2 am

The hours are long when you keep count. Another cold night. Measure time by how many times a song plays on repeat. It won’t get better with every turn—

a woman singing
wishes in soft falsetto
a broken record

Sta. Clara

She walks the familiar path of Sta. Clara
church. A basket full of eggs to offer

along with a letter. Please pray for him
as he lies with his eyes closed

chest rising, falling. I am prepared –
The first turn of the locket, speed increasing
with every turn until it falls by

the note written for the thirty third time
this year. Farther histories with every cycle

Time is suspended in his mind as it flows
naturally on the body. Mild wrinkles below
eyes that remain closed.

Time is kept: things, events in order.
It is the same sun

that sets as she makes her way past
egg vendors, others praying for

miracles in the lapses of time, almost
familiar faces. She wonders how

alike their histories are. How significant
when time is measured by the amount

of prayers: fifteen seconds for Our father

who art in heaven. Miracles are pleas
answered. A locket to her lips. A man
on his bed. Again, the old lady

on the leftmost table. A smile on her lips.

Self-portrait

Bottles break
under duress

as grief flows unprompted
as a woman in throes

of passion. Find me
in the psychedelic shards

of glass—No. Busy yourself
with colors never

mind sharp edges dripping
red and silence
broken only by violence.

Or: a hesitant tug
at your sleeve.

Incense

A lit stick: smoke rising a bluish gray.

Inhale deeply, towards the deepest part of the lungs
nearest, a weary heart. What hurts
is no longer kept. What escapes

your mouth: bereft: gray: smoke: weightless.
There’s no anchor. Cords cut from
the moment of birth.

Quivering fingers reach for another stick.
Each breath a labor, with every puff.
Exhale memories.

Incense

Death beckons in twenty-four
sticks per pack sold for ninety
at your local convenience store.

I’ll take it.

Give me three of those to last
three or so nights alone
cold with empty bottles
of beer, to offer me at least
a little bit of heat to latch on

for the love of God. I risk
burning delicate fingers once
folded in earnest prayer, eyes
closed as I lie down knowing
I will never be received.

37

In the olden days, mothers wrap children in cloth & cut through the forest. Help me. She’s dying—my dear Isabel. How many Isabels have died since then? Mothers w/ calloused feet cut through EDSA knocking on windows for spare change, praying to God to spare Isabel.