Eileen R. Tabios

Contributor Biography

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction from publishers in 10 countries, including a first novel, DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times. She invented the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form and MDR Poetry Generator which can create poems totaling theoretical infinity. She has received recognition through awards, grants and residencies, including the Philippines‘ National Book Award for Poetry. She can be found at: http://eileenrtabios.com

Why I Am Rarely Nostalgic

—Bauang Beach, circa 1965

She knew she should know
better

I was barely older than a
toddler

I had played with her only 
daughter

during those summer days of
Innocence 

by a sapphire sea warmed by a gentle
sun 

When it was time to
leave

she lowered her gaze from my
face

as she carefully suggested I
give

her daughter one of my
dresses

“An old one no one would
miss”

My eyes that squinted all
summer

opened wide and saw the 
World—

ravishing with its poverty and
desires

ravishing with its grief, such
grief

Jesus Christ once pleaded,
“Forgive

them—they know not what they
do”
 

IF LOVE, THEN LOVE

—excavated from “The Professor and the Madman,”
A history of the Oxford English Dictionary

I.


All I need are books.

 

Every word in action becomes beautiful in the light of its own meaning.

When I read, no one is after me. When I read, I am the one who is chasing,

chasing after God.

What I know of love: the sickness often becomes the cure.

The brain is wider than the sky…


II.


“I can, because of you.”


III.


Madness gave us words.

Sometimes when we push away, that’s when we need to be resisted.


IV.


I wanted to document the history of each and everything, to offer the world a book that gives a meaning of everything in God’s creation.


V.


The book—it’s not yours to quit.

 

I know the answer to the widow’s question.
 

Menstrual Hay(na)ku

When I saw
Mary’s stone
face

 

on a statue 
freezing a
tear

 

on its stone
but suddenly
human

 

face, I am
reminded by
vision:

 

when I bleed
I camouflage
tears
 

Losing Music

I was 8 years old when I first 
placed my fingers on the 
luminous white ivory keys of 
a piano. Next to me, a nun 
touched each finger into place. 
A year later, I wore a white 
lace dress in my first piano 
recital. Everyday for two 
years, I took lessons from that 
nun. At the end of two years, I 
left my birthland for the 
diaspora. A few years into my 
teens, when my parents could 
afford it, they brought an 
upright piano into the 
house—I never played it. 
A few years after college 
graduation when I was barely 
making my rent, my parents 
sent me that piano as the only 
piano I could afford—I never 
played it. Decades later, my 
husband ordered a grand 
piano for our living room. My 
fingers strolled through its 
keys to make my husband 
happy but, swiftly, I came 
never to play it again. But I do 
cherish this figurine of cats on 
a piano which I discovered 
within my mom’s things after 
she died. Its innocence 
reminds me of when, once, I 
was so happy playing the 
piano that I quickly became 
proficient enough in a year to 
present music during a recital 
in the local university 
auditorium. People dressed up 
in their finest clothes to see 
me and hear me. People put
on their “Sunday Best” to see 
me. How I long to be called

    Home…

Author's Note:

“IF LOVE, THEN LOVE” and “Losing Music” were previously published in

Marsh Hawk Review.

Kemlyn Tan Bappe

Contributor Biography

Kemlyn Tan Bappe, a member of the Singapore diaspora, is a visual artist, spoken word poet, teaching special education in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a panelist on 

The Poets React, a weekly show on Youtube produced in the Philippines by the Poetry Global Network. “Theology is pushing and pulling meaning out of faith and life.” She holds a BA in Studio Art, MDIV Theology, and a MA in Special Education.

i scattered my grief in the wind and what remained was a laugh

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

 

—1 Corinthians 15:55

i turn on the lights

they scattered into shadows

parts of you remain

 

what remains is choice:

to bury or to scatter?

what are your wishes?

 

your wish: my command

shall i dig a shallow grave?

from dust you return

shall i light fires 

over a makeshift pyre?

all remains are ash

 

scatter your remains

from our favorite fishing spot

invite fish to come 

 

death shatters my mind

emotions misaligned: why

do i laugh not cry?

       the proof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author's Note:

A product of parochial school in Singapore, for better and worse, the influence of Christianity has permeated my worldview. In seminary, I embraced theology not as static parchment, but as praxis where life and doctrine are in a tug-of-war. I am honored to do theology with fellow poets of Filipino heritage in weekly online open mic forums. Theology is not a solo sport.

give(n)

if the number of years

i have transversed equals n

then n equals fifty

am i fifty percent done with my life?

who knows their precise limit their expiration

each year i seem to be exponentially closer to

 that line

the slope is rising rapidly

is the endpoint the day i draw my last breath?

or the beginning point to infinity

i'd like to believe

when i cross to the other side

maybe i’ll send you a proof

with statements on the left column

reasons on the right

beginning with a skimpy

given

take
our numbered days
life’s a variable
i am grateful
time shared
that space
us 
is holy ground
respiration
quickens
cling to faith
we’ll meet again
my arms open wide
maybe i’ll visit your dreams
leave you breathless 
to join me soon
life
taken