everbloom of love

gaze into me not with the eyes that fortress
a lie, just like the glint of dew that conceals
the tinge of dark in a dying petal;

gaze into me with the heart that bares
every faltering breath, just like the bud that bursts
into a flower in the silence of dawn.

there is no other choice, as long
as we long for an everbloom
of love.




The man gobbled up a plate of latik-laden
kalamay; while his dog nibbled in its paw
a bunch of garapata – those blood-

suckers that kept on thriving, despite the tons of anti-
flea powder and lotion the man had poured all
over the dog’s fur. The man and his dog, together

they bit, they chewed with a clack and a click
from their bleeding teeth. When the man sneered
and its gums the dog bared, a passing geek as if

bewitched, couldn’t tell which was
the beast.The man, with his tongue raked up
the crumbs of latik that fell from his mouth; the dog

scoured its back for another bunch of grape-
colored bugs. And they bit and chewed with
the clack and the click of garapata and latik.



How many swiddens must we scrounge before
we could find signs of water? The sun
seared my nape and sent sneering waves beneath

my gaze; sweat and dust turned my slippers into
a rain-soaked ricefield. Just below us,
the reservoir that has devoured our town lay

placid – an abundance, our thirst! Move fast
we must; the dusk never tarried nor rested. Soon
our neighboring towns would blast

with light; in our huts, atop the mountain overlooking
the lake, candles and kingke would flicker through
the night; I saw the turbines reeling light for Subic

and Clark. I saw the spillway sending every grass
abloom in the plains of Central Luzon. My lips and soles
cracked as we traversed hills upon hills in search

of waterwomb. My heart seethed with rage
as we tried to revive moribund brooks gradually
breaking into million mudcakes.


Killing a Mockingbird

Assure your child she is
safe within the confines
of your embrace; tell her she is

free from fright within the bounds
of your sight. Convince her that
a voice as sweet as hers deserves
no other ears than yours; let her

feel that to be free, safe, and sweet she
needs no noise, she needs not
speak. Make her believe that

silence is the air she must
breathe; then show her your candor –
cut her tongue.


Encountering Snake

A sudden hiss on the grass
and there she was – her eyes

plumbing the pit of my fear,
her tongue — like jealousy — licking

the distance between us. My fingers gripped
the hoe’s handle, and a whiz whipped

through the air; then, a thud muted
whatever she wanted to portend; not

even a faint moan seeped
from her mouth. My knees trembled

as my eyes cast a final kiss on her
broken skull.



Everytime our family comes
together, he who gathers us drops
from our roll — he can’t sit and chat
with us anymore. From the weight of nights

without sleep, his eyes are saved; from
the toll of vigil and funeral, his shoulders
are freed. Once again, we are united
by absence; and just like when our other kindred

died, our wallets wail, our guts grieve. Do we need
to mention? Everyone of us is mired in the abyss
of debt; especially that we now atone for what
we failed to give to the one we lament. His casket

must bear our pride; as seamless as our keening,
biscuits, coffee, and cigarettes should stream;
on funeral’s eve, the karaoke must croon from dusk
to dawn. Do we need to mention? We mourn not

because we’ve lost a kin. Death is trite. What rouses
our tears is the loss we shall live with back home
when we part. Luckily, it’s not a disgrace to cry
in public — our brother dear is resting

in peace. But deep is the wound his death has
left in our pockets. So let us all sorrow — let us sob, let us
weep; well, who can feel the real fount of
our grief? We are mourning for our beloved dead.



Sinewed by the the ancient art
of tai chi, he forged the forces of the universe
to lure a dreamer into his lair. He stayed

silent as a spider; and with seamless
gliding of limbs and fingers,
he entrapped his prey like a moth

entangled in a cobweb. The sky
was bleeding then when she asked: “How
can I walk through the dusk?” “Just

follow me, I’m a pathfinder,” said
he. He whispered to her ear: “Close
your eyes my child and trust your heart.”

And to the tremor of his voice he danced
her, deeper and deeper into
the night. Soon his lips dripped with her

muffled sobs, the stench of his slobber
drifted into her pristine dream; and he
confessed: “She came to me; I’m innocent.”