The old warrior’s cry

Perchance, it was a dream.

We were flesh and cheeks, decades ago

Marched the land with mud in our boots,

Courage in our faces and loyalty in our chests

Slinged our bolos and guns to protect Perlas and its people

from the life-stealing villains lurking in the day

We perished from blood to bones

with an oath in our lips

“Get up, Stand up”

against the fiend.
Perhaps it is a dream.

We, tired and rotting bones,

who fought to defend Perlas with all our courage,

peaceful for years in our graveyard,

still aching but consolable

We, tired and rotting bones,

were shattered

when the man who spilled the blood of the innocents,

destroyed their homes,

left their bodies for the reaper,

came and lived with us.

Ferdinand

now sleeps in our home.
Wish it’s just a dream

The tired and dead bones we are, 

embrace the old fighters pain

Singing of our wounds,

scars, stings and shocks

Some bodies heard

and they sing with us.

But more bodies don’t.

They sing louder of his glory and wisdom

and chant deeper of contempt.
It is easy to turn a blind eye 

when you were never hurt.

It is difficult to heal when 

you suffered the whips and whacks,

when your children are all missing skeletons,

when the countrymen you fought and died  for

glorify its killer

Perhaps he deserves sympathy.

Perhaps he deserves rest.
But don’t we?

The Purge

On the margins of the night, come hear the fireworks from the guns,

empty shells in the cold roads

warmed by the blood in the streets.
These are the nights of the purge,

A stranger clothe with darkness touches the open windows, the light posts and damp houses

Speeds through the alleys in the blaze of his hunger

His eyeballs, a hint of command and evil

His hands, heavy with ammunition,

Gigantic and calloused,

Ready for assault.
Dinner was served in a house with empty flowerpots, where

the wheels sleep on the roof

A lady dressed the table with dried fish

waiting with disconnection notice in one hand, distress in another

Her three little girls taking shelter under the safety of their camp

made of threadbare blankets, maybe it covers the pouring troubles
The watchman just finished his shift and walks past the corner of the street,

weary with his clabbered beard and wrinkled eyes,

past the shadows and silhouettes of bakeshops,

past the shoeless shoemakers,

across the lonely intersection,

To the alley of houses damped with sweat and tears of

pauperized folks,

He knocks on the door,

the lady stared long at his eyes

and his back that carries the weight of disappointment

Sighs when he saw the notice sitting in the table

Nine more moons before the next pay

The God sits next to the television, a Sampaguita hangs on His fingers

and the guard sat in the couch

His body mirrored in the window
The long night awakens the spirit of the stranger

He saw the prey across the open window

He raised his iron hands towards the target and bang, bang, bang

The silence shies away

The cartridge gave away three bullets

Two shots in the back, one in the head

and the moon cries

Bullet casings dropped on the dirt

The blood stains the couch where a body sat lifeless,

The sound of the lady mourning

And soon, hundreds of lips talking
“A drug suspect was slain” the man in the television says

“He is innocent,” the mourners wept

“Another man shot dead”

“In other news…”
His is a little death, nameless and forgotten,

His is just a number added to the names of the dead
a stone in a cemetery

a drug war’s sacrifice in this confused humanity

The country will lament him no longer and

In the morning, another cry will come but the evening will take it away

Just like that
Whatever took hold of the man will always be remembered by the air

And when the trumpets had all sounded, judgment will stand tall.

 

 

The stranger barrels past the trash bins,

past the road signs

and the dying plants held in the water containers.

In the dirt, a badge was recovered.

 

How can I love thee

Oh love with bright eyes, I come with hands empty — only eyelashes, cheeks, and arms brimming with hopes and dreams

Hopes like fluttering butterflies

and dreams like knights and horsemen, with courage but swords. 
Only with these little hands can I love you

with coffeepots and teacups

with rain-soaked skin 

And dusty floors with pawprints of  dogs
Only with songs of the stars can i love you

I paddled to the shores of the stellar

brought home a pocketful of Tinkerbell’s dust and a handful of Peter’s neverland

to give you
Fly with me

Across the clashing of thunderstorms, past lilies and roses, 

a flight inches from the sea,

Through countryroads,

And postcards,

and mails, 
Only with stones and flames can I love you

With the wet grass under your head and embers suspended in the air failing to reach the sky

Kiss me beneath the stars,

A kiss under the tunnels of stone
Only with the finger’s promise of staying can I love you

I am here in the morning 

And at night, 

to listen to your secrets and little deaths, 

solitudes and rain clouds

Watch your ebb and sinking ships only to rise again
For you come in the midst of my hurricane and cloudburst

To seed yourself in my heart

and grow unearthly special

and you make known to me what is light in the darkness, 

you, my beloved one.

My body is a walking museum

My body is a walking museum.

My bones heavy with hands running down my spine and when touched, it does not break

It is made up bricks and bricks of catcalling – “sluts” and “whore” – molded into walls that held my back.

These thighs are reviewed one, two, three, four, five stars

Like an open hotel, a service, a merchandise ready to be sold

on demand

in a market

And my eyes, a call for attention they say

It speaks ‘yes’ to passerby, to schemers, to the libido of men, to the sleepless sexual drive whenever and wherever

These breasts hide in plain sight that invites to be seek, to be fondled

Seduces the neighbors conclusively

without its knowing

And the beasts of the day openly sniff these shoulders like a bee

Like a mosquito ready to attack in a blood-smell
All you daylight bullies, slut-shamers, catcallers, and predators who accuse us provocative no matter what we do or wear,

Bury me.

Bury me and see how I dig myself out of the heap of soil

Bury me and watch as I crawl out of your verdict as an object of your egoistic desires

Bury me and look at me fly

Because these wings are too strong and too big for your shallow opinions to bring me down
The big breathing world encircles me in its grip,

but watch me break the clutches of your mouths and bodies
You hit like rain and it falls formless.

Watch me, a towering blossom of a tree, sip down these waters and grow into miraculous beauty
This woman is breathing

Evolving

Unfolding

And her artwork is not for your touching.

Fever

The fever paces the streets, blinding the corridors in its nocturnal sadness

looking for eyes wandering, lost,

still and burdened in its own color
The wind plays with the cold for months even in the warm seasons.

A body crosses the bridge still wearing his mustache, tangled with ice

His eyes, a black hole; his lips, the shredding of a self

He’s suddenly whole, then suddenly empty

the fever builds a house out of a man
stores in it jars and jars of isolation, rusty toolboxes, dustheap of journals, of photographs, letters unread

the floor is soiled and dirty

the walls stand in exhaustion

At night, he dances with the doom and torment, with brooms and sticks and unusual

Distress plays a music ethereal in his ears

the fever took over the bedposts, the pillows, the blanket,

and the darkness has a bright color

the cellular rings and rings until it stopped

The man is helled to bed and sorry

until he is no more

Until he is nothing
The fever finished the house

Steps into the chair like a master

Harried the depths of his heart

and found nothing

Soundlessly, the man hangs himself in the ceiling

And the deads sound the bells of forlorn

The fever smiles

and parades the street looking for sad eyes to feed.

In Extremis

I’d leave my corpse in your hands and my name on your skin,

so you’ll never forget that I’d live there

I’ll house you in a graveyard and bury you like roots and coffins,

for you to feel how it’s like to be left alone

With frost and rain, I want to efface your memory

and I’ll teach you my name

it will be the only words your lips will kiss, the only tale you’ll tell

I hope you fall like rain, forced in its downfall, lonely and shapeless

with nowhere to go, nothing to do, but fall

Because when you leave, you used the windows and leave winter to sleep in my bed

and now sunlight is a stranger touching my skin

my body is a map of your lost expeditions but I’m the only one presumed lost and

you, the only surviving member

Now I dream, cloth with the memory of your face

enduring what remains of my withering self

Gaze

Ten seconds. I’ve been staring at her for ten seconds without blinking.

“I might melt if you keep gazing.”

Ashley said while trying so hard not to meet me in the eye. She held an old white book between her fragile hands. ‘One Rainbow at the Duration’ was written on the book cover.

“You won’t,” I said. “If that’s possible, you should have melted a long time ago.”

She raised the book up to her face. Just like a country setting up defense to hide its most priceless possession.

Thirty inches, I estimated, is the space between us. Thirty inches? That’s too big for a measure. The library is too quiet for my perky thoughts. This wonky table between us is not helping either.

“What’s the book about?” I asked.

“This?”

“Yeah.”

“I never knew you’re interested in books.” She teased.

I’m only interested in the books you read, I wanted to say.

I crossed my hands and leaned at the table. Her freckles are more noticeable, her milk chocolate eyes more striking, her hair’s scent more detected. Perfect. I leaned a little closer.

“Tell me about it.” I urged.

“It tells of a bittersweet romance between an American soldier and a Flipina during America’s unending fight for democratic principles. It’s war between countries. And love.” She explained.

War and Love. Ironic. I nod in understanding.

“So how does it end?”

“I’m not even close to the ending. I’m in the middle, you see. But the beginning’s a nice ride.” She smiled.

She continued reading the book. She looked so drowned and absorbed like she’s living 200 years before today engaged in the bloody peak during World War II.

“Why do you read books like that?” I asked.

She eyed me as if asking.

“I mean, why don’t you read books like everybody reads like John Gree–”

“I’m not everybody, Elis.”

There, she does it again. Firing bullets in my heart that heal rather than destroy. Ash and her smart mouth, I surrender to it. Elis, a greek warrior in Trojan war, will despise me knowing I, a bearer of his great name, accepted defeat.

“Yes. You’re not.”

I looked at her in astonishment.

She raised the book to hide her face again but I caught a glimpse of the dimple peering in her left cheek. The country has a hole in its defense.

“Don’t hide your smile.” I uttered.

She put down the book, crossed her hands and lean at the table.

“How sure are you that I smiled?” She grins.

I know I should be ready for endless questions. That grin should annoy me but it does the opposite. I’m up for this war.

“Because I saw it.”

“How did you see it?

“Because I have eyes.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, I feel them.”

How do you feel them?”

“I have senses.”

“Why do you have senses?”

“Because I am human.”

“How are you a human?”

“Don’t you believe I’m human?” I asked back.

“Not unless you prove to me you are.” She teased.

I smirked. I lean much more closer. One inch, I estimated, is the space between our faces. Five seconds. She was shocked. I, too. She was red. Thank God, I’m not capable of that.

She pulled back and looked around her.

She whispered to me ” Why did you do that? Now, people are staring.”

“You said prove to you and I just did.” I defended.

She sighed. “So teasing me and leaning closer makes you human?”

“No,” I began. “But when I leaned closer, I felt it. The cells in my body that randomly collides with each other. My breaths racing with each other to come out. And whatever this thing is throbbing in my left chest behind the ribcage, It’s throbbing in an extremely odd way. I feel alive. And that makes me human.”

15.16.17.18.19. She’s been staring at me for twenty seconds successfully breaking human rules by hindering involuntary blinking.

“I might melt if you keep staring.” I said.

She laughed in a breathy, gleeful way. And the unending fight is now ended. The country’s defense was destroyed. Its most treasured possession revealed.

She smiled.

“That’s impossible. I wonder why you haven’t melted a long time ago.”