Monthly Archives: January 2011

How to Sell a Child Door to Door

How to Sell a Child Door to Door
version 2

tell them this child has no parent
and can only bring joy
to its new home
bring light and promise
into the room
as it silently sits
in their hands
even as the world burns
outside the window

tell them everything
they want to hear
that might make them smile
anything just to get
this child’s little foot
in the door

do not dare mention
the way this child looks
at the shadow
of a hand crawling
on the door knob

do not bat an eyelid
should the child
gasp at fragments
of moth wings
by the kettle

no one invites sorrow
into their lives

then again, only the weight
of sorrow can keep
the balance of life


I was going to post something else, but then this one just came to me now, a first draft as drafts can come.  Not even sure if it makes any sense yet.

Of course I know why I wrote this.  And no, I won’t tell. Except that there are two, and they are made of paper.

UPDATE.   Decided to take out the first draft and put in version 2.  🙂

The ALIENS have landed

The cover for Alien to Any Skin, photograph and design by John Marin Flores

Well, the copies of Alien to Any Skin, that is.  🙂  Now “Skin” can keep her twin sister “Karu”  (Baha-bahagdang Karupukan) company.  They can both wait together for new homes.  A bit like orphans, but definitely unlike Annie.  Oh my.  I need my coffee.

The kind folks of UST Publishing House will need two weeks before proper marketing and distribution can start, not that there are masses of eager readers at the gate.  🙂

This news comes as the world spins into further chaos and re-arrangement — floods, explosions in buses and airports, street protests, volcanic eruptions, drone fighter plane murders, new births.

ps I have foolishly convinced myself that a blog for each book should be put up.  so here: ALIEN TO ANY SKIN and BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN

Gray Things

Over eight years ago when we found out my wife was pregnant, she had to have her blood tested.  The results came back quickly and the doctor sat us down.  She told us the results of the test meant either of two things:

A.  the pregnancy was a lot further on than we had expected, or

B.  we were not having just one child

I think the sudden silence eventually gave in to laughter laced with disbelief.  Or at least that is the memory I would rather remember.  I am almost sure we didn’t weep or jump for joy or hand out free bus tickets (hand out bus tickets??? who does that???).

Once it was confirmed with a few other tests that indeed we were having twin girls, we changed our doctor.  Hahaha, no, not because she gave us such shocking news, but because she recommended a paediatrician who has had twins and practices closer to where we live.

That doctor talked us through a lot.  He helped us choose a date for the birth – we had to since twin births are usually more dangerous.  So at dawn on 24 September 2002 we drove in the half-dark for a Caesarean operation at 8:00 AM.  There was a lot of drama that day, induced (haha, I can laugh at it now, but hell it wasn’t funny then) by the anaesthetist who was half an hour late.

I was only allowed in the operating room after a long wait.  I shall spare the gory details of skin spread out like an umbrella, all the cutting instruments dulled by blood, etc.  You don’t need to know any of that for now.  🙂

Our twin girls were born half a minute from each other.  (At the moment they have this silly notion that one is older than the other.  But really, I was there and I cannot remember who came first, to be honest.  I was just shown two alien looking gray things that squirmed.)

Well, leap into today, 25 January 2011.  I am having twins again but they are being born on different days.  The first one, let’s call her “Karu” – short for Baha-bahagdang Karupukan – was born today.  I have been told her twin sister, “Skin” – for Alien to Any Skin – will be delivered sometime this week.  Thus, twin books for a daddy of twins.  It was the poet Gemino Abad who first pointed this out to me because I think I was too overwhelmed to realize the news then.


The Tangled Bank Anthology Finally in Print!

Quick Note on a Translation Attempt

Not long ago I wrote a poem for my mother, “Pauwi sa Ngiti”.  I said I’d try to translate it.  Well I finished a first attempt and have posted it in one of the discussion boards I’ve been a member of for some time now.  HERE IS THE LINK

No Longer Mine

I got word yesterday that Baha-bahagdang Karupukan should be leaving the doors of the printers sometime this month.  Alien to Any Skin should follow soon after that.  I am excited, terrified, and a little sad.  Finally they are going to brave the world which brings a sense of worry not that different from a parent with a child opening the gate on his/her own.  Sad, well, I am not physically there to open the first bundle, turn the cover, feel the paper between my fingers, sense the reality that my work is no longer just mine.

Joanna Ruiz designed the cover.  The spikes are that of a Brazilian Kapok tree.

cover for Alien to Any Skin John Marin Flores made magic with a photograph from his portfolio.

A million thanks to Jing Hidalgo and Sam Macaisa of UST Publishing House for all their kind support and endless patience.

Now I need to find my salesman’s hat.  Or, as a good friend warned, these pages might end up as cockroach fodder.

First Day of 2011 Nearly Over

So what was the highlight of this day?  Hours spent at the only pharmacy that was open today after 5pm to get a prescription sorted out for my daughter who was stung by an insect in the garden.  She has a history of allergic reactions, and not knowing what stung her added an interesting level of guesswork for the young doctor who saw her at the emergency ward.  Apparently the young doctor has had a full day of treating patients with various types of insect stings.  It must have been a busy time for critters of all sorts today after the unexpected downpour – thunder and summer rain on New Year’s Day!

Now just reading up on a few bits of news before midnight strikes and then this one hit me:  ISRAELI FORCES KILL FEMALE PROTESTER IN BIL’IN

Watch Palestinians protest against the APARTHEID WALL here.

How does one’s minuscule life compare to such tragedy?

The Dragon Machine by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson – a quick note

The Dragon MachineThe Dragon Machine by Helen Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This magical book introduced me to the work of Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson. We got it originally from the library a number of times before we decided to look for a secondhand copy online. South Africa is not an easy place to find books.

The illustrations capture the solitude of George’s world, glimmers of colour among the mostly gray background. The burning curiosity of a child is the key to this beautiful tale worth reading over and over again.

View all my reviews

Mangangaso – subok-salin ng “Hunter” ni Bjork

mula sa Homogenic ni Bjork

Kung paghahanap ang paglalakbay
At natagpuan na ang tahanan

Hindi ako hihinto

Hahayo ako upang mangaso
Ako ang mangangaso
Mag-uuwi ako ng yaman
Ngunit ‘di ko alam kung kailan

Akala ko kay daling ilatag ang kalayaan
Ay, tunay akong Scandinavian
Nahulaan mo agad, ano?

Naamoy mo iyon
Kaya mag-isa akong iniwan
Upang wakasan ang pakay
Ngayon lilisanin ko ang lahat

Hahayo ako upang mangaso
Ako ang mangangaso

(Hindi mo lang ako kilala!)

(Hindi mo lang ako kilala)

from Homogenic by Bjork

If travel is searching
and home has been found

I’m not stopping

I’m going hunting
I’m the hunter
I’ll bring back the goods
but I don’t know when

I thought I could organise freedom
how Scandinavian of me
you sussed it out, didn’t you?

You could smell it
so you left me on my own
to complete the mission
now I’m leaving it all behind

I’m going hunting
I’m the hunter

(You just didn’t know me!)

(You just didn’t know me)

Alas dos ng madaling araw dito sa Cape Town, pasado alas siyete ng umaga sa lupang kinagisnan.  Hindi pa ako dinadapuan ng tulog.  Kakaibang-kakaiba ang pagdiriwang ng Bagong Taon dito.  Mas tahimik.  Madalas ang ingay ng kasiyahan ay kakambal ng di-mabilang na bote ng alak.  Hindi paputok ang kinatatakutan kundi ang mga lasing na nagpipilit magmaneho.

Pero hindi iyan ang gusto kong sabihin ngayon.  Tinapos ko ang pagsasalin na sinimulan ko noong isang linggo.  Hindi ko alam kung may ibang interesado bukod sa bagong kaibigang dumadalaw ngayon dito, pero sana magkapanahon akong buuin ang pagsasalin ng lahat ng mga akda ni Bjork – ang isa sa pinakamalaking impluwensya ko mula noong lumipat ako rito sa Timog Afrika.  Ang iba pang natagpuan kong mga bagong kakambal-kaluluwa ay sina Nina Simone, Daniel Lanois, Tom McRae, Arvo Part at Stephan Micus.  Hindi ko maipaliwanag kung bakit.

At muntik ko nang makalimutan.  MAPAYAPA AT MAPAGPALAYANG BAGONG TAON!  2011 na at ilalathala na ang aking dalawang bagong aklat!!!!