Book: Ilang Sandali…Makalipas ang Huling Araw ng Mundo, University of the Philippines Press, 2019
Nagigiba ang langit
sabay-sabay na nahuhulog
ang mga pakpak ng mga ibon.
Natutunaw ang asin
at napupuno ng mga bituin
ang itim na balat ng karagatan.
Sabay-sabay na kung manigarilyo
ang lahat ng natitirang tao
habang nauubos ang baga ng mga hayop.
Umuulan na ng halaman
sa pagkawala ng wika.
Siguro nga, paggunaw itong maituturing
itong mundo na isang naghihingalong aso
sa ospital ng mga bangkay.
Ngunit kong kasama kang masasaksihan
ang lahat ng ito bilang isang magalang na pagtatapos
sa isang black and white na telebisyon
na para bang ang lahat ng higpit at pihit
ng yakap at halik at hininga sa katawan
ay isang papalubog na barko,
ay hindi ko pa hahayaang matapos ang araw na ito.
Kukunin ko ang remote kontrol
patatakbuhin ang mga tsanel ng telebisyon
kahit puro istatik at katahimikan na ang lahat
lalabhan ko ang natitirang maruruming damit
magsasampay habang sumasabog ang araw
at hihintayin ang sandaling maliwanag na maliwanag,
tahimik na tahimik, at may sumisiyap
ilang sandali matapos ang pinakahuling araw
Three Love Letters Salvaged a Few Minutes After the Last Day of the World
Poems that I read at the Emerging Writers Festival 2018, Melbourne, Australia.
My dearest, tonight is the darkest deep. Sleep tight. Tomorrow this storm will pass.
The flooding will subside. No one will be here. Tomorrow, the sky will burst and welcome
the brightest day of our lives. Sunlight will pierce through the skin, will go through the sheath
of this blanket. It will make everything pure. Our heart will then combust and the last to be consumed
by the flames will be our clothes and names and memory of this evening.
Perhaps, you and I will remember the reason why we were born and will die this way.
Perhaps, a tear will fall and try to kiss gravity as all forms of water dissipate at this moment
of love and death. Perhaps, I am with you, wrapped in your arms, my arms wrapped around your torso
and we won’t feel the scorching degree of heat, unaware of the burning and yearning,
as we begin to undress, skin to blood, bone to fragments, matter to dust.
And so, my dear, sleep tight, now that we are nearing the hour of the darkest part of night,
now that we are being engulfed by this deep darkness,
and as we wait for the final dreaming of this earth.
Tomorrow, we will wake up a few minutes
after this fever burning.
Is this what you call deluge, my love?
Fear is a breaking dam that has no warning signs on the restlessness of water
that will create a sea of passing, and amidst this, do we still think of where to go,
where to land, where to stay dry and safe once this flood reaches the upper part of the house?
You sleep like a baby, like an exhausted animal, and without any disturbance of this storm
and as I sleep and dream beside you after dinner, I have nothing but you as a life, vest, and body.
Well, let me cook you a warm dish, your most favourite food, chicken stir-fry in soy, ginger,
and coconut cream with chillies. It is a bit bitter and sweet as there is a hint of burning
from the scorched flavour of the coconut milk at the bottom of the pan, a complex flavour.
And how about those who are outside, homeless and hungry people who shiver to death
now that the only way to survive this calamity is to huddle and bundle and hope?
How about the wealthy, the one with armoured mansions, and those with rafts ready
and sturdy, an unperturbed sense of privilege even by this most disastrous typhoon?
How will luxurious objects handle the flow of gravity and water, the most precious memory, a diamond
wedding ring, computers, smartphones, liquid crystal display, hi-fidelity speakers, and remote controls?
Are their thoughts like ours, same as how we breathe and wait and fear in anticipation?
We are trapped in this house though our love for each other is written in our poetry books,
tucked under the bed, embroidered in this couple knitted wear, worn on our skins as scars
and scratches of our pet cat we buried a few months ago under a big acacia of our neighbourhood park.
What should be the right thoughts, ideas, and wishes while this storm is above us,
which objects and memories should be saved first while this city is no longer a safe place
but a watery womb and an extension of the Pacific, now that my thoughts are disturbed by the howls
and screams and the white static that I hear from noise of a black-and-white TV?
Maybe in the depth and stillness of your sleep, of our slumber after our dinner, an island will appear
and all my questions will be answered as I prepare the ingredients of this dish I am about to cook:
This is how we have been, this is us now, and this will be our future, a stillness and flow,
love and scratches from the claws of a new pet, an evening dinner of a coconut cream-based dish,
only interrupted by this late century’s deadliest storm.
Please, wake up.
Tomorrow, I’ll invite you to a morning when the Sun has just exploded in what we think is the East.
Now that it is a supernova, all the deadly warmth and rays of the atmosphere will kiss our skin
and give us new sense and feelings. I’d like to have coffee with you on this early morning.
I will trace each moment, each surface, taste, depth, and decision, and the infernal possibilities
of melting bodies, evaporating air, combusting gaps and grasps and seconds of two organisms.
What would our conversation be? What will our biscuit, or toast, or jam, or jelly be? Will there be dew
and green grass? Will there be a crawling smog, or birds chirping, and persistent joggers?
I wonder how the noise will feel, how the sound will burn, how the light will enter our mouths
and burst like tickles or a flushed face. I imagine a very calm and silent morning amidst all the whirr and blurring.
It is then that I can finally say that you’re the first and the last person I’ve ever loved even if you never knew it.
I hope you’ll hear these words, ablaze. Fading in the whitest of white, blinding, burning, swirling from end to end.