Butterfly Feelings

Chest fluttering with a thousand butterflies
the wings tickle my ribs
and make me lighter than air
to float down the hallway

And when they multiply
caterpillar larvae wiggle and worm
they sever my heart strings
to fill their happy bellies

I smile to meet your smile
mimicking the canopy, your slivered teeth
with my body bitten
between the stems

But butterflies live for only a day
they get overexcited over nothing
and die on the vines
the feeling passes
and the chrysalis, my chest
stays empty



Graham haunts my days, he fills my head with cigarette smoke
clumped clouds of misremembered moments, projecting
the one time when he touched my neck
to feel the leather, metal buckle against my throat
he pulls the clasp

half waiting
for him to tie me
ebi shibari.

“I like it,” he says as he bats my hair back
and this is the closest we’ve ever been
palm skimming a jaw
awkward flirting in a coffee shop
unlike the teenage heartthrobs who get it right the first time
I wonder if he’s trying to get a rise out of me
but the only thing that moves
is the mercury
my head hot and the humidity
dripping from my clenched palms

Do you think
he imagines me too, that he is drunk on
his own fantasy?
do you think
ghosts have their own spectres
who haunt their dreams?

Poetry at the Edge of the Anthropocene

Climate change coats my batteries
a hunk of metal and alloys and cords and connections
knotted nests of interrelations
electric avenues
Eric Wolf’s modes of production (1982)
and my ideas on a seabed of eco-debris
possibilities of the end of the world
on a white paged Word doc.

There is nothing dire about the decline
of micro-monsters, our amphibian foes
who make their homes on condo plots
refuse pools, renamed to man-made lakes
salty from crocodile tears

And say no more of the giraffes, jaguars, or rhinos
Big beasts with no opposable thumbs
So Caesar says, hands clenched

We’ve seen the apocalypse
gaunt horseback, gleaming armour
ravaging lands, licking lips
lipids squeezed between the fingers.
they cycle the ends with their limen nets (Danowski and de Castro 2016)
to ensnare the bodies.
it’s happened all before.

And from behind the laptop we can be enraged
at injustices aplenty, a world’s away
out of earshot from the rumbling belly
out of sight from the droughts and floods
out of touch with the colleague across your desk
out of empathy for anyone at all.
but the screen shows and conceals
the reflection of the writer
who makes this possible.

I’m Talking to You

Bored is your look today
blanched almond slivers, two drops of blueberry puree
and squeezed suspicion like lemon juice from your eyes
a burning disinterest

Who pissed in your coffee
to give you that sour mouth?
flatlined, sterilized to 180 degrees of disappointment
the closest thing to a frown
is a straight line, slightly ajar

Maybe you show you care
via the worry-lines wrinkled on your brow
but what work therein is unreadable on your skin
like words on ugly grayscale scans
heather polka-dots that only read out in braille:
fuck you.

Freeze, Don’t Move!

Fingerless gloves and a good woolen shawl
makes a babushka from the bumpkin;
a grad student with inadequate heating
in the asbestos mines called the social science building

Burn pages of your dissertation
or better yet, the several texts stacked by your right
you said you’d read this winter break
it’s a compendium of weighted words like shackles
to the mind that drifts along doodled post-it notes
but at least it might keep you warm

Just some thoughts today. It’s freezing in the office and I am alone, listening to Gregorian chants while trying to read Austin’s How to Do Things With Words. At times, it is crystal clear what he means. Then, nothing. No meaning, just confusion. At least the cold keeps me on my toes but Austin is great sleeping material.

Spaghetti al Dente

I started writing poetry as a way to deal with thoughts. It was cheaper than therapy, although not necessarily much more beneficial. So I kept a notebook. I jotted down my fears, my imaginations, moments of happiness, and the elusive, fleeting seconds of reality. Seems a little strange now, reading over poems about runny eggs and beetles crawling out my ears.

But I also see myself, a reflection of myself; it catapults my heart through the roof. It’s not shame I feel. I don’t feel bad for what I’ve said. No, it’s the relatability, the invested sensorium that makes it possible for me to engage with past versions of myself only to know I haven’t come that far. It’s not about measuring progress–modernity is a linear process perpetuated by colonialism and capitalism anyway. Rather, I am enthralled by the loops I have made knowingly and ignorantly that have turned my thinking into a plate of tangled spaghetti.

The brain, like noodles, is intricately folded and sometimes stuffed with tasty mashes of matter: pine nut and spinach paste or Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism. When I grind my teeth, I chew rhymes and riddled thoughts. I spit them out on the page and watch the ink run onto my hand. It’s not a sight to see, but it sure beats stewing fruit in the melting pot of my mind. When the flesh is soft, it becomes mush. Then butter. A smooth caramel composition that is nothing like it once was. It’s edible, but so are many poems. It doesn’t mean they’ll be good. But it’s an acquired taste.


The monsoon washes bones upon the shore
milkfish spines with prodding eyes
rounded moons, eclipsed by
molluscs for lunch in a netted bag
slung over your spotted back

Bivalve consomme and a palm full of rice
from hand to lips, a whisper to your life line
“Sickness is a sin that stains your skin.”
But the whistling breath pulls the blanket from your bed
is the anito who laughs to see your dalmatian toes
the malignant humor at the corner of your mouth

And for a while, we can live like this
paying care to the spirit that shares your sheets
paying tributes of spring rolls and chicken legs
in the corner of the kitchen, beneath the crucifix,

But the pearled robe saints, on icons under your pillow turned
their back to prayers as the sky fills
with grey solicitations, nimbus clouds,
and roaring gales
the voices of a thousand others unanswered
letters that stretch the horizon and pour
down the rooftop

The doctor
rings the bell
he sutures the heavens
with a curved needle of our ribs
an embroidered x-ray

Ate, what’s a somatic cell, an assemblage heap
of genetic sighs, pauses, and punctuations?
the drumming of rainfall on the broadleaf
Seeping between our skins to
psalm illnesses
white frond cries
and arnibal drool
to the spirit who haunts your body

The slithering veins, jade blood cut and
excised, a lump of hardened shell whisked
between my fingers
how tiny bodies make your body
in exuberance, growth, swallowed by
the strangler fig,
a delicious fiction

and as the storm dissolves along the horizon,
its straightened line of pearlescent papaya
overripe and spilling into the sea
the air is warm and muggy
hiding in sunlight, the spirit laughs again
Somewhere else

Under the banyan tree the yarn unravels at my feet
and tangles with the roots, legs, limbs
hanging hands who brush away my tears
like a cat tail switch