poetry PREVIEW

Two Poems

Alex Ratanapratum

"Grandfather" by B.J. Abad   (Credit:   TAYO   Issue Two)

"Grandfather" by B.J. Abad (Credit: TAYO Issue Two)


Ghost Watching

As much as the air can provide breath
I will have worry.
Worry for my father who cannot go home,
who has no one to return to.

We have given up our name
our choice of holiness and wholeness,
the caretaker of a star snuffed by the index
and thumb of a man in a gold uniform
who rests in my father’s closet.

I am his son as much as the chill
that scatters birds with my name,
not the name of my father,
or his father, but the one hidden
by the gift of a King—

the sounds of my grandfather’s pen
scratching out trade lines in the Philippines
or clippers along my father’s skull
and the drape of orange robes
crossing his thin chest,

but when seeing these sounds in prayer
it is like scouring a book with no index;
the frantic hands of my memory
guided by nothing but the smell
of aged skin against my cheek.

For my father, I have been
his son as much as I have not.
And as much as I have been
a child, I have not acted as

the one who would rather play
than study these patterns of love
where a gift is as much debt
as pleasure. For my grandfather,

a man I have never known,
who took his mother’s name
then his father’s, and now
a man whose name escapes
his own son’s memory.

We are in the folds of a glass lotus
whose petals spiral out and in
hile it grows and shatters.

Elegy in Solidarity

I learned to eat not from your hands
but from the blade twitching
still in the board.


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