Pocahontas

Philippines

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

- Naomi Shihab Nye, 'Famous'

Message to Readers

hello! would love peer reviews, especially since i'm confused as to whether or not the situation and the story are clear enough. thank you!

Juan Bautista

April 7, 2019


the squiggly scraggly television screens
the stars of Christmas day comedy special
the single lightbulb swinging through the crack
in the ceiling
the swarms that sail
in the ocean of next door’s electricity

the sand on your slippers
are home before you

sh sh sh sh sh

you hush the door hinge the way
you see your wife do to your hairy,
teething, hurricane of a two-month old:

like please please please please

lorena is lighting a candle on the bedside table
below her, your newborn is bundled up
in his grandmother’s blankets

you stare, suddenly remembering
you are celebrating something like that
today: a baby born into the darkness,
a burnt out mother sinking
into sleep, but only after
she has fixed her seabeat husband
a bed of hay

you and lorena have lived here all your life

the church has never washed up on your shore

you can’t sleep, can you?

lorena’s breathing is strange. impatient. ringing.
she bursts upright, but immediately,
bundles back into herself,
like realizing she is too big for this house.
for this bed. for this beach.

do you ever hear sounds that aren’t there?
sounds that exist, yeah, but aren’t supposed
to be here right now? like

surfing? bombs? sunhaired boys
banging yesterday’s driftwood
against empty milk cans

missing molars
mouth sores
singing
we weesh yu amerry krismas
we weesh yu amerry krismas
we weesh yu amerry krismas
en a hapi nyuyir

you finish her sentence:
but you don’t want to slam
the door in their faces

like the rich people do

you want to join them!
gush like your speedboat’s
gas leaks into the silent
night and show the world,
once in so long,
that you remember
the sounds of each other’s laughter

you take her hand without asking,
and whisk her away into the water.
she worries about the baby, but the walls
are warm and he is smiling in his sleep

i love you, mahal ko, you tell her.
i love you so much i want
to SHOUT! she is nervous. the neighbors,
she warns.

they think we do not love each other, mahal ko!
they think we cannot worry about love while we worry about
fish and milk!
will we show them, lorena?

the seapeople step out into the darkness and the stars

that dot it. they sing till all their voices die

WE WEESH YU AMERRY KRISMAS
WE WEESH YU AMERRY KRISMAS
WE WEESH YU A MERRY KRISMAS
EN A HAPI NYUYIR!

[the waves return. salt, still, and no spare change.]

TENKYU! TENKYU! AMBUBURAT NINYO TENKYU!

and carol and kiss the whole way home


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  1. Juan Bautista : Filipino, John the Baptist
  2. mahal ko : Filipino, my love
  3. burat : Filipino, stuck-up, stingy



 

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