The Driver’s Blessing

Poetry by | September 9, 2007

One day, I saw a driver
He was getting off his jeep
He ran to the roadside, stood against a wall
And became a priest
He stood with his legs apart
Looked up to the sky above
Bowed down his head in prayer
And clasped his hands in front of his hips
In silent supplication
In fervent adoration
Then he started to perform his rite
And suddenly out gushed
A spray of amber water
The driver has blessed the concrete wall
And washed away its sins

The Sound of Water

Poetry by | September 9, 2007

I like the sound of water
crooning like nature’s song
from a mountain’s secret streams
I like its voice, like a lover’s
echoing whispers
within a pool in a cavern
sometimes subtle, like dew
on a yawning leaf,
it can whoosh as if in a rush
and slap against daring rocks and ridges—
at times oddly thoughtful,
it putters and plops
and trickles on a window sill;
or merry, it blends
with the shrieks and splashes
of running naked limbs—
forbidding, it roars
with the force of an angry ocean;
hurt, it whimpers—the sound
muffled by a confining bottle
or glass—

quiet, it lies gagged and imprisoned,
locked by a trembling eyelid.

When I talk

Poetry by | September 2, 2007

When I talk
To you and you answer
With a sigh or
Asterisk I am at
A loss

For words just
As well
And then we converse
In long
Or short
Silences and a smattering
Of footnotes

You and I
We do not talk anymore
And all our asterisks
Are turning
Into flowers.

I was told you just died

Poetry by | September 2, 2007

All day long for two days I had longed to see you
Now you are dead
And all I have is this desire
Monumental and cracked
To run as fast as I can
Into the unyielding heat of the desert sun
Into the hot fury of my own heart
Where love long and immemorial
Could not save you
I was told you smiled on your way out
Knowing you it had to be the thousand little golden stars of your childhood
The ones that named you after their own light
Because like them you too are brilliant
And of another world
You were perhaps seven or eight again
Or maybe a grown man as you are now
Comforting yourself as you begin to die
Among the same stars that came to you in the same dream
Always in the softest glow and the scent of cinnamon


Poetry by | August 26, 2007

They say he is my brother.
Of dark brown skin and
curly mane,
he smells of brown earth,
for years living with little water.

The first time I saw him
was for diarrhea.
The second for schistosoma.

The third for worms and diarrhea.
He smelled of yellow earth
drowned in vinegar and gas.

But I like my brother,
template of innocence, alien dreams.
What is your name? I asked.
I’m Mandoliman, but call me Jim.
And your sisters at the bedside?
They’re Evelyn, Margie, and Jane.

I’m Mandoliman Marancing.
I don’t know my father and mother.
My older brother is a bum.
He got killed over a bottle of rum.

I smell the blood and the rum,
the future of little Mandoliman

Tulang Tumututol

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Paano kung ang tula ay may presyo?
Puwede nang pambayad sa bus,
sa dyipni, sa traysikel,
sa eroplano, sa grocery,
sa ilaw, sa tubig, sa kuryente?
Siguro lahat ay makikinig.

Paano kung ang tula ay may katawan?
Magpupursigi kaya itong ibenta
ang kaluluwa sa bangketa?
Paano kung ang tula ay maaari nang
pambayad-utang sa puting may-ari
ng pandaigdigang kalakalan?
Maiahon kaya nito ang Pilipinas sa kahirapan?

Ano ba ang magagawa ng makatang tulad ko
Na hanggang sulat lang ang kayang gawin?

Banana Cue

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Kanina pa kumukulo ang tiyan niya
Ngunit walang pumapansin sa kanya.
Napakadungis ng kanyang mukha’t katawan—
Sindungis ng saplot na basahan.

Isang ale ang naawa,
Inabuluyan siya ng isang piso.
Tumakbo siya sa nagtitinda ng banana cue.
“Makakakain na ako!” aniya sa sarili.
May ngiting gumuhit sa payat niyang pisngi.

Kinaumagahan, nakitang nakabulagta
Ang batang palaboy—
Namatay sa gutom dahil
Ang halaga ng banana cue
Ay limang piso na!

Dahil sa Isang Libro

Poetry by | August 26, 2007

Minsan sa aking buhay
Ako’y nagmistulang patay.
Humihinga nga na parang tao
Ngunit tumigil na sa pagtibok ang puso.
Pilit kong hinanap ang liwanag
Ngunit balot sa kadiliman ang aking daan.

Tumigil sa pag-inog ang aking mundo.

Hanggang ako’y nagising hawak ang isang libro.

At tumibok nang muli ang aking puso.
Narinig kong muli ang musika ng buhay.
Niyakap ko bawat salita ng natagpuang libro.

Bakit ganuon?
Nagsimula ang lahat nang dahil lang sa isang libro!
Binago ng isang libro ang aking buhay.
Isang librong tanging may larawan
Ng isang lalaking may koronang tinik sa ulo.


Poetry by | August 23, 2007

On our sixth anniversary
your parents surprised us
with ice cream and cake.
You cooked my favorite
dish and I brought sweet
red wine. We drank
to each other’s
happiness with a dagger
gleam in the eye. A toast
to a long life, knowing
this would be our last.