Two Poems for 2023


Never too sure if this
is still the right way.
The world maintains its tilt
a couple degrees off its axis
and the roads shudder
at our destinations.
From where I stand
I see rain shooting from the ground
like glass weeds, volatile and feverish.
Rainbows bursting out of trees.
And the fires, they spring
from mouths perpetually
laughing by default.
How do they do that?
I wish I’ve learned to be
more gazelle than gazelles,
quicker to escape. To be giraffe,
head crowned and up high
with grace in a land plundered.
Though I’ve learned to look
at the mirror, its reflection
too opaque to have meaning,
and to believe everyone is gifted
with sincerity. In swamps
across Calcetta, the bullfrogs
dedicate their chorus to the listener,
a Marco Polo for the truly living.
I’ve got apologies still in search
of oxygen and the warm palm
of reassurance, everything is going
to be okay. I am thinking of ways
to keep the lights on without burning,
to keep the throat quenched without
drowning. What fire do I need
to survive this? This fear is my right.
If I knew where to begin,
then why bother?

First Stone

It does not take courage
to cast the first stone.
One who believes in ash
knows fire only by its burn
and not its light.
Who is to blame
with the breaking of skin
and porous bones each day?
Around us heirloom tapestries
in shreds with the wrenching
of each other’s faiths.
Where did innocence go?
Pupa of a moth not seen
since 1912 could be crushed
under the heel of a shoe
because “What is it?”
This comfort of unknowing,
it keeps us still like tired feet
propped against the wall.
We are not going anywhere.
Before us always an abundance
of choices and after us the wrath
of a cosmos wronged,
another heart hurt. We keep
disturbing the universe
and we keep saying we didn’t mean to.
The way we hunch ourselves
like small stones over smaller things,
we do. Like the flung stone
and how it hurtles back at us,
matter to matter, we do.


F. Jordan Carnice
F. Jordan Carnice
F. Jordan Carnice, 34, is a writer and visual artist from Tagbilaran City, Bohol. His works have appeared in Ani, Ilahás, Katitikan: Literary Journal of the Philippine South, Anomaly, Philippine Speculative Fiction, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, among others. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks—Weights & Cushions (2018) and How to Make an Accident (2019).


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