Many Festivals Ago

Many festivals ago far away
from home, I woke up to a pale
full moon and soundlessly crept
over people sleeping on the soft
earth of the forest. The bonfire
had long since died, and there
among high branches embers
of fireflies. Crickets and snores
made a song of a butterflied
dream. Old trees rustled as if
awoken and gently swayed to
walk me towards you. And there
you were, dappled in moonlight,
head pillowed against a root,
chest rising and falling like a
mountain across ages. After all
the heavy drum beats, lambanog,
and dancing around a large, open
fire, here you were, quiet as a
cricket, cool as breeze, and there
I was, waiting for your mouth
to slightly open to the moon.

// Oct 2016


Somewhere on the islands, a landlord
knocks on a door, holding onto the
smell of something burning.

Somewhere on the islands, a man
in a leather jacket kisses a rosary
and heads out with a helmet.

Somewhere on the islands, an assistant
mortician sips more coffee for two
more hours of overtime.

Somewhere on the islands, a woman
in mourning dress steps on a creaking floor board
across her way to a job interview.

Somewhere on the islands, a foreigner
pulls out strips of packaging tape
over boxes of fragile secrets.

Somewhere on the islands, a lady
senator exclaims that she is not the one
crucified in this country.

Somewhere on the islands, a reformed
addict dances to a beat of zumba, feeling
new in his bones.

Somewhere on the islands, a child
points at a spot where she witnessed
her father's head shot.

Somewhere on the islands, a president
takes a leak, amusing himself of the name
Palace of the People.

Somewhere on the islands, a street aid
whistles to a popular song as he sweeps
empty bullet shells at dawn.

// Oct 2016

All We Need Is Durian

Never mind the priest or the pair of rings.

All we need is durian.
Its aroma does not choose anybody.
pervasive, unseen, its smell
saturates. Potentially deadly
like love.

We tread on a carpet of spikes.
If mishandled
we are bruised.
We take precaution in the smallest squabble.
We treat each other tenderly.

Just a little crack
can delicately open its cathedral.
Our trust is solid as its walls.
Our loyalty fixed and predictable as dawn
rising from its windows.

When our prickly rind falls off
we are sun
kissed flesh,
creamcake of perfect light and delight,
forever born.

One fruit, two bodies,
we take a bite of this sweet
custard bliss melting on our tongues,
to love, adore,
and cherish each other,
through yellow-stained teeth and skunky breaths,
till death do us part.

// Oct 2016


Long after you left, I finally decided to carve a little
space inside my heart. The bed was the first to go,
followed by the books we read aloud to each other,
and then the tableware we fed ourselves with

every night. I folded our letters into paper boats, gave
away the couch that cradled us, the carpet that held
our spent bodies, the wall mirror that always pieced
your eyes to mine. When I looked at it, I saw

only you. Or a figment of you. The last to go
was the pillow sunken where your head used to be.
I let go of that side of the bed where you used to
hold me. When everything was gone, the apartment

empty, I was left with nothing but the sinkhole
of myself, and from its depths, echoes of your name.

// Oct 2016

Kill Me Not Tonight

You found me for dead.
I could've faded quietly, without a mouth.
I was never meant to be like this:

My body tossed in the gutter.
My wrists roped blood-soaked.
My face wrapped in
packing tape.

This is how we died
ingloriously: on a trashed street
faceless and defenceless
with our crime
penned on a gravestone

I am one voice dead among

But I will not die tonight
for you will kill me

Kill me not with guns and knives.
Kill me with a sharp blade
of forgiveness.

Kill me not in anger and aggression.
Kill me with passive resistance
and a bouquet of peace.

Kill me not with a senseless hatred.
Kill me with a rose
of grace.

And if all of us don't walk free,
if one of us dies
it would not be failure, for he would die
in the name of love.

So when you aim your gun at me tonight
aim instead for the sky
and puncture the black night
with bullet holes.

// Sep 2016