Friday, July 19, 2013


When my Apu was still alive, 
her presence in the house
was royal, like the moon
that graced the night with wisdom
just by being there
And when she spoke, her words were
Like a breeze that tousled my hair
In fondness.
I couldn't always remember details of what she said
But I liked hearing her say anything.
And when she hummed, I
Stopped my thoughts to listen instead to her kundiman, a love song.
And now and then she would kiss my head.
She smelled of soap.
Her wrinkled fingers rubbed her eyes and then yawned aloud
And thanked God.
For what in particular, I didn't know.
Her eyelids drooped low which made her
Look like she was always sad
And when she looked out
It was as if something far had caught her eye
And then she closed her eyes as she murmured something
just between her and God.
At that point my eyes would cease seeing, too.
When I left, she  let me be happy for leaving
while she wept, and I thought nothing of it.
I wish I had told her how much I loved her.
She carried my mother inside her.
Taught my mother what she in turn taught me
Which I now teach my children
And when I look at them
I couldn't help but
Thank God that the order of  things
was the way it was.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I have this drawer that catches all
Once in a while i think of cleaning it out
I would always find unidentified keys in it
Because i couldn’t throw away a key
Or rubber bands
The ones that cuddled asparagus
So they could stand up.
I must have kept these
thinking that there would be
a need to bundle things later
like these pencils rolling up and down
if I pull the drawer farther out
it tips a little
and screws, nails, gluesticks come waterfalling
to the front
and I think I ought to
just pluck the thing
from its frame
and pour its contents out
into a waste bin
but I don’t. I don’t know why.
same thing with my heart.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


He sharpens his razor
on a stone and then raises the blade
as if to cut the throat
of the man sitting in
the chair already caped
He’s actually a gentle man,
This barber.
Could have been thirty
Or fifty.
When you’re ten it’s hard to tell.
They’re all old.
He was quiet and polite
and shy but does acknowledge
passersby who say hello.
My brother went to him
For haircuts
Until he was big enough
To be embarrassed
It was an old people shop
where talk was light
didn't get any deeper
than the weather
market prices
the last flood
the next typhoon
but not politics
or they could end up missing.
His little shop was open.
No floor. Just ground.
He had a little bench on the side
For people who wait
With just a left and right wall,
His front of his house for a back wall
No front wall.
Closing time just meant
taking his razor upstairs
til opening
which meant
whenever the first customer arrived.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Extra Buttons

I remember when we had to darn and patch for as long
As the material held the stitches
Now things become disposable when a button is missing
Even if blouses
and anything equipped with buttons
always came with extras in a little plastic pouch
Nobody remembers where they’ve put them
Until the blouse is gone.

The Scent of My Childhood

Back then it was an indulgence to wear ready-made dresses
Or dresses made of fabric-store-bought material
We wore those on Christmas.
One time the old lady ironing our clothes
Ruined my special dress
It wasn’t her fault
She wasn’t educated to know
That a hot iron would melt chiffon.
Besides, she was deaf
she probably didn’t hear my Grandmother tell her
not to melt my dress.
And she was poor. Poorer than us
That was why we hired her, to help her out
And to let my grandmother rest from washing feed sacks.
Back then, going to the seamstress
to be measured for a dress was just half the treat
and the other half was picking my sack
Even after a few washes they still bore the smell of feed
But mixed with soap it was sweet.

Old Clothes

I try to remember where I got what and why
it might have been the buttons on one
how closely planted they were
no gaps in between that open up
like a coinpurse when I slouched
and most I liked where they dropped down for coverage
modesty was forced on me
it would be different if I were a marilyn monroe.
But no matter, I can’t get too sentimental
Or I’d be stuck again with clothes I’ll never wear
but then I can’t be too hasty
because I might wish I hadn't given away
that sweater that would go perfectly
with those jeans
but when going through old clothes
plain i don’t like it anymore
Is enough to put it in the bag.
It isn’t such a thoughtless sorting.
Not like doing laundry.
Laundry, provided it’s not a sock,
always comes back.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


cars zip the roads open and close
For me to cross
And the yards spit oranges over their fences
And the funny thing is they stay on the ground
And they say people starve here.
But elsewhere people do starve
Because they'd rather have an ipod
than breakfast.
We do choose our status
Pretty much
But it can’t be helped sometimes
To want what others have
We bully each other into poverty
Push each other into a false sense
Of success
Yes you did it.
I am happy for you.
In the meantime
you have a car that you
Cannot pay for.