I have named you queen.
There are taller than you, taller.
There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
When you go through the streets
No one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
At the carpet of red gold
That you tread as you pass,
The nonexistent carpet.
And when you appear
All the rivers sound
In my body, bells
Shake the sky,
And a hymn fills the world.
Only you and I,
Only you and I, my love,
Listen to it.
today we found out my little brother
didn’t know the tagalog word
for table (‘lamesa’)
they fine them one peso
in school every time they’re caught
not speaking in english
bullying them into fluency
they did the same when i was in sixth grade
most of the books in the library
were in english
i lost my library card several times
before i read them all
when i was nine we got cable
and started watching american crime dramas
in lieu of local noontime shows
in the effort to encourage globalisation
they bred an entire generation
who couldn’t tell a table from a chair
it fills me with shame that until a few years ago it was
with a sense of pride that i said
“i think in english”
and considered it a compliment whenever
foreigners told me
“your english is good, for a filipino”
i never thought there was anything wrong
that nearly every story i’ve ever written
was in a language that wasn’t mine
i can only form ideas
in the colonisers’ tongue
and i realized it too late (‘huli na ang lahat’)
now i can’t tell if i’m stealing words
or taking them back
geography is a son of a bitch.
I’m lonely here, you’re lonely there,
let’s fold up the map and make it better.
let us pack picnic baskets of all the things we love,
meet in the middle of America, where the gods spar
steal a car and find a better place.
with a carousel and a duck pond and grass to keep us grounded,
grass to keep us grounded and rain often enough to keep the smell of earth in the air.
and a break in the trees for the sun to come through, and enough space from the rest of the world so we can sleep soundly in the falling light, with no one left to keep watch.
we can leave a trail of breadcrumbs or we can eat the whole loaf ourselves. if they want to find us they can work a little harder than that.
Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear
a body littered with ugly things.
doesn’t she wear
the world well?
[love letter to self]
i don’t think so. but, i forgive you, girl, who tallied stretch marks into reasons why no one should get close. i forgive you, silly girl, sweet breath, decent by default. i forgive you for being afraid. did everything betray you? even the rain you love so much made rust out of your jewellery? i forgive you, soft spoken girl speaking with fake brash voice, fooling no one. i see you, tender even on your hardest days. i forgive you, waiting for him to call, i forgive you, the diets and the cruel friends. especially for that one time you said ‘i fucking give up on love, it’s not worth it, i’d rather be alone forever’. you were just pretending, weren’t you? i know you didn’t mean that. your body, your mouth, your heart, made specifically for loving. sometimes the things we love, will kill us, but weren’t we dying anyway? i forgive you for being something that will eventually die. perishable goods, fading out slowly, little human, i wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.