Wednesday, October 25, 2017


FOUR POEMS by Cristina Querrer

From a Retired Disco Queen

My waters, thought to be haunted

turned away many expeditions

but you discovered southwest passages,
guiding your independent craft,

your astrolabe and constellations

to the strobe-lighted platform where I danced.

There are many lives that were made of this,
just like my poor mother who endured

such cessation of sound that I could not stand
the stillness of her womb, where my penchant
for crashing endings became.

Neither are you a victim to this.

You, the circumnavigator of truth
dictating your life

to the exactitude of a compass,

charting sunrises by military standards
while I openly study the behavior of birds.

Fatherless conversations,

attracted to subterfuges,

I am an orphan in my own right—
impassive Amerasian girl at the nail salon,
a detached disco queen at the go-go bar.

No equal transaction
because I dance for you
and you never fill

my heart’s deep pockets.

I have unloaded

my past residences upon you.

You crassly offer me a sparse word.

I amble off the dance floor.

Mango Man

I remembered the vendor

who pushed his squeaky cart

of sweet corn, sugarcane, and mangos

in the sweltering afternoons,

through residential subdivisions of my past.

And as a child chased him down,

with my only peso in hand, anxious to fulfill
that nameless need in my early dawn.

Just as if the sky turned the colors

of burnt orange and the world smelled

of incense and my grandmother's coconut oil,
I walked this path before

with many faces of my past.

I returned here with the same perplexities—
gastric questions that bubble inside,

back pains of my former loss.

My mother will one day look on smiling,
finally, at rest in her hammock
contented for once about the heat,

as I will hear again that mango man
calling out the objects of my affection.

One day pockets will overflow with pesos
and I will never rummage through

that garbage pile of pits, memory. Just as if
the Bataan Death March of my life
took me down cramped corridors
separating me from my husk—

it is here that I am still eased

by visions of water buffaloes and rice paddies,
fish set out to dry in the tangerine sun,
and the store owner sleeping
with the fly swatter in his hand.

Something unexplainable ferments,

something in my sultry past falls short,

and far beyond my torturous initiation to salaciousness.

Yes, my first lover experienced me here. A
foreigner himself.
A part of that melding masses of ants
crawling into the crevices of the cabarets,
of go-go girls and GIs, San Miguel beer,
and rotting mango seeds.

My Daughter, Where Will You Go?

Like walking effigies
easily dismantled

bodies of paint-by-numbers,
so easily constructed

perpetually suspended
myths that never tell about

that never know where
the center of the storm

My daughter, where will you go into
the night, when many days go like this?

I offer you my words,

your great-grandmother's ghost

Go into it carefully

as if it is a dark


like the mouth of the jungle

I had no one to say to me that is
not me in her


that is her in me

that we should hold hands
and not be strangers

As if we were born like this
for a reason

To talk a language of forgiveness
to the suicides

To Begin Again

No heavy furniture to weigh on me now,
just a million of tangled hangers

and piles of paper push me

to throw all forgotten things:

old receipts, plane tickets,

dire poems, an old picture of an ex-lover
uncovered in between them—

I never pause, don’t blink an eye—
never knew who I was then.

A younger woman smiling at the camera

with my beau, whose name I barely remember,
lifting my glass, toasting life.

I don’t care for filled rooms anymore,

even forgotten how to stay up at night.

I only care now that my next hefty courage

comes in the sound of my voice,

the shape of this room,

with me in it, reading, transfiguring,

imprinting myself into these new battlements.
Amazing my body still moves, though, still dances,
remembers all the complex steps.


Cristina Querrer was born and raised in the Philippines, post Vietnam War, during the Marcos regime, pre-Mount Pinatubo eruption, as a U.S. Air Force military child. She graduated high school from former Wagner High School, Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, in 1985. Her works have appeared in The Milo Review, The Adirondack Review, The Fairfield Review, Stirring and in print anthologies such as Pinoy Poetics, Babaylan, Bombshell, The Mom Egg and Field of Mirrors. Her first chapbook, The Art of Exporting, was published by dancing girl press in 2012. Querrer received her MFA in Creative Writing from National University and her BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Visual Arts from Eckerd College in St Petersburg, FL. She was an English instructor at the College of Micronesia and various other colleges. She is currently residing in the Tampa Bay Area. You can view her art ad literary blog online at

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