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Danton Remoto

Contributor Biography

Danton Remoto has published a novel called Riverrun (Penguin Books, 2020), which allowed him entry to the highly competitive Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

in Middlebury College, Vermont. He has also published three collections of poems, which were honored with a National Achievement Award in Poetry (Gawad Balagtas) by the Writers’ Union of the Philippines. Previously a Communications Analyst for the United Nations, he has been writing a column called “Lodestar”

the last 20 years for the Philippine Star, and has worked for TV5 and Radyo 5.

He hosted a highly popular, daily radio show “Remoto Control” for seven years

at Radyo 5. His last posting was as a Professor of Creative Writing and Head of School, English, at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. His work is listed in

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Literature.

His website is:

The Ancient Church of Taal

My faith is softer

Than the tongue of sand

Of this small island.


On the highest hill

In the old town of Taal

You sit still,


Gray like rain

Between leaf and sky.

Even if the mouth


Of the sea reclaims

This tongue of sand

Again and again and again,


You will still sit,

Gray like rain,

    Between leaf and sky.

Saint Michael the Archangel Talks to the Virgin Mary

Blue grains of light

From the open windows.

Whirring of wind

In the dark.


Whispers the archangel

Into my ear:

‘Mother you will be

Of God’s own Son’.


‘But how can that be

When I am clean

As light?’

But my knees melt


In utter silence.

Grains of light

Begin seeding

                         The dark.

Song of the Virgin Mary

(Thanks to Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zeffirelli)


While lightning rends

The black sky,

The walls of my heart

Begin to crack.


The wounds on my son’s

Hands and feet

Are like deep eyes.

The wind sweeps by


And darkness descends.

The needles of rain

Puncture my skin.

They bring down


The body of my son.

The walls of my heart


My cries explode like crows.


But the heavens

Do not seem to hear anything.



Only rags have been left

From his clothes,

Wound around the stark cross.

I touch the head of my son,


Sticky with dirt and blood,

His face

Like a broken mirror,

His hands and feet


With their dark holes:

My eyes are like wounds.



The morning is cold.

We go to the cave

To visit my son.

But he is already gone:


Not a single bone remains.

Only a white piece of cloth

With a map of blood

And a child

Brighter than the sun, asking:

‘Why are you looking 

For someone alive

In the cave of the dead?’


I stand up and leave

The dark cave. I run

Outside, looking for my son


In the flowering


Song of Mary Magdalene

(Thanks to Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zeffirelli)


A swarm of people
Has gathered on the hill.
I walk on the road
Shaped like a snake.

His eyes are calm
Like the ocean,
His voice as cold
As spring water.

His companions give us
Fish and loaves of bread.
The fish is fresh.
The bread soft.



He is there inside the temple,
Bathed by light.

I enter. The eyes of the priests
Disrobe my body.
I kneel in front of him.
My stream of tears washes his feet.

My hair is like a black rag,
Wiping away my tears from his feet.
His eyes are quiet. Then he speaks:
‘From now on, you’ll be as clean as water.’



I scream and scream for his name
In the wild air.
But it is Barabbas
They free.

I walk on the road
Shaped like a snake.
A thorn rends my throat
When they hang him on the cross.

When they bring him down,
I kiss his bruises
Dark as my old sins.
But when I touch his dead body

It is warm like newly-baked bread.

Joan Santillan Amurao

Contributor Biography

Joan Santillan Amurao is a migrant worker in Malaysia. A poet and artist, she has authored the book, An Unknown Princess—Collection of Poems and Paintings.  Everything about life can inspire her, in particular the goodness of God. She aims

to motivate and encourage fellow migrants and refugees around the world through her writing. “People need other people to remind us that life may be difficult, but

it is just temporal.” 


A drawing sheet seated on her lap,
while sitting pretty on the bamboo seat.
Composing from her memory
the image in her dream
from the other night,
when she slept, in melancholy.
In her hand was a newly sharpened pencil
and she began to sketch.
She carefully outlined the woman's face.
A woman with her head rested on a man's chest,
looking as though he clinched her to console.
Slowly drawn-in detail the ears of the man.
His ears that are constantly listening
to her every request and echoing groan.
He is a man who perceives her misery,
a man who seems unseen.
Yet, you know that He is omnipresent.
In the dream, He breathed on her,

“I will be with you, I am your God.
You should not be worried,
I will strengthen and help you.
I will protect and save you
'Cause I love you."

His voice sounded like melodious music.
His words were sympathetic, alleviating.
Indeed, it was a very peculiar dream.
It gave peace to her distressed mind and being.

One last stroke and her portrait was finished.
She signed on it, named it LOVER OF MY SOUL.

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