I’ve paddled for too long, have
gotten sucked in whirlpools of grief,
maelstroms that are not mine.
The boat has capsized and my lungs are
life jackets, my tongue, an oar,
my body a raft and an anchor.
There is no telling in the water
where I’m about to go, only,
that I am always going, until moored.
(I was holding the moon inside me
when the ocean had invited me over.
Now I don’t remember why I stay
And yet, like the waves that go back and forth
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do,…)
David Jayson Oquendo is an Electrical Engineer based in Davao City, Philippines.
In church, my God hangs
to a wooden cross.
In front of him
is a sea of heads.
The fans attached to their hands
swivel back and forth;
gusts of air
gently dry off sweat
from their overdressed bodies.
In church, my God is a disk
as small as a thumbnail.
The hands that receive Him
are decorated in gold, silver,
and dirt. His taste is far from
godly. His heavenly crisp
is softened when he rests
on our ungrateful tongues.
In church, my God hangs
stuck to a wooden cross.
His gaze is always fixed.
He does not go anywhere
even when the seats He faces
Koko is a graduate of Ateneo de Davao University. He is currently a public school teacher. He loves vanilla-flavored smoothies.
after Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch (c.1654)
Chained to the feedbox
That is nailed against the day-
Yellow wall, the goldfinch
Looks out at us, its grave
Gaze unflinching as a hill.
See the sun’s glare?
It is the grin stretched across
The face. The chain, the black-
Clouds shrouded at the crys-
Talline sky. This taut knot
Is sewn on Earth’s palm.
You are within this world’s
Grasp. You, too, are the bird.
Michael John Otanes, 24, was born and raised in General Santos City, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English at Mindanao State University. He is a fellow for Poetry in the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop.
“Ayaw na ko ihatod,
mahasol ra ka,” sulti nako niya
samtang gabitbit sa akong mga maleta
pagawas sa among purtahan,
nga karon iyaha na lang.
Guot na kaayo ning balaya
para namong duha.
Tulo ka-tuig na sad
ang milabay sukad gitistingan namo
isigo ang usa’g usa diria.
“Di na gyod ka magpapugong?”
sambit niya human gibuga ang aso
gikan sa iyang sigarilyo,
bisyo nga wa nako tuguti
sa sinugdanan–apan kadugayan
kay naandan na lang.
“Unsa pa ma’y dugayan?”
Tubag nako, dayon amin.
Gahulat na ang traysikel nga akong sakyan
padulong sa dapit nga layo
sa iyang mga aso.
Apan, sa akong mga kamot
magpabilin gihapon ang baho.
Jasmin C. Arcega is a Creative Writing student in UP Mindanao who loves chicken, ketchup, books, and Super Junior.
Samtang ako nagahulat
sama sa usa ka bato sa kilid
duol sa purtahan kauban
ang mga lapok nga pirteng kapyot
sa akong atubangan.
sa kanindot sa ubang sapatos
nga nagtapok ug giampingan
sa sulod sa aparador.
Nipungko ko layo sa ila ug naminaw
sa kabanha sa mga butiki nga igat,
ug ang dagan sa mga ok-ok nga kiat,
sama sa makina ni Lola nga buntag-hapon
padayon gihapon sa pagtahi
sa mga klase-klaseng sanina nga gisi.
Ang kahilom sa abog nga madunggan
sa salog kauban ang hangin nga sigeg panitsit
sa puting kurtina ug mosabay ug sayaw
inig mosulod kini sa bintana.
Mga bangko nga murag guwardiya
sa yagpis nga lamesang nagtuwad.
Ang akong pagdahom nga makagawas
sa akong tigoman nga hantod lantaw na lang
sa punoan nga sigeg tutok
sa bintana kauban ang kahayag
Ug ako nga usa ka butang
mopadayon na unta og baktas
nga naay padulngan.
Shinnen Johann N. Cahandig is born in Bugabungan Upi, Maguindanao. She is a senior high school graduate of Davao City National High School and is currently studying AB Literature and Cultural Studies in the University of Southeastern Philippines.
In a clearing in the middle of a forest
Is a hut, hovering five feet above loam.
A mahogany tree towers over the roof, panoptic.
Millions of its eyes, when plucked by the wind,
lay with soil. When it rains, the air
Smells like freshly-cut cogon, pleasant
Like looming, painless death amidst poverty.
An-Nurhaiyden, born and raised in Cotabato City and known to his friends as JP, enjoys being alone more than he admits he does. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in English, majoring in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines Mindanao last June 2019.
Those eyes of fire are gone now.
They crumpled like flowers
in the afternoon sun
And turned cold and heavy
Those eyes, once the home of the stars,
are now orphaned by the light.
Gone are their glitters of inspiration
and their sparks of triumph.
Those eyes are now the moon
In the absence of the sun.
Rhealyn Callao Pojas is a Mindanao-born journalist that is now based in the Republic of Palau. Writing poetry is her freedom from the prisons of facts.
There are moments of clarity
when you see life and death.
And you realize,
that you are not invincible,
that you are not forever,
that the stars wink out,
one by one.
Then, as an epiphany,
you treasure each look,
You try to fill
the in-betweens with grace
and cram it all
in memory’s safe box.
Then, you are like a famished man
who devours and savors
the feast of life has to offer.
Nothing is ignored.
Beulah G. Villaruel was born in Mindanao, grew up in Luzon, and got married in Visayas. She fell in love with literature in high school, and loved it so much she became an English teacher. She enjoys teaching at Philippine Science High School-SOCCSKSARGEN Region Campus on weekdays and revels in mom life on weekends.