When I was in college, I was invited to a poetry reading program. It was held in the Arcellana Library in the Faculty Center, University of the Philippines. I was very nervous because it was going to be my very first poetry reading session. I had attended poetry reading sessions before but the attendees were mostly my classmates or members of the so-called "illegal" U.P. Writers' Club. Why was it called "illegal?" It is a long story and we'll discuss it some other time. Brevity is the key.
This time, the small event would be attended by published student writers and faculty members of the English Department. Therefore, there was real reason to be anxious because I would be among established and published writers and professors. To be given a slot to read my unpublished poem was an honor.
The mood was festive and I was shaking but trying my best to contain my terror and elation. I was with poets, real writers and I felt that a door was opened. The god and goddesses of Philippine literature has welcomed this "little cricket," as I secretly called myself during those days.
Poets read their works. Some were in English and others were in Filipino. Every reading was always followed by applause. The popular and well-established writers got louder cheers, applause and "ohs" pregnant with intellectual flatteries.
When it was my turn, I slowly stood in front. I read my short poem as calmly as I could and let the poetic drama oozed out from my lips. My poem was about the subtle emptiness of the streets of Manila despite its cacophonous noise. It had 8 lines. Once I was done, I heard a courtesy and slightly audible clap which was appropriate and deserving for a neophyte student wannabe poet. Still, I was satisfied.
After me, a young Filipino American professor stood and read his poem. He looked very presentable and his perfect American accent added a wicked dash of charm. He smiled at everyone and he read his one-line poem.
He said, "this pubic hair is not my own."
The entire room exploded with uproarious laughter, cheers and applause. Everyone loved it. That one sentence it seemed captured the elusive metaphysical truth that all poets have been aspiring to encapsulate in words.
As the young poet sat down on his chair, I thought to myself. "So that's the key, pubic hair."
Forget if you hacked your chest and yanked your very core, and present your bleeding but still beating heart to the deities. It is all about the “metaphorical pubic hair.” Or was it metaphorical? Perhaps the Fil-American heartthrob of the literati was really talking about pubic hair?
From then on, my eyes were open. I was like Louie, the Vampire. I saw the world in my new vampire eyes. The world is a Savage Garden of Pubic Hair. I saw the curly vine everywhere, on television, in campus, in movies, in magazines, in the bars and any place where people long for love and attention.
People who showed their pubic hair have the world in the palms of their hands. They were demigods.
I never read my poems in public again after that fateful poetry reading. I also lost the urge to get published. The ironic thing about it was that I understood exactly what the fuss was all about. To this day, when I desperately needed some hits on my blog, I bring out my "pubic hair" and it always works. I got more visits.
Unfortunately for me, I always keep an eye on every strand of my pubic hair and so I am never in doubt. I know each one. I also make sure my bed partners bring their pubic hair home with them.