Tag Archives: poetry

For My Cousins Who Will Choose Who They Are

FOR MY COUSINS WHO WILL CHOOSE WHO THEY ARE

running home this evening
I look for the san gabriels
to find only
a faint line above the haze
a razor-black definition
of home running

and, before I can help it, my mind
rushes in
fills the rest with detail and reference
so that I see
as if in mid-earthquake
a perfect memory of a mountain.

I tell you this, cousins, because you too
will find your landmarks
this way,
you too will find yourself
listening to others
on the bus in school on t.v.
who will tell you, “You can choose
who you will be
you have the responsibility
to see it this way.”

***

what chose who blood
passages over the dark-rain ocean crossing
the border-blister heat

to arrive
find that address in the suitcase
stolen

***

there is in you
hot blood
cool blood
island blood
lovers blood
tribal blood
white blood
hungry blood
city blood
american blood American blood AMERICAN blood

***

it is twenty-eight day since Grandpa die
we used to eat chilled plums from buckets
drink coke and play ping-pong
in the backyard

one of his countrymen once said,
America
is in the Heart

this after years and years away
from the mountain on the island

***

we will be mis taken
for everything
we will learn to trade the landmarks
for pictures of ourselves
we will be tempted by the temporary ease
of forgetfulness
but, my cousins, after years of pretending
to choose
we will learn: we only know how
to discriminate

you will find yourself
suddenly alone with no easy choices
nothing gets better
once it is gone
or taken
or given
you cannot get it back in one piece
not in one lifetime

so I give you no caution
just a cool eye in the hurricane
just a hot eye in the field
there is something
no one has told you

go to it

 

 

from Completely Mixed Up: Mixed Heritage Asian North American Writing and Art (edited by Brandy Lien Worrall-Soriano, Rabbit Fool Press, 2015)

 

The Change Giver

THE CHANGE GIVER

The Change-giver drops four pisos
into my hand
swivels hips sideways
calls out the next stop

Ortigaaaaaaaaaaaaaas

one hand worrying the frayed edge
of a trouser pocket
switching back and forth
coin against the railing

one click means stop
two clicks go
sige dire-diretso hangang sa dulo

The Change-giver paces the small spaces
from Q-mart to Quezon Ave.
feet collecting strips of sun like geckos’ tongues
calling their rattling call in the night

The Change-giver paces the small spaces
between engine-floor to back door
gliding between aisles of torn Salita pages
spit and celphone cards

towel moistens the temple’s soft skin

the clutch gives
rocking wheels
into forward motion

The Change-giver has seen
four-hundred twenty-eight pisos
cross the pockets aisles and fingernails

seen three times already
the slow opening of gates
at city hall

seen the boarding and slipping off
of passengers before dawn

seen the slow crunch of taxis
jeeps and tricycles loosen
into steam-filled streets

moving in one flip
in one toss
the tickets fanned to the blanket of precision

holding in one fist
the day’s slowly burning silence

One-click two-click one-click two
in a flash five centuries of stop and go
five centuries of letting go
five centuries of circling a foreign architect’s dream
of agreement

One-click two-click one-click two
the signals of memory smoking through the sheen
of metal and coin
finger and cloth

One-click two-click one-click two
the stuttering accent of hybrid languages
smoothed to silence
carved from roughness

One-click two-click one-click two
we stop we listen
our tongues
our mouths
our eyes
our hands

the sun clears the billboard on EDSA
fills the window with light

the Change-giver is braced between seats
turning coins into dreams

 

From the chapbook, The Change Giver (Rosela Press, 2003)

Exile

EXILE

They were exiled
for half a century
from the island

the ocean became
a deep and treacherous
border cut into the land.

The punishment imposed
by Spanish officials
a consequence for insurrection
certain as the fine embroidery
on the priest’s frock ironed hot
and flat for mass.

Even so
some were driven back
by hunger or loneliness
to the green hills
and the damp forests
but always to leave
by nightfall
with dreams of home
fading like salt spray
against the boatsides.

When it was finally over
many did not return
for the passage of time
takes its toll
and heartbreak runs through
generations like
a thirst quenched by water
pulled from the bitter gourd.

The ones who did return
gathered stones and lime
from the shoreline
brought down wood from the hills
and built the homes
where we now live.

This was all more than one hundred eighty years ago
and tonight
look how the first-quarter moon
fills the town streets
with glowing light,
the sky filled with stars
and clouds and wind.

We are still named
for the tree
lodged into the hillsides
its broad leaves turning dark red when
the rainy season nears its end,
inside green teardrops
new leaves wait silently
to open.

 

 

Read more about the collection, Di Achichuk.