I’ve said it before somewhere, if not here. Your place of birth is not for you to choose. And then, even when you’ve found your footing, there may be reasons to leave what you’ve known as home for another land where the people may not know a thing about you, or care. You may have to learn to negotiate new social mazes, get lost in them, in search of a new home.
Political border policies add another layer of branding you a stranger.
I wrote a poem years ago about this, “Birds will have Dominion When I Take Swallow Form.” It found a home in my book Sound Before Water. Now it has another chance of being read more widely through the Goodreads.com Newsletter (January 2018) should it win the current voting cycle. Yes, it’s basically a popularity contest. They also don’t give voters a lot of time as the deadline is 19 December.
If you’re still looking for a gift, my most recent book, WINGS OF SMOKE, is available online. It would be nice to hear from readers.
Maraming salamat po.
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
Most of my friends are scattered in various parts of the world. Not a single one was able to attend when I read at Off the Wall on Monday night.
It would have been nice to see familiar faces. But that night I also made new friends, I hope. Thank you to those who came to listen, and for those who wished they could’ve been there, I’ve made a brief recording and put it up on Soundcloud. Tell me what you think. And thanks again for all the support. Soon I hope to announce the release of A THOUSAND EYES.
It has to be one of the longest title for a poem – or at least a poem I’ve written. It was first published in Our Own Voice in September 2012. Today I remembered making an audio recording of me reading it. Click HERE or the photo to listen to it. I know it’s pretty rough and Kermit the Frog doesn’t like imitators. I am posting this recording as I send it to my mother back home who is very ill. I wonder if she can still hear me.
Photo found on Wikimedia by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html. I have a photograph of the same type of bird, one that sat on the bricks by the kitchen window. One day I hope to find it for sharing.
A few new poems got included in the latest issue of Sixfold. Here’s a page off the issue.
If you like this one (which is now included in a manuscript in search of a publisher) maybe you’ll like the others in the issue. HERE is the SIXFOLD link. And if you end up liking my other poems, then maybe you can show them to other readers and then… maybe find enough time to vote for my books that are nominated at the Filipino Readers Choice Awards. HERE is the link. 🙂
I know it’s a long shot, as it is basically a popularity contest (haha! an excuse for those who are left unread or with a less supportive group of friends perhaps?). But hey, worth a try. I’m currently recording some of the poems in the books and thinking of putting them up on Soundcloud… and always that question, why? Which should always be answered with WHY NOT?
Three poems from Sound Before Water have been posted on Dead Snakes. Please click THIS LINK to read them. Posting a comment (or three) will help encourage the editors to keep up their good work.
Thank you, Stephen, for making room for my work.