Jose Comes Home

By Estrella Taño Golingay

Tonight, he prays for the blessings
of the gods. As he clutches his M16
rifle, he gazes at the sky and searches
for a miracle. He sees no stray
meteor shooting by. No star.

Only a blinding light quickly searing
the night sky, at times, a deaf drum
falling into pieces and sharp knocks
loud enough to reiterate stories told.
He bounces back in full gear.

Wish! His heart racing under
his shirt. There is no one
to witness the last fray except
the classic fall of his only star
and the volley of lead.

There were more he remembers
As he’d dodge them hurtling by.
Run! his comrades urged him
and his falling into a deep sleep.

His family gathers for him
tonight, gnashing their teeth
on questions floating over
the draping of the flag.


By Elyzah A. Parcon 

test me
my waters have remained constant
rippling, reaching
as far as the eye can see
into the horizon;
the water surrounds me

my knowledge is useless
when drowning
in these waters
I can only flail desperately
as my movements create ripples
out into the ocean

all these efforts
all in vain
all in my vein
blood rushing out
like the sea; light, then heavy
then strong
this time, the waters are red
and they reek of iron

test my waters
they’ve been stained
crimson with my lifeline

Two Poems

By Innah Johanee Alaman



Still with the haze of dawn,
the light and darkness play
tugs of war in the high-
vaulted sky. The east light wins
this time, staining the sky with hues
from today’s morning palette:
blue, rosy pink, and gold.
The sun’s first rays reach me
at ease—its light strikes
through my window, peeping
through the sudden, awaken me. Slowly,
my room’s filled with
the sun’s fault-finding
heat, revealing last night’s mess
I have, arranged without him.
Mornings are such
nosy perverts.



A body, at fifteen, unwrapped, raw
between split robe, quivers
before the intimate eyes of her lover.

A body, at fifteen, moans mute
in photos. Her soft limbs, small mouth,
stroke scenes in the minds of the uninvited.

Every inch of her skin exposed, posed
is viewed over and over again,
like an animal in a museum, most
beautiful when preserved—
only dead.

Her photos tell a tale of a nymph taken out of the water
caught in a web, sprawled like a carcass,
suspended in the air on an invisible thread.
The predators are out, feeding
on the fragile innocence on the web—
the rotten smell of their lustful gaze
penetrate her. But the web knows not
of the nymph, the bruises and scars
hidden beneath the paleness of her skin.

They look at her lips
when they use her lips, share her lips,
only to speak of the taste of her dirt.

And the web knows not of the predators
who feast on the nymph pleading
don’t come don’t come
yet they come.

Just as Silvery

By Marc Jeff Lañada

In front of the medicine-chest mirror, a generation apart,
or at least the collective days that finally brought me here,
I am but an image, alive and pensive, that refuses to budge,
to realize that the material composing the reflection
is quite different now, maybe a little rebellious now.
More often than not, there’s always sunlight
hopping from one surface to another—too many routes
but flashes before my eyes nonetheless—reminding that
the skin has to keep outgrowing itself over and over.
Like nostalgia that begs to be visited: How can it be done
when old images can already live on their own?
I lift the razor to the plain stretch of my jaw lathered
with foam, slowly slide the blade, checking progress
strip by strip, somehow hoping to see a wound.

Ulang Kumbektibo

By PG Murillo

Dumadagundong ang tibok
nitong dibdib
May paparating na unos.

Maaraw naman kanina.
Sobra pa nga ang init.
Ngunit biglang nagdilim ang langit.

Ang ulan, di pa nga pumapatak
Ay nakapanlalabo na ng pananaw.
Paano pa kaya kung magtampisaw?

Ang mga namamagang pamunglo’y
Daig pa’ng sinuntok ng iyong kamao.
Dagdag bigat sa pinapasang puso.

T’wing pipikit, kasabay na pumapatak
Ulan at mga imahe ng alaalang nangangaral
Kung bakit ganito tayo sa kasalukuyan.

Ngunit basâ man at tumutulo,
May nakahanda pa ring magpasukob
Ipaubaya sa kanila ang baldeng pangsahod.

Ingatan mo ang iyong parte.
Di bale nang sumobra.
Sa bawat pananim, hardin ang aking mga mata.

Might of the Kind

By Joebert Palma Jr.

Ravaging like omnipotent waves, here, the stark Darkness
              creeps, stalks, and feeds on the fragile cliff that we are.
A synchronous dance, a way to Death, a treacherous kiss,
              we gladly take it in, but tomorrow’s not far.

We bathe in a crimson lake that doesn’t stain our togas,
              for this lake is ethereal, our dry skin divine.
Send all the unknown faces in windowless bodegas.
              Call the Animals. Witness the might of the Kind.

Allow the Shadow to cover this land, to flood this plane
              of people with no faces who hid in their cage.
Sing their songs, remember their names, but bury their children, and
              the offspring of their children—fruit of the sage.

Let the benevolence of the murk hide their battle scars,
              to silence their mouths before they unleash their cry.
Slit the throat of Kumander Liwayway, to end her wars,
              so as to impale her womb so she wouldn’t try.

Here, in the stillness of the air, out in the cold open,
              we plow this barren earth where they used to run free,
                            to plant these Seeds that will eventually feed our children,
                                          whose youth invigorates their need for mutiny.

Yet here, in the stillness of the cold air in the open,
              their shut eyes awaken from a now distant dream.
Liwayway bore her own children, taught them how she lived then,
              how she fought Life for life. Life trembled when she came.

But the earth is still soaked with the blood of the lost faces,
              fueling all the grieving with a peaceful rage.
They marched and marched until no one cared to track the traces for
              it is in resonance can they only break their Cage.

The stark Darkness is still vast and owning, still ravaging.
              Its ebony talons are masking the blind trail.
Liwayway’s children marched and marched and then came the Morning.
              Darkness screeched and curled. Its spite won’t leave this vale.


By Adrian Pete Medina Pregonir

Di ko alam kung paano lumubog
ang bangka at bultu-bultong takot.

Sa dagat pa lamang ay pinaghiwalay na
tayo sa ating pinagsamahan.

Walang lisyang binuhay rin ng ginamos
at danggit sa ating mesa ang pagkaguang natin.

Bawat húling isda ay pangarap na nasagot,
may sumasabit pang katanungan sa bawat sagot:

Kung bakit ang dagat ay maalat,
kung bakit mapangahas ang simoy ng amihan

hanggang noong pagsug-alaw
ng bagong taon.

Hinintay kita sa pampang
habang nakamatyag sa nangungulilang buwan.

Sa oras na iyon mapayapa ang dalampasigan.
Nasa aking isipan ang nakakabit na mitsa sa iyong bangka.

Hindi ka na nakabalik.
Pagkabúkas, pagbukas ng radyo,
narinig ko na lang:

Kinulong ka sa ibang bansa.
Nagnakaw ka sa isang dagat na pinag-aawayan

para sa ating magiging handa.