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
poetry
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
Chinatown

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
know

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
back

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
Eyes

As my feet
Try to find
The words
I keep tripping
Over

(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
Hands

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
Road

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
Lighter

But I don’t smoke

I emptied my
Bag, turned it upside
Down.

The lighter was
Found

(My cousin loaned me
The bag)

It was confiscated

I re packed my
Bag, less one
Lighter

Leaving
Behind a little
Fire

(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
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.

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.