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Nick Carbo

Speech Impediments

“I like dappled hats,” she said
as she lit the incendiary device.

He enjoyed her wet diphthongs
on her nape, his frequency
modulator, his frenulum.

“You must warn me,” she said
as she manipulated the milibars.

He was engulfed by the heat
of her cardamom mouth, her amplitude,
her guttural declensions.

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Grammarotics

The angle of delight is best
achieved while rubbing

the pluperfect button
in tiny syllabic circles

while the glottal stop needs
firm accentual strokes

for copulative conjunction
to occur. The placement

of the preterite tense
at the entrance

of a lubricated sentence
assures the inevitable

apostrophe. However,
if the apostrophe occurs

[...] Read more

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Ay, Que Dolo!

Dona Josefina has thrown my goat
out onto the calle El Fez--
Ay! The menu of pain is as big
as a queen-sized aha umbrella.

The lolita from the barrio chino licks
the sellos and then my luau--
there is a hint of ajo from Ab-derabad,
with periodos of adages and lapis lazuli.

I have known the fonda of Dona Josefina,
the jetty of her hips, under the veil
of her mild protests where pigs and lox
do mix in a yodel of ah-do-do-dah.

The lolita from the barrio chino is a rider
of net gains and bronze sea snakes--
she holds a baroque club in one hand
and ma of mana from a mouse in the other.

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Typhoon Signal No. 1

This is where the typhoon starts—
inside the fourth paragraph,
ten city blocks away,

where the neurosurgeon halfs
La Celestina, where you occupy
the spot under that Tiffany lamp,

where Edgar Rice Burroughs laughs,
where sugar cane is thigh
high, where you apply lipstick,

where the address numbers
are transposed, where hearts
take on airs of Parisian avenues,

where Mexican silver coins
are exchanged for salt, where
there is no fine line between art

[...] Read more

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Capis Windows

How do you enter that Manila
frame of mind, that woven
mat of noodle house restaurants,

that dawn of tapis tasting women,
that hankering of hourly hauntings?
Drive along Roxas Boulevard

when the moon has just clocked
out of third shift and the sea horses
are returning to their feeding stables.

Walk the afternoon trees of Taft Avenue
and talk to the mechanics of Sunday
medicine. Ask them for recipes

to cure fire-retardant love. Bask
in the baying of mahogany dogs on Mabini
street and pass through the red

[...] Read more

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Running Amok

In the slums of Tondo, people dwell
in shacks of cardboard, bits of bamboo,
corrugated metal, and a few cement blocks.

They come from all the provinces--
a farmer’s son from Cagayan,
a coal miner from Bulacan,

a field hand from the banana plantations
of Davao. They come to Manila
for work, for better pay.

The highest incidence of men
running amok is in Tondo,
or at least, that’s what the local tabloids

have for headlines every week. Amok in Tondo
kills seven! Police shoot him to death!
During the Filipino-American War

[...] Read more

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Mal Agueros

If you come to Mojacar
and peel open an orange full of worms,
count how many there are because
those are the days it will take for your body
to decompose after you are buried.

If you come to Mojacar
and find a small green snake with its back
broken, don't step on it or you'll cause
an earthquake that will catch up to you
while you sleep in a continent far, far away.

If you come to Mojacar
and two brown long-legged spiders crawl
on your face and shoulders, keep a sharp eye
out for two individuals, a mother-son, or
sister-sister who will try to take your money.

If you come to Mojacar
and see a scorpion scurry by your feet,

[...] Read more

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Ang Tunay Na Lalaki (The Real Man) Is Baffled By Cryptic Messages

He finds on cheap match covers.
PLEASE MAKE ME
TASTE LIKE A MAN
is the first one he reads after lighting up
an American Spirit cigarette on the corner
of Broadway and Houston. The painted Statue
of Liberty on the giant DKNY ad on the side
of the building winks her big blue eye
as if she understands what those words mean,
as if she could make him taste like a man.
The street sign changes to WALK
and the natural smoke of the natural cigarette
feels good in his lungs. He thinks
of the taste of fried garlic, of anise seeds,
of rambutan fruit, of broiled tuna--
none comes close to what a man
would taste like in his mind. He reaches
underneath his shirt and sweater to scratch
his left arm-pit. He smells his fingers
and thinks: this is what a Filipino man

[...] Read more

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The Filipino Politician

When he finds his wife in bed with another man--

The conservative politician feels an ache in his stomach,
remembers the longanisa and the tapa he had for breakfast.
He doesn't know whether to get the doctor or Cardinal Sin
on the phone. He calls one of his bodyguards, tells him
to shoot the man and then, his wife. He takes his .38 magnum
from his brief case, shoots his bodyguard in the back.

The liberal politician pours himself a glass of Courvoisier,
remembers a passage from an Anais Nin story.
He is suddenly the one they call the Basque. He removes
his Dior tie, his Armani shirt, his Calvin Klein boxer shorts.
He puts on a black beret, whispers, tres jolie, tres jolie,
que bonito, muy grande my petite amore. He joins them
in bed, begins his caresses on the man's calves,
kisses his way up the man's thighs.

The communist politician does not call his wife a puta,
nor does he challenge the man to a duel with balisong knives.

[...] Read more

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Little Brown Brother

I've always wanted to play the part
of that puckish pubescent Filipino boy

in those John Wayne Pacific-War movies.
Pepe, Jose, or Juanito would be smiling,

bare-chested and eager to please
for most of the steamy jungle scenes.

I'd be the one who would cross
the Japanese lines and ask for tanks,

air support, or more men. I'd miraculously
make it back to the town where John Wayne

is holding his position against the enemy
with his Thompson machine-gun. As a reward,

he'd rub that big white hand on my head
and he'd promise to let me clean

[...] Read more

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