Face the heavy wooden door from the old house
to the direction of the rising sun and move on
from what is done and cannot be undone. Mirrors
must reflect the morning light and outdoor plants
—not the stubs of candles from last year’s feasts,
the cardboard boxes filled with broken electronics
or the moss-worn garden statues, grey and ruined
by the incessant rains, these sad errors of saints,
the fear of what is new and terrifyingly unfamiliar.
There is no testing the future with one naked toe
into the cold measures of foreseeing. It all flows
and follows the path of the waxing crescent moon
the uncertain rise of curling smoke of an incense
burning as a bird calls on starless night.
Continue reading Feng Shui
What exactly did you see, Pablo, when–ripped
–the sky opened and revealed to you its bowels
of planets and plantation? What precisely
did you find, Allen, the day it rained of sun
-flowers and Bill spoke to you of tigers burning
and thundering? What was it like to stop
hearing Love’s voice, Villa, and wrestling
with God head to head? To question accuracies
of visions, hallucinations, talking to the dead,
do words, their true grave, have the answers?
I went back to the basics of prayer: the bible,
a black book of verses fat with loosened leaves,
sweet angels of Ramadan, an empty room save
for a bed and a glass of water. Walter learned
in the dark the secrets of atoms and of grass,
of love, of boys, and of marching drums. Am I
doing this right? Kneeling before rosary,
saying my Hail Mary fifty times a day, six days
in a week, asking her, hey, holy mother of god,
is this prayer poetry, or every poetry a prayer?
Jeffrey Javier received his BA in English (Creative Writing) from UP Mindanao. He was a fellow for poetry at both the Silliman University National Writers Workshop and the Iligan Writers Workshop.
“We no longer need to know war the way you learned it, sir,” I said to uncle as I wheeled him out to the graveled path on the front yard, to give him his monthly haircut, to suit him up in his old jacket. He grumbled and cursed, and chewed what was left of his gums, squishy noises they made with his tongue. He took out a photo from the breast pocket, the only photo he had of them three brothers. The only photo he knew.
Now with pasty skin, camphor smell, and milky eyes, uncle saw my father cry once. It was in the photo. They had fought at the front line during wartime in the south. Eldest among the three, my father bent over by the window. The morning sun slanted high—perhaps mirrored—to the ceiling. Sunlight or artificial light, either way, the light gave no warmth in the hospital room, only the starkness of shadows, the nakedness of the shiny floor. My uncle had just kissed their youngest brother in his deathbed and covered his still pliant body with cloth. A journalist caught the scene and the photo ran in the newspapers, in magazines, through international news agencies, through the wires, through the web. It reached the heavens, but God did not care. Abroad, it won an award, while back at home, my uncle lost everything.
Continue reading "We no longer need to know war…"
In solitude, she picks the pebbles one by one, big and small, round and edged, and stacks them in the middle of her garden. Not to build a tower and climb its circular stair; to raise a fountain into the sky is not to defy the gods but to honor them with air and water spiking and sprouting from the land. The stones swell up and the mound takes the shape of the layering years when the mosses have not yet reached the necks of her sculptures. She looks at them now and then squinting from the sun’s glare wondering how long it will take the merchants to be lost on her side of the island once more.
Continue reading Medusa's Garden
The day Doy left with his motorbike, our little white cat Fishy began mewling on the front yard. She had lost half of her weight and her eyes were always watery and flaky. She would not eat or drink and her breathing was getting heavier day after day. I didn’t know what happened to her. Had she eaten something? Did our tomcat Porky rape her? I didn’t know. All I knew was she was dying.
Doy found her five months ago together with Pating the day he showed up with his motorbike. They were in a box just out of the gate and he carried them up to my apartment. Doy had said before that he had a surprise for me. I thought it was the kittens, but it turned out to be the bike. He told me how he tricked his old man into buying him that shiny black bike. He promised me that he would take me anywhere with his bike, helmets off, from the beaches of Mati to the mountains of Cotabato. But I liked the cats better.
Continue reading Fishy
I once wrote it like how I drop a stone on still water. The first word would splash and the lines thereafter ripple in and out of paper going back to the first words and out again to the margins, through the fibers and on the four corners on this thin crust of a paper, now shivering on the creases, waves rolling, tsunamis mounting, swallowing monuments and mountains, roaring and marching in and out the field, multiplying liquid soldiers, one ripple clashing against the other, creating more splashes and little spheres up on the air.
Continue reading Poem
Everybody has a boyfriend named Jonathan. Johnny, Jonas, Junjun, Nathan, Anthony, Tony, Wanwan, Tantan.
Skin glistening with sweat, Jonathans always talk rough, walk big, and hang out with their guys after a basketball game. They have clean haircuts, pressed shirts, big backpacks, and white rubber shoes. When they are with a girl, they hold doors, shake their shoulders and puff their chests like young roosters.
These Jonathans will have roses and chocolates, candlelit dinners for two, and quick kisses in dark movie houses. You practice your lips every Friday night for a date on Saturdays with Anthony.
Continue reading Jonathan
I went back to her house and banged on the door. She opened it a little. She looked surprised.
“I’m a woman,” I said, lifting up my shirt and risking the catarrh.
She smiled.“I know.”
I didn’t go home.I stayed.
– Jeanette Winterson, “The Queen of Spades”, The Passion
She finally came into my stall that first night of May, wanting her future to be foretold. She wore a soldier’s uniform, stolen from a man’s wardrobe, hiding the soft form of her body. When I revealed to her that she would meet a love she would regret, she reached for my mask and peered into my eyes.
“Green,” she said, “like turbulent body of water.” She walked away without paying.
When the fairground closed down, she was waiting outside the cobbled street. She didn’t mind the cold air. She followed me home, tailing distances behind me, hiding in dark alleyways. On my door, she knocked only once, twice. I opened it. I asked her to leave if she was only looking for fun.
“The carnival has ended,” she said.
That was when the real night began. She entered and she stayed.
But she won’t stay that long. Her body says so.
Continue reading Empty Spot