Turning Tables

(To Mama and Papa.)

I.
I remember:    my face
In the seabed
Of both your stomachs.

You, together, carrying me,
When I was a child,
With the surging tide of

Your arms.
Carrying me,
And in carrying,

The World.

Mama and Papa,
Perhaps I know what’s changed.

II.
Over the years, as my shadow
Crosses yours, as you could
No longer engulf me fully
In the fluid of your embrace,

Perhaps, it is nature:
That I’ve grown
Bigger.

Perhaps, though,
But Mama and Papa,
I am the same child twice, am I
Not? And thrice, the same child over
And over again.

III.
Is it possible,
That it’s not me,
Who’s grown bigger,
But you, in time,
That’s gotten

Smaller?

Like waves receding into
The center of the Ocean.

IV.
Over the years, maybe, you are growing
Small, Mama and Papa.

Smaller
And smaller,

‘Til you are small enough to fit,
And in so fitting, sleep,
In the calmness of my heart.

Now that I carry the world for you.

 

Love In The Time of Poetica

Hinuli ako ng Tula
Sa gitna ng Pagka —
Tunganga.
Kinalabit, at saka
Kinuwelyuhan. Itinulak ang
Katawan sa pader.

Gumapang ang
Tula’t, hinalikan ang
Hinubdan na
Dulas ng aking pusod.
Sinunggaban ang labis
Na lapnos ng aking
Kabuuan.
At saka

Pinaglaruan ang
Nagising, at naninigas,
Na ningas
Ng aking
Ulirat.

Hinuli ako ng Tula.
Na ako ang
Sadya.

Hinuli’t, isinubo’t,
Hanggang sa
Nilabasan

Ng mainit at
Malagkit na punlay

Ng ‘alam, alamat, at alat
Ng buhay.

Consider this my birthday wish

If, today, I were
to die, donate
my body
half

to the National Museum.

Ask, for them,
to plastinate
my lower
body
half

in the grace of eternal run.

Donate my eyes to the blind
and merest child. My skin
for the cold uncovered. Bones
for the frailest flesh.

Grind my innards fine, and
feed them to
the fishes. Feed them to
the birds.
Cremate the ones too many, and
fertilize the earth.

For in death
we are
the earth.

And I hope,
for when I die,
for me
to be
not nowhere
   but everywhere.

I am the world

(Originally written in Filipino as “Ako ang daigdig” by Alejandro G. Abadilla in 1955, this poem, considered as the poet’s magnum opus, contested the established forms of the milieu’s romantic rhymes and meters.

Abadilla was then referred to as the father of modern Philippine poetry.

Here is my English translation of his poem.)

I.
i am
the world

i am
the poem

i am
the world
the poem

i am
the world
of poem
the poem
of world

i am
enduring, me
the deathless me
the poem of world

II.
i am
the world of poem

i am
the poem of world

i am
liberated, me
to self am truthful
to my world
of poem

i am
the poem
of world

i am
the world
of poem

i am

III.
i am
the feeling
free

i am
the image
life

i am
the life
illimited

i am
the feeling
image
life

feeling
image
life
poem
i

IV.
i am
the world
in poem

i am
the world
of poem

i am
the world

i am
the poem

world
poem

i

Chronophobia (or How You’re No Longer 17. I won’t always be 17)

Father,
Your hair
Is growing
Thin.

You may try,
As much as try,
To comb it all
To the side,

Comb it,
In such a way
That the whole
Of your hairline’s
Covered.

But you cannot hide your age.

For father,
Your hair
Is growing
Thin.

And I understand
You’re scared, well, both
Of us are scared,
And so is Mom.

We are all afraid of time.

(Time is eating
Our time — a metastasis growing
Perhaps too long,
Too early.)

We are all afraid of time.

In the sand dunes
That’ll follow,
Let us hope
Our hope
Grows thick.

We are all
Afraid of time.

we cannot as much as try aestheticise

you are no Plath and i
No Hemingway.

Perhaps there is
No other way
For me to say
This truth and truth alone:

We suck at writing, we suck
At dying,  We suck
At everything there is to suck
But sucking.

Dying
is the final art form,
A culmination of our lives as a poorly written
Art form,

   an art form nonetheless.