Category Archives: North America

Sniffing Out Madness

One photo from a Donald Trump campaign caught my eye. Sometimes you need not look further.

Trump campaign crazy look lady terrified baby

To Remember

anti-war protest rally in London image from wikipedia

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.

July 2008

The Day the Dead Tree Fell

years of fear
have come to this

roots unearthed
longer than the arms of men
pointing skyward

the drone
of foreign planes

a hollow in the ground
deep enough
for a coffin

the silence
of loaded guns

all those fine veins
where something
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?
Spelled correctly?

August 2008

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,
calculated victory,
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
designed originally
by a previous generation
of gobbledygooks.

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.

December 2008

Listen to Matt Damon and Howard Zinn

I should have said HI to him when he came to South Africa to ride with Francois Pienaar on the Argus Cycle Tour around the Cape. His film choices and the things he reads and says in various interviews show a truly thinking person so rare from someone so popular.

Here’s one more from him, reading from Howard Zinn… click on the LINK.

A Bewitching Poem and three news items


By chance I discovered a stunning poem by a poet I had never before heard of. Toe Good Poetry which published one of my poems, “Parable of the Stupid Man,” not long ago, has featured Michaela A. Gabriel. Read the poem, listen to her reading. She’ll make you gasp for air!

NEWS ITEMS: Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Stop Prawer Plan the first two have been covered by various mainstream and independent media while the last one should be. 

I hope to write a poem for each item. Some day. Perhaps they won’t be as good as what Michaela A. Gabriel might write, but I’ll try anyway. 🙂

Poems on Middle East Monitor

On 6 August 2012 I sent a set of poems to the online edition of the Middle East Monitor. I waited for a reply, then just forgot about it. Then recently, with Israeli forces bombarding the population of Gaza which has been under siege for many years, I remembered these poems. I checked the Middle East Monitor website and found all of them had been posted.

UPDATED 17 July 2013

The links have changed.






The poems are in Alien to Any Skin.  Early versions also appeared on Matangmanok.

The Thief of Ideas

Translation has become a good way for me to cross between two types of consciousness – as one way of saying it. My Filipino roots and other influences come together when I write, but more so when I translate. Translation has become more than a bridge. It is now like a village with no gates or guards, the borders are always expanding if there are any at all: many ideas come together.

Translation has made me aware that what may seem easy to say in one language becomes a task in another. And often I find there are other ways of crossing the rushing waters – one can even leap. Of course sometimes one lands in a not so graceful way. There are always second, third attempts, or as many as it takes. Sometimes one has to choose another part of the river to cross, or find another river altogether. Hmmm mixing metaphors here now. haha.

Enough of that. I was getting more and more upset with the way a Senator from the Philippines has dragged the word “translation,” and, to my mind, is justifying the stealing of ideas.

This article will shed some light: PLAGIARISM COMPLAINTS VS SOTTO.

Here is an odd poem in two versions and two languages.



Each time his mouth opens, his dummy
falls to the ground. He wails
and protests. It is necessary
to speak to him in simple sentences.

Point out his errors and his heart
breaks like a cookie in a hand
in a jar. It won’t be long before
he trips on his own clumsy feet.

Don’t let him see you
laugh. He bites
like a dog.


version 2

Each time his mouth opens, his dummy
falls to the ground. His cries
sound like yelping hyenas. It is difficult
to reach him even with simple sentences.

Point out his errors and his heart
crumbles like a cookie in a grip.
It won’t be long before he trips
himself as if he had three legs.

Don’t let him see you
laugh. He gnashes
before he bites. Luckily
his teeth are falling out.



Tuwing bubuka ang kanyang bunganga, nalalaglag
ang kanyang dummy sa lupa. Umaatungal
at nagpoprotesta siya. Mahalagang kausapin
siyang gamit ang pinakasimpleng pangungusap.

Kung tukuyin mo ang kanyang pagkakamali
mabibiyak ang kanyang puso tulad ng biskwit
sa kamay sa loob ng garapon. Hindi magtatagal
bago siya matisod ng sariling mabubuway na paa.

Huwag hayaang makita ka niyang
tumatawa. Nangangagat siya
na parang aso.


version 2

Tuwing bubuka ang kanyang bunganga, nahuhulog
sa lupa ang kanyang dummy. Tunog hyena
ang kanyang palahaw. Kahit gumamit ng simpleng
pangungusap, mahirap pa rin siyang maabot.

Tukuyin ang kanyang mga pagkakamali
at madudurog ang kanyang puso, animo biskwit
sa kuyom na kamay. Hindi magtatagal bago patirin
niya ang sarili na tila may tatlong paa.

Huwag hayaang makita ka niyang
tumatawa. Magngingitngit siya
bago mangagat. Mabuti na lang
palagas na ang kanyang mga ngipin.


Molossus 1 Features Two Poems in Translation

David Shook’s Molossus 1 came out this November and two of my poems appear there in translation. “Akong Panginoon” is from my first book, Beneath an Angry Star (Anvil, Manila 1992) and “Si Taft Sa Kalabaw” is in Baha-bahagdang Karupukan.

I intend to release a revised bilingual edition of my first book, so I am busy translating quite a number of poems. I have a slightly longer blog entry in Filipino regarding this HERE.

Molossus means quite a few things. Quick Wikipedia visit gave these images:

Molossus is also a type of metrical foot (in poetry) and a few other meanings. So there. A new word to know (or not know). 🙂

TPP – ever heard of it?


Apparently it’s something like the Death Star. Need I say more?

Follow the links and find out for yourself:




Another poem from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN gets published!

One of my poems with a very long title that’s a dig and a stab after the initial tickle (or so I hope), has been published on the The Philippines Free Press website. I posted the news on my book blog for Alien to Any Skin.

I did a quick search on the event the poem tackles and found this:

Toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein

Toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein was a staged event, by U.S. soldiers, for the media. A Reuters long-shot of Firdos Square where the statue was located (see below) shows that the Square was nearly empty when Saddam was torn down. The Square was sealed off by the U.S. military. The 200 people milling about were U.S. Marines, international press and Iraqis. However, the media portrayed it as an event of the Iraqi people.


An American military vehicle actually pulled down the statue. Marine Corporal Ed Chin, who temporarily placed a U.S. flag over Saddam’s face, became an instant media celebrity. His sister, Connie, appeared on the “Today” show and spoke with her brother via a video hook-up.

Military Admits Statue Toppling was a Psyops Stunt

On Point, a US army report on lessons learned from the war, notes that it was a Marine colonel, not Iraqi civilians, who decided to topple the statue. “We moved our [tactical PSYOP team] TPT vehicle forward and started to run around seeing what they needed us to do to facilitate their mission,” states a U.S. military officer involved in the operation. “There was a large media circus at this location (I guess the Palestine Hotel was a media center at the time), almost as many reporters as there were Iraqis, as the hotel was right adjacent to the Al-Firdos Square. The Marine Corps colonel in the area saw the Saddam statue as a target of opportunity and decided that the statue must come down.” The pyschological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, packed the scene with Iraqi children, and stepped in to readjust the props when one of the soldiers draped an American flag over the statue. “God bless them, but we were thinking from PSYOP school that this was just bad news,” the officer reported. “We didn’t want to look like an occupation force, and some of the Iraqis were saying, ‘No, we want an Iraqi flag!’ So I said ‘No problem, somebody get me an Iraqi flag.’ “



“Going Retro: The Victorious Army of Gobbledygooks Penetrates the City” was written in December 2008.

I Wonder if People Like “People Like You”

Ok that just sounded silly as a title. But catchy in a weird way. CLICK THIS LINK to get to the relevant post regarding this poem.