Before Seppuku

Our exchanges
on the bare tatami mat
were side glances
and at times in syllables.
 
He smiled a little
when my kimono fell
off my shoulders
and flaunted my nape.
 
The halt in his nodding
did not stop me;
I loosened the fundushi
and freed his thighs.
 
His arms were gentle;
the porcelain vase
and the ikebana flower
did not move.
 
My fastened lips 
tight on the igusa pillow,
I counted the sound
of skin and then his sigh.
 
That’s all I remember
besides Thirst
for Love and the blade
of his cruel katana.

Anniversary Gift

A week after his demise,
he was supposed to leave 
for Qatar to commence
his work as an oil driller;
that would have been his 
first time to go abroad,
his excitement palpable
but his anxiety hidden.

We had been married 
for less than four years
when that misfortune
came to take him away
from me and our twins,
who still think their dad
is on a long vacation 
and still coming back.

They said it was a sad 
case of mistaken identity,
which is the coldest night
to me—a vacant pillow,
a blanket not as warm,
and a bed just too vast
for my body that has not
yet forgotten the sound
of his skin grazing mine
or his breaths settling 
on my neck concealing
the scent of patchouli
or his shampooed hair 
between my lithe fingers 
when I held his head
to slowly push him down.

He talked about fidelity
and how we should trust 
each other even if we 
would be oceans apart;
that gruesome afternoon,
he was holding a long box 
with a ribbon, a peach 
blossom with dots of red.

I just opened it yesterday,
our wedding anniversary;
a rush of thoughts about 
that night four years ago 
still vivid like an old film,
my welling eyes stubborn,
in my hand was a soothing 
vibration, a buzz letting go.

Vanity of the Stars

The toaster broken,
the gas line cut off
due to nonpayment,
the matchbox empty,
the oven igniter dry,
even the extra gone,
my black Bic lighter
just runs out of fluid.
 
Motionless outside,
on the patio, alone,
at around midnight,
under the dour glare
of the melon moon,
a bowl inside my fist,
I’m thinking so hard
how I can create fire.

House of Signs

Have you awoken
to the silence
that speaks to you?
 
I cannot guess which one:
the covered table too large
for the fruit in the middle
 
or the apple, so sanguine
for the embroidered linen,
failing to trigger my bite.
 
Should I go back
for an orchard,
perhaps wet earth?

Surviving the Scourge

After the sudden storm,
it is not calm,
my nerves on edge,
mistaking surfaces
grazing my skin
for her hands clinging
to my arm
as though full of doubts.

Out of smokes…

The ruins are everywhere,
the desert leaves
giving up to scorching,
the framed seasons
obscured by webs,
the vegetable soup solid
in the freezer,
the unopened shampoo.

… Bic lighter dead…

My bedroom is her grave,
the embroidered
blossoms on the pillow,
the thin paint of walls
browning like dirt,
the sheet on my body
like a shroud,
the lamp keeping its vigil.

… glass ashtray full …

A home before no longer
makes sense to me,
my breath a faint echo
looking for a corner,
the words inside
my mouth meaningless,
her name I call
coming back as dead air.

… buying Marlboros …

This is the street sidewalk
where days change,
the children playing tag
in the late afternoon
hiding not sought,
those waiting for sunset
early in bed,
all evenings unwelcomed.

… cheap disposable …

Many stories remain quiet,
that hunched ficus
like an old sage reticent
about what it knows,
a man falling down
with the fish he dangled,
his wife on top
of the grains she dropped.

… park bench warm.

Note Under the Old Pillow

Yes, you will find someone,
so learn how not to call me
when the long dinner is set;
ignore the soup I anticipate.

No, when you grab his hand
to pick avocados in the yard,
avoid bringing up my name;
the seed I planted will be his.

Maybe, he will ask for a chat
after taking you out, in bed,
do not refuse his incitement;
forget the sound of my sigh.

Oh, wherever I am, my eyes
shut, I will not be watching.

The Freedom of a Sad Man

I want to weep
all night the sobs of rivers
even if called
a faggot.

A faggot
is that man
who slaughters a woman
for she is soft.

I want to throw
myself onto the emptiness 
of beds like
a sissy.

A sissy
is terrified
to admit he is dead wrong
with his hunch.

Fuck Neruda

I won’t write about the hills
or the dance of pines tonight,
her full breasts bursting
from the savagery of bullets,
her entrails dangling outside
her desecrated belly.

I don’t want her to be still,
her eyes asking where I went,
her lips calling my name,
the bird choking on its vomit,
the bloom wilting in daylight,
a sight for the blind.

I can’t remember as she was,
the silk hair beguiling the wind,
the skin coaxing the sun
to frolic, its luminous purpose,
the face on the cotton pillow,
her smile disfigured.

The Night Before Falling

I want to kiss you
so I can taste again the scent
of salt, the idle shore
where we bury
our feet in the white sand,
the waves,

the April papayas
soft in our hands, their sugar
dripping off our chins,
the old orchard
where wind gusts rouse
the leaves.

I just want to kiss
so I will not forget the sound
of the word on my ear,
your faint nod
when my speechlessness
is begging,

so I will remember
right before my eyelids close,
when the light vanishes,
that the quiet
is your lips glued by grief
saying bye.

Of Adrenaline and My Testosterone

Each night is the eve of my demise
in a country as jittery as a war zone;
bullets hit, no metronome to count
boot steps before the trigger snaps;
gasps end with a sigh, the final click
of a stopwatch, the length of a life.

All my thoughts streaming in a rush
compete to the unmarked finish line;
every minute is as if a quick moment
in the octagon, where I have to fight;
flight lingers on my skin like my fear
of gargoyles, but the map is unknown.

I just look at her face, ready to weep,
and she knows the quiver of disquiet;
allowing me to go down, she pushes 
my head as though my last deep dive;
she pulls me up by the chin to exhale,
the taste of lips reminding me of salt.

Our pillow talk is the echoing bellows
of the air, her arms pining like a stare;
in my mind, the warmth of the ground
welcomes my back, a thud when I fall;
before my eyelids close, I yearn to see
the sadness of the moon, its goodbye.