fragmented world, 1991: eliseo art silva


collected poems

from a larger manuscript

Rose Theresa Booker

She Ran

after Lucille Clifton

After Lolo died
what she said happened is
she watched the ocean
shrink into buckets
watched every drawer empty
into red and white boxes
every room more|
Even as the feet of her children
stumbled to stand,
she turned away
from the granite plaques
deciding to run. And she ran.

Root Song

Nanay is writing down fish bones.
With a ballpoint pen, she plucks
each translucent dagger out
dripping with blood
turned black.

Some are caught in the fibers
of her voice, sticking to words
lost in time or to words foreign
strange. She yanks them out,
muffling cries. Shaking

she places one after another
onto a yellow note pad
thin as a mourning veil.
The bones bleed through
each page, into the Pacific

Ocean, into tap water
into baby formulas
into the eyes of others
whose chests are burdened
with fish bones. 


after Carmen Giménez Smith

The music she craves is trapped

inside a black cassette tape trapped she hides

from her father. The Adult Child composes a soundtrack,

kaloóban ng kanin, which means,

Pure Want or White Rising Resolve:

Rice for Dish or Health and Resolve

for Safety or Security. The music was once

her Mother’s, who lived

in black vinyl, red tape,

the needles, the ridges, the spools, the magnetic film

on the music falls off, dissolves, sugar.

That music materialized summer sand,

feisty cinders pouring rain.

The lyrics flew in and out like

the airplanes above our heads. 


A mouth the size of a lake, a crimson tongue set among pearl white daggers. Whiskers, gills, wires –  sharp as fish hooks – jut out from metallic blue scales. Two sets of wings protrude from this serpentine form. One large, ash-gray; the other small, found further down. He flies out from the ocean’s depths and into hallways by bays, coastlines, rivers.

Ang bulan namon sang una, sang una
Guin ka-on sang bakunawa
Malo-oy ka man, i-uli, i-uli

He opens door after door after door, looking for moons in the shape of daughters. He has swallowed thousands in the past. He will swallow more in the future. He is swallowing them now, leaving in the sky a black gash of shame. 

Ang bulan namon sang una, sang una
Guin ka-on sang bakunawa
Malo-oy ka man, i-uli, i-uli

Mothers play soothing sounds with their bodies, in hopes that he will fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes they don’t even try. Mothers bang on pots and pans, to scare him into spitting out the moon. They drive him out. They drive him in. They drive themselves.

Ang bulan namon sang una, sang una
Guin ka-on sang bakunawa
Malo-oy ka man, i-uli, i-uli

Rose Theresa Booker is a mixed race Pinay writer who holds a MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a BA in English from the UC Berkeley. Booker’s poetry mixes knowledge with mythology and everything in between while exploring her family history. Plus, dragons—lots of dragons.