Heights Ateneo — The Official Literary and Artistic Publication and Organization of the Ateneo de Manila University
Poems for Every Sun Sign
Ticia Almazan, Micah Avry Guiao, and Aletha Payawal | Mar 21, 2019
To entrust your fate on how it’s written in the stars is an earnest leap. Astrology’s purpose in the contemporary remains more evident; we seek for assurance that every shift in space creates a structure that we can build our ever-changing lives upon. For some, astrology is captivating in the way that it affirms a person’s notions of himself or herself. And for others, astrology is fascinating in its ability to blur the lines between science and superstition. We exist in an era that champions factuality, but modern astrologers don’t seem fazed by this the slightest. In fact, they’ve taken to utilizing social media to their advantage, educating and sharing what they know of the cosmos to the world. Even skeptics’ curiosities are piqued—how could they not be when astrology is rendered in a language so eloquent it’s almost irresistible?
In line with the celebration of World Poetry Day on March 21, 2019, we collate poems that would suit each of the twelve Zodiac signs. If there’s anything that weaves poetry and astrology together, it’s the unyielding allure of making us feel, making us feel real.
Aries (March 21st to April 19th) - Ticia
Courage, confidence, and determination are often pegged as the forefront of an Aries’ personality, but nostalgia begs to differ. Being named one of the most honest and sentimental sun signs, you’ll most probably find your favorite Aries’ fondest mementos kept together in a box that bears its own memories. With this endearing sentimentality in mind, we recommend Edith Tiempo’s Bonsai for a most heartwarming take on remembrances.
Bonsai by Edith Tiempo
All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son’s note or Dad’s one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
It’s utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
Till seashells are broken pieces
From God’s own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.
Taurus (April 20th to May 20th) - Ticia
You can always count on a Taurus for a near-insatiable thirst for luxury, and the uncanny ability to grapple for comfort even in the strangest places. A Taurus’ perseverance can pretty much guarantee them success in their search for familiarity, especially when presented with a new endeavor. So for the only sign that can make hell seem decadent enough to desire, a poem about hell—and all the unlikeliest things to do in it.
Things to Do in Hell by Chris Martin
Polish your silver
Try a new flavor of yogurt
Burn in a lake of fire
Smoke some weed
Finally understand some things
Talk to Steve
Cry out breathlessly
Pay the electric bill
Go to the aquarium in the mall
Worry over the shape and color of your moles
Sell out the people you used to call friends
Learn how to bake bread
Feed the ducks at the lake by the highway
Exaggerate your earnings
Mull things over
Attend a livestock auction
Pull down the statues of people who tortured your ancestors
Regret mostly everything
Paint the windows shut
Pull down the statues of your ancestors
Get down on your knees
Pick the kids up from Montessori
Lose your appetite
Imagine that hell is only an abstraction
Take another free breath mint
Cry out endlessly
Blame those closest to you
Love even the barest light pissing through the trees
Gemini (May 21st to June 20th) - Aletha
At the mention of Gemini, one instantly thinks of the symbolic image of twins. They carry with them the weight of duality—their mercurial self never begging to be pinned down to stasis. But A Noiseless Patient Spider, written by Walt Whitman who’s a Gemini himself, carefully unspools that there’s more to a Gemini than their loud, effervescent nature. What springs from their mobility is the most visceral of intentions: a relentless pursuit of their curiosities, an exploration of the self and the reality.
A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
Cancer (June 22nd to July 22nd) - Micah
To a fellow Cancer, intuition with a dash of sentiment is everything. First impressions, however, are not on their side, as they often appear distant. To get to know this star sign requires ventures that are not plagued with ambivalence. William Faulkner’s A Poplar troubles itself, as with all Cancers do, with fleeting anxieties and the unraveling of matters that hit close to home.
A Poplar by William Faulkner
Why do you shiver there
Between the white river and road?
You are not cold,
With the sun light dreaming about you;
And yet you lift your pliant supplicating arms as though
To draw clouds from the sky to hide your slenderness.
You are a young girl
Trembling in the throes of ecstatic modesty,
A white objective girl
Whose clothing has been forcibly taken away from her.
Leo (July 23rd to August 22nd) - Aletha
It’s easy to shrink down a Leo’s confidence to the demands of their ego. Yet within the lionheart of this Fire sign is the force and boldness to take leaps. Isabela Banzon’s Attention is tailor-fit for Leos who are no stranger to attention, especially when the deepest desires they seek are constantly challenged by others’ scrutiny. Still, they know themselves well enough to be able to take flight and cultivate their uniqueness.
Attention by Isabela Banzon
Nothing here to
do but smile.
Resist the urge to
exit from the plane
while in the air.
Love long, love hard.
Impossible then to fall
Virgo (August 23rd to September 22nd) - Aletha
With a keenness to detail, Virgos can gaze beyond what the eyes permit. It’s easy to get acquainted with their critical nature, but only when you have fully familiarized yourself with them that they allow themselves to break down their steely constitution, carve out the warmth and tenderness from within. Ada Limón’s Instructions on Not Giving Up echoes to Virgos that they can always retreat from their unforgiving self, instead reserve a space for what the heart truly stays alive for.
Instructions on Not Giving Up by Ada Limón
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
Libra (September 23rd to October 22nd) - Aletha
Much like their fellow Air signs, Libras are regarded for their charm and wit—their social circles brimming and overlapping, masters of the difficult art of conversing. When it feels like a misstep can easily pull them away from the orbit of people they surround themselves with, let Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem speak to the inner forces. The inner forces that prompt them not to lose hold of the self even as they pour, as they give, as they portion themselves out to others.
Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
Scorpio (October 23rd to November 21st) - Ticia
Usually quite reserved in nature, Scorpios are people who are selective with the kinds of people and things they think merit their attention. Without deigning to lower their standards for anyone, they display a bravado of stubbornness and passion that many find admirable. To remind Scorpios to keep guard of their hearts, a scanty Dickinson piece that exudes an authority that is subtle but firm.
The Soul Selects Her Own Society by Emily Dickinson
The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —
I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —
Sagittarius (November 23rd to December 21st) - Micah
Regarded as independent and strong-willed, Sagittarius personalities have a never-ending excursion towards what is yet to be known. The poem below encapsulates a visceral sense of freedom, especially one that is found in travel, as several new opportunities and perspectives lie ahead for this sun sign to conquer.
The Undertaking by Louise Glück
The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime.
There you are--cased in clean bark you drift
Through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.
You are free. The river films with lilies,
Shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm. And now
All fear gives way: the light
Looks after you, you feel the waves’ goodwill
As arms widen over the water; Love,
The key is turned. Extend yourself.
It is the Nile, the sun is shining,
Everywhere you turn is luck.
Capricorn (December 22nd to January 20th) - Micah
Proper navigation in life is the key for Capricorns. To be in full control, discipline manifests itself in the maintained balance between the personal and the professional, the material and the spiritual. The unwavering focus this star sign possesses, however, can be overwhelming. As such, this poem is attributed to the determined Capricorn who, once in a while, is encouraged to slow down, take a few steps back, and re-create the world they claim to know.
The Moths by Mary Oliver
There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
in the forest…
If you notice anything,
it leads you to notice
more and more…
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.
If I stopped
If I stopped and thought, maybe
can’t be saved,
the pain was unbearable.
Finally, I had noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.
How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows?
You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
The things of the moths catch the sunlight
Aquarius (January 21st to February 18th) - Micah
Logical at best, temperamental at worst, or is it the other way around? However free-spirited they may be, they often find themselves entrapped in their own intellectual realms no one else is able to tread upon. Katha Pollitt’s Mind-Body Problem is reflective of hard compromises an Aquarius has to make from time to time, but in no way does it entail that limitations have stopped them before.
Mind-Body Problem by Katha Pollitt
When I think of my youth I feel sorry not for myself but for my body. It was so direct
and simple, so rational in its desires,
wanting to be touched the way an otter
loves water, the way a giraffe
wants to amble the edge of the forest, nuzzling
the tender leaves at the tops of the trees. It seems
unfair, somehow that my body had to suffer
because I, by which I mean my mind, was saddled
with unfortunate high-minded romantic notions
that made me tyrannize and patronize it
like a cruel medieval baron, or an ambitious English-professor husband ashamed of his wife—
her love of sad movies, her budget casseroles
and regional vowels. Perhaps
my body would have liked to make some of our dates,
to come home at four in the morning and answer my scowl with “None of your business!” Perhaps
it would have liked more presents: silks, mascaras.
If we had a more democratic arrangement
we might even have come, despite our different backgrounds, to a grudging respect for each other, like Tony Curtis
and Sidney Poitier fleeing handcuffed together
instead of the curious shift of power
in which I find I am being reluctantly
dragged along by my body as though by some
swift and powerful dog. How eagerly
it plunges ahead, not stopping for anything,
as though it knows exactly where we are going.
Pisces (February 19th to March 20th) - Ticia
Like all the Pisces you know of, A Kind of Burning by Filipino poet Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta is able to present melancholy tucked beneath elegance. Pisces are some of the zodiac’s most gentle beings, always paying attention to beauty rendered in the littlest things. Ahead for the Pisces is a tale of distant love delicately woven together by lowercase letters and the smoothest flow; and in true Pisces fashion, a hint of wistfulness.
A Kind of Burning by Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta
it is perhaps because
one way or the other
we keep this distance
closeness will tug as apart
in many directions
in absolute din
how we love the same
trivial pursuits and
spoken or inert
claw at the same straws
pore over the same jigsaws
trying to make heads or tails
you take the edges
i take the center
keeping fancy guard
loving beyond what is there
you sling at the stars
i bedeck the weeds
straining in song or
profanities towards some
fabled meeting apart
from what dreams read
and suns dismantle
we have been all the hapless
lovers in this wayward world
in almost all kinds of ways
except we never really meet
but for this kind of burning.
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