what spectators don’t see in dancing
is that every movement is an act of vulnerability.
every pose and gesture
is read and translated
as a language
of reliance

exchanged in hours of pains and prickles
spent waiting on one’s toes;

developed in a gasp for breath
before the shifting of weight
from one foot to another;

still hoping
that an innocent misstep
would not crush the other’s foot.

there is no easy way to dance, they say

but we’ve waltzed over the first few rounds
like pros
never minding forms and conventions
dictated by tempo.

this isn’t the first time
i have been swept off my feet.

i have long been passed
from one partner to another
in some bizarre round dance
i was half aware about,

but you stepped in
at such perfect timing
to pull me out of the loop
with your offbeat footwork
and awkward coordination.

when the melody fades into a blare,
will you still be there
to hold my hand
and match my two left feet?


Message through the Blackhole

Dear God, hello.

It’s I—
Your errant kid who still sits at the back of church pews,
having trouble in the women’s section of your long dining table,
questioning the dress code, trying my best to chew with my mouth shut,
and also wondering if I am legitimate here?
Are my queer friends here too?

While I’m at it, can I also ask?
Is this a personalised course meal, or can we select anything from the menu?
Because my mother keeps on playing with her soup,
silently hoping that the next meal would come
before she scrapes the bowl dry.
All the while, my sister is being berated
for her impetuousness of having steaks
for breakfast.

Regardless, i would like to say grace
for having the banquet table constantly filled.
We just ain’t sure if you like us to eat it.
I mean, we sorta developed
a post-traumatic disorder for picking
one of the fruits in your garden.

And because we are not sons,
we are double-shamed for every china piece
that got broken
for being too loud, or for liking something else,
or sometimes for forgetting to say
‘pretty please’ and ‘thank you.’
I even heard one of your boys say we ought to eat the crumbs
that fall from your table.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why some
of us here have grown extremely meticulous,
trying to prove their worth by
depriving themselves of the joys of dessert.
While others just swallow what is given to them
so that nobody could question their presence
turning a blind eye from predators who warn girls not to touch
that black forest cake
just so they can secretly pluck
the cherry toppers for themselves.

Still, i thank you for the abundance of fortune cookies
which you made available for each and everyone
who tries to find reason in the chaos that we made for ourselves.
They make up for the rest of the dinner conversation
while we all wait for You
to chime the glass bell.

I would also like to apologise.

I know it’s bad manners to tell you, the host,
these kinds of things.
I was taught to smile and trust that everything will be fine,
that this party is the best, and im sooo fortunate
for securing myself a seat,
but some of your close friends say
You’d appreciate our genuine feedback

Im also sorry for the times when I asked you for something
Only to change my mind
(i.e. my job)
Oftentimes I find myself not too sure
if my tastes have significantly changed,
or was I just influenced with what others are eating.
I don’t find milk as appealing as wine now,
but thank you for being aware of those nights
when i need my chocolate chip cookies
dunked in full-cream milk,
and for those aperitifs best paired
with your hand-painted sunsets.

Thank you for giving me time to chew
before I can fully swallow the magnitude of your presence,
for being invited to your party
despite my introvert tendencies,
and for seating me beside people
who have different ways of looking into things.

Thank you for letting
parts of you be embodied in metaphors
that we guests cannot fully grasp
try as we might.
And for not answering all queries or everything at once,
but assuring us that there is order at the head of the table
even though how far-placed my seat is to you.


Maybe it’s just the wine talking, but let me confess:

when you echoed the words I have long spoken into thin air

I felt the universe answer my lost prayers—

For once, the mountains moved, and the earth opened its wells

for rain to kiss its cracked cheek.

For once, there was no malice in the exchange. Only a conversation

picked and continued after years of white noise.

And when I thought the sun would finally stand still,

The boon was suddenly taken back, jolting me from my trance—

All I have are just prayer beads spilled on the cold floor

As if the plea was too sinful to begin with.

Kiss Mark

Goody two shoes, you still cannot
dispel the magic that protects you from being
touched by a lightning bolt.
You are oil slipping through a sea god’s hands. A bitten fruit
whose seeds are untouched.
Do not forget
how you once wove a garment with your prayers
as you stripped before the eyes of the wild,
letting course hands run through
your breasts, your thighs–
pulling them into depths of consciousness
as you were being plunged into oblivion.

Now that your task is complete, your offerings have reached the deity you serve
and you retreat safe into your space
intact, unaffected.
as rain pour in heavy torrents
burying the land that sacrificed you into a deluge.


Let the storm rage, as your own seep out of your pores
break into the cracks of your character-
a mask of timid smiles and coerced amens.
One day these bite marks will heal
and the kiss that sealed you from being touched
will fade as the mist clears away.
Yes, the land will be fertile again
and you will rise like any other women
to plough
to sow

Tropic of Cancer

Pride-nourished bones:

An ivory head

cut clean and chiseled, crammed full of highway street smarts

smoothening the traffic of the senses.

It sits straight on the spine

made up of countless women’s cartilages,

a lumbar trail for the uninitiated,

stepped and compressed

to compensate for that extra rib.

Pelvis juts out in calcified defiance,

taunting anyone to a test of strength

tries to hide its soft parts within its sharp edges

honed by years of fear for an unknown intruder

that might just be herself.

All these weight are shouldered by these thighbones

trained to hold the added baggage

that my upper extremities refuse to put down

(I still had room for another pound in my heart).


I am proud of my home.

These bones

have built this self to stand tall,

strong in itself, strong on its own

A bedrock amidst the shifting sand.


But like all houses unfazed by summer storms,

mine begins to simmer inside.


A spark of lightning at the base of the skull

creeps a long way down to my spine.

It lingers at my loins,

feeds at my thighs

until my body roars to an uncontrollable furnace

a never dying pyre for the self.

It gnaws at its marrow



Pride-nourished bones:

My body is a bundle of fire wood-

a cruel insurance policy

in case of these internal emergencies.

Build your house with the sweat of your brow,

pay in blood when it burns down.

Remind me again,

What do dwellers do when their house wages war against them?

When the body betrays itself?

When elements crusade to convert

materials into beings

and beings into materials-

who should arbitrate on the matter?


My first ‘amen’

was probably breathed from

the heavy smell of a rising tempest

What used to be a tell-tale for refuge

Becomes a fragrance that lures

the self to strip naked,

to provocatively dance on fire,

to open windows and doors

and to surrender to the hurricane

allowing the tide to wash these bones away.

My house becomes a wreck- floats for

all the things I slowly let go of

as waves lap at all open wounds

salting bruises, cleansing pores,

dissolving all in the whirlpool of unlikely grace.


Sometimes what it takes to get out is to give in-

to rely on strangers,

or even storms

and believe that

these pride-nourished bones

will continue to drift on.





To My Dying Dog

Close your eyes.

Let the pain pass, the sickness wash over your tiny body.

It will be over soon.

Do not search for me. Do not fight it anymore.

Everything would soon be better

When you return where you once came from.

There, there.

This is hard for both of us, I know.

I lament the lack of time.

I lament over the memories we haven’t made yet.

I lament that you have to go soon.

So here.

Take this piece of my heart

And run towards vaster lands.

Eat it. This is my last gift to you.

We both need to be strong for your journey:

Strong enough to leave.

Strong enough to stay.