Category Archives: poetry

Zuma a Day Before April Fool’s

Mulepoo

photo of Mule feces from wikimedia

 

Zuma a Day Before April Fool’s

A snake may have no ears,
but it doesn’t mean it is deaf. Under that
scaly head, attached to its jaws,
is something akin to hearing. It snares
vibrations and low frequencies in the air.

Having no legs, it moves swifter
than we expect, drawing fear
beyond reason. A man is no snake.
To compare one with the other
is far from fair. Worse

for the one who cannot protest
a single injustice, who prefers
to crawl away from harm.
But this man, chosen by those
we trust, he makes a fool of us,

coiling in laughter as people
are struck before him, laughter
resonant as a tree hollowed out
by termites. Surely the ancestors
can see and hear the way he slithers?

-o-

RELATED ARTICLE FROM THE MAIL AND GUARDIAN


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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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.


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.


A paper child is born

1 February 2017. Or nearly. As I start writing this it is 23:33 in Cape Town. It is already dawn where I was born. I wonder what it’s like in the UK where my new paper child, Wings of Smoke, has just been born.
A few years ago two books of mine came out at the same time, Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. I’m still very fond of those books. They broke the more than 10 years of publication silence I underwent. I was terrified what would happen to them, as if they were flesh and blood of mine. So I wrote a poem where I gave them names, Karu and Skin. That poem later appeared in another book, Sound Before Water.
I can’t remember if I’ve posted it here before, but it seems appropriate to share it as Wings of Smoke is born.
May you all find loving homes and eager readers, my paper children, sooner rather than later.

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

-o-

silly-photos-of-jim-082-adjusted


“The Breath of Sparrows” on Soundcloud

sparrow-from-wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

I have many fathers. One who gave me flesh and bone, a few who guided my first steps in the world of words, some who don’t even know I exist, and then many now no more than dust. I shall not name them here. There is no need.

In that vein I wrote “The Breath of Sparrows” years ago and posted its early version here on matangmanok. It now finds a final version in print form in my forthcoming book, Wings of Smoke (The Onslaught Press, UK, 2017).

I did a rough audio recording of it. Please click this LINK TO SOUNDCLOUD to listen to the final version of “The Breath of Sparrows.”

Tell me what you think, if you have the time or inclination.