by Patrick Rosal

The Halo-Halo Men: An Anthem

We are the halo-halo men

the mix-mix men the fresh-cut-
mango-in-your-mouth men

The men who pee-pee in your Coke
The joke that yokes the beasts

of vinyl and diamond men
The bit-of-salt-to-cut-the-ice men

The wineskins-without-wine
blunt-hilt-of-the-bolo-to-your-head

men We are the how-how men
the carabao men back-to-ten men

Pen-pen men de sarapen
de-kutsilyo men de-alamasen

The when men Come-again men
The middle man and omega men

You build fences for we might
steal your hen men

Kimat and Pang-or men First
to suicide in the cypher men

We use our inside voices
for an outside fight men

say three Hail Mary’s
and whisper Hallelujah

flip the new testament
like we do judo men

vodou men raw blood and
garlic men kilawen men

I say ag-yaman ak
you say A-

 

Kundiman: Hung Justice

Love, a child dreamt hard of
bread and got history

instead. Someone dreamt of
maggots jeweled in meat and

brought out blades in the name
of good science, ardor.

But who’ll list kinships in
English between slaughter

and laughter? Who’ll recruit
heaven’s splendid refuse,

junk, our silent brigades
of busted blue-black horns,

swordless squadrons, the hum
and ruckus of strung-up

ghosts, the delirium
of angels and muddy

hilt and rust, this finch-quick
trigger, dull dagger third-

muscle deep, gas-sopped rag?
Who’s got lungs for song? Hoist

not a schoolyard’s one taut
noose or red bunting bloom.

My America, you
can’t even love a face

as handsome as a bomb.

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