By Jerome Cenina

He rose with slough of despond.
His first woman slept in, gave in
into the reign of his innocence.

The soldier he knew for the first time
lost his home’s address
upheld another woman
and watched another child fall
asleep in cradle.

He starved in hunger
crossed the street for garbage foods
witnessed engines making the empty street lighted
and his soul was tintless.

One day, a sack was found
in the city raceway.
Full of dirt, there
the horrible man in the street
the beggar they deemed lifeless
has the face with the fullness of hope
that he might have one family
that one day there will be tears
on his box
with roses and candles
above his grave
before he totally waves goodbye
to the life he enjoyed but considered as misfortune.


San Gerardo and the Exocoetidae

By Gerald Galindez

Flying fish without a dying wish,
How you glimmer, shimmer.
Pearly scales set ablaze upon the sun,
Against the sunburnt skies,
Swooshing above the swelling waves
You caught my eyes to wander far and deep.
Flying fish,
you leave without a dying wish,
held my wonder of the sea,
the vast and deep eternal sea—
your eyes—
Flying fish.
Nimble fish.
You glide across the ocean wide
Brought me love, brought me joy
Ever since I was a boy
Of all the things I so enjoy,
Was your swift glide—
Your smooth and graceful dive,
He would point you in the sea line
I could barely track your flight.
He would let me see until I saw
Your crystal wings of awe

You held me in your silver fins
We dive the depths of trenches deep,
We reached the tides azure—
Where the sandy floors of powder white
Projects the dancing lights,

Flying fish,
My precious fish
My life, my friend,
Taught me how a life should end,
You hid your pains inside your scales so I could live
You let me swim, you let me breathe.

Your eyes—
Two keen orbs—
They reach the heart’s core
I’ve not spoken love to you—
Forever in debt to you—
Take your wings,
set sail
As I hear the ocean wail
her last ululating song—
golden coins for your journey long.


(Editors’ note: Indention for this poem cannot be reflected on our website due to our design template. Please contact us if you need the original format of this poem.)


By Allen Samsuya

(This poem first appeared in Dagmay: The Literary Journal of the Davao Writers Guild and won the first place in the Jimmy Y. Balacuit Literary Awards at the 2011 Iligan National Writers Workshop.)

We might not come back home for awhile to Cotabato
because there are more things to do than catch a bus
and travel a tedious six to seven hours. Imagine the hassle
of having to stop by a terrible total of ten terminals
and all for what? Once there, we’ll probably waste our weeks
on good-for-nothing visits to former classmates’ houses,
old friends, and dozens more of other people we used to know
so well, but now find hard to even barely recognize—
as when we chance upon them whenever we buy
our fruit shakes and burgers at Manong’s, or when we shop
for overpriced stuff at South Seas, or at nights when we party
and waste ourselves at Pacific Heights.

Eventually, we’ll overstay for some ridiculous reason—
say, in waiting for yet another class reunion and, hence,
wasting more time and money; or hoarding pirated DVDs
at Barter Trade, or pigging out on litson manok at Kitok’s,
or worse, overspending on fares for unending jeepney
joyrides—because you know as well as I do, back there
we have nothing better to do.

When over here, work is pretty much cramming right in front
of our faces. At my boarding house, for instance,
classcards from previous semesters, marked with obvious
INCs and 4s procrastinate somewhere in my room, perhaps
still waiting to be unearthed, then removed, or completed.
Unfinished fictions, half-written poems, and countless fragments
without epiphanies, or even form, are still willfully waiting
to be worked on to their necessary conclusions, because all things
must be seen through their conclusions—if not, then at least be
properly thrown away, or abandoned.

The way we too had been abandoned in that Cotabato
in our past, where we had practically found each other
among ruins of bomb-blasted buildings and burnt skeletons
of buses, among blood-bathed corpses along bloodstained
highways and starving mobs of beggars at the streets
kept barely alive by pretty much nothing but promises
of better days, rugby, and some discarded bread. But we
had found each other anyway, and had loved each other,
and ourselves, and everyone else we knew.

And in that place perhaps we had loved the most
probably because back there in Cotabato we had
nothing better to do.

Sometimes on the Road to Kidapawan

By Paul Randy Gumanao

(This poem first appeared in Dagmay: The Literary Journal of the Davao Writers Guild.)

Long have I been loving to love
a nameless, whose face remains
faceless amidst all attempts
of masking her the looks of every
leading lady in the romance movies
I so dearly enjoy in the afternoons
when there is nothing better to do but
to pretend to love, be loved, to imagine.
This is also one reason why I’d like
to travel home to Kidapawan.

In the van, I like it when I lean
on my own shoulder, thinking
it was your breath wafting on
my skin as I imagine you
sleeping, while I look farther, until I
forget you because of the rubber trees
and the occasional drizzles of Makilala,
the signals of the proximal embrace
of a mother, perhaps, or an old friend,
or of our high school memories
of little fondness. And there, memories!

Ah, another reason why I love
to travel home to Kidapawan.
The nearer I get, the clearer
you appear, smiling.

Slowly, I remember your name.

Sometimes Suicidal, Mostly Booze

by Jermaine Dela Cruz


Drink responsibly: don’t spill it.

They said what doesn’t kill us
makes us stronger.
I guess I was strong enough
to overcome the idea
of ending my life
haunting me like a predator
clawing its way through
the rubble
of my conscious belief
that life indeed is a gift
so precious, I don’t think
I deserve having.

They said a half truth
is a whole lie.
The truth is
I am half afraid of dying
and half afraid of living
for I haven’t figured out
which is worse:
living or leaving the ones
I care about.
So I resorted to drinking
as a sort of escape
from this catastrophe.

They said suicide
is a permanent solution
to a temporary problem.
I say alcohol
is a temporary solution
to a permanent problem.
Intoxication is the best
antidote to pain,
lost in space
grasping, babbling words.
It disconnects us
from ourselves

They said numbing the pain
for a while
will make it worse
when you actually feel it.
but what is more rewarding than
the fleeting sensation
of happiness,
of guiltlessness,
of chastity from
caring and crying,
loving and trying?
Waking up with a blinding headache.

Perpetual Friction

by Michael John Otanes

(This piece first appeared in the Roots section of Rambutan Literary.)

When father died inside our house, mother
muttered neatly-folded words to him so
they would spark, like fireworks, in his heart.
For almost every day in three years,
mother had been hoping for his resurrection;
and so she decided not to cremate
his body. In truth, she enshrouded him with
white blankets (to turn him into a pupa,
she told me), hang his corpse in the
ceiling of her room—and she would sing hymns
and dance around it. Then on her
knees, and with her head up and closed eyes,
she would pray in silence and in devotion while
rubbing her hands against the cold
thing, so hard that, sometimes, it got warm.
He’s alive! she would chant. He’s alive!
But father has not gone outside even once. Months
later, grandmother paid a visit to us one fine
day, and said she saw father being nestled
by another arms, in an open field. Mother’s
brows met. As soon as she uncovered
the pupa very carefully, and saw nothing
inside it but ashes, she broke down to tears. Like
stars, she noticed, she could not reach
the ashes. Then she reached for my
hand this time, said sorry, and whispered
that, at last, she knew now why father
died, just as she untangled the
rope tightly looped around my neck.

Breakwater Girls

by Saquina Karla C. Guiam

(This piece first appeared in Dagmay, the literary journal of the Davao Writers Guild.)

Little girls, little girls
Dancing by the breakwater
Their faces bloated like balloons
With electric plugs tucked behind their ears
Their eyeballs starting to fall from their sockets
Smiles turn to sneers
Maggots crawl all over their skin
Skin and bones visible through the naked eye
Blood on their clothes never lie
And whenever people pass the breakwater by midnight
Little girls with decayed teeth, torn-out clothes, electric plugs by their side and holes in their chests
Will come out to play with you
And make you wish they were locked in their baggage.