Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. 

Contributor Biography

Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. (he/him) is the author of Tangere (University of the Philippines Press, 2021) and Aria and Trumpet Flourish (Math Paper Press, 2018). He is the also the editor of A/PART: An Anthology of Queer Southeast Asian Poetry in the Pandemic, featured in the Southeast Asia Queer Cultural Festival 2021. His poems have been published in Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature, Kritika Kultura, Tomás: The Journal of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies, The Manila Times, and other journals and anthologies. He has received prizes from the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Born in the Philippines, he has been based in Singapore since 2011. 

Self-Portrait as Baroque Church

A pair of stone angels stands

sentry, bearing a giant 

 

clam shell as font of holy

water. Walls built of crushed

 

corals, mortar made of egg whites

and quicklime. Solomonic 

 

columns abloom with acanthus,

cherub’s wings. Clerestory 

 

of light. Bas-relief of saints

long forgotten. Pew after

 

pew, line after line, God

painted in the details:

 

God gleaned in the eye

of the monstrance, God inlaid 

 

with gold leaf, alabaster,

God whose voice echoes 

 

from a crumbling bell tower, 

God of colonial blue-

 

prints, God among the ruins.

Andrew Kirkrose

Contributor Biography

Andrew Kirkrose is a transgender Singaporean student of linguistics and literature. Shortlisted for the 2018 National Poetry Competition and the winner of the 2018 NTU Creative Writing Competition, Kirkrose contributed the winning piece of the 2019 Hawker Prize to the journal OF ZOOS. Kirkrose’s work has appeared in journals including Cordite Poetry Review and PERVERSE, and anthologies such as SG Poems 2017-2018Seven Hundred Lines, Food Republic, and EXHALE: An Anthology of Queer Singapore Voices.

soteriology

so this is your incarceration this

biblical rib this unborn birthing

rib this cage that floats and flies

and sometimes cracks and then

removes at a remove this cage

this abnormality of mortality is

safest this unknown safest this

aching something this unbroken

 

something is waiting is growing

is unripe ripening but they cannot

eat the fruits once they’re done but

could they ever eat the fruits could

they ever pluck out the rib bleeding

from the heart of them why did they

do that why did you do that why are

you standing there holding your ribs

corium

I only dream in 
garden until it was

too late. in open
space, lung bared on

 

every side to climb, to 
borrow and trail. flowers

 

are so bored. craving
yield, my hands met 

 

bone instead. there was
never a year before

 

shame, no stirring
before blush. all our blood

 

was sweet. was bright.
the egg-layers came 

 

with unsparing teeth, to drink 
their fill of quiet waters; 

 

had no notion
of being cast away.

 

Mother’s Day Dicta

A push-pin smile does not a human make 

when the boy standing at the crosswalk 

is wearing your face. Begin your study

of the way of salvation only once your

way has already been found clear. The

fruit should under no circumstances be

eaten once that first bite has been made,

its soft skin punctured. Penetrated. That

 

stranger on the streetcorner is wearing 

your soft skin and you don’t know how

to deal with that so you walk faster and

then slower and then faster again. Your

streetcorner self wears his sleeves rolled

to his elbows too. You begin your study 

of salvation in the body of a boy bitten

through with pins. With your own body.

The Epoch of Sin

"We are living a moment of annihilation of man as image of God… Today, in schools they

are teaching this to children—to children!—that everyone can choose their gender.”

— Pope Francis

Give me back those glory days in the

garden where the gradient of the slope was 

friction all the way down. Give me my fifteen-

year-old baby-butch heart beating in a boy’s body

I hadn’t learned to recognise. Give me back the nights

I spent with three worms in my gut and the weight of a cross

I never asked to carry bearing down on my still-unbroken spine.

 

If destruction is the only word I can cram in my mouth alongside

the nails and the broken glass, let me speak only education. If

the angle of my shoulders in the shadow cast fear, let my 

subjunctive mood spread subjective truth till the only

question left is when. If my existence can only be

bought through the obliteration of an ideal,

then just this once let the children live.

The Study of Salvation

I wake up the day after the Rapture, my body still on earth. 

*

 

Neither the animal nor the sin. 

 

*

 

I sing in empty choir lofts, shoulders bared with no one to see.

 

*

 

I cut my own hair and do not lose my strength, though I find myself hunched over the drain

days later, scooping up scraps of what I used to be.

 

*

 

I hang every flower I find upside down to dry, knowing that weeks will pass and I will find

the petals covered in mould.

 

*

 

I never believed in myself, either.

 

*

 

Some days, I am glad it is too late for conversion. That it is too late to rise from dust to glory.

 

*

 

Every echo faithful still.

 

*

 

The sun has never once known reason.

 

*

 

Still, at night, I dream of Eden.