Presenting engagements (including reviews) of poetry books & projects. Some issues also offer Featured Poets, a "The Critic Writes Poems" series, and/or Feature Articles.

Friday, May 1, 2015




We preserved the meat of the argument, salted
it in brine, sunned for a moment at the start
of summer, before taking to the shade of dirty
kitchen where it hang on a hook of clean portent.
But not before pressing pepper and cloves,
hammering the spikes in with apocrypha of logic.
The casing came from sheep gut, strength of silence
to be punctured in the future with sharp forks.

Especially when the discourse was about politics.
Ground lamb it was, gentler than any other, gentrified
past vast fields of forage. Was it benevolent,
this dictatorship, or simply pragmatic autocracy
that wished and willed citizens well within their walls
and windows, so they could contribute beyond sex
when power outage quieted earlier children and TV sets?
Or was it destiny, on a per random destination basis?

Whenever religion was the source of dispute,
carabaos of thick hides were slaughtered, but
not the mothers that gave milk for sweet pastillas
smothered in sugar and wrapped in decorative
cut-outs of colored plastic. That was how hierarchy
of worship, if at all, could be rationalized, said
sages, not humanists who dispelled notions of saints
and angels. Big bang for the beast of burden!

And when the discourse turned towards love
in all its inextinguishable apparitions, we sought
out racehorses, whether favoring grass or dirt or
synthetic turf, for the wind to blow manes more wildly.  
Sand and clay were maintained with a lot of water, kept
fresh and level, as even with dispirited marriages.
Grilled, fried, baked, the sausages were sliced
like fallacies of kings, gods, and fabled genders.

*  *  *

That Time

How many times have you been to the Louvre?

Twice, at least. Can’t recall if I did it thrice.
But maybe. Possibly.

And how was it the first time?

It was terrific. I was with my week-old bride, in December.
The glass pyramid wasn’t there yet.
But it snowed as we exited. It snowed.

And the repeat visit?

I was alone. Or rather, with a video cameraman.
That meant I was practically alone.
I.M. Pei’s structure was already there.
I can’t recall the season. But it didn’t snow.
No, it didn’t snow in Paris that month.
That time. It didn’t.
Maybe somewhere in China it did.
At that time. If it had been winter.
But not in Paris. Where it may have been summer. 

*  *  *

Yes You Can

You can say anything.
Poetry is expectation.
Poetry is a bowl of rice grains
you a) check for chaff; b) boil to extremes;
c) allow to simmer before
withdrawing the pandan leaf
that you then toss as documentation, into
a trashcan w/out folding like origami.

When asked, you can say anything.
Poetry is this or that... Insights, images, sentiments,
a recall of what has yet to happen, a wish, a dream,
hope of love to spring or not to be discontinued,
a winter of solace, a summer of wild greens,
all the seasons with random kinds of moons
and seascapes… You can say anything. If and when
poetry, anything can be uttered, muttered:
lyric or prophecy.    

And also as poets we stammer
through otherwise intelligent conversation
with lawyers and doctors, policemen
and legislators. Even cavemen
grunt with more resolve they so hurt the ear, 
just like swinging a club of grace notes.

*  *  *


Came as a lost language.
Shabby, but demanding
No name tag
on any table, sorry,
said the headwaiter.
Stood by the bar.
Security was called in
well before midnight,
Went along peaceably
until undue violence
by the penthouse lift
forced the unwanted
Oh, the debutante’s dad
you are, after all. Regrets.
All hotels appease
whoever picks up the bill.
            Understood that
since learning the first
It's all right, so the babel
            sounded, all around. 
Except for, except for —
rising now to full decibel, 
as ears cocked much like
            the chandeliers —
Well, the vermouth
lacked similitude.
By then the daughter
came with words
            as radiant as the gown
of a happy goddess.
Caused consternation
and more embarrassment
            all around, all over
            the carpet. 
But then again, then again,
such is the commerce
            at parties
where masks are torn
            as roughly, as roughly
as sly verbs of identity.
Only the celebrant’s mother
managed to zip it, in the name
            of harmony.
So that the disco lights
            resumed spinning
clockwise, not counter,
            since the disguise
was last spoken,
like a family’s shadow,
below, well below
the equator.


Alfred A. Yuson, nicknamed “Krip,” has authored 26 books thus far, including novels, poetry collections, short fiction, essays, children’s stories, biographies, and travel and corporate coffee-table books, apart from having edited various titles, including several literary anthologies. His numerous distinctions include the Balagtas Award from the Writers Union of the Philippines, the Stalwart of Art and Culture award from the City of Manila, a Rockefeller Foundation grant for residency at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy, and the SEAWrite (SouthEast Asian Writers) Award from Thai royalty for lifetime achievement. He has also been elevated to the Hall of Fame of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippines’ most prestigious literary distinction. His poetry and prose have been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Bahasa. He is a founding member of the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC), Creative Writing Foundation, Inc. (CWF), and Manila Critics Circle, and served as Chairman of UMPIL (Writers Union of the Philippines). He taught fiction and poetry at Ateneo de Manila University, where he held the Henry Lee Irwin Professorial Chair. He contributes a weekly literature and culture column to a national broadsheet, The Philippine Star, and a monthly lifestyle column to Illustrado, a magazine published by a Filipino group in Dubai.

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