Para sa Aking mga Kaibigan

Hindi ko alam kung paano magsasabi
Nang sabay mong maintindihan at hindi maintindihan
Na ang ibig kong sabihi’y wala, nawawala’t nagwawala
Na ang ibig kong sabihi’y sana’y meron kang tenga
Kung pantapat lamang sa kawalan ko ng dila

Hindi ko sasabihing ako’y balisa
Alam kong karamay ko ang mundo
Bilyong mga taong hindi naging maligaya sa bahay, sa eskwela
Sa piling o hindi ng kaibigan at pamilya
Ang isasagot sa akin ay litanyang nakalilok na sa memorya
Tila dasal tuwing semana santa
Ako’y titikom upang hithitin ang lahat ng himutok na usok sa aking baga
Naiintindihan ko naman (yata) pero isipin mo rin sana
Kahit minsa’y hindi ko inginiti ang katotohanang nangangarap tayong mamatay

Hindi ako magsasalita dahil naibenta ko na ang aking bibig
Siko, suso, katawan kapalit ng mga saysay na tiwala kong ibinahagi
At maniwala ka na sa oras na ako’y umiyak sa iyong handang balikat
Maulit kong pipiliting tipuning muli ang luha bago ako matulog o hindi matulog

Ang dabog ay sa dibdib, ang hiyaw ay sa lalamunan
Pikit-matang pag-iimpit; walang dabog, walang pasa
Mga kuwentong hindi kailanman iluluwal ngunit ilang beses kong
Susubukang isilang bawat gabing ako’y tumitipa ng talinghaga
Para sa mga mata mong hindi naman nakakabasa

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we were going to be legends

at five, the race was to discover eyelashes
and all the other details that make a human face
the winner was the most lines on a stick figure

we memorized the solar system in order from sun to pluto
we took note of roman numbers, one to a thousand
we were going to be on books and all of the papers
we were going to be legends

at fifteen, we traded pleated skirts for ripped jeans
trying our hand at eyeliners as seen on mtv
they didn’t understand, but we knew
as if memories of past lives; as if etched in our finger prints
we were going to spill on a sea of people
we were going to be loved

at twenty-three, we were designing skyscrapers
on freshly printed resumes and gleaming headshots
the future had never been this tangible
life was the thrill of uncertainty
and we were going to be the difference
we were going to reverberate throughout history

when did myopic eyes learn to view
with satellite precision its own global position?
when did the big fish shed its pearl-white scales
to reveal a paper shell?
why does everyone know about eyelashes?
why does everyone know about roman numbers?
why does everyone have inch-thick kohl cat eyes?

we were going to be somewhere
you were going to see us on tv
we were going to be remembered
we were going to be legends

Bajau

nangangapal sa kalyo ang talampakang
walang init na nadarama; sanay sa hapdi
ng araw sa inaraw-araw na paghabol ng jeep

noo’y ugoy ng alon ang marahang duyan
ngayo’y kaladkad sa pinulupot na kalsada
nakatunghay sa kahabaan ng daang
ang pinipitpit ay libong sasakyan para magkasya

balot ng makulay na panyo ang noo
salo ang pawis ng maghapong pagpalaot
tapik ang tambol na gawa sa lata at plastik
ang tanong ay paano nga ba naanod
at paano nga ba babalik

Anxia: A post-holiday poem

I tell you that I don’t want to go to work tomorrow
That I’d rather stay where my bed meets my blanket
Sleeping away this cold January weather and oh
What a day to be had on my back, disconnected

But I also tell you that I’d rather go to work if only not to miss the calls
They will make to my number
Because some questions need to be answered and
Some deadlines are dying as I type and
Some things have definitely gone awry
And that should I let a day go by at home
I’d really just be standing by the phone

And so I tell you that I’d honestly rather go to work because
There are people to meet in the office
Meetings will be had and my boss will ask for me tomorrow
Just for tomorrow, solely tomorrow, and
She will wonder why I’ve not come and look back to the day
She first told me to “be responsible for these people”

You tell me it’s alright, that I can skip just one day
That I’m 27 and human
But I’m already halfway dressed and waiting for the bus
It’s 3AM and I’ve no sleep and all desire to vomit acid
Really, I’d rather close my eyes and wait for an oncoming car
So I can send a text saying I can’t go to work because I’m dead

Instead I tell you that I’m in the office already
Mushy brain and stomach-sick
Counting cigarette breaks until 5PM

Ang Ginoo sa Pag-iisa: Subok ng Salin ng “Gentleman Alone” ni Pablo Neruda

Silang mga binatilyong bakla at malalaswang mga dalaga,
Silang nagtatabaang mga balo na pawang bangag sa puyat,
Silang mga bagong maybahay na tatlumpung oras nang buntis,
At silang mga pusang naglalandian sa aking hardin tuwing gabi,
Mga nagpipintugang buhay na talaba
Sa palibot ng aking munting tahanan
Salo ay muhi ng aking kaluluwa,
Mga demonyong nakapajama
Na ang palita’y maiinit na mga halik, kunwari’y lihim na mga liham.
Sa tuwing sasapit ang tag-init, iniiwan ng mga nagmamahalan
Ang kanilang matatamlay na rehimyento,
May matataba, mapapayat, maliligaya, at malulungkot na mga pares
Sa ilalim ng naglalakihang mga puno sa tabi ng baybayin at buwan
May enerhiyang kaakibat ang palitan ng pantalon at panty
May huning kasama ang pagtatanggal ng stockings
Pati ang suso ng mga kababaihang tila makikislap na mga mata.
Maging ang padre de familia, matapos ang ilang sandali,
Matapos ang isang linggong pagpasok sa trabaho,
At matapos ang walang kalatuy-latoy na mga nobelang binabasa bago matulog,
Ay tuluyan nang nakipagkantutan sa kaniyang kapitbahay,
At ngayon sila’y naghihipuan sa madilim na sinehan
Kung saan ang bida sa mga pelikula ay kabayo o magigiting na mga prinsipe,
Dahan-dahang hinahaplos ng kaniyang sabik at pasmadong palad
Ang mabibilog at makikinis na mga hita.
Ang gabi ng mangangaso at gabi ng mag-asawa
Ay tila balumbon ng kumot na sa aki’y sumasakal,
Maging ang oras matapos ang tanghalian kung kailan nagbubulyos ang mga pari at estudyante,
At walang pakundangang nagkakangkangan ang mga aso sa daan,
At ang mga bubuyog na amoy dugo at hindi magkandaugaga na mga langaw,
At ang walang palyang paglalaro ng bahay-bahayan ng magpipinsan,
At ang mga doktor na nagnanasa sa mga batang pasyente,
Pati ang bukang liwayway kung kailan sumisiping ang propesor
Sa kaniyang asawa bago mag-almusal,
At kung hindi pa ito sapat ay nariyan pa ang mga taksil na siyang tunay na nagmamahalan
Sa mga kamang sinlaki at sintaas ng mga barko:
Paulit-ulit, walang hanggan
Ako’y unti-unting dinudurog ng baliko at buhay na gubat na ito
Kasama ng kaniyang higanteng mga bulaklak na wari mo’y bunganga at ngipin
Pati kaniyang nangingitim na mga ugat na tila ba kuko at takong.

The young maricones and the horny muchachas,
The big fat widows delirious from insomnia,
The young wives thirty hours’ pregnant,
And the hoarse tomcats that cross my garden at night,
Like a collar of palpitating sexual oysters
Surround my solitary home,
Enemies of my soul,
Conspirators in pajamas
Who exchange deep kisses for passwords.
Radiant summer brings out the lovers
In melancholy regiments,
Fat and thin and happy and sad couples;
Under the elegant coconut palms, near the ocean and moon,
There is a continual life of pants and panties,
A hum from the fondling of silk stockings,
And women’s breasts that glisten like eyes.
The salary man, after a while,
After the week’s tedium, and the novels read in bed at night,
Has decisively fucked his neighbor,
And now takes her to the miserable movies,
Where the heroes are horses or passionate princes,
And he caresses her legs covered with sweet down
With his ardent and sweaty palms that smell like cigarettes.
The night of the hunter and the night of the husband
Come together like bed sheets and bury me,
And the hours after lunch, when the students and priests are masturbating,
And the animals mount each other openly,
And the bees smell of blood, and the flies buzz cholerically,
And cousins play strange games with cousins,
And doctors glower at the husband of the young patient,
And the early morning in which the professor, without a thought,
Pays his conjugal debt and eats breakfast,
And to top it all off, the adulterers, who love each other truly
On beds big and tall as ships:
So, eternally,
This twisted and breathing forest crushes me
With gigantic flowers like mouth and teeth
And black roots like fingernails and shoes.

Salin sa Filipino ng salin ni Mike Topp ng orihinal na akda sa Español ni Pablo Neruda

 

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.

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.