Hatchet

I have always been honest

except for the times when I have to obscure

emotions into lines like these.

The amount of poems I have written

are also the number of times I lied

by fitting half truths into shells

of acceptable excuses.
 

We both know my words are dead

Bodies at the bottom of the lake

Without soul, without ships to anchor with.

They stare back at me, eyes without light

I couldn’t look away from them.
 

Tonight, I let the waters claim another victim.

Flushing blood from veins, disintegrating organs

Into solubles. I bathe into my own essence

Sweat and fragrance carried into ripples

Briefly glistening then disappearing

Preserving a memory.

Advertisements

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

unsatisfied.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Trinidad

I.

My life.

is firmly rooted between three distinct places:

Church, school, and home-

growing under the watchful eye of holy trinities.

The protecting pillars of my personhood

against the thief that may come at night time.

You see, I have been told that I am quite precious-

a jewel in the rough, so to speak,

hidden for a noble prince willing to climb over this orchard-

Though I don’t know if I’m the diamond or the pearl kind.

While waiting, I fill my interiors with books, trinkets, and decora-

souvenirs from places I have never been

dropped by polite visitors who stop to smell the flowers

My hands always let things bloom- hoping that one of them would be lured

to brave the forbidden

and dig this land.

 

I have long been buried here.

 

They always get distracted though-

already satisfied by a single flower, or an interesting artifact

when the garden is quite vast.

There seems always room for more- I have never explored it entirely.

Have never even measured the limits of myself

as I stretch and crumble the walls from within.

My eyes are buds, so I let my vines do all the groping

to reach the sunlight.

 

II.

What I know upon receiving sight:

I do not have a mother.

I was born from a sea foam.

From a plane crash. From the jagged propellers of a kamikaze jet plane.

Scorched by the sun for attempting to fly high,

I was casted to drown at the coldest depths. To remain restless

for refusing the fixated earth.

I’d like to say that the sky and sea are my parents,

But though I may seem like their prisoner, they have adopted me whole

Hardening my wounds with salt and spray

until I have finally submerged and become.

I can always rise and break structures down. This is my form of play.

Now I am storm. I am the monsoon.

I am the wave that catches the lightning, the cloud that broods over ships-

reading people’s lives as drifting leaves on a teacup. Eager to see how things

would unfold. If I stir,

Sailors mistake my passion for rage, my laughter for thunderclaps.

They appease me by throwing everything at my feet

Just for them to live. But I have no need of drowning men

Nor of their fancy baggage. All I want is for someone

to survive my tempests.

 

III.

The truth is, I am too old to be a child.

Yet I am a part of myself that remains here in the womb– an overdue embryo

making picture books out of a monochrome crayon pack.

 

Waiting to be born.

Wanting to be cradled. To be called by my real name.

To be here.

 

Just how can I give birth to myself?

My sisters have long been rubbing me to come out. It’s easy, they say.

You just have to break in. Push open the glass doors with a smooth swoosh.

See, everything is ready. Everybody is here.

The cake is sliced, candles are lit. The guests are now giggling in the dark

and your body floats ripe in a tub of cold water

All you need to do is to cut the fucking ribbon.

 

But my hands are jelly.

 

I do not know how to hold the blade with my fists

Less caesarian my way out of my body

What if I’m the one who needs to be broken?

So that I won’t be stuck here

 

Weaving worlds out of empty words to fill in the void of not knowing

Swimming in a dark finite ocean

Already content with the stories whispered into my ear

 

IV.

Three things I could still remember:

  1. Water breaking
  2. Waking up from a warm dream
  3. Welcome home

 

 

Grafting

Here, a piece of flesh.

I offer you a part of my skin, a patchwork of muscles and sinews, bared open to you like a live wire. Trace the green and purple cobwebs oozing with spurts of red. Watch how a tiny spider crawls its way in, weave itself a home, and be choked with its own trappings. This is my body

Which unravels before your eyes, and I break it for you whilst lisping a short prayer that you would not draw back.

No. I’m not asking you to heal me. Your hands are as cold as mine. Your sores blooming its way out underneath those layers of worn clothing you call skin. It calls out to me, latching on my fragile nerves, while I suck and drain both its poison and its blood.

We cannot make balms out of open wounds. I know, because I’ve tried.

Instead, let our skins be garments of each other. Let it weave a gauze on its own- a third skin that would hopefully wrap the scabs that we repeatedly scratch open. For the time being, lend yourself in mine, as I let the rough parts of myself patch your tender ones.

And when the time of leaving comes, when daybreak pierces through what we have made inseparable, let us peel ourselves away from each other- not out of repulse since we’ve already seen the repulsiveness of one another- but out of respect.

As beings who have been under the same skin.

They Say Vulnerability is a Sign of Weakness

All day long, I wait as an offering,

insides turned out- skin, flesh, bones-

prepared like an open feast,

all for the birds to eat.

My hands outstretched, I wait for them

to come and perched on my stiff shoulders;

to peck on my eyes and to peel away

layers upon layers of muscles and sinews

until they get to gobble my heart

which still grows on its own

as long as I stand on this very ground.

This ground…this fickle mistress

Of both death and life.

Seasons upon seasons, I stand here-

Never wincing at the pain.

Children cry at my demise

But I laugh as the birds devour.