Three years after the release of his first collection of poems, Subterranean Thought Parade, in 1998 together with Ramil Gulle’s The 25th Fly, Lourd Ernest de Veyra comes up with his second offering, Shadowboxing in Headphones (UST Publishing House, 2001).

A junior associate of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies (UST-CCWS) and the lead vocalist of the alternative band Radioactive Sago Project, De Veyra’s new collection of 38 poems with fluid and rhythmic tones and varying unpredictable images is another amalgam of words conquering limits and emotions.

In her foreword, Dr. Ophelia Dimalanta, director of the UST-CCWS, describes De Veyra’s poetry as “entering a poetic sphere of new and infinite possibilities: surreal images (“an amputated arm growing small fluorescent flowers”), irregular rhythms and unexpected brilliant jointures (“faith surrounds you like the gasp of the hall in Balanchine’s final recital. Thanks. Gotta Bounce now.”), language of everyday speech colliding with or combining with the language of an older poetry, etc.”

Emotion in De Veyra’s poetry ranges from the indifferent to the relatively intense. His poems take on a greater enveloping being in its assault on man’s senses, like in “Death and Ecstasy in a Tenor Saxophone Solo”: “Then you arrive, agitating the curtains/through windows of remembrance./Slow jazz asphyxiates-/broken blades of blue notes/lodge in my throat./Perhaps that’s why I can’t sing./So I let my blood do it.”

Many of the poems are highly cerebral. The intellect plays an integral role in the poet’s approach to different situations. In “The Fragility of Everyday,” De Veyra suggests how the most trivial circumstance can trigger entirely different responses or how seemingly ordinary scenarios turn out to be tragic. “A man sitting in the car for three hours/Late for work, screams./He gets out and jumps up and down/On the hood,” “A boy stabs his little sister with a barbecue stick,” “Somebody calling himself Superman/Somersaults from the 45th floor.”

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In “Random Songs,” the speaker ponders several peculiarities: “Begin to conjure nightmares: bare notebooks/poems without sound/breasts without nipples,” “a diary without a cloud/a painting without blood/a piano without raindrops,” “serenades without poison,” “a window without moonlight.”

De Veyra further discusses the nature of man in attempting to rationalize the source of weakness, under the influence of uncontrollable forces. “Letter to My Brain” depicts the persona apologizing to his brain for damages it incurred due to substance abuse. “Weed that became a creed of natural sacredness/And solitude, that transforms you into a room festooned by sound made delicately demonic/Rapturously raucous” or “Speed. Criminally fast, kinetic kilowatts/By which you become a powerplant, a second distending into a hyperactive hour.”

Gulle in his afterword writes that one must learn to appreciate and listen to the rhythm and arrangement of words to better enjoy De Veyra’s poetry.

“To get the sense in his work in general, you have to grab onto, and ride out and enjoy the sound of the language,” Gulle wrote.

Words have the power to stimulate or dispel any emotion in people; they can give meaning or remove; they can express the most profound of ideas, or blunt the very core of a message. These are the two-fold weapons held by every writer who attempts to evoke feeling within the most withdrawn of persons. This is further described by De Veyra’s “Solo”: “Words bruising too hard they can heal wounds/or sounds too much in the frequency of truth/everything else in the world becomes a lie,” “words too stupid but mortal they redeem your dignity at times/words too human to be ignored.”

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De Veyra’s poetry is not entirely influenced by pop culture, for his works also contain references to earlier cultures and known artists, whether in music, literature or the arts. However, as Gulle explains, these references were once considered “pop.” Still, De Veyra’s poetic style remains refreshing and innovative, introducing new ways of giving life to the written, as well as spoken, word.

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