Jeepney smoke

April 16, 2021

Jeepney smoke seeps through the iron rail 
to keep him bloodshot. He burrows in the neck 
of his shirt, already coughing. A black sauna air 
begins to funnel from the roaring exhaust. He feels 

a soft burn as Jeepney smoke flows into his lungs.
Turning into a viscous tar that cakes the walls of his neck.
Yet, it all smells too familiar. Throughout all these years, 
the Pasig River-scented smoke remains true. 

True to all of its people. It is the calming scent 
of nickel coins at the dive bars or tire swings near 
lola’s house. He no longer sits in the Jeepney. He is home, 
rummaging through lola’s bag, thumbing her rosario 

and dipping his hands into a pool of crumpled 
snowbear wrappers. He opens his eyes to a musing 
glaucoma. This is home, where he woke up for the last 
seventeen years to the humid rays of the morning sun, 

people storming the divisoria streets, the Banaba chickens 
cuckooing atop their roosts. This is home, where he sees 
children splashing in puddles across slums. Street cats 
walking on rooftops, tricycles bouncing on rugged sidewalks. 

The Jeepney stops in the flurry of traffic. He steps off 
and palms the gray ocher, trickling it through his fingers. 
He now sees it all. The iron rail, the dangling banners of 
sari-sari treats, the morning sun blending with Jeepney smoke.

This is home.


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  • April 16, 2021 - 9:56pm (Now Viewing)

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  • Khadeejah bint Malik

    Congratulations on being a finalist!! I love how you use words that are relevant to the Philippines because that's where we are <3 Every place here in Phil is so unique, yet Jeepney smoke is so common.
    Welcome to WtW!! It's your first piece but you made it to the finals <3 Stay safe. Best,

    8 days ago
  • Harzi

    Wow... I'm at a loss for words. Your use of imagery is vivid and your descriptions are phenomenal! I hear you're one of the finalist for the comp? No wonder! Congratulations!

    Also, it's nice to see another filipino writer here. Welcome to WtW!<3

    11 days ago
  • vastexpansion

    This is such a beautifully written poem! Congratulations on being a finalist!! also, I am filipina so this was especially touching

    13 days ago