Category Archives: Mga Tula / Poetry
Early versions of two poems were accepted and published on Poppy Road Review on 10 May 2014. Around the same time one of the manuscripts I put together was accepted for publication. Both poems will be in the new book hopefully to be released in 2015 by my faithful publisher, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. I said “early versions” because I have since revised the poems and the final versions will be in A THOUSAND EYES.
Thank you to all my readers.
The task of writing may seem to end when you lift your pen off the page or stop touching the keyboard/glass surface (or whatever gadget you may use, stick and sand?). But until it’s read – and hopefully received – in a positive or negative way, it hasn’t finished its journey.
A poem I recently wrote, “Falling in Reverse,” was noticed by the judges of an online poetry competition. I hope you consider voting for it after reading up all the finalists’ entries. Thank you.
In January 2011 my two books were born: Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin. I was elated to have those two books published (both by UST Publishing House) for it had been a long gap since the last collection (Salimbayan, 1994). Soon after I wrote the first draft of the following poem. This one eventually joined a new set of poems that would become Sound Before Water (UST Publishing House, 2013), a much slimmer volume than the previous two which contain poetry from over 15 years. In a forthcoming review of this new collection this poem gets mentioned for the oddity of its title. I am posting this version – the one that is now in the book, as if being in book form makes it final! – perhaps as an invitation to adopt my paper children and make room for them in a new home.
It pains me not to be in the same country where these paper children are born. All I can do from where I am is tell as many people online how much I wish and hope the best for them. I will post a link to the review once it is available. For now, I share this with you.
How to Sell a Child Door to Door
for Karu and Skin, my paper children
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 bat an eyelid
should the child
gasp at fragments
of moth wings
by the kettle
no one invites sorrow
into their lives
My poem has little chance of winning in a popularity contest, but when you get readers who say something like this, then I feel the poem has already won. Thank you, Murray.
End of life; beginning of life. I went for the beginning, ‘Glimpses’, not because I think beginnings are better, but because the shock of birth and the fragility of the neonate were so delicately handled. Handled, that is, with an economy of words not in the other poems. Second vote would have gone to ‘That long quiet’. Those two poems stand head and shoulders above the rest, and I say that, whatever the outcome of the popular vote.
To remember is an attempt to piece together what can never be one again. The time, the place, the scent of flesh once beating. Today marks the invasion of Iraq. It seems the rest of the world has forgotten.
The following poems appear in my book Alien to Any Skin (UST Publishing House, 2011). Should I thank GW Bush for writing them?
Just This One
Art. 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she
has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures
of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
The Fourth Geneva Convention
When someone says “Think about the bigger picture,”
I hide. My life has the legs of an ant. I find the resilience
of pebbles more inviting. They smooth themselves on riverbeds,
current rushing over their backs, pushing them to cling
with other pebbles or grains of sand pounded to near nothingness.
There are so many of them, too many to count. Each one
has something the others do not possess. Perhaps the thinnest streak
of brown, the sligthest indentation, the faintest crack.
Even when they are broken they are never the same. Caress
the jagged edge of this one with your index finger. Just this one.
The Day the Dead Tree Fell
years of fear
have come to this
longer than the arms of men
of foreign planes
a hollow in the ground
for a coffin
of loaded guns
all those fine veins
used to flow
November 2008 – August 2010
for the leader of invading forces
When you put your shoes on this morning,
do you remember which foot came first?
Does someone tell you when your collar gets stuck inside your shirt?
Do you let that person touch you?
What colours make your eyes stop searching?
Are those the ones you like or the ones you hate?
How many people have you met that had an extra finger
and wasn’t shy about it?
Have you ever held a firefly in your palms?
Was it warm? Were you alone?
When you close your eyes,
whose face lingers?
What was the first word you learned to write?
Did you use a pencil or a crayon or a borrowed pen?
If you had a dog, would you name it
after the person who blew up your house?
Is there something on my forehead
that only you can read?
Can you tell if someone is lying
or just scared?
Will my name be on a piece of paper?
Going Retro: The Victorious Army of Gobbledygooks Penetrates the City
“Why do they hate us? We’re setting them free!”
A foot soldier
They were expecting
sweaty hugs and kisses
from dark veiled women
and their adoring children.
Ears cocked, they anticipated the struggle
of the local band in playing
their beloved anthem,
as if it were not foreign.
But only hollow,
sporadic shouting of men
who gathered from nowhere
welcomed the forces.
The army was laden
with a quick,
craving for popular jubilation.
Instead, this caricature of a show
put on by these nowhere men.
Stick figures in the desert sun,
sure of only one thing:
Tear down the giant statue
by a previous generation
This show had been triangulated
for the world to see
moment by breathless moment
on their most trusted TV.
And then what? An awkward silence
as the statue grates to a stop,
refusing to crash down. A monologue broken
by coughing in the background, off camera.
Days later when the local population
finally came out with their voices raised,
the victorious gobbledygooks felt
strangely welcome, unable to decipher
Joy and ecstasy from utter hatred.
It is only now with proper translation
years later that we have
a clear understanding of gang rape.
I will update this post as I get a chance. I originally wrote this poem after seeing a short video for a Poetry International competition (the poem was a finalist, too). The video can be viewed by choosing the photo of a puppet HERE.
other plans for this poem later.
Meanwhile, please do READ THE POEM, consider joining Goodreads.com and the Poetry! group so you can vote for it… or another poem you may perceive to be more worthy. Just being read alone would be nice.
UPDATE… my poem needs more votes… hmmm… not much I can do from here but wish. haha. oh well. thanks to those who voted! I don’t know when voting ends.