Five Poems

by Devyn Lorelei Mañibo


the first time

there are no scallions at the grocery, so i buy a green mango
and you tell me you have an aversion to green mangos; this is stunning

i ask if it’s your first time, and it is / my first time, and i am afraid you will judge me,
but there’s nothing to base judgment except for your own taste for salt and sour

adobo can only compare to itself, i think because after centuries, we know better
than to compare ourselves to others, and that is stunning

i think because after centuries, there is no standard except for your own
taste for salt and sour

please / don’t look over my shoulder, says my aversion to exhibitionism, maybe
an aversion to sharing this process

for the first time / we are hungry and tired and waiting for the bones to loosen
so we wait and we wait

while we wait i slice an onion and the mango and douse them in fish sauce and lime knowing my own taste for salt and sour

while we eat you ask me if it’s weird to imagine a future where we live / together,
i imagine our home will be built of bricks, not mangos; this too, is stunning

but i am tired of writing about mangos and i am tired of sighing for home;
say ma-li-ga-yang pag-da-ting, and don’t forget pa-ki hu-bad ng sa-pa-tos n-yo

you ask me how i know and i want to say the endlessly stunning
of women knowing / this, isn’t true

i know from watching lolo silently in the kitchen, and still / he asks me how

i know: bone in, skin on / skin on / bone in / bone in, skin

one-to-one / tuyo & suka, some sugar, more garlic than pores
can handle
, a few bay leaves, and a handful of the most floral peppercorns you can find

instead of thinking of lolo when i cook, i think of a white guy
speaking the same botched tagalog and making chicken adobo

simmering for at least forty minutes, turning the chicken every so often, looking
for brownness and tasting / for salt and sour

ang sarap sarap / mom’s voice mimicking the white guy
and i can’t remember her saying anything else anymore

it has good taste is the most literal translation, and i am proud to have made something
that tastes good

served on a mountain / of coconut rice and i can’t believe this
is the first time / i made the coconut rice right

and when the mangos are on sale lolo will buy four cases and number each one
lola will give me the ripe ones & i’ll leave you the ripest ones

you thank me for a generous portion / for all this fullness, i tell you how stunning it is 
to feed you, all i want




after Gertrude Stein

In the evening there is watering, and in that watering there is patience. There is quiet while you’re cleaning, a sweeping as I am sweeping a blade through plastic. Sweeping a blade through layers of purple and white and green and gold. In the gold there is a knowing; the fingertips know best. The best is knowing. The balance between pungence and a soured eye. In the balance there is still squinting. And in the sitting there is wilting and I wish to only wilt with you.

The bubbling over is a familiar feeling. The bubbling is bubbling over and it is dripping onto your clean clean floors. I am apologetic and quick to clean. Cleaning as I go and sweeping the garlic skins into a too-full barrel. I am careful to not barrel into myself in the kitchen. We are careful to not barrel into each other in the kitchen while I cook and you clean and we are patient.

Turn her once, turn her twice, turn a third time so the skin faces the sky. Absorption is key, balance is key, many leaves are key. Now we thicken. In the thickening we see the clouds. Let me serve you another bowl. Drag the muscle from the bone. This is how you treat a fork like a blade and a spoon like your palm.

Self-Portrait as Shattered Veladora

I am no better at holding these books than two weak shoulders
nothing to lean on / each other / to reach for
shards / reaching for waxy insides

topple me / over topple / over heavy / barely
in tact / spitting from fractured / mouth
poured & out

dust collects after / one day / two eyes dart
doesn’t notice / three books falling
over & over & over

I swear I can be warm / and so strong
I expect nothing in return except for you /
to be warm and so / strong

this is when both plants turned
one dried / one drowned
skin collecting skin

pressed together & together
Godly things: my ass / your hands
hands / the dark

destined, relegated / the box / the dark
the headless / Santo Niño
the after, o mother, o grasiya, o body

wick tucked wick scraped wicked open
barely lit / lip still / gleaming
with the gold / and the shards

held (under)

your tongue

sugar logic

like a july melon
lola holds to her face / the sun / takes a breath
eyes closed & lips upturned
tap to crosscheck, this is how you know
  it is sweet

the insides scooped and shredded
sloshed into a pitcher and topped with city
tap / palm sugar / ice that sat with the fish
too long

does adding sugar
to something that is already sweet
make it taste more like itself?

we drink from the smallest
dixie cups we usually use

for mouthwash


Writer’s BIO:

Devyn Lorelei Mañibo is Brooklyn-based maker, organizer, and book slinger. Through text, object, and gesture, she thinks intimately about the language and textures of death & desire, fullness & loss–the erotics of, the failure of, the ecstatics of. She can usually be found causing some kind of ruckus in the kitchen.