Verse Exercises

A portfolio for her verses

Archive for the ‘Is there a we in women?’ Category

The sun is a woman

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the sun


Written by thedoe

December 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I thank you for not giving me flowers, ever

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I thank you for not giving me flowers, ever
Listening to what I did say,
Not thinking I only meant this to call its opposite
Because they say women say one thing
but mean another
Which, you know, confuses women what they truly are
Only I know what I do mean
I am not won by bouquets of thoughtless roses
Really it is not that this is cliche
But clearly, clearly
I am not won

Written by thedoe

October 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Nightly domestic

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I stare at the window grills overladen with laundry, with my domesticity
Whites, yellows, greens, and blues dripping in patience, dripping with my silence
Buffeted at times by wind, buffeted with the certainty of faith
Tomorrow I shall collect my victory in pieces of fragrant clothing
Tomorrow I shall be wealthy and fulfilled
Here, here is something I can do

Written by thedoe

February 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm


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My Japanese student once aspiring writer tells me I’m too young to give up. When we are not talking about natural disasters around the world for her conversational English practice, she tells me stories about her daughters and her grandchildren who now fill her days. I tell her it is not too late to put out the novel she had dreamed of writing. She shakes her head no at the other end of the line. I can hear it in her voice. The connection is unstable. Her reply fades in and out. I am afraid of making her sad. She tells me a common housewife has nothing interesting to say, matter of fact and humble. I could think of only one thing to do. I disagreed.


This catalogue of conversations was first started in an older blog.

Written by thedoe

May 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Still Life of a Woman at the Museum

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on your solitary walks
the shutter is your eye
captures moment after moment
pixelates the sky,
play of light
is this your intimacy
with art?
the way you stare at museum pieces
with that woman’s searching gaze
where is that fraction of you?
always hidden
like an afterglow, all your
little confessions

First published in issue#35 of poet’sPicturebook, now known as the Electronic Monsoon Magazine managed and designed by Marne Kilates. nth draft 10 Jan 2011

Written by thedoe

January 10, 2011 at 3:39 am

Lady of Manaoag

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The Blessed Virgin of Manaoag is the patron of the helpless and the sick. I cannot imagine why anyone would think such a stern-looking lady for a healer. In the same way, I never could explain why my grandmother would rise at dawn and dance with her hands outstretched, swaying and singing unintelligible Latin in front of an assemblage of icons pale as the ivory or dull as the jade of their carving. Some, made of weak stone, had lost an arm, a head, but grandmother droned on nonetheless, while I sat behind her spooked at how she could pray to headless, armless survivors of divine battle.

I used to stare into each one of her idols and found them all strange, always looking so foreign, otherworldly. I expected them to have blue eyes, never brown like mine. Even San Lorenzo Ruiz, a feeble-looking man surrounded by towering Christs, San Pedros and other men of the desert, was a carving of pure white, the very color of chalk.

When grandmother moved away and lived with my aunt to be nearer the hospital we packed all her statues and cleaned out her altar of candle wax, dried flower petals, and old woman’s scent. Now not a single crucifix graces the old house. The picture frame of saints are gone, too. My favorite one was of The Trinity sitting around in conversation in the clouds, their feet resting on the heads of poor angels. After we took it down, the frame had left a stain on the wall for having stayed hung too long. That stain, too, is gone, erased by a roll of paint. But every time I see a patron or some statue, I begin hearing my grandmother again, singing Latin prayers none of us could understand.

I have seen other grandmothers in the churches singing their hymns even as the mute stones of their patrons and gods crumble into amputees. And I would like to think many more granddaughters like me have cleaned out and put down our grandmother’s altars. But even then we remain stained by memories of cold dawns and singing, swaying silver-haired women, reaching out for something.
An earlier version, not much different, was first submitted as a creative non-fiction writing assignment on 17 Feb 2009. This is part of Triggers, a collection of writing born from images.

Written by thedoe

February 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm


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My mother is a Pisces. Somehow, I have always known she was a creature of the water. Her hand was always cool when I had my fevers. The sickly child that I was, I delighted in being home alone with mother, tended by her soothing fingers.

When will she decide to go home? When is she going to cross the sea and make peace? I am her daughter. Can I really send her back to her birthplace, to her father who seeks forgiveness? But my mother is not a sweet impressionable Pisces. In this respect she is a Pisces man who refuses to follow the current, and grapples the flow of water with her hands.

Her second name is Joy. Everyone calls her that. Ma’am Joy. Ate Joy. Mana Joy. My sister has her second name. My sister also has my mother’s mother’s name. I do not have a Joy in my name. What are their secrets? These three secretive, quiet women of my life, what is it they’re not telling me? While my sister can simply raise her brows at Joy, why is it that I have always sought to hold her soothing hands? Why do I think they are magical hands?

She gave birth twice and has three children. She is eldest of nine siblings. How many things can I list about my mother? When I talk to her I am not her child. No longer. We are different, she and I. I am the daughter who plays with pretensions, always civil, always polite. She is what you see is what you get. When she is angry she does not smile. When she is angry she retreats into her silence, and she will not speak for weeks. Will walk around the house like I’m furniture. Will not eat dinner. Will only stare at me even when I’m sniveling an I’m sorry. I have grown accustomed to my mother’s quiet. I am the survivor of her cold war. I suffer from war shock. I am a trauma patient from the blow of her silence. I have sought to embody my mother’s forbearance, but through that film between mother and child, I always appear to her transparent. And she keeps on telling me control, ebb and recede, this is how you bend water. Never flood. Struggle, panic, and you lose yourself to the water. Grapple the water. Learn to lie. Learn to poker face, be the roiling current beneath the placid surface. Between the fish and the scorpion, the water is hers. She is the eminent ruler of insight and intuition.

She suddenly forgot how to hug her children when they were no longer babies. For a long, long time she would not laugh at jokes. I hated her early, the way my sister hates her now. I hated her for thinking we hated her. I hated her for asking many years ago whether she should stay or go. Who asks that of a child? Who asks that of a child? I hate that child who answered back in her little tremulous voice stay because she could not bear the thought of a broken family. Selfish brat why stop Joy from flight? So what is love to a Pisces? It is the chain that holds the Pisces to her child, Aphrodite to Eros, fish tail to fin tail so that they do not lose each other in the world’s ocean. But who casts the line? Is it the mother or the child?

I hated Joy for not hiding in her silence my father’s infidelities. I am being unfair. My mother was quiet all that time. Yet I knew. Ultimately, those many years ago, I hated how I just watched her suffer, for me, for my sister, for my brother, who may have known, who knows, they are always quiet, the lot of them, no one ever knows what they’re thinking, the lot of them, but I knew, and I was quiet. I did not make any noise. Now, years later, my mother and I we talk about the years we were quiet. We talk about them.

This was a creative non-fiction writing assignment submitted ca 2009. 

Written by thedoe

December 9, 2008 at 12:24 am