Alton Melvar M Dapanas

Zip Code 9005


that in the ride from my town

of a century church to you, my east,

dusk will surge the calm:

no road paints, no streetlights.


the profanities of your drivers

and passengers in between car lanes

adding to techno,

repetitions of some inborn woe.


your neighbor’s houses

with shackled sides,

the roofs slouching,

lethargic like the cogon grasses

of your summits and the lambagu trees

of your shores, where once,

your ancient folks dreamed

of a crustacean and a golden fishing net.


your dusty town of ancestral houses

faded from the hues

of its nonexistent traffic light

like your once-baby brother’s toys

dropped somewhere

in your backyard, a few spits

from your animal farm, and left out

in the sun for the grasslands

of your years.


that once, in the same sheet of sky

set in a Bacardi-soaked seaside

teemed with the drunk-and-high,

nonchalance was feigned.



the untold as I offer you silence.

Let us feast.


*9005 is the zip code of Balingasag, a town in the province of Misamis Oriental in the Philippines.


Extra Service

And so you begin with the dread

of January’s biting cold. The chill

you once loved now a curse

of Lubay-Lubyok. So you meandered

through the pavements

of this closeted dystopian city

in ungodly hours searching

for heat that burns the insides.

There, in a corner of shadows and sweat,

a brown Likalibuta carved

of carnal heavens—a testimony

of the bestial and the celestial in one—

waits for hungers like yours:

He, being the food in Kaptan’s palms;

you, a carnivore for things forbidden.

So in his turning and returning

to the geographies of your meat,

his hands of a million passions

a salvation from this underworld.

Redeeming you, you offered him entrance

to your deepest continents.

So he gives, you take and he takes, you give

because such is nature

between prey and predator,

only this time, both eat

what the other has already eaten.

But there is no escape: nothing lasts.

The hot towel now turned cold

as he leaves holding your bills.

You needed more saving.


*Extra service – refers to sexual service offered by personnels of spa and wellness centers; the service being an ‘extra’ from the usual massage they give
*Lubay-Lubyok – (full name: Hanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan): The goddess of night breeze in ancient Visayan mythology

*Likalibuta – a second-generation deity in Visayan myths who is the strongest of all; one of Lidagat the sea and Lihangin the wind’s four children

*Kaptan – Supreme deity in Visayan myths




 His Northern Hemisphere

For Lennard Yeong, 27, Singapore, MasterChef Asia

Those eyes, those naked eyes, piercing, variations

of the dark—charcoal and raven—could speak to me

in Singlish—the British accent no longer the sexiest, lah

as dark as your boyish hair. I wish to dishevel and undo them,

you know, in bed where you might forget, for a time,

that everything you learned from food came from cookbooks;

where I can blow your name on the mole on your neck

breath after breath: That tongue—for once, a nomad—

could taste of umami, as I trace the geometry of your jawline,

pear-shaped, smooth on the edges. I wonder how that chest feels

when pressed against mine or seized on my palms. Those nipples:

heavenly erectile contrast against your fit cobalt blue (sometimes, pewter) shirt.

On your right arm and left ring finger might be names

of loves who have gone wrong.


Smile that bony cheek smile, dear, further straightening those brows.

Caress the sauce to sweat, the fish to fluids.

Already, you have fed me.




The Frontseater

The night rushes to end, if as in a hurry

no traffic could pause. Minimum wagers

all sit jammed next to each other,

like canned sardines; the vehicle, too, is part tin

or is it aluminum? In this twenty-peso ride

roaring to life, the silenced part between what’s budots

and the sweaty slumber is all they end up with.

Is it still JaDine’s timeslot on TV?

Or is it Boy Abunda’s turn for gabfest? The millenials ask

as the ancients are left on the AM frequency.

Lined up sitting in cellophane-covered foams,

they pass on calloused hands some coined currencies,

which must’ve been worth a tenth of a day’s work.

One by one, they go down, each to his own route—

now by foot, reciting muted prayers—or wretched whims?—

petitioning to deaf divinities,

pleading for better days.



*Budots – a form of disco music that is a mixture of ethnic hums and Western rap

*JaDine – a famous loveteam in the Philippines featuring onscreen partners James Reid and Nadine Lustre

*Boy Abunda – considered as the Philippine’s king of talk shows



English for the Non-native: The Five Senses

Begin with the silence of cubicles:


Our lips twitched colonial accents

as fingers latch to foreign lexemes.

Our Skype emoticons remain muted.

Within these bland sundering walls

are stares—timid but voyeured.

Added to this litany of unsaid words

is your scent like the first rain of June.


Let me ask you now:

How do you remain unknown

to the language of my touch?



Alton Melvar M Dapanas:-   from Cagayan de Oro, studies Literature and writes in English and Visayan. His poems have beenAlton Melvar Dapanas published in Dagmay Literary Journal, Kabisdak Cebuano Literary Lighthouse, We Are A Website (WAAW) New Literary Journal, among others. Recently, he has been anthologized at Sakayang Papel: Anthology of Bisaya Poetry. Currently, he works as a writer and copyreader for an urban lifestyle e-zine. He also blogs for a Geneva-based NGO. Online, he teaches intermediate to advanced English to East Asian professionals. He is affiliated with Bathalad Mindanao and the Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC). Born a caffeinated vegan-metamodernist in parentless houses, he has a thing for gray sky mornings, awkward drunk-and-high moments, and apple-flavored beers.