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
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.
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 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 been 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.