Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Galatea Resurrects is accepting engagements with poetry projects such as reviews, book introductions (or forewords prefaces or afterwords) not currently online, coverage of poetry events, and other engagements in any form (e.g. letters, poems, art, etc. in response to poetry).

You can review any poetry project. Book and chapbook review copies are available HERE. Reviews are not limited to recent releases as we believe Poetry is eternal. You can even review some beloved book that's long stayed on one of your bookshelves!

Email for queries and sending reviews: galateaten at gmail dot com

Eileen Tabios
Editor, Galatea Resurrects


Click on title-links to be directed to the review or article

Featuring Gémino H. Abad, Jose F. Lacaba, Arvin Abejo Mangohig, Isabela Banzon, Victor Peñaranda, Padmapani L. Perez, Marne Kilates, Lourd Ernest De Veyra, Fidelito C. Cortes, Marra Pl. Lanot, CF Paderna, Eric Gamalinda, Luisa A. Igloria, Alfred A. Yuson, Marjorie Evasco, Miyako Dominguez Izabel, and Christine V. Lao

In Memorial: Jose Victor Peñaranda

COMORBID by Ginger Ko
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/23)

The Absent by Rosalind Palermo Stevenson
Reviewed by Judy Katz-Levine (9/22)

Litanies Said Handedly: Poetry, Collage & Performance by Ralph La Charity
Reviewed by Joseph Tomain (9/21)

AFTERLAND by Mai Der Vang
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/20)

Debths by Susan Howe
Reviewed by Judith Roitman (9/12)

Conflict by Angelo V. Suarez
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/11)

Rosestrikes and Coffee Grinds, both by Seyhan Erözçelik
Engaged by Peter Valente (9/10)

STORY PROBLEMS by Charles Jensen
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/9)

Charm for Survivors, Selected Painted Books & Sequences by Jesse Glass
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/8)

The Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno
Reviewed by Jim McCrary (9/7)

The Moon Is Almost Full by Channa Bloch
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/6)

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho Buson and Issa edited by Robert Hass
Engaged by Victor Hernández Cruz (9/5)

What We Do: Essays for Poets by Michael Gottlieb
Engaged by Tom Beckett (9/4)

Homage to the Pseudo-Avant Garde by Kent Johnson
Reviewed by John Rigney (9/3)

Envelope Poems: Poetry by Emily Dickinson, edited by Jen Bervin and Marta Werner
Engaged by Jesse Glass (9/2)

Spillway 25 edited by Susan Terris
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/1)

BLUE by Wesley St. Jo & Reme Grefalda
Reviewed by Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier (9/1)

Selected Poems & Series by Thomas Fink
Engaged by Margaret H. Johnson (8/12)


Oxygen by Julia Fiedorczuk, Translated by Bill Johnston
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (8/10)

“Romeo and Romeo” by Ahmet Güntan
Engaged by Peter Valente (8/9)

"A Simple Word" by Marc Gaba
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (8/8)

Cat Poems: Wompus Tales & a Play of Despair by Christopher Shipman
Reviewed by Ariel Gratch (8/7)

Taropoetics by Anna McKerrow
Reviewed by Nikki Dudley (8/6)

A Poetry of Elephants, anthology compiled by Rebecca Gethin
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (8/5)

November Odds: Anger Fear and Horror After November 8, 2016 by Gary Hardaway
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (8/4)

SANS by G.L. Ford
Reviewed by Katie Hibner (7/31)

What It Is Like: New and Selected Poems by Charles North
Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater (7/30)


Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/28)

Ekstasis with photographs by Peter Valente and poetry by Kevin Killian
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/27)

THE HEART'S TRAFFIC: A Novel in Poems by Ching-In Chen
Reviewed by Kyle Henrichs (7/26)

Days and Works by Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/25)

Dead Ringer by Charles Borkhuis and AMINA BARAKA & THE RED MICROPHONE by Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone
Reviewed by Steve Dalachinsky (7/24)

RAYFISH by Mary Hickman
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/23)

Contest Results from the Festival de l'Ail de Ste-Anne Garlic Festival
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/8)

FACE-POEMS by Aaron Flores
Engaged by Márton Koppány (7/7)

If We Were Birds by Janine Harrison
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (7/6)

ALPHABET NOIR by Nico Vassilakis
Engaged by Jim Leftwich (7/5)

Small Ceremonies by Cynthia Snow
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/4)
Engaged by Jim McCrary (7/3)

the gag reel by Tom Bamford Blake
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (7/2)
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (7/1)

Engaged by Eileen Tabios (6/27)

Wild Horses, Wild Dreams: New and Selected Poems 1971-2010 by Lindy Hough
Reviewed by Dana Wilde (6/26)

REVOLUTIONS: a Collaboration by John Matthias, Jean Dibble and Robert Archambeau
Reviewed by Ralph La Charity (6/25)

Codify by Irene Koronas
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (6/24)

Questions of Poetics: Language Writing and Consequences by Barrett Watten
Reviewed by T.C. Marshall (6/23)

Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (6/22)

FUTURES TRADING, Anthology Four, Edited by Caleb Puckett
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (6/21)


Engaged by Eileen Tabios (6/19)

They Went to the Beach to Play by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (6/18)

Back to the Garden by Clara Hume
Reviewed by Tom Hibbard (6/17)

God got a dog with poems by Cynthia Rylant and illustrations by Marla Frazee
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (6/16)

FEATURE: Poetry In Response to Alex Tizon's article, "My Family Slave" as regards Eudocia Tomas PulidoThe Atlantic, June 2017. Poems by Jonel Abellanosa, Jim Pascual Agustin, Kimberly Alidio, Michelle Bautista, Aileen Cassinetto, Melinda Luisa de Jesús, Elaine Dolalas, Rose Linda Gonzales, Maileen Hamto, Luisa A. Igloria, Sean Labrador Y Manzano, Agnes Marton, D Hideo Maruyama, Amy Ray Pabalan, Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan, Barbara Jane Reyes, Tony Robles, Irene Suico Soriano, Leny Mendoza Strobel, Eileen R. Tabios, Jean Vengua, and Alfred A. Yuson

"Broken Verse" by Darrell Nettles
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (5/28)

Explanation model for 'Virus' by Freke Räihä
Engaged by Thérèse Bachand (5/27)

Love Song to a Blue God by Sophie Strand
Reviewed by Tamas Panitz (5/26)

Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes From the Underground by Amy Bassin and Mark Blickley
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/25)

The Fair Parts of Shadows by Dhiman Chakraborty
Engaged by Runa Bandyopadhyay (5/24)

Stop Armageddon by Howard Yosha
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/23)

“I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson” Exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum (organized with Amherst College), New York City, Jan. 20-May 28, 2017
Reviewed by Adam DeGraff (5/8)

Driftwood Monster: Haiku for Troubled Times by Kath Abela Wilson
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/8)

B & O Blues by Aileen Cassinetto
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/7)

Ghazals 1-59 And Other Poems by Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt 
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (5/7)

Manifesto of the Moment by mIKEAL aND (1)
Reviewed by Matt Hill (5/6)

Manifesto of the Moment by mIKEAL aND (2)
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/6)

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT by Olivia Stiffler
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (5/5)

Check & Balance by Luisa A. Igloria
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/5)

FANTASTIC CARYATIDS: A Conversation with Art by Anne Waldman & Vincent Katz
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (5/4)

La Police by Bill Lavender
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/4)

A CAPacious Act by Charles A. Perrone
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/3)

Afterword by Nick Piombino to Text Loses Time by Nico Vassilakis

Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/1)

The Owl Still Asking: Tanka for Troubled Times by Kath Abela Wilson
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (5/1)

daughterrarium by Sheila McMullin
Reviewed by Katie Hibner (4/28)

Engaged by Eileen Tabios (4/27)

We Denizens by Jen Coleman
Engaged by Sam Lohmann (4/26)

Harpoon by Michael Cavendish
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (4/25)

Claiming Breath by Diane Glancy

Engaged by Eileen Tabios (4/24)


If They Hadn't Worn White Hoods, 8 Million Would Have Shown Up in the Photographs by John Bloomberg-Rissman and Eileen R. Tabios
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (4/22)

Introduction by Michael Boughn and Kent Johnson to RESIST MUCH / OBEY LITTLE: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance edited by Michael Boughn, John Bradley, Brenda Cárdenas, Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, Kass Fleisher, Roberto Harrison, Kent Johnson, Andrew Levy, Nathaniel Mackey, Rubén Medina, Philip Metres, Nita Noveno, Julie Patton, Margaret Randall, Michael Rothenberg, Chris Stroffolino,
 Anne Waldman, Marjorie Welish, Tyrone Williams

Egghead, or: You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham, with drawings by Chance Bone
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (4/20)

On Poems On by Sandra Liu
Reviewed by Genevieve Kaplan (4/19)

Madison Hatta's Book of Unrelenting Rhymes, or: Madisonnets, Volume 2 by April Lynn James
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (4/18)

FEATURED POET: Aileen Cassinetto

A Continuum of Force by Francesco Levato
How to Zing the Government by Travis Macdonald
Reviewed by Andrew Rihn (4/12)

Port Light by William Allegrezza
Reviewed by Sheri Reda (4/10)

Stone by Naomi Buck Palagi
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (4/9)

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: An Election Cycle by Andrew and Donora A. Rihn
Reviewed by Steve Klepetar (4/8)

HISTORY NOW by Basil King
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (4/7)

Stubborn by Sheri Reda
Reviewed by Naomi Buck Palagi (4/6) 

If We Were Birds by Janine Harrison
Reviewed by Steve Klepetar (4/5)

RICKSHAW CHASM with poems by David Giannini and collages by John Digby
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (4/3)

To Be An Empire is To Burn! by Eileen R. Tabios
The Prometheus Collage by Mary Kasimor
Reviewed by Freke Räihä (4/2)

INTERVIEW: Anne Gorrick interviews John Bloomberg-Rissman

OTREDAD / OTHERNESS by Claribel Alegria, Edited by Fred Whitehead
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (3/30)

Step Below: Selected Poems 2000-2015 by William Allegrezza
Reviewed by Sheri Reda (3/29)

WRITTEN IN THE DARK: FIVE POETS IN THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD by Gennady Gor, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, Vladimir Sterligov and Pavel Zaltsman, Edited by Polina Barskova with translations by Anand Dibble, Ben Felker-Quinn, Ainsley Morse, Eugene Ostashevsky, Rebekah Smith, Charles Swank, Jason Wagner and Matvei Yankelevich 
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (3/28)

We All Saw It Coming by Bill Yarrow
Reviewed by Steve Klepetar (3/28)

A Winged Horse in a Plane by Salah Faik, translated by Maged Zaher
Reviewed by Genevieve Kaplan (3/27)

Let the Games Begin: Five Roman Writers by Peter Valente
Reviewed by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno (3/27)

Apocalypse Mix by Jane Satterfield
Reviewed by Neal Leadbeater (3/26)

Engaged by Eileen Tabios (3/25)


Imagine Renaissance by Naomi Buck Palagi
Reviewed by Sheri Reda (3/23)

NINE DRAGON ISLAND by Eleanor Goodman
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (3/22)

Data Primer by Marthe Reed
Reviewed by Steve Klepetar (3/22)

THE GILLES POEM: Winter 2006 Collection by Sabrina Calle
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (3/21)

Humpty Drumpfty and Other Poems by Melinda Luisa de 
Reviewed by Steve Klepetar (3/21)

Moria Books' locofo chap series edited by William Allegrezza
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios 3/14)
Reviewed by Jim McCrary (3/13)

THE OLFACTIONS: Poems on Perfume by Anne Gorrick
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (3/12)

Ice Cream...With a Smile by Swapan Ray
Engaged by Runa Bandyopadhyay (3/11)

WHAT IS POETRY? (JUST KIDDING, I KNOW YOU KNOW): Interviews From the Poetry Project Newsletters (1983-2009) edited by Anselm Berrigan 

Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (3/10) 

Nevertheless, #She Persisted edited by Barbara Jane Reyes and RESIST MUCH / OBEY LITTLE: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance edited by Michael Boughn, John Bradley, Brenda Cárdenas, Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, Kass Fleisher, Roberto Harrison, Kent Johnson, Andrew Levy, Nathaniel Mackey, Rubén Medina, Philip Metres, Nita Noveno, Julie Patton, Margaret Randall, Michael Rothenberg, Chris Stroffolino, 
Anne Waldman, Marjorie Welish, Tyrone Williams
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (3/5)

Men, Death, Lies by Roy Bentley
Reviewed by Martha Deed (3/4)

FEATURE ESSAY: "Holiness and Jewish Rebellion: 'Questions of Accent,' Twenty Years Afterwards" by Murat Nemet-Nejat (3/4) 

THE SEER by Márton Ko
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (3/3)

Don't Say His Name by Donna Kuhn
Reviewed by Mary Kasimor (3/2)

Pier by Janine Oshiro
Reviewed by Neal Leadbeater (3/1)


Only More So by Millicent Borges Accardi
Reviewed by Jessica Gonzalez (2/27)

The Poetry Deal by Diane Di Prima
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (2/27)

Animals of Dawn by Murat Nemet-Nejat
Reviewed by Runa Bandyopadhyay (2/26)

THE CRITIC WRITES POEMS (2/26): Murat Nemet-Nejat

A CAPacious Act by Charles A. Perrone

Engaged by Francesco Levato (2/25)

The Music Child & The Mahjong Queen by Alfred A. Yuson
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (2/25)

Madison Hatta's Book of Unreasonable Rhymes, or: Madisonnets, Volume 1 by April Lynn James
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith (2/24)

Goat In The Snow by Emily Pettit
Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater (2/20)

The Happy End / All Welcome by Monica de la Torre
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (2/19)

Reviewed by E.E. Nobbs (2/19)

Humpty Drumpfty and Other Poems by Melinda Luisa de Jesús
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (2/18)

Clairvoyance by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan (2/17)

Mayan Letters and Call Me Ishmael, both by Charles Olson
Engaged by Murat Nemet-Nejat (2/16)

Song of the Yukon by Trisha Sugarek
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (2/15)


Reviewed by Ralph La Charity (1/31)

Then Go On by Mary Burger
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (1/30)

Reviewed by Dana Wilde (1/29)

Heisenberg’s Salon by Susan Lewis
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (1/28)

A Continuum of Force by Francesco Levato
Engaged by Joel Chace (1/28)

breakup/breakdown by Charles Jensen
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios (1/27)

Expect Delays by Bill Berkson
Reviewed by Neal Leadbeater (1/18)

America's Tin by Joel Chace
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (1/18)

THE CRITIC WRITES POEMS (1/17): Judith Roitman

We Used to Be Generals by Sarah Campbell
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (1/17)

I Am Going To Fly Through Glass: Selected Poems of Harold Norse, ed. Todd Swindell
Reviewed by Neal Leadbeater (1/16)

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Panagiotis A. Tsonis
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (1/16)

BOOKER'S POINT by Megan Grumbling
Reviewed by Dana Wilde (1/4)

REALMS OF THE MOTHERS: The First Decade of Dos Madres Pressedited by Richard Hague
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (1/4)

Dollyland by Claire Hero and Trism by Rebecca Loudon
Engaged by Judith Roitman (1/3)

Reconsolidation: Or, it's the ghosts who will answer you by Janice Lee
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (1/3)

Waters Of by Billie Chernicoff
Reviewed by Michael Boughn (1/2)

Galatea Resurrects' 2016 Poetry Recommendations (1/1)

Galatea Resurrects' 2016 Recommended Publishers  (1/1)

Monday, September 25, 2017


From the Poetry of 

BLOODLUST: Philippine Protest Poetry (From Marcos to Duterte) co-edited by Alfred A. Yuson and Gemino H. Abad
(Reyes Publishing, Philippines, 2017)

The idea for this fresh anthology of Philippine protest poetry came early in 2017, when it became increasingly evident that the president elected some eight months previous had no intention to backtrack from his declared war on drugs that resulted in a determined assault on human rights, indeed, on the lives of Filipinos.
            As the reprehensible death toll from extra-judicial killings (EJKs) drew condemnation from the rational sector of Philippine society, artists and poets joined many other progressives in expressing disgust over the government’s lethal obstinacy, as much as its apparent acceptance by everyone else for whom the reputed end justified the unconscionable means.
—from Alfred A. Yuson’s Introduction to BLOODLUST

Galatea Resurrects is honored to present a sample of poems from this important anthology, birthed to “protest the cavalier disregard of human rights and lives.”

The anthology spans protest poetry from Martial Law Marcos to the current Duterte. The folio begins with Jose F. Lacaba’s historic poem “Prometheus Unbound.” About this poem, editor Alfred A. Yuson notes in his Introduction:

Jose F. Lacaba’s classic “Prometheus Unbound,” the 24 lines of which started with letters that formed an acrostic spelling out “Marcos Hitler Diktador Tuta” (Marcos Hitler Dictator Puppy) — a protest slogan chanted by activists well before Marcos declared his Martial Law that lasted for nearly a decade. This poem was published, innocently, by a national weekly magazine in 1973, a year after Martial Law was declared, helping earn for the poet-journalist unjust time in a Marcos prison.  

Before presenting the poems, we are pleased to present its Foreword, for which we thank 
poet-scholar-editor-critic Gémino H. Abad.

Enjoy your read. Or not. But do read.

Eileen R. Tabios
Editor, Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement)



The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
— William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”
One’s country is how one imagines her, as when we say, “Inang Bayan.” “Country” seems more poetic than “nation” but both are abstractions, concepts, as all our words are. “Nation” is a legal fiction enshrined in our Constitution as our people’s dream or vision of an ideal homeland. A legal fiction and so, we need to imagine that vision or dream. It is in our imagination where the words come alive and speak true. “When the imagination sleeps,” says Albert Camus, “words are emptied of their meaning.” If one’s country then is how one imagines her, then one’s country is what one’s imagination owes her allegiance to.
            Our country today is in crisis. The word “crisis” is from Greek krinein, meaning “to divide or discriminate and judge.” A time of crisis then is a time of division and judgment. The Greek word krinein also gives the English words “criticism” and “criterion.” Our leaders must listen well, not play deaf, and be sensitive to, and not resent, criticism; and there are criteria for a right judgment which presupposes integrity of character and a sound mind.
            Look and consider what has happened since our last national election. Our troubled times over the whole world pose a severe challenge to our humanity, to our mind’s power of abstraction and critical thinking in quest of truth at the very heart of freedom and democracy. When we speak today of “human rights,” what meaning or vision, what truth about our humanity, dwells in that phrase? Ubuntu, says Nelson Mandela: “I am because we are.” What Mandela says is at the core of human dignity. We need imagination to grasp the spirit of what he says.       
            When we speak of Martial Law, we need to know what the limits are to its exercise by our country’s leaders. Read then our Constitution of 1987 which enshrines our people’s imagination of an ideal democratic country where the people are the sovereign and their leaders are their public servants. One with imagination does not have to be a lawyer to grasp the abstract ideal of a just and humane society.
            Is there much to be desired about our sense of country from our day-to-day experience among our own people? Here, dear readers, in Bloodlust our writers speak up and stand their ground! Yes, these are poems, verbal artifacts. Whatever “poem” is, it  is work of language and work of imagination, both. Some, perhaps, depending on the reader’s taste, are “the achieve of,” a ringing cry of the moment, and others, “the mastery of the thing,” the very perfection of the writer’s art. But the point is, it cannot be said that our writers since Balagtas and La Solidaridad were ever mute. Without the writer, the poor and oppressed among us have no voice else. Writers — and most ceertainly, other artists and scholars — read us and interpret us to ourselves upon our own ground: our culture and our history. They sharpen our sense of country because they strengthen our power of abstraction and imagination. In short, our literature wrought from whatever language, in whatever genre, is our people’s memory. A country is only as strong as her people’s memory!
— Gémino H. Abad



Prometheus Unbound

I shall never exchange my fetters for slavish servility.
’Tis better to be chained to the rock than be bound to the service of Zeus.
— Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

Mars shall glow tonight,
Artemis is out of sight.
Rust in the twilight sky
Colors a bloodshot eye,
Or shall I say that dust
Sunders the sleep of the just?

Hold fast to the gift of fire!
I am rage! I am wrath! I am ire!
The vulture sits on my rock,
Licks at the chains that mock
Emancipation’s breath,
Reeks of death, death, death.

Death shall not unclench me.
I am earth, wind, and sea!
Kisses bestow on the brave
That defy the damp of the grave
And strike the chill hand of
Death with the flaming sword of love.

Orion stirs. The vulture
Retreats from the hard, pure
Thrust of the spark that burns,
Unbinds, departs, returns
To pluck out of death’s fist
A god who dared to resist.

(First published in Focus magazine, July 14, 1973 (Vol. 1, No. 35), under the pen name Ruben Cuevas.)



Before the Hit, They Removed my Leash

~ after “Right Before The Hit, They Removed My Leash,” acrylic on paper by Ulysses Duterte Jr.
(2016); especially for every child victim in Philippine extrajudicial killings/the “drug war”

An ordinary sky is the hypothesis
at the edge of a blue window riddled
with holes. I am every child that crawled

unassuming into a bandana of light,
seeing only the smooth beveled heel
of a slingshot, a trampoline of mud

mixed with runoff from the gutter.
I did not fear the mastiff transfixed
on its leather halter, the marble glaze

in its eyes. How should we put the rest
of the equation together — the M-16’s
watery shadow as though affixed

to no hands, the tank idling on the corner?
Still we rise to the foreground, whom you
have the audacity to call innocents.

Let me undo every expectation of what’s meant
as a target. Watch me explode again and again
through each scene’s tearable fabric,

the milk around my mouth not yet dry:
unseen forces tethering me in the crosshairs,
taut as a laser pointed directly at my heart.



Love in the Time of Martial Law

I want you to save me and be gentle, our feet
Bleeding with ink from the newspapers they have shut down,
Our clothes tattered because our mothers must leave.
Offshore, our feet rot on black sand they will steal from us.

I want peace at night, before the shaking starts.
Trauma at the tip of my tongue passes from mine
To yours. Love me lightly or the bruises will return.
Not that the teeth they have pulled out might grow again.

To love you now means to love all the broken body parts
That running away has dealt us. Here I love you
In cul de sacs. Here I love you trapped between the ribs
Of burning cars. Here our nipples are crushed by steel.

There is no tomorrow in loving you. Only today counts.
We count our present, dazzling wounds. Our bodies
Are collections of near-misses and escapes, and between them
The times we find no barbed wire between our bloodied lips.




We meet in a room
at this grim hour,

in a living room
meant for the living,

in a home
turned funeral home,

with a body
on a stiff white bed.

Our tears
flower like offerings,

but who is there
left to receive them?

killings sound the air.

The police are very

The hooded
night is upon us again.




While watching the evening pass by
A bystander saw the moon fall
Into an open manhole but no one
Else seemed to have noticed at all.
A few minutes later a motorbike
With two masked riders passed by
Slowly before the quiet bystander.
The back rider pulled out a gun
And shot him twice at close range,
And a third time while sprawled
On pavement burdened by his blood.
The bystander died with no one else
Knowing how the moon really fell,
Why he was slain by brazen assassins.
No one dared to approach or help him 
For fear of being hit by a stray bullet.
The killing could have been a mistake
In a place of diminished opportunities
Where everyone is worth saving.
He might have been someone careless 
In a community where no one can recall
The songs to hush children to sleep. 
He might have been part of a lost cause,
A fallen angel who lost his fear to fail
By regaining his faith at the corner store.
He strayed blameless as a bystander
To witness what others failed to see:
The moon falling into a gaping manhole.



Poor Poet’s Plea

When you see the sky blue and the calm of the ocean,
remember the grays in the slum, the black in daylight,
the falling trees, the decomposing, the gutter drying. 

When you smell a scent of May, the hint of jasmines,
remember the stench of rotting, the decaying rodent,
the heap of garbage smoldering, the odor of its vapor.

When you taste sugar, juice, the tangerines of summer,
remember the salt of the drained tongue, the moment
tedious in the mouth, the convulsing lips, the famines.

When you hear a mother sway at bedtime with singing,
remember the doldrums of the road, the quiet midnight,
the noises of running engines, the deadness of motion.

When you feel a grazing blanket, the pulling of a hand,
remember the shivering, the body lifeless on the sand.


An EJK Nursery Rhyme,
Or: Children at Play on the Street at Dusk

Mama, mama, look at me!
Bang bang! Bang bang! Hee hee hee!
Mama, mama, peys da wall,
tangina, I kill dem all!

Papa, addict, pusher, dad!
Bang bang! Bang bang! Beri bad!
Papa, papa, nanlaban,
shoot him, shoot him, grab da son!

Mama, mama, look at me!
When I grow up will I be,
Bato-Digong-Big Hitman-
Addict-Pusher, bang bang bang!



Vers Macabre
(Or: The Song of Impunity)

They tick them off,
Names from a secret list,
And they fall nameless — half
A pair of flip-flops on the asphalt,
At the edge of the oval of spotlight,
Or once, a blond Barbie smeared
By black grease and dried blood.
They are all the same:
You never see their faces, which are
Either wrapped in masking tape
Or always averted;
Or the pictures from the Night Shift
Show only the pale, dirty soles
Of feet, the denim trousers,
Torn or rolled up to the knees.
They tick them off:
In the fandango of dark alleys,
They’re coming down fast,
From the first hundred
To the latest thousand,
As if completing a target,
Or chasing a deadline.
They tick them off. From the stories,
One can never draw a pattern —
With neither rhyme nor reason,
They go as if a la suerte
Except to trace where all the beat
Comes from: the name of the blame,
The rhythm of the saints, Duterte —
Distinct reverb of La Muerte
Which, by coercing the vowels,
Echo the loss of all sense: insanity,
Or the obscenities bouncing
Between walls: impunity.



The Precinct Janitor’s Breakfast

The one who has to clean up after last night’s mess?
He has to go home. Sometime. Somewhere.
At the little plastic table in the morning,
what stories does he tell his son?
That this bowl of sardines reminds him
of the blood he had just mopped up in the jail cell?
You know, that kind of deep redness
human cruelty often leaves on silent walls?
Soap? Brushes? What’s the best detergent brand?
How many pails of water does it take
to make them spotless as memory?
When his wife chops up
cheap, tiny cuts of pork in the kitchen,
does he think of the bits of bone
he had to pick off the floor just a few hours ago?
And just how loud was the gunshot inside
the windowless chamber?
Just before that, did he hear a scream?
Or a voice pleading? Begging?
And was it louder than the neighbor’s
early-morning karaoke ?
These questions — how they smear six o’clock.
Better the narcota of neighborly chatter
than the discomfort of absolute silence.
Is it better to fix his gaze elsewhere?
For instance, the sky the color
of used gauze, framed by the window,
its cardboard panes and wooden frames
held together by silver duct tape
sticky and strong enough
to silence a mouth.



Elegy to the Bookcase

At least 11 people have been found in a tiny dark room hidden behind a bookcase in a 
Philippine police station. — BBC News, April 27, 2017

The cheap ones, those whose shelves bent
Or cracked in the middle under the weight
Of their books, we had a lot of those. Got rid
With a clean conscience when they’d outlived
Their use, but still we mourned, not as much
As if they had been the books themselves,
We’d have been inconsolable otherwise,
But they’re related, books and the bookcases
They’re in, practically twinned by DNA
Of pulp, fiberboard, cellulose — one cheap,
The other priceless, but never mind this gulf
In value: When we take an old battered bookcase
Down to the dumpster, we feel a pang.
Goodbye to a cousin of better cousins.

Pine bookcases, once we could afford wood,
Never bend and are so pretty. Make smart books
Look even smarter. But they get scarred
And scratched, burned by a careless votive candle,
And after one extremely wet summer, turn moldy.
But dump them? We couldn’t. So take the books out
One by one, scrub the shelves, bleach out the mold,
Sand down the scars, finish with Murphy’s Oil
Till they’re pretty again. But we sort of miss
The funeral march to the dumpster. Cheap
Is so easy to trash, and the expensive stuff
Too much trouble to keep, but that’s how we roll.
If you’re of little value, you’re expendable;
If you’re solid and shiny and smart, you’re safe.

The bookcase that’s supposed to open to
Imagined worlds just opened up to a prison cell,
And the human rights inspector expecting
Harry Potter books found Azkaban instead.
Eleven poor suspects who couldn’t afford bail
Crammed into a dungeon that couldn’t fit all
So they slept standing up with hardly room
To snore. True, it’s a misery replicated
In virtually every lockup in this country,
So it’s nothing unique. All those cheap lives,
Not even dead yet, coffined upright
In their sleep. So this elegy can’t really
Be for them. We grieve for the bookcase
Because the bookcase, as we know it, is dead.



Civil Service 

Just another day at the office
in this mess of a city: a tangle
of tripwires overhead and underfoot,
muddy alleys and flotsam creeks
binding jerrybuilt quality of life
in small-change paradise of muck.
So I kill. With my badge, vigilance,
approval tacit if guttural, my power
knows no bounds among small fry.
Just another darkening hour. Just
another body benighted in cardboard
with Pentel-pen codes as alarums.
Just justice so small-time, served
in shanty strokes as micro bulletins.

Yes I kissed my wife after breakfast
of small dried fish and rice, patted 
the heads of our kids before they crept
off to school, to learn of the wild ways
of the big world, such maelstrom of crowds
in rubber slippers. Or big shoes. To fill.
My eyes are trained, out in the open,
to spot the difference. I am the drug
buster. I can read tattoos. I can fire
between the eyes or into sunken
chests, from where no treasures
can possibly be sniffed even by dog
eaters. I know the smell of small wars.
Victims aren’t ill-starred, just numbers.

I direct my piss at corrugated sheets
that wall off irony between the same
small lives with no place else to go
but where the generals point the way.
I zip up and follow the spoor of fates
so small they just crowd the venue.
Just another prey, just another day
of making mothers wail. They have
nothing else but have been so noisy
anyway. Just add another prostrate
figure to TV news. This is how we clean
up image of citizenry. No courts’ apples
to be polished, just ravenous small bites
at our metered polis. No quibbling at quota.

Just another day out in the open and close
of country’s woes. Just causing a certain class
of vermin to chew the dust of example. Just
another sample of how it is to be so easily
snuffed out amidst the bright lights that
shine on rats, curs and bitches, cats that purr
for more lives. Hah! Deeper down south
you enter the hole not whole but headless.
Here in entrepot you are smaller but bigger.
You have not been federalized. Yet. I salvage
what I can of too many small souls. I bestow
the honor of random selection. I decimate
regardless of lessons learned. No delirium. I must do
my job, maybe till the killing becomes untidy tedium.   



Soldier’s Song

Let the hills and mountains
Roll up behind me like
The tangled past of a jungle.
Let a rose grow when
I lay down my gun
Where the desert meets the shore.

I long to throw away
This mask of maleness,
All male desire to kill,
To spit the blood, the sour-
Ness balled in my mouth.
I have forgotten the face
Of my mother, sister, niece.
All I see are trenches
Hate burrowed in my brother’s face,
His eyes, two barrels of a gun
Unleashing bullets.
I have learned that foes
May become friends tomorrow
And friends my foes tonight.

This season I may own a
Bowl of rice, next year
I might bite a fruit
Or have a new dress
Or a roof over our heads.
But I remember home
Each time a child
Presses a cheek to mine
Or even when a horse
Gives birth and goats
Cavort in a manger.

Let the hills and mountains
Roll up behind me like
The tangled past of a jungle.
Let a rose grow when
I lay down my gun
Where the desert meets the shore.



Survivor’s guilt

What to do with a backhoe
in a poem we would rather gild
with lilies? What to do with a hole
in the ground and fifty-eight bodies —

I approach the image, my mind 
draws a blank. Darkness incomprehensible
impenetrable unyielding.

How long has it been since I shuttered my home,
muttering to myself in the dark? Say nothing,
I sang, nothing.  
                                 For what have words done
in the years intervening? Say governance, justice,
rule of law, peace. Seven years later, we are only still
on the verge of morning. Say equity, fairness,
due process, peace. Still bodies pile up, crowding out
the light, laying claim to the space newly emptied of words.

The dead need no words. It is we who need soothing.  
Every elegy I did write was an ode for the living.
I would rather sing this poem
in the style of crickets and birdsong. 
I would rather that I never meet the barrel of a gun. 
Who gets to choose between abundance 
and grace, who decides which among us 
lives to sing about the dead? Like you I have no
real choice in this matter. 

When it comes for me I will offer no resistance,
I who am guilty, having ceded all my words. Will the darkness
teach me its grammar, let me learn its many names?
I ask the backhoe that moves from shadow to light,
ask the gaping hole in the ground: Will you hold me as tenderly?




In memory of Marcela Agoncillo, Mother of the Philippine flag

Surely you knew, as you threaded the needle,
What your labor meant: the blood in red,
The peace in blue, the sun seamless
As our islands never were. Back home,

A war in earnest, garrote and gunfire
A language both Spaniard and indio understood.
Exiled in Hong Kong, you must have known
What, as a woman, you could only do,

How our country’s flag, silk like water
In your hands, was made beautiful
By its limits. If you could just see us now,
Your banner waving above offices,

Our women at work beside men.
Girls drive cars these days, and we are told
That this country is our own. But still
We see red in lives spilt on the streets,

And death flowers blue in the corpses at dawn.
A hundred years ago, you must have thought,
I can only do so much. Here we are now,
Daughters as you were of this country,

And you have indeed done much:
Embroidered freedom into the fabric
Of our longing, hewed the sun so we need not
Shield our eyes. Marcela, we are still at war,

But we are finally women with choice,
And we choose to fight now, we choose to be
As eloquent as your craft, and we reject
All the limits, conqueror or dictator be damned.



(Gikan sa kasugiran sa Kabisay-an)

Mangtas nga uwagan, mailhan ni siya diha sa iyang
dakong baba, luag ug gakang-a nga ampapangig.
Pahimangno sa katiguwangan, siya mokaon sa iyang
kaugalingon ug sa ubang tawo, galinla sa mga
naminaw niya, nahimuot sa mga pamalikas nga
gadahili sa iyang baba matag gabii ug adlaw.

Unsaon pagkaog tawo ang amamaliwng ingon niya?
Sukmat sa sukdan sa Inabanga, ang tambaloslos
magpasundayag sa iyang luslos nga kinatawo,
walay kaulaw manghambog nga daghang nalinlang
sa iyang saad nga lamonon ang tanang matang
nga kahugaw sa dakbayan. Dili gayod tuod

makalingkawas ang kinagamyang utitod, suom,
uk-uk nga mosuksok sa mga hilit nga tago-anan,
mamasin mabuhi bisan sa salin-salin sa uban
nga gibalibag nas basura sa matag siyudad.
Ug lagi banhaan man kini siya, manimaho iyang
ginhawaan, moasdang gikan sa dunot sa tinai.

Sa matag takna nga iyang ibukhad iyang luag nga baba
ug itabon sa iyang nawong hangtod sa likod sa iyang
ulo, takoban niya ang iyang kaugalingon. Dihang
wala na kini siyay nawong, walay makaikyas sa mga
mangtas nga kamot, ug kon dili ka magbantay
hanepan pod ka, maglibot-libot, buang gasalimuang.  

(From Visayan wisdom lore)

Monster of lust, he is known by his
big mouth, that loose and open maw.
The elders warn he eats his own
self and other beings, deceiving
his listeners amused by curses drib-
bling from his mouth night & day.

How does a demon like him eat humans?
A sukdan of Inabanga says, the tambaloslos
displays his herniated genitals, shameless
with pride that many people believe in
his promise to gorge on all the dross
of the land. Indeed, nothing can escape

him, not the red fire ant, black ant,
or cockroach that scurries to hiding places,
taking the chance of surviving on the waste
of others, thrown into the garbage of each city.
And this creature is noisy, his breath smells
putrid, rising from the decay in his intestines.

Each time he opens his loose mouth, with which
he covers his entire face and up over the back
of his head, he covers up his identity. The moment
he loses his face, no one can escape monstrous
hands, and if you do not take heed maybe you
will also be cursed, run raving mad in circles.




Bakit ba ang hirap
maging Pilipino,
isinilang nga ba ako
sa kaliluha, hinubog
nga ba sa putik
ang kaluluwa ko,
at kailan ko ba kinagat
ang mansanas ng dalita?
Aba Ginoong Maria,
ngayong malayo na ako
sa bulong ng iyong grasya,
bakit ko ba hinahabol
ang tentasyon, anong dalangin
ang magpapalubag-loob
sa sumpa ng pagiging
ako? At sa bawat ungol
ng krimen, ano nga ba
ang nakikita mo
sa anino namin? Talaga bang
wala na kaming pag-asa,
hanggang dito na lang ba
ang lansangang patungo
sa lunsod ng langit? Narito
kaming lahat, mga hampas
lupa at mandurukot
sa ekonomiya, masdan mo
ang bayan ko, pugad ng
salbahe at walang
hiya… mga pinagpalang
lahi ng Ama namin, tunay
na mga anak ng tupa.


Why is it so hard
to be Filipino,
was I really born
in treachery,
was my soul
shaped from mud,
and when did I ever bite
the apple of misery?
Hail Holy Mary,
now that I am far
from the murmur of grace,
why do I run after
temptation, what devotion
will ever ease the curse
of being me?
And in every grumble
of crime, what do you see
in our shadow? Have we
really lost all hope,
is this where the road
to the city of heaven really
ends? Here we all are,
all the wretched
and pickpockets
of the economy,
take a look
at my country,
nest of the wicked and
shameless… these blessed sons
of our Father the shepherd,
these sons of bitches.



Gémino H. Abad (1939 - ), University Professor emeritus of literature and creative writing, is a poet, fictionist, and literary critic and historian, with various honors and awards. In 2009, he received Italy’s Premio Feronia (“Foreign author category”) for his poetry, later published as a bi-lingual edn., Dove le parole non si spezzano (Roma: Edizioni Ensemble, 2015): selected poems from In Ordinary Time (2004). Where No Words Break (2014) is his tenth poetry collection, and Past Mountain Dreaming (2010), his ninth of critical essays; he has two collections of short stories, Orion’s Belt (1996) and A Makeshift Sun (2001). He is known also for his three-volume anthology of Filipino poetry in English from 1905 to the 1990s — Man of Earth (1989), A Native Clearing (1993), and A Habit of Shores (1999); and a six-volume anthology of Filipino short stories in English from 1956 to 2008 — Upon Our Own Ground (2008), Underground Spirit (2010), and Hoard of Thunder (2012). He obtained his Ph.D. in English at the University of Chicago in 1970, and continues to teach at U.P. where he has served as Secretary of the University, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and Director of the U.P. Creative Writing Center (now an Institute).

Isabela Banzon teaches at the University of the Philippines. Her poetry book Maybe Something received both the National Book Award and the Gintong Aklat Award in 2016.

Fidelito C. Cortes has written two books of poetry, Waiting for the Exterminator and Everyday Things

Marjorie Evasco was the SEAWrite 2010 awardee for the Philippines. She has also received the NCCA Ani ng Dangal award, the Gawad Pambansang Alagad Balagtas for Poetry from UMPIL (Unyon ng mga Manunulat ng Pilipinas) in 2004, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan from the City of Manila in 2005, the Outstanding Silliman University Alumna for creative writing in 2008, the Carlos P. Garcia award for literature from the province of Bohol in 2011, and the 2013 Taboan Literature Festival award for her achievements as a writer and for promoting the growth of literature of Central Visayas. Her books have won the National Book Awards for poetry (Dreamweavers and Ochre Tones); oral history (Six Women Poets: Inter/views, co-authored by Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz); biography (A Life Shaped by Music: Andrea O. Veneracion and the Philippine Madrigal Singers); and art (Ani: The Life and Art of Hermogena Borja Lungay, Boholano Painter). Her most recent book is an anthology she edited of memoirs, titled The Bohol We Love (2016). She is a University Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Literature of De La Salle University.  

Eric Gamalinda is a human being at http://www.ericgamalinda.com

Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Haori (poetry chapbook, Tea & Tattered Pages Press, April 2017), Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.

Miyako Dominguez Izabel is a Lumad writer who grew up in Davao City and Davao Oriental.

Marne Kilates has published six books of poetry. His recent book, Time’s Enchantment & Other Reflections (Ateneo de Naga University Press, 2014), won the National Book Award, while his latest collection, Lyrical Objects (UST Publishing House, 2015), was finalist for the same award. He has also translated numerous works of leading writers in Filipino into English. He has won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, National Book Awards, and the 1998 SEAWrite Award given by the Thai royalty. In 2012 he was the holder of the Henry Lee Irwin Professorial Chair for Creative Writing at the Ateneo de Manila University. In April 2017 he received the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for his poetry from UMPIL or the Writers Union of the Philippines.

Jose F. Lacaba, popularly known as Pete Lacaba, is a film writer, editor, poet, screenwriter, journalist and translator. He has authored several poetry collections in Filipino, as well as the now-classic collection of reportage before Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972: Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage. He was conferred the Cinemanila International Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, as well as the Aruna Vasudev Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Cinema during the 10th Osian’s Cinefan Festival held in New Delhi on the same year. He also received the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication’s 2013 Gawad Plaridel. He is currently the executive editor of Summit Media's YES! Magazine.

Christine V. Lao earned her MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines Diliman and attended the Silliman University National Writers Workshop. Her work has been included in the anthologies Heat: A Southeast Asian Anthology of Urban Writing (Buku Fixi: Kuala Lumpur); Maximum Volume: Best New Filipino Fiction 2014 (Anvil Publishing); Lauriat: An Anthology of Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press: New Jersey); and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series (Kestrel Publishing). Her poems have also been featured in Kritika Kultura, Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press, and Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry (The Antithesis Collective).

Arvin Abejo Mangohig is the author of The Gaze: Poems published by the UP Press (2003), and Bloodflow: A Lyric Sequence published by DLSU/Central Books (2012). He received his BA and MA in English from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has won Philippines Free Press and NVM Gonzalez awards for his poetry and fiction. He has been shortlisted for the Kokoy Guevara Poetry Competition. Mangohig was the webmaster of panitikan.com.ph for almost ten years and works as copy editor for the UP Press. He was a Fellow for Poetry at the 56th University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop in 2017.

CF Paderna was previously published as Charisse-Fuschia Paderna. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies and publications. Her collection, “An Abundance of Selves,” won First Prize in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2015. She was also a recipient of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Loyola Schools Award for the Arts in English Poetry. She was a Fellow in the 2005 Silliman University National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete and the 2017 UP National Writers Workshop. 

Victor Peñaranda is the author of three collections of poetry: Voyage in Dry Season; Pilgrim in Transit; and Lucid Lightning. His writing awards include Poet of the Year, Nick Joaquin Awards, Philippines Graphic (2015) and Gawad Alagad ni Balagtas for English Poetry, Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (2014).

Padmapani L. Perez is, in no particular order, anthropologist, midwife to Mt Cloud Bookshop, member of the Baguio Writers Group, mother of two.

Lourd Ernest de Veyra has published eight books including three collections of poetry: Subterranean Thought Parade (1998), Shadowboxing in Headphones (2001), and Insectissimo (2011); the novel Superpanalo Sounds (2011, UST Publishing House); as well as several collection of essays, including from his Spot.ph blog, This is a Crazy Planets. He has won Carlos Palanca awards, the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards, and the first ever National Commission for Culture and the Arts Writers Prize. He now works for the News and Public Affairs Department of TV5.

Alfred A. Yuson cares about human rights as much as he recoils from abusive leaders, especially those who are arrogant, narrow-minded, foul-mouthed, obsessed with bloodlust, and think so highly of themselves just because they got a law degree and served as mayor for decades. He has authored 30 books thus far, including novels, poetry collections, short fiction, essays, children’s stories, biographies and coffee-table books, and edited various titles that include several literary anthologies. Distinctions include the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from UMPIL or Writers Union of the Philippines, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan award from the City of Manila, and the SEAWrite (SouthEast Asian Writers) Award from Thai royalty for lifetime achievement. He has also been elevated to the Hall of Fame of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. His poetry and prose have been translated into a dozen languages.