Eric Tinsay Valles

Contributor Biography

Eric Tinsay Valles has published the poetry collections A World in Transit and After the Fall: dirges among ruins as well as co-edited Get Lucky: An Anthology of Singapore and Philippine Writings, Sg Poems 2015-2016, Anima Methodi and The Nature of Poetry. His poetry has been featured in Southeast Asian Review of English, Routledge’s New Writing and other journals. He has won a Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing prize. He is a director of Poetry Festival (Singapore).

Alive

The clock has stalled at high noon;
an alien wants to come between us.
The minutes are silhouetted with black ink 
as my body becomes weightless from pain. 
I cannot scream, cannot reach out.
This hour is hidden in a shadow.
Like the just man reduced to a dung heap,
we converse with sighs: Why me? 

I lie in bed four months after the monster gobbled up our sun.
Blackness streams from the center of the clock.
I want to block it, shield you from crystals in my lungs
at the twig house we built in the garden in the summer. 
Sunflowers turn in all directions below autumn clouds
as the clock numbers are shrouded by the plague’s black rays.
High noon is in eclipse, but, fortunately, not our love.
The rasp of your sweet breath on my face stirs my fiery light.  

Ripples on Ashfield Lake; Tuliro sa Laot [1]

Our kindred languages 
brush against each other
as breeze coaxes waves
toward the powdery-sand beach.
Amihang nakikipaglaro sa laot.

Ducks frolic beyond the buoys;
a gaggle of geese dives in,
snatching fingerlings with vice-like beaks,
twitching hind feathers in the heavy air.
Lumalangoy na itik; gansang sumisisid.

Our two languages spread-eagled on the sand:
the white one burns in the early summer sun, 
the brown one covers up, shaking in the chill,
both describing yapping fowls.
Nagsusulat ako sa Tate. At a US residency, 
a potluck picnic laid out like still life
on a wooden table, gold-streaked at sundown:
wine, cheese and rhubarb jam in the foreground,
kasiping ang atsarang mangga at kasoy. [2]

“Welcome to the States” (my fifth visit, actually)! 
We read to each other: Teddy Roosevelt’s “Honor in the dust”
speech that quashed dreams of a Filipino nation. 
Ang bayan ko … nasadlak sa dusa.[3]
my verses about flushing native idioms with vomit in the land of Uncle Sam. Nakakasuka. [4]
My tiny voice leaps above hillbilly songs: Heto na ‘ko. Hindi ako papaawat. [5] 
“Good night” meant in the shadows.  
Magandang gabiang nasambit sa buwan. [6]

Author's Note:

1: Confused at the lake.
2: Beside pickled mango and cashew.
3: Lyrics from the patriotic song “Bayan Ko” (My Country): My country … immersed in sorrow.
4: I feel like throwing up. 
5: Here I am. I won’t back down.
6: “Good night” in Tagalog, I greeted the moon.  

Richard Oyama

Contributor Biography

Richard Oyama’s work has appeared in Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry, The Nuyorasian Anthology, Breaking Silence, Dissident Song, A Gift of Tongues, Malpais Review, Mas Tequila Review and other literary journals. The Country They Know (Neuma Books 2005) is his first collection of poetry. He has a M.A. in English: Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Oyama taught at California College of Arts in Oakland, University of California at Berkeley and University of New Mexico. His first novel in a trilogy, A Riot Goin’ On, is forthcoming.

Traveler

One does not discover new lands without consenting

to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
                                                               —André Gide

On a boat called Suan Dok you are drifting,
Snowbirds at the doors of the sea. There is
A girl in a tutu doing plié at the oarlock
And a Slavic beauty in red lounging on a stool.
The mermaids sing but you mishear your name.
Everywhere the poor crowd the deck, having
Nowhere else to go. Our eyes
Smile with a tolerance bestowed
On those who gone to war see the damage.
Your head sunk in your hands, pants
Ballooning around your fleshless thighs. The sea wrack is
Prologue to the invisible world, to the song of 
    A karma chameleon that is your jittering form now:
    Red gold and green, red gold and green.