by A.B. Ulep
Behind pillars of concrete and burly men
I watch amid the crowd of amber bottles
and cigarettes, circling around two handsome
raptors. Each leashed on one scaly leg, their manes
flare with gold. My uncle slices the air with his hand
and the beasts shriek in the coliseum of orchids and roses.
Their muscled wings thrash, talons slashing only at air,
tethered to their men like yo-yos. Another uncle calls for beer.
I slosh my hands around a bath of ice for a bottle. I give it to him,
he urges me to try. The roosters keep clawing, taunting.
I take a cautious sip and my eyes drift back to the manók. There,
the one on the left. I remember the handfuls of cornmeal I fed him,
his chicks wandering around our mango tree as he crooned
his morning song. Where is the line between father, son, and
holy beast? My uncles spit and jeer with folded arms,
two sacred manók tearing up the earth.
Rising from her chair, Grandma
takes a kaykay and sweeps the sidewalk,
strewn with summer’s golden flowers.
They fall from the aging tree that, come next summer,
will be gone. Too old and strong, the cable company says,
the tips of its roots tracing cracked veins in the cement.
Crumpled blooms all around her. The boy brings
a smaller kaykay to help clear the sweet litter, wet with rot.
He watches as Grandma shakes the flowers off, stubborn,
clinging to the bundled midribs as if not ready to leave.
We Shall Make This Nation Great Again: A Found Poem
INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY FERDINAND E. MARCOS, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
December 30, 1965
Our transformation, it seems, has lost his soul.
We have come upon a veneer for power
when personal gain can be traded for the cries of thousands.
I have seen it all over Our land. We have ceased to value
Order, virtue. Law, honor, and dignity.
Our national government is indebted to Our citizens
Who bear the burden of Every form of waste and extravagance.
The democratic rule of law has lost;
We must, therefore, aim a genuine rule of law
To maintaining the supremacy. And if need be
Legal elimination of lawless elements.
This nation can be great again.
Divine Providence has willed
That each generation writes its own history.
We must renew the vision of greatness for our country.
We must awaken the secret chords which turn ordinary men
Into fighters — I ask Our Creator, drive us towards greatness.
A.B. Ulep lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawai’i. His work can be found in Rambutan Literary, daCunha, and Winter Tangerine’s Selected Works: Sing That Like Dovesong.