For Meg

(On her 6th birthday)

I will keep tying your hair in a bun

for as long as you need me to,

then only when you want me to, until

you can do it on your own

and remember


that even with one hand

and eyes closed, I manage

to twist those thick strands, turn them

round and round into a ball high up on top of your head,  

hold it there with six bobby pins and a hairnet so thin

you wonder how it can keep

as you do your pirouettes and pliés


but I tell you it will, and it always does.


You will forgive me for not knowing

how to tame your stubborn baby hair

just as I have long forgiven myself for not knowing

how to tame mine.


Even as you insist

you want your waves straight, no sooner traded pink for red

and now yellow, like it is commonplace

to change your young mind so fast, so soon,

I will tie your hair once more in a bun



firmly in its place

so you can spin on and on and on

and know it is still there.


mom 040913

Published in: on April 9, 2013 at 7:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Catching Up

There is a woman in a peach blouse

flailing her arms emphatically

like the gist of her story

or joke depended on it.


Her lady friend keeps her arms neatly folded

but acknowledges the intensity of this narration

or simply indulges

with upturned lips stretching as far as her ears

until laughter breaks.


Laugh lines and crow’s feet grown deeper and deeper

with each tale,

with every exaggerated gesture

to emphasize the remembrance

of otherwise forgotten details –




of dresses worn,

a bright hue, perhaps, like the one she wears today.


They stand up, taking time pulling back their chairs intently

taking small steps, cramming words

into the short distance between them

and their table for two

now with empty mugs and used teaspoons,

torn packets of brown sugar and cream

and lipstick marks on folded paper napkins-


a ritual of prolonging goodbyes.


A tight embrace by the doorway hinders anyone

from walking through

sealing the passageway temporarily

until after they’ve let each other go.

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Lilac Tutus

Clumsy purple flamingos
tiptoe gaily on bright blue waters
restless heads swivel
to see elongated necks
through mirrors.

Light pink feet
stomp increasingly loud
a startling crescendo
amidst a sprightly waltz.

Outstretched arms fling in delight
embracing everything and nothing
all at once
laughter piercing the walls
in staccato.

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  

At the Park

Dry, crunchy leaves rustle
under the tips of broomsticks
as they touch grass
pushing loose soil upward
to scatter briefly in the air.

One, two, three, four…
men pile heaps
beneath mango trees
evenly spaced,
apart from one another
as they, too, are.

Black garbage bags
are filled
then tied.

A few long twigs poke
through very thin plastic.

They are done for the day
with nothing more
to sweep away

for a few pieces
on the pavement
which will join more newly fallen leaves

Published in: on January 17, 2013 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  

January 1, 2013

Even the sleepy black Labrador
snoozing on the dining room floor
after a night of licking beer
off of his bowl
something’s changed.

The streak of sunlight
creeping through the door crack
looks, through his half-opened eyes,
just a little bit

Published in: on January 4, 2013 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Market Day

Negotiations ensue

over saving or sparing

a few centavos

for a kilo of meat.


Clanging of metal

in synchronized rhythm,

thudding of steel on wood,

sharpening blades

like tongues

lashing about the pangs

of households to keep,

children to feed

and send to school…







Rows of wide-eyed fish

on tiled counters


under running water,


from pink, plastic basins.


Hands wave

inviting more to come

for their daily ration

of this well-orchestrated symphony.

Taken at Batanes Public Market (April 2011)

Taken at Batanes Public Market (April 2011)

Published in: on December 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

La Seine

The color of sunset


makes eyelids drop


you see

everything around you


the wind kissing your cheek


in words you barely hear

it is not a dream

or a spell

you can open your eyes

and still

be there.


Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 1:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Where Are The Children?

Where are the children?

They are not in bed snuggled between a thick duvet and a soft pillow

keeping their feet warm

as sunlight slowly creeps in through the curtain

swallowing darkness and monsters under their bed.


They have woken up beating the sun to the day

with only thinning soles of old rubber slippers

to protect their feet against the cold  asphalt.


The heat of newly baked bread they adeptly balance

on top of their heads is enough

to keep their heads warm

and their minds alert to shout out “pandesal!”

while their empty stomach grumbles more and more

as the morning air carries with it the smell of breakfast.


They are out in the streets beating the mad rush of traffic

selling today’s news which will no longer be  news

by midday

when they burn their skin

to try their luck instead

with mint and gum and blowing bubbles in the air

or pulling strings attached to wooden chickens who feed on

imaginary grain.


Where are the children?


At night, when the last of two pieces of fish are gone,

including their heads and tails,

you will find them on thin, woven mats

with no blanket to keep their toes warm

but with eyes closed dreaming of ships, planes and other lands,

winged carabaos,

talking horses,

sliding on rainbows

and falling into a pot of pandesal,


for tomorrow’s ware

warm on their heads

and more than enough to fill even their own stomach.


Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  


The droning sound of the fan

does little to hum a lullabye

when thoughts drowning in caffeine,


flee far –

away from the call

of sweet slumber.


“We are all restless souls, who isn’t?” says another.


But to learn to tame discontent

is a skill

that should be mastered

by one whose thoughts have the audacity

to question

even what fate brings.


It is almost light

but the heaviness of wakefulness

is setting in

and the hardwood floor is no longer cold

from hours of sitting.


Who would have thought

that restlessness would find a way

of  keeping still?

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  


Heavy feet stomp

on the street’s oceans

under billions

 of tear-shaped mirrors

reflecting nothing

but black pavement.


Water crashes

like waves

against stone walls

no one else can hear.


Scuffling bodies

seek refuge

in the warm-glow

of amber-lit cafes.


I run past their sanctuary.


My feet are cold

but rain is my refuge.


I run faster,


for one droplet to fall

slow enough

for me

to see through it


Published in: on July 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment