Two Poems



‘Your mission if I may venture to say
is to illuminate people,’ I said.
‘What do you mean,’ eyes wide, ‘eliminate
people?’ ‘No, enlighten, illuminate
people.’ ‘Ah!’ Smile quickly returned as if
his whole heart lit up (word play intended
the grass roots movement he had invented
he named Lamplighters). ‘Do you have a wife,
Father Tropa?’ I’d meant to ask. I knew
he was celibate but rhetorical
questions I felt won’t hurt the interview.
Still I thought better of it. On a wall
the woman in a strange painting remained
as if under a moon that had long waned.


I dreamt the sun no longer rose and set
It zigzagged

Played possum
When God stirred
At midday
At the brightness

It played tag with a luna moth
And suddenly
The colors came
No flame

It gazed at pink sky and white moon
And morning star
As if gazing at itself
As if in the night it had seen us

It went sideways below the horizon
Creating an endless sunrise and sunset
A sun that played hide-and-seek
Peekaboo with shadows

It played hooky
Drifted away and wandered
As if in search of its origin
Farther and farther till it twinkled

And I heard your shout
Full circle across a world
That had gone into hiding
That had fled within

I heard the river
The grass
I heard green

Three Musicians
The spheres
The mermaids
The hand

But the star was coming home
In a dawn in which
Sun moves towards us
Not round

How can the sun do this? Wake as I might
The miracle held out.
I heard the cock crow, you awash in sleep,
Incredible in the light.

Cesar Ruiz Aquino was born in Zamboanga City, and has a Ph.D. in Literature from Silliman University. He writes both poetry and prose for which he has won virtually all the national awards in the Philippines and one international – the SEA Write Award from the royal family of Thailand in 2004. His books include the short story collection Chronicles of Suspicion, the poetry collections Word Without End, In Samarkand, Caesuras: 155 New Poems, Like a Shadow That Only Fits a Figure of Which It is Not the Shadow, and Fire If It Were Ice, Ice If It Were Fire, and the personal anthology Checkmeta: The Cesar Ruiz Aquino Reader. He lives in Dumaguete City.

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