Carrion Flies and Congressmen
for De Lima and Dayan
Carrion flies, not Congressmen,
these buzzing before us. Unable
to keep themselves from prying
into flesh, they push their blunt
and moist mouths to break down
each morsel that they may suck
some sick nourishment. Compound
eyes unblinking, they imagine fragments
of wet dreams while questioning
a witness in the cold halls of Congress
that might as well be a makeshift morgue,
an EJK cottage industry offshoot.
Their wings transparent with such dark
veins, quivering with every imagined
movement of limbs behind closed doors.
Their feet have tongues that taste
possible fodder. Lust and love,
these flies could never have.
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Utot ng Hari
18 Nobyembre 2016, Araw ng Kandilang Nakahiga
“Huwag ninyong buksan ang kabaong
ng nakaraan,” sabi ng Bagong Hari-
harian sa lupain ng rangya at hikahos.
“Ako lamang ang may karapatang pumili
ng maaaring ungkatin mula sa tagpi-
tagping kasaysayan ng bayan.”
Bago pa siya naupo sa trono
na singkinang ng inidoro,
naamoy na natin ang hangin
mula sa kanyang katimugan.
Bakit pa kaya may nagugulat
kunwa sa sangsang ngayon
ng kanyang pinakawalan,
tila sawang lumilingkis
sa ating gunita at katinuan.
My apologies to dear friends and readers who cannot read Filipino. This is a first draft of my attempt to respond to the “Thief in the Night” style burial at the Cemetery for Heroes of the wax image/remains of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos done at noon, Philippine time by his family.
The English version of my poem, “Danica Mae,” along with two other older poems of mine I translated from the original Filipino, have been chosen by Mark Statman, guest judge for Lunch Ticket’s Gabo Prize in Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts.
They made the announcement a few days ago.
While Lunch Ticket prepares for the early December launch of their new issue which will feature my work alongside two other finalists, you can read the original Filipino version of “Danica Mae” HERE.
I wish to thank Alli Marini and Jennifer McCharen, founders of the Gabo Prize, as well as Arielle Silver, Lunch Ticket editor, and Mark Statman for allowing new readers to discover my work.
It took me this long to share the news of the release of my first (and perhaps last) short story collection in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA. My Philippine publisher, UST Publishing House, has made the title available and announced it on 19 October 2016 on their Facebook post. I’m hoping a launch of sorts would follow, but times are difficult at the moment. My previous attempts to do a virtual launch for my recent poetry collection, A THOUSAND EYES, never materialized.
My own sister has warned me not to come home because of what’s been happening. Anyone can be killed and be declared a drug user or drug pusher. Anyone. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed since Duterte took to the presidency. That and the tight budget keep me from booking a flight back home. Home. That’s a tough word to say when you have your heart in too many places and official documents and procedures – aside from economics – bar you from moving freely among your loved ones. I include my paper children among my loved ones.
Sanga sa Basang Lupa took a long time to be born. If you read Filipino fiction, I hope you give this paper child of mine a chance. Apparently not many short story collections in Filipino get put out there these days. Mine took over 20 years to see the light. Please take care of this one, dear reader. Maraming salamat.
I was interviewed by Bookwatch, the National Book Development Board’s publication. The print issue was meant for release at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The online version may be read HERE. At the end of the interview is a poem with a rather long title. For those who know little about what’s been happening in my country of birth, you could maybe do an online search on the following phrases: EJK, extrajudicial killing, war on drugs, Duterte.
Here’s a screen grab from the issue. Hope you read the whole interview and those of other Filipino writers currently writing and living in other parts of the world. I would love to hear what you think of the poem and the interview. Thank you in advance.