a new york poem

Poetry by | September 30, 2007

ten minutes before mass
you slip through the church doors
wrapped with time

you watch the sermon drone on
lifting its message
heavy with guilt
towards the blue
eggshell-painted arches
pillars pointing long white fingers
like stems, elongating
the shadows behind you

you bow your head
and close your eyes
in a brief murmur of amens
golden censers and fragrant incense
chasten your secret sins
dissolving the end of words
as your fingers trace the cross
laid bare on your withered chest

forty minutes later
you step over autumn’s dry leaves
feeling less brittle and
lighter for now.

The Bullet-Ridden Agong

Nonfiction by | September 23, 2007

By a great coincidence, the title I chose for the American overkill that occurred eighty years ago on a hill outside Jolo town matched that of the recent Tausug youth musical theatre entitled “Ang Antigong Agong.” These very creative descendants of a massacre by the American military of more than 1,000 Moros at Bud Dahu recreated symbolically through the search for the antique agong the agony and psychological black-out still lurking in the Moro soul.

Continue reading The Bullet-Ridden Agong

Heaven is Just Beyond the Cathedral Window

Poetry by | September 23, 2007

Half way between
one corner to the next
the soul walks right through neon

lighted city traffic
across the space where the doors
of the blue stained-glass cathedral opens

to walls painted
faces of innocent angels
their eyes chipped off

from age
looking vaguely at
the years passing.

Every thousand years or so
clouds gather above,

voices echo in chorus with
wind and the honk of city buses
all holy hymns, Hallelujah

Wandering their ears linger to
listen awhile then go
their busy ways to the beat of jazz

Beyond the cathedral window
one surely knows
Heaven is in there.

Kon Mahibalik pa Ako sa Pagkabata

Poetry by | September 23, 2007

Kon ipatuyok pagbalik ang taknaan sa kinabuhi
Ang katigulangon mosugod sa laing pagkabata
Sagopon ko na gayod nangataligam-ang mga hiyas.

Unya ampingan ko ang kahimsog sa panglawas
Magtungha nga madupoton aron silid makab-ot
Himoong dugokan sa haruhayng pagpakabuhi.

Kon kining kahimungawong midan-ag pa kaniadto
Sayo unta kong nakat-on sa bili sa buhat ug pagdaginot
Wala gyod ing mailiw sa pagpatighulog sa kahaponon.

Apan ngano bang naulahi kining kabasolanan
Wala unta ko magpasagad sa mga bisyo–
Sigarilyo, alak, hugoyhugoy sa kahilayan.

Sanglit tawo di na man gyod mahibalik sa pagkabata
Sa mga bag-ong subol sa henerasyon ko na lang ipasilsil
Ang leksiyon sa akong mga pagpasagad ug kasaypanan!


Poetry by | September 23, 2007

Black bugs sprinkled by the devil’s breath
Are black beans, actually, making me hungry.
Their odor rises, darkening the evening, and stoops
Down to strangle my neck.

More of them are wheedling other
Vendors around to pack up and
Go home. But my basket is still
Half-full of balut, I have bills to
Pay and sons to send
Tuition fees to.

These black bugs—be gone soon,
I pray!

Askal sa Balay ni Kuya

Poetry by | September 23, 2007

Ikog mikitoy-kitoy pagtukar sa karaoke;
ming kitiw-kitiw pagkita sa Rusty (baho).
Nagsinaw-sinaw ang ilong, nalingin-itom
pagsinimhot-simhot sa balhiboon ug
gipangkapoy nga mga bitiis: sikad gibalik;
hikap sa paghigugma nga way pinalabing iring.

Lawas miikyad-ikyad, luyo sa hapak sa tsinelas –
Spartan (hastang gahia, makabuak ug tay-ang lata);
apan sige gihapon, kay mao may naandan: si Kuya
muuli sa hapon ug dapat sugat-sugaton; simhuton.

Hala, gawas ug lili sa gamay’ng kang-a;
duna nay nag-alirong sa lamesa;
kawhat basig mahutdan;
kay ang damgo raba dili dyud kabayran—
sa gabii kon makatulog nga wa makakaplag ug nahot,
matabunan unya ang kalag sa sartin nga way sulod!

Socrates in a Dark Alley

Poetry by | September 23, 2007

Beware this ancient agent of wisdom
At the prime of his faculties
Before he was brought low by his drink

Beware the searching lantern eyes
Ever on the lookout
For the honest men of Greece

Beware the sharp silver tongue
That cuts with the confounding power of truth
Implacable corruptor of Athens’ fair-haired youth!

To him, all ground is fertile
Nowhere sacred, nowhere safe
Be it market, forum, palace, or temple

Beware those wiry hands
That reach out and grab
For victims of his method

Then with the force of a knife
He wrenches an answer to the essential question:
“Your money or your life?”

Stupid Complaints

Poetry by | September 16, 2007

I hate the speedy HH.
I hate the bumpy road to school.
I hate the scent of Manong Driver.

Complaints! Complaints! Complaints!
Don’t hate the speedy HH.
Let the air slap your face.
Smile. Close your eyes.
Listen to the rush of air.
You will hear the laughter of the earth.
Don’t hate the bumpy road to school.
Let the rocks in the road jolt you to the real.
Hold tight. Close your eyes.
Feel the stony path.
You will find there life’s ups and downs.
Don’t hate the scent of Manong Driver.
If he smells awful, let him be.
Breathe freely. Close your eyes.
In his scent you will sense
Man’s proud spirit towards life’s journeys.
Stop complaining. Just ride on.