a starless, smothering blanket of beastly odour.
Pinned down, your mind sifts and sifts through
the shock swiftly, recalling the ranger’s warning:
it always goes for your face, cover it with your hands,
curve your body into a C, and be still;
Ajji oiled and combed my hair for hours. She said that combing is kindness as though the small-teethed comb could catch and carry my worries, and not just lice. Call me prejudiced but the C words do not stick like sweat on my skin - choice, consent, calcium. I suffer from deficiencies of my own making. That's how marriages work, you say.
you the thump-thump bass as I drowned
in the bellow of our ballad, worn leather
mouthing words from neon lights.
Skyline clumped beneath the white crescents
of your nails; sprinkled into smog like glitter,
these two lungs exhaling ten intertwined fingers and
Somewhere by my grandparents house; strawberries from the heart
Better still, there are Oranges in Europe and
Grapes in South Melbourne and
A man from the Northern suburbs with a belt that
Wears studs and a tattoo I know better than to
Offers me a coffee with half a spoon of sugar.
A teacher once asked if I lived on the dirty side of the Philippines, I had to think what she meant—if she meant a part easier to ignore homeless kids on the streetsides with cardboard blankets curled up like street dogs; if dirty meant poor meant eating rice with soy sauce ‘cause mama couldn’t afford meat;
the spider climbs the spout
the wheels on the bus go round
Jack gets the magic beans
and I say ding dong
we are all scrambling out of the frying pan
where dozens of eggs were broken
to make incredible inedible omelets
What a miracle,
The barbed wire fences,
Are to be finally taken off
Mottos of life, history of people
Worthy Stories, worthy Men
Women, are to be taken care of
The summer precedes autumn
Autumn precedes winters
No wonder, you who know history,
read portents, now sleep uneasily,
blades wrapped in raw leather
tucked beneath your pillows.
Morning lines at the whetstone,
coffee and small chatter,
a dime’s blot of oil,
grinding steel on stone—
“Say sorry Mita, ju leetle sinverguenza, pendeja for estupidez!
Her sharp words slice through the pineapples on the tropical wallpaper
of her tiny dark kitchen
scattering drops of sweet juice on my cheek
and on one eyelash that dangles in front of my pupil
too afraid to fall off