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Month: March, 2015

There is a shell metaphor in this poem

and I just have to put that out there
like a precaution to the reader, a prologue
to a lesson on existence, something either
to ease us in on the harder stuff or just
to get rid all together, because why can’t we
just say it, honesty I mean, this rare commodity
among the abundance of false advertisements and poems.
Honestly, we have too much poems in this world,
and at one point it’s getting tiring to weld
words into another form, like clay or amalgam
or some sort of alloy for the world to wear
in its battle against the passage of time,
who is probably riding across the city of
bodies, pillaging our houses of whatever
we have been using to make us feel alive,
and I want that, to be alive, to be a word
in the same way that ‘alive’ is a word,
in the way that when I say ‘experience’ I have
the word in my mouth in the most literal sense,
and it has me in its mouth like a rat in the
merciless beak of an owl screaming ‘owl, owl’
in rat language, like the shell awashed on some
obscure, distant shore is screaming ‘ocean’
through its spirals, like a cry to be present again

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Tadaima

Meaning, I am home; meaning at some point
I have left home; meaning to know home
I must go somewhere else. Here, I have known
the language of arrivals and departures,
an almost native eloquence on the language
of precision: trains shuffling, blossoms showing
their blush, everything unfurling as if
on schedule. Since I bore the name foreigner,
every day had been winter in this country—
a cold so constant, even anodyne. My body shivers,
hands seeking shelter other than the flaps
of my coat or the gloves I bought miles back.
Every night I return to this place I temporarily
call home, utter my presence like a prayer
to the sleeping furniture, mute walls and windows
unresponsive, save for the tap dripping welcome
in intervals. But days like these, when leaves
from the tree outside spin like so many green
cocoons, heavy with anticipation, when they turn
just enough for sunlight to grace through these
dusty windows, I dream of the city where you are
right now, how time is measured in an almost
carefree manner, loose like sand on the cracked
asphalt—by how construction cranes align
their shadows to the ground, the many warm-skinned
trees punctuating the boulevards, their branches
conducting a music sang by the tropical breeze,
jeepney barkers with names of places resting
on their tongues, their throats burning with
the promise of home. I wish to be there,
beside you, my hands cupping your face like light
against the cheek of a fruit, the warmth a sign that
this is home. And if you ask me where I have been,
I will answer: Love, I never left.

(Previously published in Heights, vol. LXIII no. 3, 7)