How can this rage not explode? Her eyes
looking but not seeing, glued yet

wandering. She’s nowhere, she’s
everywhere, seeking refuge where

I don’t exist or where I
am dead or just a twig she feeds

to the flame, blue with her
wrath. She has mastered the contours of

my anger and I still grope along
the fence of her defense. Isn’t silence

sweet? Then why the muteness my voice
has summoned deafens me now?

Where is the shore of this howling
sea of reticence? How can a clever

plan fail? – trap her in a minor
encounter where even her faintest

meow is enough to unlock her
lies and the torrent of diatribes I have

long nurtured. But how can
I bear her empty stare? Her
frozen gaze that sets me ablaze?


calumet can

what ant on earth showed you the way
to the treasure i buried
beneath our bamboo stair?

not a faintest sound did escape when,
one by one, as fast as father’s whip,
i slipped my coins into the calumet can.

did the sweat of my palm betrayed itself?

day, i was a hen: scratching the earth,
pecking every grain
left to die in the scorching rice field.

night, i was a knight: dreaming of new armor
for a coming fight. yes, i would be wearing
a pair of new khaki shorts and white t-shirt, come june.

but that horrible morning, i found the jaw
of the indian warrior in my calumet can deformed.

the world swirled and i dashed off to the plaza;
there you stood, pretending not to notice me,
hands digging deep into your pockets.

as i stared at the dicer’s fingers raking in
my precious coins, i prayed hard to god:
may the earth swallow you alive, manong!