Monthly Archives: March 2017

Date of Birth – originally posted on “days of stone”

Date of Birth

On the scorching final day of March
1969, multiple copies of a government document
were made to mark the birth of a child
just in time for afternoon siesta.

Though it bore his name,
chosen for him without asking
his consent, and the time
and date of his arrival, his weight,

the document said little else. Leaving him
to one day wonder whose hands
had pulled him out of his mother’s
flesh. Was that person careful

not to hurt him as she forced
open the child’s fists while counting
his fingers and toes? Did she listen
with her good ear as he took

his first breaths, listened as air
explored his lungs for the first time?
Was it a slow and intimate moment
or was the operating room

quickly wiped up and prepared
for the arrival of another child
before he could even test the limits
of his throat? Did she return

to see if he’d survived
his first hours? Or did she rush
home to her own?
Years later he would carry

a certified copy of that piece
of paper to prove his existence
to officials. But he himself
has no memory of being fished

out of a sea of watery darkness
to be held up in the humming
fluorescent light
and weighed.

-o-

This poem was written on 22 September 2016 (1324-1402) for the days of stone website of my good friend, Ryan Stone, who lives in Australia. One day I hope to finally meet my friend in person and thank him for reading my work and encouraging others to do the same.

If you are interested in my writing, my new book, Wings of Smoke, has just been released and available through various online retailers like Book Depository, Amazon and my publisher, The Onslaught Press. Readers in the Philippines may contact via Facebook my Manila-based publisher, UST Publishing House.

Writing starts largely as a solitary act. Any writing may as well be a leaf pressed by the elements between sand turned to stone if it is never read. Today I thank all those who have spent time with my words.

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Not my place to judge “Duterte’s dead”

One can only hope. That’s a line often uttered. Even I like it. That’s also what one says to oneself when submitting a piece of work for someone else to assess, to judge. That’s what I did when I posted “Duterte’s dead” here and when I entered it at the Goodreads.com poetry competition. It got honorable mention at least. But I was hoping it would at least be a finalist, just so more readers could read it. Well the decision’s out, now Goodreads members get to vote. And “Duterte’s dead” may live another day somewhere else, for some other reader to find.

At least it has been read here by over 500 visitors since it got posted. Thank you, dear readers.


Pretending to be an orc

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Yesterday I attended my first conference here in Cape Town. Organized by the University of the Western Cape, the event – WRITING FOR LIBERTY – had guest panelists from SA and many parts of the world. I wish I had the chance to listen to all the presentations and meet the excellent delegates.

For my part, I read six poems. In the final poem I decided to have some fun and read “To be an Orc” with a gruff voice. Made them all laugh. I wonder what they all thought of it.

I can’t promise to read that same poem that way again, but if you or anyone you know will be in or around Cape Town in the following days, I’ll try my best to make it worth your while listening to my work as I promote my new book, WINGS OF SMOKE.

30 March. 19h for 19h30 – Off the Wall Poetry at A Touch of Madness Restauant in Observatory

4 April. 18h for 18h30 – Kalk Bay Books

19 May. 14h30 – 15h30 – Franschhoek Literary Festival


Duterte’s dead

httpss.yimg.comnyapires1.2S30Kp_tWv.YqcaDoYQR8dg--YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9NDUwO2g9Mjc3O2lsPXBsYW Tony Perez photo of chick on top of coffin 17426098_1307916249295099_709865950848

photo by Erik de Castro found on Yahoo News

Duterte’s dead

are squirming with worms
that take the place
of forensic investigators.

They seek the shortest
and most efficient way
of exposing bone.

To those unacquainted
with the language
of final repose,

the worms render
each body
nearly identical.

Duterte’s dead
have lost the need
for food and water,

for the rare solace
of undisturbed moments
at the toilet.

Hope leaves no trace
in their hollowed skulls.
Only the living carry

that weight as they navigate
the mute streets, the dark
alleys, the witnesses

to the carnage.
Is there really
no memory in heaven?

-o-

The world seems to be on a tailspin – so-called leaders are intent on taking entire countries into variations of hell on earth. In my country of birth, it has been reported that over 8,000 people have been killed under the reign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Among the victims are children, innocent bystanders, and relatives who could not point to the whereabouts of a supposed target.

I entered this poem in the current Goodreads.com poetry competition. I don’t know if the good judges will choose it as a finalist, but I just wanted to put it out for as many readers as possible.

In the Philippines, there is a practice of not wiping the tears that fall on the coffin. It is also believed that if one places a young chick on the glass of the coffin with some seeds to peck at, those responsible for the death will never find peace.

The photo is credited to Erik de Castro, image found on Yahoo News.


PROMOTIONAL SAMPLER selected poems from Wings of Smoke

PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL for Wings of SmokeDSCF8849

Please send me a request if you wish to read this sampler.

Wings of Smoke is available worldwide through The Onslaught Press website, on Amazon and, for South African readers, through me (leave a message here).

I also put up an audio recording of the set on Soundcloud.com.


WINGS OF SMOKE copies now available for South African readers 

Check out @OnslaughtPress’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/OnslaughtPress/status/839565921622556672?s=09


Using what’s free to fight what’s wrong

protea going dry

I posted on Soundcloud.com audio recordings of both the original Filipino and English translation of my poem “Danica Mae” which won the Gabo Prize from Lunch Ticket. The texts were published here on Matangmanok as well as on Lunch Ticket.

I’m using Soundcloud as I have over 160 minutes of free time to fill. I thought I might as well use it as another platform to spread not just my poetry but to also express my disgust at the continuing murderous war on drugs policy of the Duterte regime in my country of birth.

I can’t say “Enjoy it!” as that is not the intention. Be bothered would be more apt.