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.

Poetry Sunday: Alfredo Navarra Salanga (1948-1988)

Anniversary

from the collection One Hundred Love Poems: Love Poetry Since 1905, edited by Gemino H. Abad and Alfred A. Yuson (The University of the Philippines Press)

Why celebrate the day we married
With a poem about your hair?
Perhaps because I’ve always wondered
how it would have been if left uncut:
after ten long years it could have grown
maybe long enough to brush the floor.
But life is very much like hair.
(or should that be the other way around?):
the cutting of it marks beginnings.
We have been blessed, the two of us,
with the resiliency of your hair —
we have always been capable of growth
and of not losing our way

1985

Poetry Friday: Eric Gamalinda

INCANTATION/ A SCROLL

published in Caracoa 18 (April 1988)

The madman and the hypocrite roam this city I didn’t want to die in
I have seen my generation scour the alleys for scraps and sex
have seen the gentlest people throw up in disgust unhappy and
impolite
and the needle piercing the skin and the ooze of impossible
blood
all of them fortify my battlements i.e. not even the leaves
tremble at the thought of decay
and even as this man dies or that one fails I am learned or
am fallen
not defeated but bracing for the next attack
the symmetry of vespers and arrows
now the inner midnight is descending and the fine opens and closes
over someone’s sad mouth holding back the howl
with its immaculate crises and blooms of violets
and always I am he
I burn in the beatified rainbows
I am driven insane by the simplest wind
and when this man fails or that one exults
I am he/I am lessened/I exult


What a poem. That first line.

Poetry Saturday: Emmanuel Torres

Freedom

After a haiku by Rolando Pangan

(from the collection The Smile on Smokey Mountain, Winner of the Philippine National Book Award for Poetry)

Not having to hear
The guard singing as his keys
Dangle steps away.


Emmanuel Torres was a professor of English at self’s alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University, and curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery. He received his masters in English from the State University of Iowa and was a member of Paul Engle’s Iowa Writers Workshop from 1955-1957.

Poetry Saturday: Angela Narciso Torres

If You Go to Bed Hungry

(an excerpt)

If you go to bed hungry, your soul will get up and steal cold rice from the pot.
Stop playing with fire before the moon rises or you’ll pee in your sleep.

Sweeping the floor after dark sweeps wealth and good fortune out the door.
Fork dropped: a gentleman will visit. Spoon: a bashful lady.


Torres_author-photo-1024x1024

The poem in its entirety can be found on the Poetry Foundation site.

About Angela: She is the author of Blood Orange (Willow Books, 2013). Her second collection, What Happens is Neither, is forthcoming in 2021 from Four Way Books.

Perhaps that is why good things never last long with self: she is always sweeping the floor just before she goes to bed!

Stay tuned.

More from “Like the Molave” by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa (Poet, 1915 – 1990)

Like the Molave was a long poem in eight parts, published 1940:

The little brown brother opens his eyes to the glaring sound of

the Star Spangled;
dreams to the grand tune of the American dream;
is proud to be part of the sweeping American magnitude;
strains his neck upon the rising skyscraper of American
ideals, and on it hinges faith, hope, aspiration;
sings the American epic of souls conceived in liberty;
quivers with longing brotherhood of men created equal;
envisions great visions of the land across the sea where
dwell his strong brothers.

Poetry Monday: “Like the Molave”

Excerpt from Like the Molave

by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa (1915 – 1990)

Note: The molave is a Philippine hardwood, resistant to fire, used frequently in the construction of Philippine churches and dwellings, now extinct in the Islands.


VI

My American friend says:

show me one great Filipino speech to make your people
listen through the centuries;
show me one great Filipino song rich with the soul of your
seven thousand isles;
show me one great Filipino dream, forever sword and
shield —
speech eloquent and simple as our My Country ‘Tis of Thee;
dream age-enduring, sacred as our American democracy!

Friend, our silences are long but we also have our speeches.

Father, with my whole heart, I forgive all.
Believe me, your reverence.

 

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