The Birds Are Dying

Poetry by | April 24, 2016

by one,
the feathers fall
onto mud,
onto Earth,
until nothing remains
but the ghosts
of the wings
they were forced
to abandon.
These flightless birds—
they were regal once,
and exuberant,
chests red
and beaming and proud,
now they’re all so
meek and
gray—sky-before-rain gray—
all left choking on chalk dust.
They can only dream of
the stars
and envy the flight and the flicker
and the flame,
their bodies, bare and pale,
wince from the heat
as if moths
are braver than them.
The wind
is stifled by a
contemporary lullaby,
and now too quiet,
too far gone
to carry
the ones full of empty
I hear the songs turn
into a requiem.
The birds are dying
and the sky is narrow
without its travelers.

Ivan Khenard Acero is an architecture student at UP Mindanao.

Jollibee Chickenjoy and Space Battles

Fiction by | March 8, 2015

Nanay cried again yesterday. I have only seen her cry twice in my life. And this time, it was because of the rain. And the thunder. And probably the lightning, too. I think Nanay has always been scared of storms. And it was really scary, the storm last night.

I’m also scared of storms. I always worry that the thunderclaps would make me go deaf, like my friend Alicia. I talk to her by writing on little pieces of paper. I asked her once if it was hard, being deaf. And she said it was. I wanted to ask if the thunderclaps made her go deaf, but I didn’t want to be embarrassed if I was wrong. Alicia is my friend from school.

Another thing I’m scared of during storms is the possibility that the rain might drown the whole world. I don’t know how to swim so I’ll probably drown with the world, too.

It was two hours after dinner when Nanay cried. We had Jollibee Chickenjoy (my all-time favorite), and I had warm milk after. It started raining right before we ate. Every time the sky growled, I felt the ground shake. The heavy pouring of rain drowned not just the streets but also the sound from the cars passing by. It reminded me of the sound of the bullets in a war movie I saw with Tatay. Nanay and Tatay had a fight that night because she didn’t like me watching violent movies. It was a year ago, I was nine.

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An Anatomy of Your Smile

Poetry by | February 8, 2015

I. Lips

Scarlet arches,
like bow and string
releasing arrows
from Eros’s grip
to my wildest dreams

II. Teeth

Slices of pearls
cradled by the soft
of your lips,
in hiding,
like a symphony of secrets

III. Eyes

Soulful windows opened and hidden
by the flutters
of your eyelids, much like
the blackbird’s wings
to the wonders of the night

Ivan is a student of BS Architecture from UP Mindanao with an alarming addiction to milk bars.

No. 7

Fiction by | February 1, 2015

Eating kwek-kwek and blending in with the crowd to be as inconspicuous as possible, Marco had been waiting for almost an hour. His target, this time, was Isagani Sarmiento—a paralegal at a small law office in San Pedro. It was almost 5 o’clock but the sweltering heat did not give way to the usual pre-dusk chill. He gave small talks to the tindera but he always made sure not to make himself too memorable. He had on a faux leather jacket with a plain shirt underneath, a Yankees cap, and his usual ragged jeans.

He first met with his client at some low-key bar at Torres.

It was a perfect place for such meet-ups—it was full of unscrupulous businessmen and sleazy police officers, but there was never any crowd large enough to fill even one-third of the room. The music was kept to a perfect volume and only ranged from classic to jazz.

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Dust Bunny

Poetry by | January 11, 2015

When you opened the door
And asked if you could stay inside,
I was happy.
Because you see, long before you decided
To twist the doorknob and fumble
For the light switch on the wall,
The idea
Of you staying with me
Had already planted itself deep into my chest and mind,
Nurtured by the sunlight I let in
Whenever I gazed at you through the windows
Wondering when you’d come.

“I can stay on the couch, I won’t be here too long anyway.” you said.
I didn’t even ask why.

I nodded silently.
If you only knew how much I wanted you to stay
In my room, where everything I am
Hung in walls and perched on desks and dusty windowsills
And hid in every crease of the sheets;
Things I wanted you to see.
My room where
Every whisper the world has ever heard
From me
Echoed back into screams extending
Every bit of my soul;
Sounds I wanted you to hear.

I let you stay on the couch anyway.
You even called it “home” once.

When was it that you decided to leave?
Was it when you peeked through the
Cracks of my bedroom door
And saw only soot and dust? You never told me.
And I guess I’ll never know.

It’s been years,
But it’s still the same way after you left.
Only now, cobwebs and dust are starting to claim the space
That you once claimed yours.
It makes me cough every now and then, of blood and dry earth,
But I can manage—I think I can—
To wait a little longer.
Don’t worry, I’ll leave the door open.

Ivan is a student of BS Architecture in UP Mindanao with an alarming addiction to milk bars.

Teo and the Time Traveler

Fiction by | September 7, 2014

I must have been around 12 back then. Monday. I was supposed to go to school but Papa didn’t let me. “We’re going somewhere,” he said. He had a stern expression and an unnatural seriousness about him; and if it wasn’t for that, I would have complained. Unlike other children my age, I was precocious and I valued studying as much as a kid would with playing.

We left home around 5:30am. Only the distant crows of roosters and subtle sounds of people in their homes preparing for the day marred the silent air. No rowdy neighbors, no busy streets; our neighborhood held a certain sophistication that real estate subdivisions had. Cold air embraced the town despite the morning sun. Leaves swayed ever so slightly, letting dew slide down like beads of precious stones. The tinted window of the car filtered the sunrise but it still looked as immaculate as it should. Our speed changed and blurred the scene outside but it stayed frigid, like a golden coin tossed into heaven and stayed where it rightfully belonged. It felt like an anchor to reality, to the world, which—given my age—was incomprehensible to me.

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