Monday Jun 24

ReyesBarbaraJanecreditPeterDressel Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Gravities of Center; Poeta en San Francisco, which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Diwata, which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry. Her fourth book, To Love as Aswang, is forthcoming. She is an adjunct professor in the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program at University of San Francisco. Find her online here.

To Pierce the Heart
            They take the spear
            They pierce the heart

They are sorcerers, and witches
They are beautiful, but unchaste

They are laden like asses
They are given as slaves

They are worthless women
They are furied bitches

They are exceedingly ugly
They are extremely lewd

They roll their bodies in filth
They are barbarous, laughable

They are entered by demons
They are the devil’s ministers

They belch forth fire
They draw out the entrails

They split their small bodies
They are half naked beasts

They are osuang, they fly
They consume human flesh

They will always deceive us
They will never, never love us

To Remember Something from Long Ago

“...they kept coming and she was afraid...”
“...could not stand nor walk. She crawled...”                   My voice lives in a mason jar

“…jumped onto her, caught her by the arms…”
“…dragged her away, tied and beat her…”                     It suns itself on the windowsill

“…forced her to the ground, punched her face...”
“…grabbed her legs and held them apart...”                   It illuminates itself at dawn

“...made to abort without anesthetics...”
“...captured and raped again. She was only 13...”          It is alien, translucent, waiting

To Have Come Here

Not alien, we are of here.                      Not alien, have come, am here –

Among the xenophobes,                       They shout at her the schoolyard –
The deadbeat dads and gangstas        Go back to where you came from!

Among the white liberals,                      Echoing the Lord’s Prayer
People who mind colored folks             Forgiving their trespasses

Among the dirty hipsters,                      They shout from car windows –
Over-schooled armchair activists          Is it true, that thing about Asian chicks?

Among the sex traffickers,                     Lead us not into temptation
White supremacists, wife beaters         Deliver us from evil.

Among the day laborers,                       They shout at her in the street –
Undocumented dreamers                      Bitch, love me long time!

Among the inalienable,                          Blessed art thou among women
The PTSDed, the evicted                      Blessed is the fruit of thy womb

Among the emigrated,                                      They shout again and again –
The refugees, the polyglots                   Where did you learn to speak English?

Among the accented Taglish                 Reading the Gospel of the Lord
Speaking, have come, am here.                        Rosaries breathed from memory

photo credit Peter Dressel