Poetry Sunday: Conchitina Cruz

CHANCE MEETING

Blame it on our common distaste
for confrontation — the day we called it
quits, there were no more questions,
even as they hung in the air.

And so we drew the line between ourselves,
and I fished my panty hose out of your hamper,
and you took your blanket
off my bed, packing the rest
of ourselves into separate bags.

Now that it’s done, where was the line
we drew? After all, how divide such things
as books, according to who bought them,
who hasn’t read them,
who needs them for class? How break
a painting, a tub into equal parts?

How dismantle a memory?
Like burglars on the scene of a crime, we took
what we thought was ours, by right,
by excuse, by default.
Cleaned out,
the house returned

a blank stare, saying nothing.
Now this awkwardness of meeting
again this inescapable
intersection, and after a second
of courtesies, we head for separate

doors, leaving a debt we share
unsaid — I’m afraid I still
have something
of yours.

  • Conchitina Cruz, a graduate of the University of the Philippines, is a multi-awarded Filipino poet.

Personal Bookshelf: Eman Lacaba

He was from my school.

A poet.

Took to the mountains, joined the rebels.

Was shot — “salvaged” is what they called it back then.

The military says they did it in self-defense.

I still remember the whispers: “Did you hear? Eman Lacaba was shot!”

His funeral mass was held in my school.

Legend.

Friday Morning: Reading Luisa A. Igloria’s New Collection

Luisa A. Igloria, dear friend, is this year’s Virginia Poet Laureate. Her newest collection, Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Crab Orchard Review & Southern Illinois University Press), is such a beauty.

Excerpt from Moving, Changing, Not Moving


In the brick-lined interior of a coffee shop, a man at the communal table closes his eyes, a pair of earphones plugged into his cell. Fanning themselves, people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer & everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water & ice; & parents with little children fall in line outside

people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer& everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water &

btw: Has anyone EVER tried to contact WordPress about their new Block Editors, and has one EVER received a response? This poem format is ALL OFF, and the code editor does not allow self to switch between single space (within a stanza) and double space (between stanzas). Literally, self has been trying to format since 10 a.m., an hour and a half ago. Even their Customer Service doesn’t work. That is all.


Poetry Saturday: Cristina Querrer

The Man Who Lives on the Crooked Lane

An Excerpt

There is a man
who lives slantingly
with an uneven sky
peeking through
missing teeth
of the Venetian blinds

Has a yellow dog
that half yawns & half wags
walks sideways
like a sidewinder snake


Cristina Querrer was born in the Philippines and grew up as a U.S. Air Force military child. Querrer is also a U.S. Army Veteran with an MFA in Creative Writing. Her first full-length collection, By Astrolabes and Constellations, won the silver medal from the 2020 Florida Authors & Publishers Association President’s Award. She is also a visual artist, singer/songwriter, and podcaster.

Pugad Lawin, August 1896

No one knows the exact date when the Philippine Revolution began (Because it was a secret rebellion!). But the place has never been in doubt.

At some point in the last week of August 1896, Andres Bonifacio (a self-educated warehouse clerk, she posted some of his poetry a week or so ago) gathered his followers and led them in tearing up their cedulas. A cedula is a form of identification, issued by the Spanish colonial government. It was a document that formed the basis of tax collection.

Pugad Lawin was deep woods when Andres Bonifacio and a thousand followers (which is quite a large number, for a secret society, but was no match against the Spanish, who in the city of Manila alone numbered at least 10,000) gathered there. The rough translation of pugad lawin is ‘hawk’s nest.’ Today, it has been swallowed up by Metro-Manila, and lies in one of the most densely populated cities in Asia.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Thinking of Andres Bonifacio

Is there any love that is nobler

Purer and more sublime

Than the love of the native country?

What love is? Certainly none.

— Andres Bonifacio, Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (Love for the Native Land)

Bonifacio was a self-educated warehouse clerk who became famous for starting the Philippine Revolution. He was murdered May 1897.

Poetry Tuesday: Simeon Dumdum Jr.

When Is a Poem Already a Poem

from the Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction, edited by Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. and Ricardo M. de Ungria (University of the Philippines, 1996)

I wasn’t listening when you asked that question.
I was looking out the window, at the boat
That was just then leaving the port of Dumaguete.
One more day and already I imagined
Myself on that boat, slumped in a chair,
Holding a book like a cup of coffee,
Hoping that during the passage across
The strait I could read without spilling
A word, but then I remembered I still
Had to send someone to buy me a ticket,
And there was your question, and how far the boat
Had gone out in the poem of the sea, now
That I wished someone there would think of us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
Already we had become the Cuernos de Negros.


Simeon Dumdum Jr. is a Filipino judge on the island of Cebu, and a well-known poet. We met in 2009, at an International PEN Conference. Have loved his poetry ever since.

Reading Gemino H. Abad

DSCN0047

The Nothing That Speaks:

The poems come thick and fast today. I cannot cope. Poem after poem, half-words — and without words still.

I hardly cope.


Gemino H. Abad is a poet, literary critic, historian and professor emeritus of literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines. In 2009, he received Italy’s premiere literary award, the Rome Prize.

Poetry Monday: Jose Wendell Capili

Ohtaue

(Prelude to a rice festival)

from the collection A Madness of Birds (University of the Philippines Press, 1998)

Call it staple.
Marsh grass with stems
veiled in leaf sheaths.
From a farmer’s thatched
cottage, it is the speech
of earth nourishing
a roothold, green and firm
like frogs torching on a path.
A cool breeze of fall
spells harvest.
Rice grains are hard,
mellowing when cooked,
a passion flickered
when ascetics donning
orange robes reflect
the shape of parasol pots
containing each grain.
A luminous space
of children strumming
arpeggiolike strings
invite settlers to wear
pearls and summer kimonos
dyed from playful
shades of light.
Bamboo flutes hum
while people eat rice.


Jose Wendell P. Capili graduated from the University of Santo Tomas and holds a Masters in Philosophy degree in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University (England). He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Korea Foundation, The Carlos Palanca Foundation, The Cultural Center of the Philippines and Silliman University. He teaches at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Poetry Tuesday: Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Night Deer

from the collection Poems: Selected and New (Ateneo de Manila University Press)

It was deer dark when I opened the door,
I mean in the blackness I could make out
The free form of a fawn, a nose
Would be there small and cold, would cloud
My face, and if I stretched my hand I’d hold
A funny little jaw, how dark the round
Night, and it would kneel if it was stroked
And I would pat it, and about
This deer, of course, I’d been feeling the road,
Touch and its tale, and darkness you could count
How many deer —
And then I would not close
The door so they could come and ring around,
Darkness and its animals, so you would know.


Simeon Dumdum, Jr. once studied for the priesthood in Galway, Ireland, but left the seminary to take up law. He has won prizes from the Palanca and Focus Philippines.

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