Dear Mother,
I saw a black kitten playing out in the fields today
Looking for shelter amongst the buildup
Of petunia’s tongues and lamplight noise.

Dear Mother,
I saw hail pummel the roofs today
While the tropical Sun is out
Skipping steps to visit places
The Moon has yet to conquer.

Dear Mother,
I saw a girl curiously poking
With her fingers at the fringes of love
And I thought that it looked dangerous;
You taught me how to be careful
And cautious, dear Mother.

Dear Mother,
I saw flowers sent next door and I wondered
Have we ever had dinner with the neighbors before?
But I saw the girl next door’s lips pucker,
Dear Mother, and I felt nervous.

Dear Mother,
I hope you’re in a happy cloud.
Curiosity has a funny face, I saw it today;
I see it pays to talk to strangers a little,
And by the way,
The neighbor’s daughter is loud in bed.

Dear Mother,
I miss you ever so!
You’ve always told me to be happy. I try,
But there were roses and teardrops on your tombstone today
And it made this letter wet and smudged all over.
Maybe it was father who left them (somehow,
he still manages to ruin everything).
But I hope you can still read this
Despite the mushy paper and the blurry writing.

I hope you’re in a happy cloud.
I’ll hold off on crying for another time, dear Mother,
For today, I am nothing but happiness
And perhaps, that is all that matters.

— A. P.

You did not notice, but you walked past a diner where I was having pizza last night.

There was not a lot to say about the sauce.
All I can think about are the bell peppers.
Only that they are prickly crimson, and
they leave a familiar bittersweet
that was both sublime
and slightly suggestive.
Aroma, slightly reminiscent of
the better-attended streets of Manila;
oh, how they reminded me of your naked spine
and the apartment we once shared.
At least, they kept curiosity alive.

Your eyes were the same even after thirty years—
inviting as they are compelling,
and like lighthouses I would follow them,
thinking they would lead me home.

I remembered there was no home in us,
no room, no shelter, nor solace in us.
There was only the every-day weather,
and the occasional delusion
that we could survive the coming storms
with contempt and crossed arms.

(We didn’t.)

— A. P.


A friend is a forest where I grow new secrets
like freshly-ripe cherries on some unseen branch,
where I suspend the weight of my worries.

They shall hang from the limbs on twisted rope.
I shall leave my affairs as offerings drowning
so that they appear trivial in the sea of trees.

A friend is a forest of listening rocks.
It catches my breath in the porous soil;
it knows when my breathing is burden.
When night-time comes and I’m forced to weave words
into blankets too thin for the cold,

a friend is a forest to outlive us all;
that smiles when I carve silly poems on its bark
and would burn them to ashes, when needed.

— A. P.

For My Paranoia

When she decided to become a river
I decided to become a robin perched
on a snow-wrapped branch of a ten-year oak
that stood before her very first bend.

On a nearby grave, the rain-scented soil
complemented the stench of a long-dead carp.
I waited, still, for her voice in the rushing
of the water as it washed rotting flesh away.

I watched as her spirit percolated through cracks
of the weathered rocks and the pebbled moss.
How inviting – again – was her grounded clarity
for even beings like robins that can only fly.

— A. P.