Hul 31, 2014

Araw-araw kitang iniisip

sa hilahan ng habagat at sanga, halimbawa

tibag silang mga punong-kahoy
kung kaya’y nagpaliwanag ang alapaap

Panay pakipot kasi ang tao sa daigdig
daig nitong kuliglig: inuumaga

sarili ang lengguwahe ng pandarahas
may angking gaan kung makayapos

sa pinag-usbungan. Ay, kumbakit natugtog
                                 (saan ka pa, saan ka pa

sinabi nang gusto kita); Ale
nasa aling pakete ang malasakit para sa nagkukuyumos ng palad?

Taimtim, mumunti
samu’t sari at kubli ang kanilang mga marakas.

Hul 29, 2014

The trembling of these

fingers on the pool of your skin
our thrill, having smashed the megaphones with ball-peen hammers

one on each hand
how clear, even ripples as these from the calluses

conveying how it is to be young again, electrically
to what has never been crumpled, has only ever gazed upon

a liquor and mint boy acting broken. Precisely
knowing what to say only after having said it

forgetting the next moment, when consequence
rears its ugly head
or the pleasure of yours, your flesh-drop earlobes . . .

We practiced our swing on random bottles, hollow blocks
wanting them to be people in our past, or soon-to-be

wanting them to be lawyers, congressmen, the boring patients
of physicians long-winded and starched

why can't we be

let's walk in silence over faded reds, the yellowing
let's look forward to laughing about this on beds
hours apart, arms varnished on our chests

sweet iron kissing all four of our dimples.

Kibo na lamang ito ng kung sino

Kahit pa rito, sa kutson ng mga silya ng oposisyon
klaro sa lahat na magsasalita ang pinuno

Paano tayo tututol nang ayos sa tsipipay na saplot
pansinin ang mga espasyo sa pagitan ng mga sequin
hindi ba't maihahambing sa hininga

Ng dalubhasa sa sayaw, chairman, at maalam umawit
(nang sabay) pulido, sukat ang pagkakalapat

Hindi bulagsak na dugo sa paligid ng gagong amok
o tubig ng nerbiyosong bumbero. Paanong naipuslit
sa magalang na talastasan ang bumbero

Samantalang balita sa radyo ang palakpakang panggayak
sa isa't kalahating oras ng piyok. Piyok

O iyak? Arsonista raw ang kabuuang hubog nitong henerasyon, mga
scavenger ng relief goods. Hinihika ang iyong kapanalig.
Kung ikaw mismo ang kasama, ilayo mo kaya sa tubig.

Hul 28, 2014

Thank you for asking

Very old trees fell to that Wednesday wind, that much you must have heard. It had built up to a howl from the deep night of Tuesday. Before dawn, it had begun to carry the smell of cut grass.

The night Glenda blew across Los Baños, the shut jalousies barely kept to their hinges, a tenacity owed wholly to a millimeter's worth of opening, space enough to ease the howl forced upon them, venting it upward, shaping it to a whistle, slipping its freight of droplets and leaves like tens and tens of tiny mail unasked for, all of these shooting up the curtains so they billow, touching the ceiling and letting go, all those hours, like wings shrugging off the water, across the room, down the floor, on the ill-placed candles and books, and on the shoulders of Elisha—finally—waking her.

Night to morning was thuds and crashes, our minutes spent collecting water, counting canned goods, shuffling contingency plans. You'd think, at any point, that some chair or debris would fly across your window (the case of some computer shops and restaurants near campus) or that a large branch would pierce down your roof (the case of our next-door neighbor). A house a few steps away was unpeeled of its roof, the twisted sheet flung to the neighboring lawn, large and menacing with its bare edges and protruding nails, immovable for days.

Of the torn trunks I saw, none bore evidence of infestation or internal ruin. And I saw many: the Pili trees along Pili drive—once the bane of drunk drivers and sleepy heads—summarily uprooted, the nuts (ripe?) scattered to scavengers; at Forestry, wood upon wood lay crashed beside their own centennial heritage markers; at the lower campus, the royal palms undressed to odd spears; at home, meanwhile, the pink-blossoming acacia and the sterile breadfruit had conceded most of their weight, but the santol and avocado had yielded completely, their green and yellow fruit dotting the yard, attracting what remained of the insects, what yet flitted about or crawled.


A notable exception: the controversial, leaning Dao tree stood fast. The building which it flanked—Student Union—reportedly lost important files to a weak ceiling, but it seems the Dao had nothing to do with this.

On the other hand, A balete tree—one I believed would have outlived me and most probably the children—fell down the road, knocked loose a fire hydrant  right across the street, and blocked our path to campus and town supplies.


We all spent our days clearing up, days being mostly all we had, our nights total without electricity and little water. The phone signal weakened too, returning only when our batteries were a few hours short of getting drained. Elisha cried one night, by the way, as she'd had enough of the blackout. Noam asked for TV every once in a while, but shifted her attention to paper dolls (or the candle flame) at a moment's notice.

Some of the mornings turned out very happy, those mornings when we cooked and ate outdoors, when the sisters played their games:
                      gathering and counting fruit
                      planting sticks on a trunk cut from a dead banana tree
                      map-reading (pretend)

Four days after Glenda, Monday, I was able to recharge the phones, the laptop, and a small DVD player (for the kids) using the CAS generator. Despite octopus connections spawning more, greedier octopus connections, we had barely enough power for our duties. We worked with what we had. We were even grateful, our stories duly exchanged, our occasional humor taking a decisive turn toward the strange.

Henry—the new storm on the block—came, but took it easy on us.

Friday afternoon: Lights! Water's back too, but the pressure somehow never recovered, our pails sometimes getting little more than a trickle. For some reason, I still can't bring myself to shelve the candles or bring the books back up.

Our people at Forestry has it worse, their water delivered by fire trucks with rusty tanks and brackish rations. Also, they're still in the dark as of this writing. On Wednesday, it'll be two weeks without water and electricity.


The uniform meticulously ironed, his eyes covered by shades, the guard at the door of the "powerless" bank: he's had it worse.

I stood at the parking lot, at a safe distance from him, as I waited for my friend B— to finish her transaction. I thought he wouldn't speak to me because he was security, and I was holding an ax. However, I was also hugging a rake; he asked how much it cost me, found it too expensive. He'd been spending his off-duty time fixing his house for it fell apart after the wind had ripped out his roof. He came looking for the roof after the storm subsided only to be met almost immediately by itinerant vendors selling used GI sheets neatly cut into fold-able and portable squares.

On the other hand, our helper and her family took refuge in the neighbor's restroom after Glenda gutted her home. She and her husband slept in a makeshift tent while their daughter spent her nights in a warehouse. A few things remained, among them a dog and the artesian well, and a yard littered with nails, splinters, bits of shattered house. One night, the poso came close to getting stolen and was saved only by the dog's insistent barking and, possibly, by a well-placed nail or two.

The couple never saw or caught the would-be thief, the story of the foiled attempt to be learned only when they woke up the next morning, to be revealed only by the stark drops of blood left on what had been a dark little path toward escape.


Cleared of age, of leaves and branches, the sky over Los Baños has grown brighter, larger after these storms of July. Just a matter of time now before we get used to so much sky. Before that, an admission: every morning catches me by surprise and I think (for one awful moment) I see that vast, uncluttered blue as something beautiful, as thick roots unburduned of earth can also (at times, when you're caught unawares) prove quite dazzling, uncovered tails of gnarled, petrified rats.

Or the taste of the worm sprouting a pure head, white from the brown sugar I sprinkled on the halved avocado. I think.

I think, therefore I'm sorry. If only I could bite my thoughts as instantly, as sharply—as often—as I bite my tongue.

Hul 14, 2014

The monsoon

wanting more and more the common things—
garlic, playing cards, houses, the best of friends—

leaving us only the broken and exotic, so we
mix n’ match like kids splashing into a memory

game with little consequence and not a single fit.
In the future shall our hands drift, pieces of different puzzles

borne by a creek, touching every once in a while. Currently
who are we to bare our necks to a wind that will not have us?

Only the more intelligent arrived to swallow the sharp morsels,
and only so to word us more profusely, never letting up, never gracious,

never a finger tracing a way to what had been taken from us.

It was morning when it rained.
You were sleeping when I left.

Hul 13, 2014


Maaaring ito na lamang ang nalalabing konteksto kung saan ako maaaring umasenso: kung saan ikaw ang may silbi sa akin habang wala lang ako sa iyo.

(Naisip ko rin, matutuwa ka kaya kapag nalaman mong simula na ng aming pasukan ang iyong Agosto? Matatawa ka ba kapag sinabi kong kahit hindi pa sumasapit ang buwa'y matindi na ang singil nito?)

Kung ikaw ang tatanungin, ano ba ang mas maigi: na may tao sa ulap, o wala? Sa isang banda, walang sisipat sa iyong mga lihim—mga lihim na tila nagsasapot na anino, na hindi ko mawarian kung bakit hinding-hindi mapigilan ang paghahabi. Sa kabilang banda, ayun meron, may tao sa ulap at pinagtatawanan ka nito.

Sakaling may tumatawa, gusto ko sanang marinig ang mismong tawa, kung malutong o parang daluyong ng dagat sa tanghaling-tapat, kung parang sa bata o sa abugado ng bata. Paano kaya kung itong walang tigil na pagbabasa ng mga tula'y pag-aapuhap sa mga saglit, sa mga patikim, sa sari-saring uri ng pagkakabaligtad ng dakilang tawang iyon? Paano, kung itong walang tigil kong pagsusulat (at maaaring ang iyong napigil na pagsusulat) ay hindi panggagaya o pagtugon sa tawang iyon kundi pagsasalin nito sa isang wikang hindi marunong lumigaya?

Ay A—, gusto ko sanang isiping ikaw ang nasa pusisyong humusga. Ngunit nilisan ka na ng lahat ng mga posibleng pusisyon. Nangarap ka at nangarap ako, sabay tayong kumain, salit-salitang nagsalita—at napakagalang natin sa isa't isa—ngunit hindi talaga tayo nakapag-usap.

Hul 11, 2014

Notes on Jill McDonough’s “Ming”

That’s why we don’t keep things in stairwells.
—Mary Warnement, The Boston Athenaeum

    When the former curator remembers the Ming,
    remembers knocking it over, he remarks, “The thing

    took fucking forever to fall.” Shaking
    his heavy head. Inside, the Ming’s still taking

    its time. Still falling. Look: he opened the magic door,
    invented a way of making more

    time. All of us always longing for longer, a few extra hot
    days in July, sunshine, more time with the kids. Not

    this endless loop, cringing eternity, fucking forever in the poor
    guy’s vase-sized head. Scott asks if I’d be twenty again. Not for

    all the money in the world. But then I sort of take
    it back, bargain: would I for sure meet Josey? Could I bank

    the money I did not give back to the world—just Jeter’s share,
    net worth of the board of Goldman Sachs—relive those years

    and then have the rest of my life with her, her and fewer
    jobs? A car, dishwasher, dryer. New roof, newer

    shoes, Josey’s never-swollen one-shift-a-week knees.
    Go back to twenty, to the instant the Ming first leans

    into thinner air. This vase makes it through Bruegel,
    the new world, microscopes. From bustles to Google

    to finally fall. But not finally anything: always it slips
    from a half-hearted shelf, fresh from its crated straw, his fingertips

    always in reach. You gain a week, say, week of replay, your fault
    in the space time continuum, week of stutter and halt

    taken back in slivers of seconds, in panicked gasps, sleep rent
    again. You gain a week. This is how it’s spent.






DENNIS— Maybe our selves beholding the curator beholding the monumental fall of the Ming is itself a moment of awe.


DENNIS— There's something tentative in each stanza, tenuous even, the poem itself like a "half-hearted shelf" of couplets. I'm really drawn to such expressions as "thinner air" and "week of stutter and halt". Some of it seems metapoetic to me, for example "his heavy head. Inside, the Ming’s still taking" which sounds like, yes, it's still actually falling inside this man's life, still claiming him beyond its already super-extended presence. But maybe it's also "still taking" because of the poem or inside the poem, inside couplets that come across as "slivers of seconds" and "panicked gasps"?




DENNIS— Back-reading some of your other posts! Glad you put this up.




Hul 8, 2014

Notes on Matt Rassmussen’s “After Suicide”

But together we decide
which way the dream goes

like spilled water on a table
we carry across the room.

I wait for the phone to ring
while the cord sprouts

and a receiver blooms
like a black cucumber.




DENNIS—I like the way you put this, esp. "planted-ness". Yes, it is sure-footed, but I want to get to an idea: sure-footed, so nothing should go wrong. There's compulsion here: no, don't even think about it, not one misstep, Mr.


DENNIS—How you would plant your feet very carefully as if walking at the edge of the cliff, or the rim of this grave.


DENNIS—Why so? One possibility is that the enjambment gives that "so" the quality of an adverb. Such as: I love you so. I hate it so. "No one is calling so." The absence must be qualified: there is an absence of intensity, perhaps of warmth.


DENNIS—That's one good thing about putting these up on the blog. You can always revisit the source along with your notes. When it's . . . safe?


identidad; mga salik at puwersa

Worrying helps me feel better.” / bilang ganap
na dominyon ng karunungan at isa sa paraan ng pag-unawa

lays the groundwork—the meaning
para sa iba’t ibang madla at iba’t ibang

humuhubog at hinuhubog ng mga ito; mga yaman halimbawa
There is never enough.
life./ Mga elemento ng matematika, pagpapahalaga
peacably in the face of competing claims, opposing

resources./ Mga simulain ng ugaling pang-
rumination increases insight into situations

“mahalaga ang pagiging hinog ng ating
my fretting is uncontrollable

pagpapahalaga sa mga praktikal, intelektuwal
in this document; 2. Apply and inter- or cross-

into new and possibly more injurous forms

deemed repealed, revoked, or rescinded
tayo ay magiging kampante, tayo ay bubulagain

Hul 6, 2014

Nakalulon ang banig


Sapagkat madali. Kung gayon
bakit hindi mo ginawa?
Mas tiwala siya sa paghihirap.

Araw-araw na lang tayong ganito, ngumingiti
nagpapakilala . . .
Sagad ang pagpapahalaga sa sarili

akala mo kung sino.
Nais mo siyang magkawang-gawa.
Iyon, o igapos sa kulambo.

Ipatapon ang kanyang sarili, managot.
Nakasalalay man ang mga lumang diyaryo
parating na ang lamig.

Nakalulon ang bata?

Hul 3, 2014


Mature evaluation systems are based upon incomes,
looking particularly into the intended,

                     incomes... that comply with existing

international standards when applicable (e.g. incomes-
incomes and the development of a culture of quality.
the evaluation of the individual

all programs are well designed and deliver appropriate incomes.
Such an audit will not normally make direct judgments

of previous attempts to introduce a strong...
a whole. Among the consequences

incomes, which prevent them from improving
incomes. In this paradigm, students are made aware
incomes; 2) to establish the proper

NOT subscribing to a one-size-
   that will enable students to fulfill the complex

Hul 2, 2014


walang anu-ano'y
pinasuso mo ang aking tenga sa tibok ng iyong puso

. . . mads naman / Makinig ka

ipagpalagay nating kabibe ito
at abot-hangin lamang ang himig ng alat

samantala, kung relo
isa-isa nitong tinatapos ang ating mga pinupunterya

          Kinukuha sila, at hindi ibinabalik

Sandali na lang ako / ano itong umiihip
at bakit hindi na kita maaaring kalimutan?
                                                            / Makinig ka sabi