Filipino family and supportive community in California. Hearing words describing what’s unique about my ancestry, my ancestral province or region, and traits extolling our sensibilities and pride was as organic in our daily lives as breathing, eating, sleeping, and dancing. Dancing had to be included for my own sanity, a source of relief from the stressful news. Whether our Filipino family member had the ability or not to dance, we danced. Dancing was as natural as day. And to eliminate any physical awkwardness when expressing cultural pride and affection through dance, my beloved aunt Lu

World in Motion: Part IV—Celebrating One Health Milestone at a Time

WORLD IN MOTION PART IV: CELEBRATING ONE HEALTH MILESTONE AT A TIME By Lu Sobredo It was a warm summer day in 2013. My husband James had just returned home one day before from an eight-month sabbatical. It should have been cause for celebration. It was not. It became a day of reckoning surrounding my health. The duration of hubby’s sabbatical was equivalent to one spring semester from university, non-teaching summer months, and the time before a new fall semester was to start. Months away were devoted to his research in Asia and Spain; he squeezed in time backpacking around the globe and another stint at a life reckoning pilgrimage on the Camino Frances across Spain. I was only able to join him for five weeks while he was in Asia; the trip which also served as a long-awaited visit to the Philippines. Forty-plus years before was the last time, I touched my toes on my ancestral land when I went with my parents. After Mom and Step-Papa left for heaven, I had no incentive to make the trip.

My Invisible Illess: A Poem by Lu Sobredo

  My Invisible Illness The illness my body hosts, it is a chameleon—clever and full of surprises. It disappears for a time giving false hopes  only to reappear as if harmless. Its pretense, unconscionable and vindictive as though envious of my drug-induced, thanks to science, near pain free idleness.  In its invisibility, the illness tiptoes surreptitiously into my days and nights like a cat burglar but dismissive of the hour. It eats away  at the fragility of a new normal I fought to reconstruct from nothing but sheer will and stubborn resolve not to surrender   to an invader I cannot see. Its presence is much like a vengeance.  A force warring against my body, my life sustaining organs, leaving me no place to hide because it hides in me. Clever, indeed, in all its invisibility. Cruel in its malevolence. The periodic new normal that medicine allows Is temporal, but it hypnotizes one to think I’ve won over the devastation the illness Inflicts on the body and beyond. Wretchedly this inv

It Is Time: A Poem About Growing Old by Lu Sobredo

 THE POET IN US This poem came unexpectedly this early evening. It couldn't be ignored. I soon posted it on social media and three friends reacted in this way: Friend K: Thank you for sharing this. I have found myself in unusually pensive states recently, and contemplating "this precious human life" and remembering that life is impermanent, like a water bubble. I have recently seen, encountered, or happened to come across visuals and writings that shed light. They have been well timed as I could have gone down a rabbit hole that is not beneficial. Thank you for being part of that light Friend J: This reminds me of my advanced age. It saddens me that it is toward the end and also calms me with sweet memories. And yet another dear friend wrote: Y ou reached down into the infinite depths of your being to write this poem---I must read it many times over but I think it's MAGNIFICENT! This poem is about growing old. It is about acceptance, and appreciating the journey. IT I

Memories of Varenna at Lago di Como, Italy by Lu Sobredo

  Memories of Varenna at Lago di Como by Lu Sobredo The air was crisp the morning after a stormy night of rain, lightning and thunder. Even being covered under thick down comforters did not shield the family from lightning lashing past the huge windows of our hotel room in Isny, Germany—a quaint little town not far from Constance, a university town we visited on our way to Italy more than a dozen years ago. A posting on social media from our long-time favorite travel guru Rick Steves compelled me to ask my husband James to dust off photographs from that trip. I felt inspired to walk through memory lane and write about it for my blog. James had been planning a special ten-year anniversary trip to Europe for us which we delayed to coincide with my birthday in the summer. Our then nine-year old son would accompany us for his first European travel. It would not be his last. How I managed to take two-months off from work, I don’t even recall, but the summer months were ideal time for the un

A New Era: Kindness is Dawning: A Poem of Hope by Lu Sobredo

  A NEW ERA: KINDNESS IS DAWNING There’s no denying it, no way of hiding it that kindness came in short supply these four years. But no longer.  And I can breathe again. As kindness o'er the land shall reign.  The people have spoken. Our voices strong, our cries clear.  And that made the difference,  made possible today’s new dawning-- the return of kindness, soon.  In the people’s house.  In the land we love. Kindness heals. Hate exhausts our spirit.  Today people shouted from rooftops,  car-tops or at the very least  at the top of our voices, with unmistakable beat, joy in our hearts. We are relieved. Yes, we are. We are feeling good again.  Indeed the people spoke up and chose  truth over falsity; caring over malice. It is the right thing, choosing kindness. It is the right time, choosing to heal. Today is testimony to diversity. Diversity  as strength for our country  and as hope for all, not for one or the few,  but for all regardless of what skin  covers our souls. Our countr

Dream of a Transcendent Love--A Poem

  Dream of a Transcendent Love   It was another night when the poetry gods called my name barring me from sleep until I wrote this poem on August 4, 2020 in the year of the pandemic. I posted the poem on my social media page by August 5 th  with plans to have the poem appear in Chapter 31 of the novel in progress. That did not happen. The muse intervened feeling the poem belongs in a later chapter. The poem serves as an original work of a character in the novel, a fictitious poet whose works were discovered decades after the Spanish American War in the Philippines in 1898. Here is the English translation of verses allegedly written in Hiligaynon (Ilongo-Filipino) and Spanish.   I consider this poem a critical piece in my creative work over the years. Thanks to my ever-supportive literary advisor Ken Miller who plays his role over and above expectations and fuels my imagination without my knowing at times. His feedback after his first reading of the poem: “Your new poem makes me want to