Three Poems from Macau

Filipino Diaspora

Leaving is excruciating.
Why? I do not exactly know, perhaps because
of the pull of two contrasting worlds:
the severity of a razor-sharp knife
drawing neat line separating flesh from cancer,
the bird’s vast and endless ocean
between hibernation and spring feast.
Remember the baby’s first gasp
of air that is full of pains?
The struggling baby can only react with tears.

Leaving is like birth.
It is the process of going
from familiar to unfamiliar,
from the water to the dry,
from the womb to the arms.

I am leaving soon: the pains, hidden treacheries
and silence of my town, Magalang, I consign
to the dusts and ashes of my youth
and of my father who passed away
not of cancer as what doctors diagnosed,
but of my country’s cruelty, apathy and poverty

It is sad and painful to go because my luggage
is heavy with dreams, faces, moments and memories.


Before the Verdict

News item: A video has been shown on national television of six white policemen setting dogs on black men for 40 minutes, beating them up and hurling racial abuse at them. The six Afrikaner ‘white’ policemen were arrested on Tuesday and were expected to appear in court today on attempted murder charges. —November 9, 2000. Agence France-Press for South China Morning Post.

Listen to me, honored members of jury,
and please look into my eyes for you to find out
how deep are the wounds of my soul.
Eyes possess the most vivid words.
Eyes never lie.

The fangs of the dogs did not hurt me,
the tongues of my offenders did.

My wounds, the wounds of my flesh, will heal sooner or later,
but the scars will remain to remind people
how one day savage dogs and white men ruled this land.

My offenders who called me names
may walk out of this courtroom free
and cleared from offences, but I must let them know
a child brought up believing in God and justice
will not ever fuck his poor sick mother.
I do not know what logic governed their minds
to call me fucker, sucker, fakir, bastard.

As dogs chased me, I dropped and lost
a few pennies for my mother’s medicine-
earned by carrying coals in the mining site on the next village.
I do not want my offenders to pay my pennies back,
I want them to offer apologies to my mother.
My mother is always devoted to her poverty
and followed only one man who would sire me.

I beseech you, most honored men and women of jury,
to pass the verdict not out of your pity toward me
nor out of your disgust toward my white offenders.
Please pass the verdict that the voices within you dictate.



The flowers woke. Yes, I literally mean woke.
They folded their petals last night: call it slumber.
And they spread them back again this morning,
like us when we stretch out our arms, yawning,
after we rose from our daily death.
But, tell me, is there time in the flowers’ life?
Is time to them as necessary and natural
as sunlight and fog and dew and moonlight?
I know there are only blooming and wilting,
and what is between those is but life
without dreams or imaginations.
Time is just a part of thought.
And thought, once misused
or abused, spoils one’s existence.
To be conscious of time is to be conscious of death.
And the flowers are neither conscious of time nor of slumber,
thus rendering them immortal
like songs and butterflies and rainbows.
Time is frightening because it sets boundaries and limits.
Time is a prison where everybody needs to escape from.
God did not create time.
We created it to rebel against God.