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.


Ni Hannah Adtoon Leceña

Tingalig gilaay na pud ka
Maong nanghagad ka
Nga magpitikanay tang duha,
Ug karun nga gikapoy na ko
Gikuha nimo ang tsinelas
Ug gipiti sa akoang lapalapa
Kay undang-piti baya ta.
Imong pangutana,
“Dili na jud ka?”
Nagpahiyom lang ko.
Niana ka,
“Lahi na sab atoang dulaon.”
Mas labaw pa
Sa litik
Sa pitik
Sa piti
Kadtong mga pulonga.

Meri Krismas, Langit

Ni Gerald Galindez 


Kasaya ng panahon ngayon                                            Krismas
Kadaming gift, makulay, ginabalot ng silopin—
Lingaw, makapa-excite, makapa-good vibes—

Pero hindi sa bahay namin—

Wala kami naghingi.

Pero kung puwede
Kahit konti lang sana 
Hininga, init
Konting tibok—pulso sa maliliit na kamay.

Konting init,
Konting buhay.

’Yon lang sana.

Kami pala ang magbigay ng regalo ngayon
Ibalot namin sa  karton, silopin
Kahirap buhatin
Luha ang nagatulo, hindi pawis


Kahirap ipadala  sa langit.


By Andrea D. Lim

for H


Our arms that shared the chilling language
of letting out before letting go lock our present selves
to the presses of each other’s heads onto our chests
minutes after midnight in front of a studio room mirror, under
the dim yellow light. This is a forgiving Sunday hour
for faint shadows shaping the human only late encounters
can trace away.


I am the first to dare gaze at the ground where
the edge of our conflicting want, the feet attest, has the feel of crossroads.
The surface finally suffice. My eyes shift direction to our reflections,
the disheveled bed hair, skin-deep reaches and plunges, two bodies taking a place
through giving in to its chance for the temporal haul
of an endless whole.


You are on the receiving end, looking above
my head. You take the time to discover more inches,
to be the one to see for ourselves that you are now
higher than me. I used to be taller than you
when we were closer to our inner child
and had the time for open-ended narratives.
Now you are proud of your ruling, grinning
thoughtfully for history’s sake, for what comes
more during comebacks.

I tilt my head to your side, just enough to arrive
with a slanted face. In for all, I was shaking—it must have been
the coldness of inner pitch-black space, the weak refusal
from being filled this way, or the emptiness
that must be contained.


So you just take place, you holding on to your ways
of freeing me from the fixation with crashing at checkout time.

The bags are packed before you came, still. I may not yet be
tucked on the window side of the bus but my growth,
rooted between knowing better and minding the current, dawns
on the crevices of my heart. It does not shy away
at the height of honest desire.


And so you win, still. The heart tends to an aged love, but you,
you have outgrown me.



Patawad, Ama

Ni Norsalim S. Haron

Patawad po dahil sa lahat ng robot
na nilikha ninyo ako lang
              ang walang
Isang kabiguan
Sa inyong imbensiyon.

Paumanhin po kung ayaw kong lunukin
Ang pagkaing isinubo ni’yo sa akin
Hindi dahil hindi masarap kundi ayaw
Ko lang sa lasa.

Pasensiya na po kung sa lahat ng tupa
Ako ang laging huli sa uwian,
Sa lahat ng kambing ako
Ang nag-iisang
Hindi takot sa ulan.

Ode to the World’s Oldest Lullaby

By Marc Jeff Lañada

What do I make of all the blue waves that inhabit my memory,
   Waves ridging, crashing, then cut briefly by my dorsal eyes?
    Without human touch, a perpetual instrument was made,
     Wanders across latitudes and beyond the territories of sight:
    World, as it first was, again, rediscovered. Forget the sparrow
   Whistling at dawn, the choir of honking cars, the morning radio;
 Where sand meets the infinite foam lives a melody, weaved of
Words my tongue cannot choreograph. The performance begins,
Whether dawn or dusk is pooling in the ocean, and stays there.
  What do I make of all the blue waves that inhabit my memory,
    Waves ridging, crashing, then cut briefly by my dorsal eyes?

Cautionary Tale

By Jermaine Dela Cruz

She was
or so they thought.
Woods fired, engines chugged,
they sailed her West in fair majestic pride
unknowing of a tragic ending, a harrowing recollections.
In a blink of an eye, she collided with a tip of the ice, a thousand lives and more swallowed by angry tides,
cries of mercy resonating, woes fading into the familiar shuttered countenance one by one.
Debris floating back and forth, a horrifying spectacle of bodies buoyant, breathless,
as salty waters sing a lullaby consoling souls from a sudden departure.
The ship of dreams, the unsinkable, in all her vainglory
a grand exit on her first and final journey, but not
before a farewell kiss pressed on her lips—
She, in a trance, breath withdrawn,
her limbs weak and weary.
Slowly she plunged
but not before
looking back
one last