bicol express, manhattan stop

cycles_deleon

The saddest line of the night, apologies to Neruda, is this: I don’t miss home anymore.

I think about home sometimes, usually during the ungodly hour of the night when souls are at their most fragile. And when I think of home, I think of the past, of memories lived and now cherished, of regrets nurtured but now tempered. I have learned to nod terms with my old self, apologies to Didion, and I am now at peace with my decision.

I don’t miss home anymore, but I still call it as it is — home, and always will be.


bicol express, manhattan stop
Marie Bismonte

no geographical coordinate can pinpoint
a word that embodies a concept:

home is not a location, remembered in distant lands.
nor is it a journey from the road to Mayon,

where all beginnings take root invoked in sepia,
nor an arrival of an express train to the Upper East Side

in Manhattan, people ask me what i am.
all answers lead nowhere

in my head, i am neither a citizen or a national
but a transient between memories, moving through

post-it-notes and found postcards
to forgetting what cannot be remembered.

home is not a word.
it is a language of the sense:

an approximation of ingredients
to create the right mnemonic

in the pan, bicol express simmers—
the steam of bagoong and gata rising

to a smell abhorred by neighbors
who call it too ethnic, but to me it is

decoding the landmarks of my past,
the sili burning tracks

on my esophagus, a combination of words
that defies expression—

my tongue incapable of speech
as it recalls the taste tugging at my throat:

the loss of what cannot be recovered in
each meal, the comfort that makes my eyes water.


The poem above was published in the the anthology Crowns and Oranges: Works by Young Philippine Poets (2009), edited by Cirilo F. Bautista and Ken Ishikawa.

The featured image is Cycles by Dawani de Leon

“And then we cowards”

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We parted with a hug, a text message, a smiley face. I told you I will miss you, and you said same. No promises, nothing else — we remain slaves to silence, and that’s okay.


“And then we cowards”
by Cesare Pavese (translated by Geoffrey Brock)

And then we cowards
who loved the whispering
evening, the houses,
the paths by the river,
the dirty red lights
of those places, the sweet
soundless sorrow—
we reached our hands out
toward the living chain
in silence, but our heart
startled us with blood,
and no more sweetness then,
no more losing ourselves
on the path by the river—
no longer slaves, we knew
we were alone and alive.


The featured image is Julie Mehretu’s Dispersion.

Flying at Night

It’s 2am and I refuse to sleep. There’s nothing much to share, really, but here, a poem:

Flying at Night
Ted Kooser

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
his.


The featured image is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.