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       

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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

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

Your Name (noun)

Your Name (noun) 1. The romanticization of a seconds-
long interaction beginning with your question, ending
as a knot in my stomach, a smile I swallowed

2. The bitter dawning of the impossibility
of having lips that will reach your ear, of having
stranger skins meeting under covers, accompanied
by the sweetness of becoming nothing
more;

3. The disappointment that follows a minute of introduction
to the you stripped of my imagination;

4. The laugh ripe with disgust after landed feet
proving the foolishness of constructing a future, a poem,
a noun, after a spit of tired dialogue
from an unexplored tongue

Average

The pain of being average is nothing comparable
To a gunshot to the foot, to losing a lover,
To the first realization of the certainty of death.
And yet, the self as most mediocre
Defying the very definition of typical
By virtue of being superlative, going the extra mile
To not nowhere, not everywhere, but somewhere,
The sting is ever true, barely tolerable, almost.

Hey there, gorgeous.

Unhappy pretty girls with languid eyes
lusting behind long lashes, their lips stained
with purple and smoke, last night’s kisses
and vodka. Unhappy pretty girls, in love
with both men and women, longing
for the same brand of misery.

They sit in bars gleaming with glass goblets
of gin and tonic, breathing in the gaiety
of strangers in the dark, lives ungraspable
after a distance of two feet. Unhappy

pretty girls who will never
grow flowers in their lungs despite a protest
of menthol cigarettes. The night

turns weary of your sorrow.
The dawn is sick of your solitude.
Morning shies from your breath of coffee.

But you’re a beautiful mess, aren’t you?

You should have taken off your shirt

You stand there with triumph plastered on your face
As if being recognized for flesh is a dive you won’t dare
But darling, your body is as much poetry as your voice
And your bare chest hold as much promise as your throat
There is no shame in nakedness when there are lines
No words can ever communicate, only fingertips can read
There are stories I’d rather not you explain, let me
Take to each crevice, taste the sin off your skin