Verse Exercises

A portfolio for her verses

Archive for the ‘When something must be said’ Category

Experiences of Otherness Here #1

leave a comment »

“Home is where the heart is”
say they

but This list runs. It is here:

in its imperial city you were caught up in
magnolia nostalgia you know in Cubao?
convenient and forgetful
this is alien country to my childhood,
I try to leash but fail,
have we reached the margin of Imagination?
is the only rural reference possible to Aurora Blvd
a farmer’s market where I’ve never seen a real farmer?
is it so unthinkable we spent nine years
by the gas lamp
at night, and there was no EDSA thoroughfare
no city, only a mountain?


Written by thedoe

February 23, 2014 at 10:37 am

The Fisherman

leave a comment »

I keep thinking, off and on of the fisherman I met too many years ago
I keep thinking of the fisherman and the handful coins
the overfished, abused sea yields for feeding his family
not enough for a ride to the market but sufficient for a kilo of salt

This leads me to thinking about my own inability to uplift my fellow man
and I try to exercise bravery even when I am inside cowardly
I try to grow myself more, as though it were penance for what I cannot do
but this does not feed nor save

Written by thedoe

May 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Posted in When something must be said

Tagged with


leave a comment »

CommuterNothing so mundane as lining up at the drugstore and drifting away, shifting out of focus, staring at nothing in particular, to grant respite to a mind all muddled into soup by the repetitiveness of a day job. I begin to understand what ekeing out a living means, begin feeling the discontent of a laborer, underpaid and overworked. For the first time feeling the burden of tax, the wracking doubts of job insecurity, hearing apprehensive murmurs about the late pay, the social security contributions that don’t get remitted, and underneath it all the growing alienation easily stirred into discontent by every little whisper of injustice, rumor or truth.

Written by thedoe

February 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

The years have not made me forget

leave a comment »

How can I tell you that the years have not made me forget
mother’s stories of her standing behind a curtain, watching
a spy who knows the presence of her eyes, and grinning probably
in full view, the sight sowing an embryo of fear
that mother has given me for my inheritance, maybe she doesn’t know
what she has done.

How can I tell you, that there are nights I am suddenly roused
by the sound of air guns turned dead cold on the brink
of panic? Then I tell myself, these are men hunting for quails.
But my ears hug the walls, and I sit there for an hour listening
for a rustle in the bush. What is the sound of combat boots on grass?
or concrete? Is that a man’s shadow on the window?

They cannot see me here.
The room is pitch, the room is pitch, the room is pitch,
but I give off heat that their augmented eyes can see.
The door. I had it locked and latched.
It will not hold. I have never trusted knobs.

Shall I crawl under the bed? I did that when I was little. But now
I will sit here if they come. I will sit here
and stare this violence in the eye, but it will be easier
if they torched the place, the way they torched those bones you dug up
many years ago after the quarter storm. Have I ever told you, father
how clearly I see you and mother in my head, digging up bones,
searching for names? You gave those graves a name for Caritas.
But I cannot name my fear, they would laugh,
martial law is too far gone.

How articulate is violence? What competence should I acquire
to understand its message? If a land lawyer, a colleague of mother’s,
gets shot on his motorcycle, leaving behind an orphaned son whose
mother was long claimed by cancer, what does a bullet mean to that child,
to me who carries this story around with nowhere to set it down?

How articulate is a bullet? What is its sound and sign?
I seek to understand, but now without speech
the mouths of decaying bodies cannot tell the story
of massacre. Shall I instead read with a different language,
bullet holes and exit wounds
as huge as a saucer on her thigh, twenty seven gun shot wounds,
twenty six fatal, internal bleeding,
lacerations on her navel and groin?
She could be you. Tomorrow, one of these days.

In the van we are the semblance of family for a split second,
but your many colleagues are with us.
Toilers and tillers of the earth whom we drop off far from their homes
at sundown, one donning a cap low to hide his eyes, the other wearing a sweater
over the polo he wore to a thanksgiving. To shake off those watching.
They do this wordlessly, and we nod
to them, knowing tomorrow we may never see them again.
I wonder where to find laughter on such a joyous occasion
when you father, the driver, the quiet devoted husband sitting beside you,
the jocular old man at the back, the middle-aged drunkard with us,
and there are many other faces, all aged and sun-worn,
visiting the house, sharing our meals, all men with threats on their
heads for opening their mouths, swallowing saliva as if for fuel, and making sounds
that trouble the dreams of those in power.

I have nothing to say to you, father.
And all the world to say though what would it mean?
Words are not kevlar.

Written by thedoe

September 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm


leave a comment »

If I cannot tell my father, have not, have never told him prostrate, begging:
stay home father, I know today you might get shot for words:

active – ist,
human rights -ist,
progress -ist

can I speak for fifty-seven mangled corpses who to me
fifty seven-personal tragedies along the infinite string of possibility

every day,
every hour,
every, minute,
every second,

he’s away

If I cannot tell
I cannot tell
I cannot

This was written after reading the news on the Maguindanao massacre.

Written by thedoe

September 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

why I cannot

leave a comment »

how easy to surrender
be someone loved,
forget the world of beggar’s tin cans
numb the sliver of unease as the child with a frown
extends his crumpled envelope to me
and instead, whisper sweet nothings to your waiting ear
to place my hand on your collar bone
but however we collapse the universe under
our one umbrella
the sun nicks my shoulder beyond its shade
outside our cocooned bliss is a seething world

Written by thedoe

May 13, 2011 at 2:00 am


leave a comment »

If I withdraw, it is to listen to my self speaking.
If I fall silent, it is to listen to my self thinking.
If I walk away, it is to hear the echo of my steps, affirming,
yes, I stand on my own two feet.

I stand on my own two feet,
always have, always will
and thus I sway, and in my own way
dance to my inner beat.

July 02, 2009

Written by thedoe

July 2, 2009 at 12:06 am