By Jose Victor Peñaranda

I want to know more
about hydraulic pumps.
I want to start
collecting spring water
in silent cisterns
to relieve empty wells
of this dry spell.
I want to abandon
desire for rain.
The depth of my concern
is sky-driven,
clear as conscience.
No amount of open space
deserves your absence.
To miss you in the heat
and humidity of Sarangani
is a sign of weakness
only the underground river
in Palawan can understand.



By Saquina Karla C. Guiam

The following poems are part of the author’s micro-chapbook Skysea, published by Ghost City Press in 2017.


Moon Eater

A long time ago, Bakunawa took our moon.
Pity us! Return our moon–the crown of our king.

The moon rises seven times on the seventh month.
Mirrored in the water–a flicker of a tailfin gleams,
outshining the daughters of the night sky.

Somewhere, horns bellow songs; the music smudging
the edges of silence, and then the dance of pots and pans
join the strange aria.

Teeth bared against moonlight–pull away, hissing;
body flows from heaven to sea
rippling the surface.

Tailfin is the last to disappear.
The impromptu orchestra soon dissipates.
Rinse, repeat, for the nights to come.



If God wills it,
a wide, slow river
will rise–just shy
the muted day.

You will see gold,
Perhaps, in your reflection
in the water:
painted pewter,



I forgot how it felt like to defy gravity:
if anything, it’s become this flimsy film
of memory, falling apart second after second
at every running jump I take.

But I don’t mind the weight
of a solid grounding;
the view is better down here
with every light bulb in the city
a reminder of who I used to be.

adobo is my favorite dish

By Benj Marlowe Cordero

we begin with garlic And onion,
my wooden spoon on hand.
the oil sizzles; the palate excited
at the prospect of melding tastes,
familiar and new each time.
and Now the chicken,
red and raw, i sauté with the spices
then i season your thighs,
pepper them with kisses
your salty taste remains
on my tongue. next are liquids:
soy sauce and water to fill The pot,
enough to cover your meat;
i’ll bring you to a boil, bubbling hot.
to heighten your flavors,
a tablespoon of oyster sauce,
three of apple cider vinegar.
one star anise, the recipe’s secret,
and bay leaves. the air is thick
with your potent, penetrating
perfume. now the dish is nearly finished.
the last part is sugar, there’s magic
in finding your sweet spot; the Heavens
are within your grasp. so i stir you up,
letting my hand guide itself,
it knows how to get you there.
finally, i take you to my lips
and your taste explodes in my mouth—
like Opened floodgates showering
me with your sacred rain.
i take the Next bite and another,
you know how to keep me satisfied.
that’s why you’re my favorite,
and why adobo is a dish i love to make.

An Open Letter to J. Catolico Street

By Marc Jeff Lañada

                                What must you be underneath
the stars but a strip of belt plotted by gleams of reds
and headlight specks? What you must be but another
city’s road seemingly without destination.

                                Sunday night and you’re made
alive by moving skin, dirty shoes, and sidewalk food.
Bellows at the curb take their fullest shape, business
has ripened once again—your customary economy.

                                Back to the road: the vehicles,
like freight trains, conjoined bumper to bumper; this
could be nothing but an immortal narrative. Why must
you disallow such landscape not quite a picturesque?

                                Or perhaps, this is just a habit,
your way of peace, of assembling into a state of discord
and be not in a state of discord. Should it be otherwise,
then my thrumming fingers beg for your kindness.

                                My words flutter from one reek
of smoke to another—and skyward, colluding into one
instruction: you must be Davao’s MacArthur Highway
when enduring heft of wheels all heading homeward.

                                Regardless, let my complaints
remind you that I deny to be your tourist, my dear.
Despite my routes now barely meld into your premise,
you are what you are to me: always a makeshift bliss.