Dilang Anghel by Mariel Annarose Nicole L. Alonzo


Sleeptalker, I wake on bleeding leaves.

Banig bitten beneath me, I must’ve said

a bad word. My mother anointing her

disappointment. I say my sorry, closed my legs,

baptized my bed under the rusty hand pump.

Prayed over long-deaf stomata, its gone sugars.

Then like a good daughter, grounded pounded

its crisp. Split lipped leaves pried open.


Made a batter. Scab I wear over my face

like the most tender armor, allowing a war

to peep but not seep inside my bomb

shelter, where my womb plays hide and seek.



Needles sew their names into me. A boy typhoon

this time. Their heavy threads so thorough it throws

a tapestry throughout my lack. I could feel

an archipelago clatter in my lungs like oracle bones

all the times I didn’t listen

to my mother say dry your back.


Feel my throat’s coin-bank exorcise masts

from capsized boats, beat of expired x-ray films

stretched to drumheads, a cloud that lost grip—


I sound like my father, the bullet inside him

passed down to me. This whistle—tinggil that tingled.

Stump between my thighs.

How I cough to pretend that this in my palm

is sap that could bind pistils together, bear fruit.



The wings of another sanitary napkin

lie flightless, as if a bone undressing

its silk robes. My fingers approach it

like a predator. I love the ripping—glue

of its underside now a ghost, as thin as tear-

streaks that glittered my girl-face

years ago. May this be my final litter

as I leave my long-hair home.



Between her legs, a boulevard

of children grinding their soles over a nest

of millipedes. They spiral like

extinct ferns, curls that I tongue

like a mother licking salt off sour

necks. Hunting for the milk

curving behind their ears.

Let me drink her liter, let me

hush her litter. Let me settle

forever, give up our feathers.

How our two nests cry.

















kundiman on a text message in the sky, before seizure



The welder’s eyelash curves, presses against the stained glass of his make-

shift helmet discolored with Riyadh’s heat. Instead of sparks from sexing


rebars, he sees 50,000 rounds of Judas’ Belt, firecracker his village set off

like firearms but those who bleed by its stray bullets would smile instead


as palm wine drunk mothers pressed achuete leaves on runny wounds.

How he grit his teeth like weeks before when a shaman held his penis


hostage over an unnamed headstone, birthed a man from his boyhood.

Fireworks seethed beneath his eyelids as he wore through his mother’s


skirt every day to school, breeze waking hairs in his thighs like iron filings.

Instead he hears hand-clapping games or handheld claps of church bells or


electricity humming in his uncle’s testicle, “faulty wiring” from his time

as a guerrilla that rumors say was enough to light Christmas lights. Shimmer


reminding him of an oarfish, aware of its omen, that washed itself in

the coastline every December where teen couples fulfilled their own little


earthquake. Gin enough to break the woman he was with into fireworks

sucked out the wet behind his ear and spilt brake fluid from the rear


of their family’s jeepney. Aftershocks felt till next year: tin cans that once

stored gunpowder bleached to milk. Rather than plastic horns he’d hear


colic cries. In a place where chaste clouds come down to sip spittle from

their upper lips, he tried to overhear the violence kilometers away. Instead


of feasting, they slept on a banig on the floor, wide enough for no god

to slip in, his son holding his finger like a hammer that could only build


never destroy and he believed this as a homeless snail snuck in to sing

carols in his cochlea. Then he could no longer hear his fighting cock’s hiss


as he yields the illegal chili from its cloaca or his wife suck out shrimp

paste left beneath her nails or his boy’s thumbsucked thumb thumbing


through the qwerty alphabet of a blushing Nokia, only the serenade of

packing tape stretched over chapped brown lips of cardboard boxes and


sputter of a motorcycle smoke-belching the Aplaya shut. As speechless

as he is in a desert where he is beautiful silent, only a forehead kneeling


like a banana’s male bud about to bear fruit, could earn water that lose

weight too fast in their throats. Here, the chapel’s stoup is dry and shoeboxes


with desiccants intact are enough to soar for a stunted word mid-Skype.

Even if they could only swear of women whose niqab he allegedly lifted


or her tongue that may have revered another’s reverie or the firecracker

their son set off too early, it left him soundless. In the silence of other men


in puberty, he feels a shiver of consent in his back pocket. Suddenly,

all else is debris.




More Stories