2022 Poetry Collection

Barter Rings

before I was born I was granted a rite to ceremony, but it is not enough

not when there are no more barter rings and only your ring-bearer bartering

I belong to a world that burned long before the invention of my rites

when you took the most sacred things and placed them on the fire first

now I am crawling onto the roof of your crematorium

the smoke is inscribing itself on the backs of my teeth

I am finding my distorted nationality in the fever of the fire

but do you even know what worlds you disfigured into ash?

1. babaylan

when your back is turned I will rebuild the pyre until it overflows

but this time it will purify in the same way you purify a slur

when your crimes overlap with your cigarettes

and I want you to douse the kindling

I don’t want it to be easy to get the fire going again because

I don’t want you to pretend you held the torch for me

fall into the fire and I will show you what shadows play

with my choked words and a mouth that knows one language

2. manananggal

lest a last name be lost to marriage rites yet again

I divide myself with a blood stained blade

a split through the middle a cut through the waistline

I am an ocean severed in perfect halves

and in the crematorium I will separate and cauterize the stump

one half will burn but the other will disappear

and fly out in the night to drink the blood of newlyweds

and steal your children out of your bodies

3. bakunawa

come on now! do not be shy! do not allow me to transgress

the sanctity of your genders and your sacred pharmacy!

come out into the water. it’s only shin deep, although

there is a serpent twining round in slow ouroborobic arcs

she has swallowed six already and he hungers for one more

magellan’s left leg jawed like a cratered moon

each tooth mark bleeding a trail that leads me to him

but I was not there to see it. I do not deny that.

look here in the ash, my healing, my cruel and newfound kindness

why would I want your mercy your sanctions your righteous law

to bless the healing you burned as witchcraft?

to suture the halves of the viscera drinker?

to make holy the genderqueer moon-eater?

to co-opt my pale winterbody, to use it against me

and against the bodies I am stepping on even now

no more occi-accidental erasure like a pearl in a clamshell

the clamshell being the mouth that pulls in smoke

the pearl being the people in it

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