i was walking
into a mural

the watercolors
and oils splashed
across my skin and
dripped towards my

i felt like a paintbrush
on legs looking for
a canvas

and i heard a man’s
voice call out: Hey,
you look like Santana!

i looked and i saw a
brown finger
pointing at me

the man leaned
against the wall
of a donut shop
taking sips of something
in a brown paper bag

i looked into
the donut shop
window at my

i don’t look like
no goddamned
Santana! I said

I’ve run into
so many people
with Santana stories

“I used to play with
I parked
I walked Santana’s
I kicked Santana’s
ass in high school
I stole Santana’s
hat at a party
I found Santana’s
guitar pick at a garage
sale (along with his afro
I stood beside Santana
at the urinal at the drive-
in and i saw Santana back
out of a parking spot and hit
another car. I got out and
said, “It’s the other guy’s
fault! I saw the whole
Santana autographed
my terry cloth towel
at the beach, a great
big S in black ink.

Everybody has
a Santana story

it’s like walking
into a

(c) 2017 Tony Robles


Art, Poetry, Music

the young brother
can be seen at the
Bart station

Civic Center
or maybe
on Montgomery

in his hand
are a stack
of papers

the pages sometime
slip from his fingers
and land on the floor
becoming soiled with
grease and oil

and he stands at the
bottom of the escalators
greeting people in transit

selling pages of
what appear to be
scribbles from every
imaginable direction

what is it?
i ask him

art, music and
he answers

and the lines
on the page fly
in all directions

a scratching on
the walls of
the mind

and itch that
never ends

on a page

$3.00 a piece

(c) 2017 Tony Robles

Walk of Fame

Uncle Remy
loved movies
and going to

when i was a kid
he would come
to our house

he was a
cook on a ship

what ship, or ships
i don’t

but he had been
all over the world

he once bought
pig ears from the butcher,
marinaded it in vinegar
and gave me one

it was good

Uncle Remy, you
never knew when
he was pulling your leg

He once called
me, claiming he was
on an overseas phone
from France

and another time
he told me he had a house
in the Philippines and that
a large snake had gotten in
through the bathroom

Both the snake
and overseas phone
stories were corroborated
as true

Uncle Remy loved
his movies and his
tomato beef chow mein

and he loved
to keep you guessing

and in Chinatown we
walked toward a restaurant
after a movie

we moved in the crosswalk
when Uncle Remy stopped
suddenly, as if he’d seen
a ghost

Mr. Van Johnson! Uncle Remy said.

It was a man in a brown overcoat
crossing to the other side
of the street

when he got to the
other side, he turned and
waved to us with both hands

Who’s that? i asked

Uncle Remy’s eyes were
held in some kind of memory

“That’s Van Johnson, he’s a very
famous actor”

We waved

He wasn’t pulling
my leg

(c) 2014 Tony Robles

Manila Airport Chronicle

I’m tripping over my feet
My thoughts
My tongue is stuck to
The roof of my mind

I walk forwards when I
Should walk backwards

I feel like I was shipped
Here in a baliktad box

My boarding pass is a
Tongue stamped with
Words that I don’t know

And my tongue is a
A slag of mud

The voices sing over
My head and my thoughts
Trip over my words
Trip over my feet
And there is no rate
Of exchange for the words
I cannot give or the heart
I give freely yet skips
Over it’s own beat and
Rhythm in amplitudes of
Waves unmeasured

I am tripping over my feet
As I watch my people walk
Softly upon the earth

I follow them in the
Airport in Manila

With my

As my feet
Try to find
The words
I keep tripping

(C) 2017 Tony Robles.

Dumaguete Airport

I carry my life
In 3 bags, 2 of
Which are
Carry on’s

Dumaguete airport

I tried stuffing
Dumaguete in
My bags

I tried stuffing a
Pedicab inside
But no go

I tried to stuff
The nanay store
Into my bag and all
The pepsi’s and candies
That Lola sells behind
The counter

I remember her
Face behind the
Mesh wire and I
Carry her voice in
My head

I’m trying to carry
The chickens I saw
And heard on the
Sides of roads but
They fly through my

I’m trying to
Stuff the nipa hut
I saw in Valencia,
The one I caught in
A glimpse and disappeared
As we sped down the bumpy

I sit in Dumaguete
Airport with the
Sting of the Mindanao
Sea on my tongue

Freshly scanned by
Security, I was informed
That I had a cigarette

But I don’t smoke

I emptied my
Bag, turned it upside

The lighter was

(My cousin loaned me
The bag)

It was confiscated

I re packed my
Bag, less one

Behind a little

(C) Tony Robles 2017

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

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

Mr. Samuels

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,

(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

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

(C) 2017 Tony Robles.

Where? (Makati)

Where do you
Come from?
She asked

She sat in front
Of the mini mart

I sat close

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


Last night a
Child slept
Face down on
The sidewalk

Where do you
Come from, she

Frisco is
Far away
Yet I smell it

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

Where do you
Come from, she

Her words out
Of a sci-fi movie

I am a stranger from
A different planet

Where do you
Come from, she

My Frisco tongue
Searches for an

(C) Tony Robles 2017