Sulyap (For Carlos Hernandez)
By Tony Robles

A fishhook caught
In rust of throat
A curled note’s
fetal rest

A snarl in water
Skipping beats of heart
Over salt skin sea

A word tucked
Away until
He walked in

An older Filipino man
About 60-something
Looking more like

He was looking for a job
And he sat across from me
At my desk covered with
Forgotten notes, candy wrappers
And used tissue paper

He said it had been
Hard trying to find a job
Because you have to apply
Online and he doesn’t know

He said that his daughter
Had a laptop but that was
Is very hard prying it from
Her lap

He was very polite
And humble and I
Found out he was from
The same province as my
Grandfather in the Philippines


And I mispronounced it and
He made me repeat it
Until I got it right


It was a security guard job he
Was looking for and I could
Tell from his eyes that he was
Much too good for a job like that

I was an employment counselor
At a desk sitting in a chair with
The knowledge that I’d been fired
From almost every job I’d ever had
(Including security guard)

I asked him what
He liked to do
And he said, dance

He said he could
Do it all

Cha cha
Texas Swing
Electric Slide
And any kind of hustle
You can think of

He got up and cha cha’d
Around my desk and showed
Me each step that he had saved
For a lifetime

And at the end of the dance
He glanced over his shoulder at
Me and smiled

That’s sulyap
He said

A glance and
Smile at the


And I got up from my desk
And danced for the first
Time in my life

He smiled

And my heart spoke
Free the glances


© Tony Robles 2012


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