Category Archives: Mga Tula / Poetry

Poems from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN featured on The Houseboat

Someone thought this baby has something special

caspian and my watch

In an earlier post I mentioned a poem that I didn’t expect would get noticed. Got a nice surprise this morning.

The current judges of the Monthly Poetry! competition thought my poem has something special enough to be chosen as a finalist for the August Newsletter. It isn’t the biggest charmer among those chosen, but it’s got a lot going for it.

Donning my salesman’s hat here – all ragged and out of shape. :)

First, this poem has an unusual title: End of 2010: Another Science Fiction Year has Come and GoneNow, how many poems do you know can pull off that kind of title and still expect to be liked? hahahaha… almost falling off my chair here.

I’m not going to tell you that the other poems are not as good. Much of poetry comes down to taste. But if you want more than just a passing oooh and aaah, something that deals with more than just the pretty and easy, something that will make you stop for a moment and won’t let you slide back into the groove of the day, maybe you want to give this poem a chance.

If you do like it – odd as that may sound – please sign up with and the Poetry! group in order to vote for it. And tell others. Or at least tell me here. One day the poem might end up in a future collection tentatively titled SKY FOR SILENT WINGS.

Had my fun. Thanks for reading this. Oh, that cat is our stray Caspian. He has nothing to do with the poem. He’s there to attract readers.   :P  Or scare them.

An Updated Entry and a Ramble

The five poems of mine which appeared in the online Middle East Monitor needed links updates, so I might as well mention it here.  I hope the poems are still worth reading, years after they were written.

Now the ramble…

When I arrived here in Cape Town I worked briefly for a small company (mother and daughter owners) teaching little kids how to use the computer. It was an odd experience, but one of the many things I clearly remember was this strange sensation when I was referred to as someone who had come from “the Far East” – a phrase I’d never thought of.

For me, “the East” was not far at all. It’s home! And then if you really think about it, there is no East or West or North or South when you look at the globe. It’s a sphere and wherever you turn and keep going, you’ll end up just going round and round without reaching East, West, North, or South!

End of ramble. End of silly ramble.

wallet made in guatemala from susan

Another poem finds a home

Here’s some good news. Often when one sends out a poem to a publication there is a huge chance it will get lost if not outright rejected. Well sometimes one gets lucky. I wrote about such an event – small as it may be – in my blog for Alien to Any Skin.


Another poem from the forthcoming collection gets featured

self portrait in a nightmare“Parable of the Stupid Man” from my forthcoming poetry collection, Sound Before Water (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Manila 2013), has been featured on Toe Good Poetry! The link only stays while it is the feature poem, then you will have to find it in their archives.

I can say someone famous read the poem… like Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy. But I’m afraid it’s just me you’ll hear there.

Oh, you don’t have to press PLAY if you’d rather hear the poem in your own voice. Just read the text. Some things cannot be undone – “unheard” in this case – once you press that button.  :)

Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada – 11 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin

Rice Terraces 1996 aBanaue, Bontoc, Sagada
Agosto 1993

Hindi natin alam noon
na matatag pa sa inuupuang bubong
ng kalawanging dyip na rumaragasa
sa maputik na gilid ng Lalawigang
Kabundukan ang ating mga kataga.

Pinanginginig ng lamig at pangamba
ng paglalakbay sa bingit ng kamatayan
ang ating mga tinig, ngunit
nagpalitan pa rin tayo ng mga kuwento.
Para bang nasa matatag na lupa
ang mga paa, hindi ipinagwawasiwas
pagliku-liko ng dyip sa di-makitang
balikat ng bundok-bangin.

Banaue, Bontoc, at sa wakas Sagada.
Kapwa tayo dayuhan at manghang-mangha
sa mumunting himalang namalas,
mga himala ng kawalang-kapangyarihan
ng panahon sa daigdig na ito.
Dito nagsimula ang pagniig
nating dalawa ng mga kataga
at katahimikan.  Dito nagsimula

ang daigdig na atin pa lamang hahabiin.
Hindi pa natin alam noon.


This poem which appears in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan,  is 11 of 14 Love Poems. The following is a rough translation which I hope to improve at a later date.


Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada
August 1993

We had not known then
that our words were sturdier
than the rusty roof we were on,
the roof of a jeepney
hurtling through muddy dirt roads
on the edge of the Mountain Province.

Cold and the fear of
veering over cliffs
made our voices tremble,
but we kept trading stories.
As if our feet were on firm ground,
not being hurled from side to side
at every bend on the unseen shoulder
of the mountain.

Banaue, Bontoc, and at last Sagada.
We were both alien and awed:
time has been rendered powerless
here. This is where we started to merge
our words and silences.
This is where we began the world

which we were bound to weave.
We had not yet known then.


The Scar Examined at Midnight – 10 of 14 Love Poems from Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin


The Scar Examined at Midnight

tell me about that.  that scar.

it is a burn.  something has grown
over it that mimics skin.

my memory goes blurry
when you smoke.
i know you need to, but please don’t.
or i won’t tell you the story.

it is not a burn.
more like a reminder.
like some people stick notes
above doorknobs

so as not to forget
something they must take
before leaving.

i threw my arms around this woman
who wanted to leap into the fire.
but it was too late.

we held each other too late.

tell me about that.
yes, tell me about that.

  August 1998

This is poem appears in Alien to Any Skin  and is 10 of 14 Love Poems.

translation attempt
Ang Pilat na Inuusisa sa Hatinggabi

ikuwento mo sa akin ang tungkol diyan. iyang pilat.

pagkalapnos ito. tinubuan ng kung anong
halos katulad ng balat.

nanlalabo ang aking gunita
kapag naninigarilyo ka.
alam kong kailangan mo, pero puwede bang huwag.
o hindi ko ikukuwento sa iyo.

hindi ito pagkalapnos.
higit na pampaalala.
tulad ng pagpapaskil ng ibang tao
ng mumunting piraso ng papel na may tala
sa itaas ng tatangnan ng pinto

nang hindi malimutan
ang kailangang dalhin
bago lumisan.

niyakap ko ang babaeng ito
na nais lumundag sa apoy.
ngunit huli na.

nagyakapan kami, huli na.

ikuwento mo sa akin ang tungkol diyan.
oo, ikuwento mo.



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