Mga Tagsip

Poetry by | January 2, 2021

–Hubad sa Binisaya ni John Bengan

Silaab sama sa kandila
lumbay sa ulan
nga duna nay nanag-iya.

Ang Sapat sa mga tigmo mitubo
og mga gamut diin kini mitindog ug milingkod
mga gamut sa ka taas milapos
sa pikas bahin sa kalibutan
mihugpo ug gilubok hangtod
nahimong lanot nga gibuhat og sinina.

Ikaw akong panit sa suwa
Akong ilimnon
Akong damgo nga gapadasig
ang kasubo nga mahanaw.

Ang kamingaw usa ka dahon
nabilin sa bentana
mansa sa habol
o kun panahon sa usa ka adlaw.

Kon kining paghimamat nimo
naghingapin ug halawom
pahiri kini sa salisi sa kahilom
o kun pagsambit kunohay
unsa kadugay ning adlawa.

Hayag ug sayo ba kang nimata
dagom taliwa sa kasagbutan?
Sa pagsubang sa adlaw
nasaag ug hikalimtan?

Imong kasingkasing himoang itlog nga bulawan
himoa kining tam-is
o kun bulak sa kahayag
nga gipatik sa batiis.




Burn bright as candle
column of rain
spoken for.

The Sphinx grew roots
where it stood or sat
roots so long they broke
out to the other sided globe
gathered and pounded out
into fibers to make a robe.

Be my lemon peel
be my drink
be the dream that drives me
the despair that wilts.

Nostalgia is a leaf
lying on a window
stain on a sheet
or a day’s weather.

If you think this encounter with you
excessive and deep
wipe it away with a rain of silence
or inanely remark
how long the day is.

Are you bright and early
needle in the hay?
Are you lost for granted
at the break of day?

Turn your heart to candy
or a golden egg
or a bright sunflower
tattooed on a leg.


Usa ka gipasidunggan nga tagsulat og sugilanon, magbabalak, dibuhista, ug payoner nga tigmantala si Tita Lacambra Ayala. Mipanaw siya kadtong tuig 2019.

Where are my poetry books?

Poetry by | December 14, 2020

Fine collections of dust
form an archaeological site,
a bereavement, of words left buried,
where we usually call rainy days days of solace.
Dust accumulates with neglect.
We dig deep Pinter, papers of his verses a home
to endless questions. When I ask, sometimes,
out of the sheer distance that separates us,
about ends, your reply, about impermanence,
does not fail to travel miles for days,
reaching me through whispers
of the cold summer, telling me death
is a practice of forgetting love.
Where is love when it is written only
on yellowed paper. What is love
when it is lost among pages of unreasonable
thoughts. Spines of books shiver when touched.
Shelves of languages produce soft bones,
preys to the hungry. But I can only imagine
about voids, now that I am far, and nothing more.
You think impermanence is constant,
and indeed it is. What misses constancy
is a blank page, waiting for ink, formed from dust,
the end of death. If it becomes so that we move
out of sheer love, it is bad luck
that I see you in the dark and still I keep moving.
Darkness is a vision of neglect, a letter
without response, left to crumple.
Death is a decay of all that lives outside you.
Poetry, language, love. Death is a buoyant mirror,
without darkness I see through you.

Ian Salvaña writes from Cateel.


I, a thunderstorm

Poetry by | December 14, 2020

and you, a morning mist,
fog blinding me of direction.
If I announce my cry,
you bleed in liquid, and yet,
not in full bloom,
spring resurrects you
from your everyday death.
I, a thunderstorm,
and you, the clouds bearing
my tears. My sense of time
withers with light
piercing through you,
becoming empty of me,
once inside you, now gone.
Slowly, I, a thunderstorm,
beg to hear words
from you, a silent city,
sleeping as if my grief,
a lullaby, hums your body
to your soft bed. You
remain a still world,
and I, your passing time.
You pause to breathe,
and I, a madness,
you wait to be ruined
in seconds. Who listens



Ian Salvaña writes from Cateel.


The notebook

Poetry by | December 14, 2020

Creased spine, yellowed pages, it lives
its rugged life on a coffeeshop table.
For years, thoughts becoming
of women and men and those beyond
draw life page by page. Everyday
ink curves and scratches
mold a heart. Made of clay, shaped
differently per second. Today
the notebook decides
to be a sister of a child with autism.
Yesterday it was a soldier meeting
for the first time a date.
Tomorrow it will be a retired teacher,
hands of veins caressing every
leaf, and finally a world
partially written in the next empty ones.
Here, a recourse from continuity.
The notebook grows with time
and time grows old only to be reminded
that today it was good to live. Mirrors
stop to look at many a self
sometimes, begs to crack in absence
of knowing change. Yet pages
continue to free up still.



Ian Salvaña writes from Cateel.


Flightless Cormorants

Poetry by | November 16, 2020

i. Ecological Naïveté

It was on our fifth day in Galapagos
that my mother, a biologist, and I
first caught sight of a flock of flight-
less cormorants in the north western coast
of Isabela, at a thorn-scrub land-
scape at the side of a slippery slope,
swathed with cat’s-claw bushes and
thin-leafed daisies. In
front of them, those birds: a young
man hefting a massive rock, his sweat-slick
forehead glistening under the sun.
The birds’ wings, at this, did not kiss
the scorching equatorial sky;
they remained still as the tree-covered hills
behind them. Even their eyes merely slid
past him languidly, over at
the primordial landscape,
where other endemic species resided.
The birds’ wings echoed their own eyes.

ii. Evolution of Flightlessness

Terrestrial mammalian predators’
nonexistence in the islands of Galapagos
had undressed flightless cormorants’
vulnerability millions of years ago,
said my mother years before we went
to that place. Those birds,
therefore, had grown downright
accustomed in the stretches of coastline
and in the fluorescent-blue sea,
where they foraged for fish
and other aquatic organisms,
without dread of being devoured.
In the long run, their wings
had morphed into stubby garments
that were only utilized as
an armor to battle the bone-
chilling ocean of the archipelago.

iii. Ode to the Flightless Cormorants

The isolation bubble of Galapagos,
O flightless cormorants, had already burst,
pierced by the thirst of humans
for dreamscape, their presence,
like waves, lapping on the archipelago
every once in a while. You don’t swim
against the current. In truth,
danger to you has been a wind.
This what you deem as wind,
however, has magnitudes.
And when its strength slaps the sea,
tidal waves—say, bird hunters—
can wipe you all out. Start flapping
your wings, flightless cormorants.
Metamorphose them into massive ones.
The cloud-thronged sky is a place
where waves can’t reach you.
Sail through it. I would love to see
you there enacting a metaphor,
beside the other flying species,
rather than in a book in which you are
a mere history—an aftermath
which will occur if those waves
devour your existence whole.


Michael John Otanes, 25, was born and raised in General Santos City, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English at Mindanao State University. He was a fellow for Poetry in the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop.

Welcome Home

Poetry by | November 2, 2020

I dreamt that I came back
to find our living room
strangely empty, as if all life
one day went up and left
and not even a chair
or the carpet remained,
yet somehow I heard my sister
saying something about the TV
that no longer sits on the shelf
where it should.

Perhaps the reasons scuttled away
on eight limbs across cobwebs,
melting into damp, unlit corners
too quickly to catch, or perhaps
they were never wanted at all
within those pale, cracked walls
and doors that never locked.

In the kitchen, a cinnamon bun
sat on a counter whose trays
burst with plates no one used anymore
but there it was, a lone piece
of sweet bread sitting on a saucer
if someone got hungry. We are.


John Oliver Ladaga hails from Iligan City but is currently based in Davao, and hopes to teach writing classes for a living one day.

That Leaf

Poetry by | October 19, 2020

a tree judges not a leaf’s triumphs,
but its crushing defeats;
and when that leaf falls
it serves its purpose;
it alone exists for the tree,
and to nothing else,
lest it tries to be everything
to everyone:
it is no longer a leaf.

Paulo is a senior high school master teacher.

Another Day Ends

Poetry by | October 19, 2020

She pulls her long skirt up as she skips from rock to rock avoiding the ankle-length deep water of the silent gushing river on her way home.


Her knees sunset red for kneeling hours until she reached the Fifth Glorious Mystery her Wednesday routine with the Virgin of the grotto outside the church.


It was a rather peaceful evening save for some old ladies trying to tell her fortune of a strong man husband and healthy children by Her intercession.


Full of grace she hails the remnants of the day ending in pink violets and orange reds as she carefully climbed the bamboo stairsteps waking up her aging Tagpi from its afternoon siesta.


Then just as the crickets’ and kamarus’ chorus signal her to cook the dinner rice her Tiyo appears banana leaves on shoulders wrappings for tomorrow’s lunch at Junjun’s first day of school.


“Mano po,” as she brings her Tiyo’s calloused hands to her forehead smelling of sun sweat and the lingering image of a carabao pulling her skirt.


Rory is currently based in Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan and dreams of going home one summer to Davao Oriental.