on forgetting


                                         after Safia Elhillo


Tanauan mud is black

with baby's limbs

drowned dogs chained

to the toilet bowl


climb the bent back

of coconut

trees laid

to the ground in prayer

to the wind to lola

begging no more typhoons


mama scolds me to stop swimming in the ocean



how American, iday

to play in the mouth of your family's grave

in the ghost of crumpled seawalls forget

concrete has never stopped an ocean's teeth


from biting through the highway

plucking babies from tatay's arms

as tita desperately climbs the coconut tree

before next storm surge wave

swallows her night gown 


there is a mass grave crawling out my tongue

each time I ask my mama to speak in English



mama say I just want someone to water my orchids when I'm gone



but I leave & forget

the copper taste of canned food relief goods

forget to call mama next typhoon


open the bathroom door

my uncle is weeping into toilet bowl

as he recounts the family that died

when Haiyan blew his firewall on top of them


blue passport child

of American tongue,

leave your homeland & forget

your mama


the helicopters arrive

with more cameras than relief goods

mama say how dare you take a picture of all these bodies


iday, how can you leave

when we still got all these bodies

only call now when you need someone

to fix the Waray in your poems


my mother is an Ocean away 


no one has ever looked at me & thought of water


preparing for the next typhoon


& i killed her orchids again


laying sand bags

to stop the waters from rising


forget mama can't swim


in our empty house of ghosts


forget the holy of her hands

washing red ants from my feet

bringing life back to the guava &

green papaya trees in lola's garden


forget all my promises


to come back home.