Tag Archives: The Sound Before Water

A new version of The Sound Before Water

I wrote this poem many years ago. I thought I was finished with it. Then Robert Berold of Deep South Books worked on it again with me. So a new version was born and included in Bloodred Dragonflies. We’re launching the book on 3 May 2022 at 7pm at The Book Shoppe, 3 Arts Village, Plumstead, Cape Town.

I can take orders from South African readers or they can order the book through their local book shops. In the Philippines the book will be released by San Anselmo Publications – contact them on their Facebook page. International orders and the Ebook version are available through the African Books Collective Website.

I hope to have more readings in the coming weeks/months…

Here is the reborn version of The Sound Before Water which you can also listen to on Soundcloud.







My Poems Greet Readers First!

The slightly delayed release of New Coin’s first issue for 2013 finally arrived in my postbox the other day and I was ecstatic to see my poems featured so prominently. 🙂  No, it wasn’t just because my surname starts with “A” – I had that thought for a moment, too, upon opening the journal.

New Coin June 2013 cover

Here is a link about the current editor and what he says of the issue: Vonani Bila.

New Coin june 2013 contents page

Subscribe to NEW COIN. Why? Because you get to read amazing poetry from South Africa! I’ve been informed that my work has also been accepted for the December 2013 issue… (Jim does a silly dance). This means I have better chances of winning the DALRO Award again hahahaha – yeah, keep wishing, Jim!

New Coin DALRO PRIZE judge's report

Here’s one of my poems in the June 2013 issue… one of four poems.

New Coin june 2013 HOOKS AND FEATHERS

Subscribe and you get to read all four and a whole lot of other great poetry from South Africa! More great news to come in the next few days/weeks, so please keep visiting this little blog. Better yet, make me happy and consider purchasing my books from UST PUBLISHING HOUSE:

Sound Before Water

Alien to Any Skin

Baha-bahagdang Karupukan (shortlisted for the National Book Award)

and forthcoming … Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran

… end of self-promotion. Please move toward the EXIT in an orderly fashion. 😛

First Glimpse of the front cover for Sound Before Water

Copy of Sound Before Water front cover near final

Graphic designer John Marin Flores did the cover for my previous collection of poetry in English, Alien to Any Skin (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011). I hope readers will appreciate this one as well.

Sea Fireflies of Mindoro

Sea Fireflies of Mindoro
for Veronica

That was the last time
We laughed like children.
Water warm as the tropical air,

It was impossible
To grow cold and wish to leave
That darkening, calm beach.

We took moments to see
The water held
No mere reflection
Of the silent bursting of stars.

Points of light gathered
Round our limbs.
Wave a hand and they grew more
Luminous. We were surrounded.

Stilled. Galaxies
Unfurled with the gentlest
Sway and curl
Of our fingertips.

Beating lights traced our skin
That would never again be this
Close to constellations,
This warm.


Veronica is a very good friend whom I’ve known for many years. We call her Barok – the name of a character from a comic book back home – or Veroche (yes, it sounds like that other word for a type of bug) which the late Fr. James O’Brien did not approve of (perhaps jokingly? I’ll never know). She has worked with various tribes and sectors of Philppine society that do not often grace the headlines.

This poem tries to recapture a time when we were young. We were among a group of friends who shared the legacy of Fr. O’B’s Tulong-Dunong Scholarship Program. We had graduated from various universities by that time, and decided to go on a group holiday. I can’t remember how many we were who went on this particular trip to Mindoro’s coast, those beaches that are hopefully still as enchanting, though not entirely free of danger: tsunami, earthquake, poisonous sea snakes, to name a few.

It is Barok’s birthday today. Maligayang Kaarawan, mabuting kaibigan!

This poem was first published in UNDER THE STORM: An Anthology of  Contemporary Philippine Poetry (Manila 2011). I hope to see this in a new collection tentatively called The Sound Before Water.