Love Letter to Greece

He said she was like Greece
At the time when the Euro debt blew up
A balloon that wouldn’t fly away
But sank deeper and deeper
Despite austerity, protests, and prayers

He said she was the Euro debt
A black hole sucking in Western Europe
Her long history of fiscal responsibility
Turned to Germany’s terrible investment
Saving her was trying to piece together egg shells
Because every sad person demands to be sad

But she had slits longer than her arms
Irrigation for the flowers of black and blue
Home-grown on paper-thin skin
All those years of training hands to withdraw from hot pots
And learning how to cross streets
But no one ever taught her that box cutters
Are only for cardboard boxes

No one else recognized on her face
The aftertaste of last night’s alcohol binge
No one saw the absence of Facebook posts
Something about the people awake at 3AM
Only I saw how she stretched her soul to fit her skin
Struggling for some semblance of comfort
Only I heard how she wished she were a puddle
A stone, a bed, dead, anything but feeling

He said she was like Greece, the Euro debt
I thought she was my mother
That one time she wore a necklace of ropes
I thought she was my brother
That night he carved his arms with a broken ruler
I thought she was someone I loved
I thought I saw her face before
I thought her eyes were mine a lifetime ago

He said the EU would be better off without Greece
So I wrote a letter of dissent
Followed up with one after the other
Tried to form my words into the shape of a blanket
Tried to form my words into the shape of her salvation
Tried to play god and hero
But only because I thought I knew
How it felt to be situated at the bottom of a sinkhole

He said she was a waste of time
At a time when she was asking me to wait
And I thought that if it weren’t in me to find my own place
The least I could be is someone’s safe space
So I wait

__

I was asked to participate in this spoken word activity in support of mental health awareness in the office. I remembered a friend who likened another friend to Greece.

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Pity (the girls)

Pity the girls who haven’t felt like
Shedding magical virgin tears
Who haven’t felt like daughters fucked by their fathers
Whose secret caverns remain far from the waters
Parched and barren

Pity the girls devoid
Of climax as Japanese waves swallowing Fuji,
Going over the moon, pushing stars
To surrender their bodies to the sea

Pity the girls who never felt like
The earth bearing herself in her own belly
Unfeeling planets at the edge of solar systems

Ah, but pity, too, the girls
Whose eyes sparkle at the prospect of apocalypse
Their breasts shining like headlights in darkened streets
Lips drooling with lust
Pity the girls
Whose skin your mother told you to never touch

Oh, these are not places for girls
Only spaces for pity

__

I was asked to participate in this spoken word activity in the office in commemoration of International Women’s Month. On the day of the event, I was drowning in deadlines so what I did was pull up a long-sitting draft in an almost forgotten folder and crafted an ending.  

our space

there have never been parents more proud of their child than us as lovers
looking at the cheap plastic dresser we pounded to entirety with our hands,
squatting over stained tiles, space for miles. we were building hopes
on weak dividers and mattresses an inch and a half thick each; making plans
of making arts with stomachs fed with tuna and Lucky Me

when nights grew quiet and car lights dimmed to turn open roads, as if reminding
Quezon Ave. that it, too, must rest, on nights as quiet as ours, we reached hands
over bodies, like sprouts seeking sunshine in each other’s breasts. i remember
as nostalgic dreamers do, warmth in the darkness of our dusty patched up room

our plates, we lifted from the floor with a bed tray we called chabudai.
my mother, she pitied with a mini-fridge, a mattress, and a washing machine.
the wide room, which grows even bigger with your occasional leaving, is now shrinking
in square feet. can you count, my love, as I do, the foundation of our romance
in the things we told ourselves we needed: one dining table, two creaking chairs,
one couch that is now, as I write, cursing our combined weight, four pillows, two bed
sheets, four towels, five shared shorts

one cat. except no one ever really told us that cats multiply in heat and that our family
of three will grow into six, then five, then eight, then seven and i would just watch
as our intertwined lives take shape at midnights over ashes and conversation

and i thought at second year, i’ll have realized that i’ll never be happy with a lover
and that i will always be ready with the certificate to prove that i am the cats’ mother;
and that warmth will always give way to the cold when we’re sleeping
and that some people are better left writing poems over things that once were,
counting furniture at a quarter past eleven. but looking over my shoulder only
to have cheeks meeting your lips, talking about whatever, i will
throw away all the money to fill all of this space until we lose the way to the door       

Searching for Winged

The elders kept chewing their words
Someone cut the children’s tongues

Memory played: pebbles rubbing rough
The soles of the feet, a body of water, and blood
The blade in her macopa hands slipping
To slice the silence with a clang

I feel wings but neither see nor hear them

All was written as legend
Yet as forgotten, almost unsaid

I never thought I’d

Your arms, your arms

I never thought I’d
Not hold hands, not
understand the ways you
believe, exist,
hurt,

          I
          beg

End the night,
Sleep, see again, tomorrow
Trade chances, I
think I’d want to
Stay with you

Your arms, For a while
I never thought I’d

Miss
the most

*Words plucked from someone’s tweets, rearranged for someone else

Ikaw ang Dagat Ko

Malimit ang tawag ng tubig
Balik-balik ang alon
Ang luha ko ay dagat
Sa kalawakan ng papel

Bawat titik ay tulala
Ang hikbi ay bula
Sa kalaliman, kadiliman
Walang piglas
Nalulunod

Ang buhay ko ay anod
Tahimik
Bago ang unos

Akay ka ng daluyong
Ang tayutay na nagkatawang tao
Ang wangis ng lalim, ng dilim
Ang banayad, ang ragasa
Ang pag-ibig, ang tula

Ikaw ang dagat ko

*Para kay Paul

Dreams of Red Beijing

They’re memories, lilies in a stagnant mind
Feet weren’t stepped but left prints
Ripples in the air perfumed with sweat and the scent
Of dimsum

Red Beijing, with women raven-haired
Shy eyes setting over ocean smiles
Their skin salmon pink or blue
Red Beijing, as in movies, touching
Is loving or fucking

Cigarettes as lanterns burning bright in starving mouths
Red Beijing as red lips seeking warmth
Women raven-haired and softly shedding
In some far away country that never was
Alive as ghosts in a dreaming mind