Thursday, December 14, 2017

I climb...

I climb…

God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights.—Habakkuk 3:19

I climb the mountain swiftly like a sure-footed deer.
Chaos, noise, smoke, trains, ceaseless phalanxes rising disappear faster than pebbles rattling down a ravine.
Silence joins along, footfalls in his wake.
Awakened by sudden quiet, dark spirits of the forest shamble beneath a behemoth of shadows. Spotting no visitors, they turn back to probing the soil.
Clouds raise chins, disdainful at the intruder.
The guardian of the heights briskly snaps his cloak.
The sky bends its diaphragm, filling the lungs of the vault.
Rushing forward, winds burst, monsoon springs. The sun thrusts his spear.
At the summit a doorway opens to quickening vistas all around.
Who will stay beside me to gently touch my shoulder, telling me I am not alone?

Originally published in Cecile’s Writers (July 17, 2016)

The Ascent of Mount Carmel, as depicted in the first edition of 1618 by Diego de Astor

Thursday, November 30, 2017


To Andres Bonifacio

Your bones may be lost forever,
But we are possessed, fortunately,
Of your photograph, in which
You glare—proud, sullen,

Belligerent, yet also brave, staunch,
Inspired—Supremo indeed.
I do not doubt your genius,
Testified by, for one,

Your marvelous capacity
For self-education, though
You must admit that
Your keenness is blunted

By your weakness
In the aspect of strategy:
Your inability to ride
Rapidly transforming events

So that they instead
Rode you, shamefully,
To your wretched execution—
Unjust, no doubt,

Still, result of your failure
To play your cards well.
Unyielding to a fault,
Prickly, reckless,

Flawed by fatal hubris,
You forecast your own fate
In the red and black flags
Of the Katipunan.

Now, standing in dust and smoke
Beclouding your monument
By the illustrious sculptor,
Guillermo Tolentino,

I see the Great Plebeian
Brandishing bolo and gun
And wonder about the message
He purportedly signifies.

Is there wisdom in violence?
Behold, the sword that liberates
Is the selfsame weapon
That tragically destroys!

Originally published in Anak Sastra (October 26, 2014), pages 80-81

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Souls’


The day of the dead is short respite for the living.
The tumult of life is stilled by the remembrance of the dead.
The living remembers the dead as the silence of the grass.
The grass is the dead ever present among the living.

The dead have not forgotten that life is breath and water.
They hover in the air, waiting for rain.
Water is the prayers of the living for the thirsty.
The living sometimes forgets, the dead ever remember.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Madrigal


I listened
To a madrigal—
Fire, fire, fire,
They sang
So brightly,
I imagined
The song itself,
By flames.

Originally published in Eastlit (August 1, 2015)

The Fire Next Time (2013) by Marcia Soderman

Friday, October 6, 2017

Song of the Solitary

For Father Pat Giordano, SJ

The moon abides invisibly in a day painted white.
At my shoulder a dark green shadow is floating, the sea.
Breakers rush toward shore, roaring lions inside a wind tunnel.
Peering within myself, I see bottomless water.
Stillness enters the space between two swells of breath.
Waiting is a desert journey, a dry mountain disappearing into the skies.
Solitude, a dove, hovers, bearing a gift.

Originally published in The Penmen Review (May 27, 2017)

Trwyn Du Lighthouse