Walking

Poetry by | May 10, 2021

for Sofya

What does it mean for me to stand, feet slightly sloped,
on these rolling hills outside Tashkent? I come
out here, day after day, to count horses. Sometimes, there were
two, and most days when mist blinds the April sun, not
even one shows up. Regardless, they outnumber
trees in the picture. All year long, no trees for creatures
like me to hide, to make home the patches of shadows they
create for me to live, to live with. There are no horses
today, and yet I hear them gallop the un-watered grasslands
from a distance. This life of sun and land is empty.
The un-pictured barn is empty too. The small unhidden
house I refuse to see in the back has never been
this empty. Somewhere inside, the stretch of space of a tin can
I used to catch the sound of the lone wind is empty
as well. All the while, I slip to sleep standing mid-day
and never feel my skin burn, my wool sweater a bit damp
from the cold. I am just here, without an eye for
fullness, without any memory of what wants to be missed.


Ian writes from Cateel, Davao Oriental. He has an MA in Political Science from Central European University in Vienna and Budapest. Some of his works appeared in Dagmay, New Contrast and Voice & Verse.

 

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
now?

 

 


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.

 

On A Cliff

Poetry by | June 8, 2020

I no longer believe
in a god hiding behind clouds.
In the sea, the sky a lover of the water
sees itself fragmented.
What does it search, here and then?
God must be sleeping inside
the womb of the ocean. I knew this
as I have seen light sparkle from down
below. I imagine standing at a cliff’s edge.
I let go of the wind’s touch. I let go
of sight. Hairs lapping to my cheeks.
Sea foams crashing occasionally.
I no longer believe in pain.
No mystery would explain human sadness
like it is different from any other
breathing life. If there is a god
and god is indeed the sea,
why does it need to fake horizon?
Regardless, ends exist in so many things.
I imagine opening eyes for the first time
in years. I see an endless blue.
I see depth but I also see shallowness.
I must be missing something
now that my shoulders are cold.
Has someone touched them before?
My age fails me one more time,
but I am still young.
If there is a god, maybe god knows
all memories forgotten.
But I no longer believe
in a god who contemplates,
either on a cliff high above
or within many shades of abyss
drowning itself. If indeed god
does not exist, the world remains
fragmented. Young people wait to be old
only to wither, only to forget love.
What is it, then, that brought me here?
I no longer believe in life.


Ian Salvaña is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University, Vienna and Budapest. His poems have recently appeared in New Contrast: The South African Literary Journal. He hails from his ethnic Mandayan hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental.

Sang Bangin

Poetry by | June 8, 2020

Dugay da ako wa too
sang ginoo na ag magtago sang mga panganod.
Sang dagat, yang langit na yahigugma sang tubig
yakita ng kanaan kaogalingon na yaboak.
Onan yang kanaan piyagahanap ngani haw doon?
Gapatoratoy siguro pagtuog yang ginoo sang sod
ng tiyan ng kadagatan. Yasayod ako san-e
kay yakita ako ng suga na yagkidlap-kidlap gikan
ubos. Ihuna-huna ko yang pag-indog sang kilid ng bangin.
Ibuhian ko yang hawid ng hangin. Ibuhian ko
yang pagkita. Yalapdos yang mga buhok sang kanak pisngi.
Yakorosob usahay yang mga bowa ng dagat.
Dugay da ako wa too sang kasakit.
Ampan misteryo na makapasabot ng kagool ng otaw
na ama isab ng yalahi sang iban pa
na gaginhawa na kinabuhi. Kung awon agaw ginoo,
kung yang ginoo kay yang dagat,
nasa kinahanglan pa naan mangatik na awon kapunaw-punawan?
Bahala da, awon kataposan sang madaig na butang.
Ihuna-huna ko yang pagbuka ng kanaan mga mata sang pinaka-una na higayon
sang kadaig ng yalabay na tuig. Ikita ko yang way kataposan na asul.
Ikita ko yang kalawom pero ikita ko isab yang kababaw.
Awon siguro kanak kiyalingawan, kiyamingawan,
doon na matignaw da yang kanak abaga.
Awon kaha yahawid san-e sang-awon?
Siguro kay tungod ipakyas ako ng kanak edad,
pero bata pa sa ako.
Kung awon agaw ginoo, basin yasayod pa yaan
ng mga kiyalingawan da na panumduman.
Pero dugay da ako wa too
sang ginoo na ag mamalandong,
usahay sang bangin sang taas ng bungtod
o sang yagkalahi-lahi na itom ng lawod,
piyagalumos yang kaogalingon. Kung ampan
gayod agaw ginoo, magpabilin yang kalibutan
na boak. Yagtagad yang mga batan-on na tatigowang
para lang malanta, para lang makalingaw ng gugma.
Onan kaha doon ngidtong yagda kanak ngani?
Dugay da ako wa too ng kinabuhi.


Ian Salvaña is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University, Vienna and Budapest. His poems have recently appeared in New Contrast: The South African Literary Journal. He hails from his ethnic Mandayan hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental.

Sang bangin

Poetry by | March 22, 2020

Dugay da ako wa too
sang ginoo na ag magtago sang mga panganod.
Sang dagat, yang langit na yahigugma sang tubig
yakita ng kanaan kaogalingon na yaboak.
Onan yang kanaan piyagahanap ngani haw doon?
Gapatoratoy siguro pagtuog yang ginoo sang sod
ng tiyan ng kadagatan. Yasayod ako san-e
kay yakita ako ng suga na yagkidlap-kidlap gikan
ubos. Ihuna-huna ko yang pag-indog sang kilid ng bangin.
Ibuhian ko yang hawid ng hangin. Ibuhian ko
yang pagkita. Yalapdos yang mga buhok sang kanak pisngi.
Yakorosob usahay yang mga bowa ng dagat.
Dugay da ako wa too sang kasakit.
Ampan misteryo na makapasabot ng kagool ng otaw
na ama isab ng yalahi sang iban pa
na gaginhawa na kinabuhi. Kung awon agaw ginoo,
kung yang ginoo kay yang dagat,
nasa kinahanglan pa naan mangatik na awon kapunaw-punawan?
Bahala da, awon kataposan sang madaig na butang.
Ihuna-huna ko yang pagbuka ng kanaan mga mata sang pinaka-una na higayon
sang kadaig ng yalabay na tuig. Ikita ko yang way kataposan na asul.
Ikita ko yang kalawom pero ikita ko isab yang kababaw.
Awon siguro kanak kiyalingawan, kiyamingawan,
doon na matignaw da yang kanak abaga.
Awon kaha yahawid san-e sang-awon?
Siguro kay tungod ipakyas ako ng kanak edad,
pero bata pa sa ako.
Kung awon agaw ginoo, basin yasayod pa yaan
ng mga kiyalingawan da na panumduman.
Pero dugay da ako wa too
sang ginoo na ag mamalandong,
usahay sang bangin sang taas ng bungtod
o sang yagkalahi-lahi na itom ng lawod,
piyagalumos yang kaogalingon. Kung ampan
gayod agaw ginoo, magpabilin yang kalibutan
na boak. Yagtagad yang mga batan-on na tatigowang
para lang malanta, para lang makalingaw ng gugma.
Onan kaha doon ngidtong yagda kanak ngani?
Dugay da ako wa too ng kinabuhi.


On a cliff

I no longer believe
in a god hiding behind clouds.
In the sea, the sky a lover of the water
sees itself fragmented.
What does it search, here and then?
God must be sleeping inside
the womb of the ocean. I knew this
as I have seen light sparkle from down
below. I imagine standing at a cliff’s edge.
I let go of the wind’s touch. I let go
of sight. Hairs lapping to my cheeks.
Sea foams crashing occasionally.
I no longer believe in pain.
No mystery would explain human sadness
like it is different from any other
breathing life. If there is a god
and god is indeed the sea,
why does it need to fake horizon?
Regardless, ends exist in so many things.
I imagine opening eyes for the first time
in years. I see an endless blue.
I see depth but I also see shallowness.
I must be missing something
now that my shoulders are cold.
Has someone touched them before?
My age fails me one more time,
but I am still young.
If there is a god, maybe god knows
all memories forgotten.
But I no longer believe
in a god who contemplates,
either on a cliff high above
or within many shades of abyss
drowning itself. If indeed god
does not exist, the world remains
fragmented. Young people wait to be old
only to wither, only to forget love.
What is it, then, that brought me here?
I no longer believe in life.


Ian, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University, Vienna and Budapest. His poems have recently appeared in New Contrast: The South African Literary Journal. He hails from his ethnic Mandayan hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental.

Inside the library reading Camille Rankine

Poetry by | February 23, 2020

Sunlight creases through my face.
I look at it, robbing myself of sight,
Loving blindness.

One more time, day ends.
One more time, I’m still a day alive.
And I breathe, thank god.

But not of fresh air.
The rooftop now is chilly. Bodies
can’t be sunning in winter.

Inside the library, books eat me.
I know they will outlive me.
But now I will outlive the sun.

In summer, my black hair
Becomes the golden rays of the world.
And the sun will already sleep

to gain strength in the coming months.
I let it crease my lips, sip my own
youth – whatever it wants

before it leaves. I refuse to refuse.
Books eat me and yet no knowledge
knows all of me. Maybe only the sun.

And maybe the sky. Whatever I want
they still can’t give, as books too.
Maybe someday I want to fly

or sleep inside the Danube. Maybe
I will write stories, still mind babbles.
Maybe I would outlive myself,

in the form of dying, as I become
a book, a paper, a word. Maybe the sun
would remain bright, even if evenings

rob me of sanity. Maybe I would dream
tonight of losing sight – I would dig
my own eyes and then face the sun.

 


Ian is an overseas Filipino student. He misses home.