Manila Airport Chronicle II

In an airport
You are in a sort
Of purgatory

Occupying the space
Between here and
There, up and down,
Left and right,
Disowned and
Belonging

It’s lonely to come
To an airport and
No one is there to
Meet you

I head to the exit
With my 2 companions
Whose complexions
Of skin are like mine
But complexion of
Tongue a bit different

The people at the
Gates hold signs with
Names scribbled
Across:

Simon
Mr. Samuels
Brian

I decided to be
Brian as I headed
Towards the exit

I see faces, none
Of whom I know but
Whose shadows I have
Seen in another time
Zone casting similar
Shades of shade

We head towards a
Row of taxis

A cab driver says
Something to
Me in Filipino

I’m with him, I
Say, pointing to
My companion

The cab driver,
Who looks like a
Boxer, turned away,
Looked at another
Taxi driver and said,
“Americans”

(Scanned again, haha)

I think about where I
Was born, Frisco born
And bred

We finally get into
A cab and arrive
At the hotel

A face in the lobby
Recognizes me

A Frisco face
A Frisco Filipino face
A Friscopino face whose
Face is a mirror of a
Thousand Manila nights
A thousand Frisco nights

He walks up to
Me, we hug

It’s good to see
A homeboy, he
Says

Before turning to
The bellhop, telling
Him something I
Couldn’t understand

(C) 2017 Tony Robles.

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Where? (Makati)

Where do you
Come from?
She asked

She sat in front
Of the mini mart

I sat close
By

She was beautiful
Her face a portrait
Of rearranged
Arrangements,
Smiles, last minute
Plans cancelled

Chipped
Bowls

Last night a
Child slept
Face down on
The sidewalk

Where do you
Come from, she
Asked

Frisco is
Far away
Yet I smell it
Somehow

It is under my
Fingernails
And in the antiseptic
Dirt of my pores

Where do you
Come from, she
Asked

Her words out
Of a sci-fi movie

I am a stranger from
A different planet

Where do you
Come from, she
Asked

My Frisco tongue
Searches for an
Answer

(C) Tony Robles 2017

 

Jeepney

It’s warm inside
Your belly
Your womb
Of Bagoong

You carry us as
We suck the warm
Sticky sweet sour
Air clinging to our
Bones

We swim in your
Belly in stillness
That moves the
Entire earth, balancing
Sun and moon and
Disturbing the tides
In the sudden eruptions
Of laughter that leaves
Traces in the form of
Question marks

We cram our stories,
Our lives, our scent, our
Ascent, our descent
Our fluidity and contortions
And resourcefulness in
The area the size of
A coin

Passing from hand
To hand, our fingerprints
A faded record of days
As the exchange continues,
Back and forth, forth and
Back

A glance
A blink
A yawn
A stare

Kept in seams
That aren’t what
They seem as
The sweat collects

The space in your
Womb expands

And you keep
A part of
Us

Before releasing
Us

From your
Womb

(C) Tony Robles 2017.

Traffic in Manila

Trying to cross
To the other
Side

Trying to divide
The conquer

But my attention
Is divided and
Multiplied and subtracted
In the lifespan of a
Second

My heart is
An egg beaten
Over and over

Stop go
Stop go
Lean
Slide
Twist

Keeping time
In a pouch not
Visible to the eye
But the heart

The street seems
To say, don’t cross
Me

It says, I cross
YOU, you don’t
Cross me

Look at you with
Your two American
Left feet, the street
Says

Don’t cross me
Don’t cross your eyes
Don’t cross your legs

Cross your fingers
If you can remember
To do so

Make the sign
Of the cross too

Trying to cross
To the other side
In hair trigger hesitation

A 3 legged dog
With one eye has
More grace

With getting to
The other
Side

(C) Tony Robles 2017

Frisco Feelings in Manila

On the balcony of
The hotel in Makati
The buildings in the
Distance do not hold
Back the glitter swallowed
From streaks of light in
Prisms split in a thousand
Pieces

I jump into the
Frisco light whose
Pools gather below
On the streets of cast
Aside shadows

I leap head first
Into Frisco feelings
Like an unclaimed fish
That escaped the
Intricate weave of net

Frisco feelings
That say, where
You from?

Fleeting Frisco feelings
Whose taste remained
When you got on that
Plane and tried to forget
Frisco for a minute, a
Lifetime

Frisco, your grip is
Tight. Your voice cuts
Through the smog

Frisco feelings
Fermenting in
A bar

A flickering
Neon match

Keeping Frisco
Feelings alive

In Manila

(C) Tony Robles 2017

The Province

In the car
The air conditioning
Was blowing its voice
In my face

The breath of
The voice was of
The new car smell
Variety

And the radio
Blared the loud
Guitar strummings
And pickings from
Back home

And outside the
Window was the
Province

And the air
Conditioned voice
Said, we’re in
The province

And the province
Passed across
The window

The hills
The trees shooting
All over in every
Angle, the burning
Sugar cane and the
Black faces of the
Workers seared in
Shadows whose mouths
Are deep wells holding
Memory and the lingering
Taste of the blood of our
People

And the air conditioned
Voice said, you’re in
The province

And I said, will you
Shut the fuck up? I
Know I’m in the province

And the air conditioned
Voice shut up

And it began to
Get hot, burning
Hot

Sweat came out
Of hiding

And the nipa huts
And sari sari stores
Stood stoically between
Trees on the sides of roads
While mothers fed their babies
And washed clothes at the
Same time

Ants began crawling
Up my arm, first a
Few, then an army

You’re in the
Province, the air
Conditioned voice said

Yeah motherfucker,
I know

(C) 2017 Tony Robles.

Poem for the Peddler in Makati

Seeing you every
Day in front
Of the hotel

With your thick
Glasses that can
Spot tourists, men
Who appear to be
Women (only prettier)
And both sides of the
Coin in the distance of
The moon

Everyday asking
Me if I want to buy
A bulova watch

I told you a hundred
Times I didn’t want
To buy your imposter,
Yet authentic looking watch

But then you told
Me you’d toss in
A pack of sexual
Enhancement pills to
Sweeten the deal

Hey man, back
Home this would be
Considered sexual
Harassment

How much did you
Say you wanted for
That Bulova?

Man, fuck it! I don’t
Need your sexual
Enhancement pills!

And the bulova Sat
In the box and the
Time ticked under
The makati sun

I thought about my
Grandparents who
Got on that ship in
1920-1926 for SF

With no watch
No money

And nothing
But time

And 80 years
Later I am here

And the watches
And sexual enhancement
Pills

Are
There.

(C) 2017 Tony Robles