What makes me grateful on a rainy Tuesday afternoon
is this parched throat—
dry of saliva, tonsils sore
tongue scraped dry from overuse
still hungry for some form of affection
that it couldn’t give to itself.
No sweetened juice could quench it.
No honey can ease the pain
for every lump of rejection it has swallowed:
forehead kisses and unreturned calls.

Meanwhile rain pounds on glass windows
in fat desperate drops,
pooling the balcony floor
until it can find its way in
until the unwilling invites the persistent visitor
and water comes and drowns the room
making heavy furnitures float
washing all pressed memorabilia
and breaking open doors
that have long been shut
because its hinges are in desperate need of oiling.

A tongue sticks out as an extended hand


Transient Dreams

Maybe all I am looking for
as I sleep around in people’s houses
is one that finally says,

You are no guest here.
You have long left your clutter
in the nooks and crannies of every room
This house will be robbed empty without it.

See, the dogs whine whenever you’re away.
Flowers grope blindly in search of sunlight,
and the side of the bed gathers dust,
stretches itself to a white desert, blinding
without water, without warmth.

I have always left my keys pressed on your hand.
Open those tight fists and let yourself in.
No need for any ceremonial fanfare,
or seemingly polite declarations of entry.

Just kick off your shoes. Unclasp your clothes.
It has been a long day.


Fatty Heart

When my grandfather joked
to all of my relatives
that i do not have the makings
of a dancer
because of my belly rolls,
i felt my body go stiff.
Possibly from comatose.
I could still remember how
his laughter blared to my ears,
muting my world into white noise,
unplugging me from the show girls
-my virtual playmates who pirouette
at the melody of heartache.
i was only seven.

When i was ten, my parents lamented
about my size.
Twice big for my age,
Twice young for aunt’s hand-me-downs.
She’s just large-bonedtita assured my mother,
so i was dressed like large-boned women:
office ladies in slacks and starched blazers,
nevermind if i rip or sweat through the garment.
i was the most behave in Sunday school
for sucking the tummy in,
in fear that a button might pop out,
and i have to bleed my fingers
just to sew it back again.

At twelve, i was asked countless times
what course was i taking in college,
and would i ever be interested
in applying for a car loan?
i would laugh at their faces and tell
that i was just in grade school
before scurrying home to take off
these grownup clothes
that fit my body just right.

At thirteen, a miracle happened:
my mother discovered
the surplus section of the department store.
Here, I bought my first pair of jogging pants
They were quite long, and very much blue
like the sky when swans fly.
It’s stretchable so it would fit you,’ the saleslady piped,
and the material felt velvet on my thighs,
clinging to my skin as I flit from one errand to another.

In my extensive knowledge of cartoons, I finally understood
how fairies shimmy gold dust
in their wake.
But i did not blind anyone.
Not when a number of drunk workers
traced my footsteps home,
calling me ‘juicy’-
a word printed at the rear pocket of my pants.
For a week, i drained myself
in the bathroom,
bleaching my sky blue pants
into the color of crushed cherries.

The subsequent years were lost
in the layers of mass I wrap around myself.
For every man who would follow me at the mall,
or for boys who would attempt
to write on my uniform,
I would swallow my inaudible prayers with a tall glass
of double chocolate milkshake
Thick enough to stifle
the many names i was accused at.
Sweet enough to coat
sensitive regions of my fatty heart.
I could not feel anything
I only need to be safe.

At seventeen, my security measures backfired.
i began to realize
that the fortress i built around myself
was too cold from the inside.
Slowly, I started to dress less,
trading my elephant jeans into shorts,
my scratchy shirts into sundresses.
Not for the attention of anybody,
but to the girl gazing at the mirror.
For the first time, I fell in love with my thighs,
the curve of my body outlined by a thin blazer,
the swell of my breasts,
the way my hair falls at mid-length—
framing not covering.
Surprised at the wonder staring before me-
how her body grew without any care or apology,
how she was hidden and bubble-wrapped
for the past years of her life,
told not to play with fire
because she has grown a forest out of herself,
and now she’s discovering
parts and parcels of her
that make her feel happy.

Alas, the apparition was only brief,
disturbed by the voices outside the fitting room.
my friend moaning to herself
that she has grown
from size two to four,
my mother complaining
about how could i ever afford to grow larger
when i couldnt even feed myself.
I wrapped a jacket around my heart
who suddenly got a chill from wearing less.
Half-convinced that she would appear
in my dresser the next day,
i probably drowned her when i dumped my sweatshirts to the laundry.

For years, i tried to search
for the ghost of my seventeen year old self
in every funhouse mirror
of friends, lovers, and crashed diets.
She was nowhere.

At twenty four, i gave up.
Resigned myself to a lifetime of recluse
after failed attempts of losing weight
or losing my body to strangers or to accidents.
I decided to strip and lay bare
this flesh of a heart
just for the last time,
prolly let it breathe a little
before it immures itself for decades.
I watched myself undress.

She was there, waiting.
Tucked inside the folds i subconsciously swathe myself with
for every rejection or predatory invite.
Aged, yes. A bit overweight.
But still has the same zest for life in her eyes.
She took me by the hand, wrapped it in hers,
I could hear my heart thunder in my ears.
I could feel my pulse fire in my fingertips
She smiles and welcomes me inside
to this home
to this heart
to this body.


Nights like these:
when the last traces of sunlight radiates
from your hand
into my cheek.

Salt in tears:
the base ingredient
for both joy and sorrow.
Felt in our tongues,
twisted layers of silent repining-
something we had to share
and go through
to realize the bittersweet taste
of departures.

Comfort of solitude:
Wandering through the desert,
making homes in makeshift tents,
acknowledging the fire within my body,
and finding means to tend its flames.

The gift of birth pains:
Learning the art of breathing
as water breaks from within.
Just when I was about to drown
in an ocean of self-induced penitence,
Life springs forth from the swell,
bursts the bubble,
and cries out for my name.


You told me that this house is too small for us to live in. So I built us

a mansion: this funhouse of mirrors.

Now we live on opposite ends of this vast space, comfortable at the edges of our own loneliness,

merely acknowledging the presence of the other

as a next door neighbour

when there are thousands of uninhabited rooms between us,

waiting to be opened,

broken down and passed through.

I long to breach the distance that traps us in an endless hallway of what-ifs–

possibilities that could have materialised

should one of us break this truce

and step on the shards of existences we have shed behind.

I have left a number of broken beer bottles

at my passing. They carelessly scar on

the thin carpet of my skin, warning you

of every landmine I have set up at my defense.

I don’t know how to undo them

so I just pretend they never happened

but from here, I can still hear the sound of the ocean in your room,

the rattle of prayer beads that barbed your front door–

your lifesaver

from the continuous cry of the phone receiver

you left hanging in god knows where.

I know you are still there- breathing

sometimes floating, sometimes drowning

like I do here at the other side-

Oh how we have baptized ourselves over and under

in salt or in liquor

waiting for the sweetness to come

maybe in some guise of an intruder

who’s insane enough to ignore

all the caution tape we have weaved on our fences.

-I guess we are both insane to still believe onto each other

so we wait for one of us to come willing

to lose her place in the process of finding.

It has become quite a game

we are both patient enough to play.

Maybe on particularly good days

when we are almost sober to feel

the dust on our fingertips, we would be able

to grasp the door handles and turn open

each other’s knobs.

Discovering that we are just in adjacent rooms

with a secret door in between.

When that time comes, I will greet you

with a kiss of thousand words unsaid.

Years of longing and loneliness

cleansed away by this very second.

Tears on our cheeks,

hands in your hair, lips on my ear,

flesh pressing on flesh,

nails scraping skin,

mouth drinking from the wells of another–

We will make mad love to each other

tearing these rooms, screaming

through these swelling walls that made us apart.

Until then, this house becomes intact.

A shell for the winter that brews from within.

A body of fragmented personas

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.