Most people don’t know this fact about me. In contrast to my apparent RBF, I actually cry easily. I remember times in which I’d be watching a non-drama movie and suddenly my mind would wander. The character had said something funny, but I could no longer focus due to the arrival of tears, and a sudden wave of sadness coming over me. When I don’t cry easily, I cry hard. Memories of a past traumatic 4 A.M. experience still haunt me: me, sobbing in the bathroom over a novel I’d just finished, trying to keep the noise to a minimum for the sake of the sleeping household, or uncontrollable sobs as I watched [redacted] from The Umbrella Academy breathe out their last words.
Sadness. It’s something we all experience: in different intensities, in different reasons, and in different points of our lives, most likely even multiple. However different our experiences may be, it’s something that makes us human: we’ve all felt that familiar ache of sorrow.
I had a lot of mixed thoughts while reading Carlos Piocos’ poem entitled, “Mga Pangkaraniwang Lungkot”, one poem among many others inside his collection book, “Corpus”. Interesting lines with good imagery gave me lots of emotions, but a whole lot of confusion as well. Simply, there is a lot to unpack.
In my interpretation, the poem’s persona takes the form of an undescribed, omniscient entity that represents the experience of different people going through different encounters all relating to sadness (the common sadness). They’re an all-knowing letter writer.
This form that the persona takes is evident through how they are able to provide deep descriptions of other people’s feelings. In my understanding, they describe the experiences of various people: a soldier going through the devastating aftermath of a war in which his comrades were killed, a historian jotting down the melancholic events of history, or a person at the edge of their life being overtaken by depressive thoughts. However, I also think that through the letter-like format of the poem, they themselves also describe their own feelings — as seen in the fourth stanza where they talk about intense emotions that overwhelm them to the point of their depressive state being taken over.
Other than this, I find another aspect of the poem interesting: the way it’s written. The author lays down the narrative like a letter. They tell us the typical content you can find in a letter, and then proceed to pour out their thoughts. With some thinking, I eventually began to think that this style of delivering the message was one of the poem’s purposes.
I think that the writer was trying to demonstrate how writing can be a refuge. The typical steps (the phrases in italics) were short, simple, and straight to the point. However, after every step, followed long and intense descriptions. Another thing to note is how the author “attached” various items to the letter, objects ranging from a broken plate to dried butterfly wings: all objects of no use. They are dull and lifeless items that represented pent-up and frowned upon emotions (e.g. the crow’s feather being thoughts about death). Knowing that they would like the letter to be discarded after we read it, I think it’s them leaving behind the weight on their shoulders through writing, and asking us to throw away any traces of their suffering.
Writing can be a refuge and can alleviate our suffering, seen with how much they could pour their heart and soul into it. They talked of the intrusive emotion known as lust, or of dark and depressive thoughts. A historian found peace in sharing what they’ve seen. A soldier with trauma was able to describe a scene on the battlefield. Perhaps talking about these emotions brought them a sense of relief, finally being able to let out their thoughts and leave them behind afterwards.
If my interpretation is even a semblance of what the author aimed to communicate, then I think they did quite well with trying to get their point across. The way they presented the narrative through a step-by-step process of what a letter is like was interesting and made me think of what it could mean. I spent a lot of time thinking, and even now I still doubt my own interpretation. Even so, I got something out of it. I think that’s what’s important.
With Carlos Piocos’ poem being bound to plague my mind for a long while, I end this journal entry with the sentiment that sadness is something universal. Although it comes in different shades for every person, there’s still that certain tinge that can be found within all of us: the something we all have in common.