F. Jordan Carnice was born in 1988 and lived his first 16 years in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. His next four years were mostly spent in Dumaguete, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing at Silliman University. During those years, he also became a member of LitCritters Dumaguete, led a regional organization called Kadugong Bol-anon, and was part of the editorial board of The Weekly Sillimanian. He soon worked in Manila to head a major food company’s corporate communications for almost half a decade. He is currently based back in Bohol to focus more on his writings and visual arts while pursuing a degree in Information Technology. He contributes reviews and features to The Bohol Chronicle and he is affiliated to Kaliwat ni Karyapa (KAKA), a reading and creative writing circle founded in Tagbilaran. On some Saturdays of the month, he works with Plastic Free Bohol as a volunteer to clean up several beaches and coastlines in the island of Panglao.
He is a recipient of fellowships from several national writing workshops. In 2008, he was a fellow for fiction in the 47 th Silliman University National Writers Workshop and a fellow for English poetry in the 15 th Iligan National Writers Workshop. Two years later, he got in the 10th IYAS Creative Writing Workshop in Bacolod as a fellow for English fiction. In 2012, he was a delegate and a panelist for the conference session “Under 35: Young Writers and Their Milieu” in the 4th Taboan Philippine Writers Festival at Fontana Leisure Park, Clark Field, Pampanga. His works of creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction have seen print in, ANI: The Philippine Literary Yearbook, The Bohol We Love, Dark Blue Southern Seas, Montage, Paper Monster Press , Ubod: National Commission for Culture and the Arts Literary Anthology, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Philippine Speculative Fiction, Sands & Coral, Silliman Journal, Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and many others. He is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights and the protection of the environment. He cherishes his cat Eeyan.
Poetry as a Lesson in Botany
We have grown fond of this:
Peeling the bark off a trunk
Like an itch on the crust of a wound.
It has never crossed our minds
The asymmetry of a scar
That could live beyond our years.
See, we are in mute obedience to life
Only when this patch of grass digs deep
To embrace ourselves whole again.
Rarely do we ever hear
The rustlings in the bushes at noon,
Those invisible fragile mouths in chorus.
Nobody roots for pain
The way things endure
In the last tundra of the century.
If only someone could tell us
Of the dandelion seed in wanderlust,
Of the alga deprived of its place.
We have to know because
Aren’t we always in search of trees?
Family, knowledge, perhaps life.
There will come a time
A bud could only bloom
If never left to its own devices.
Here is a grain of rice freed
From its husk. Look at it closely
Like a firstborn child.
Look at how finite and inept it is
In its solitude and crudeness.
Look at what we have done.
-This piece will be published in Sustaining The Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine
Ecopoetry, edited by Rina Garcia Chua (2017))
Poetry as a Lesson in Zoology
A cat is a poem that walked
On four legs, the heron with two,
And the fish and snake with none.
Numbers create the arrangements
Of our kingdom: Everyone learns to adore
Many but never the same things.
Except fireflies, perhaps, or marmosets.
But would it remain true that what follows
After everything remarkable
Is still remarkable when it changes?
See this egg a week later,
See this cicada a day after.
There is a pecking order
To what we insist we believe,
And yet only a few of us notice
There is strength in the wings
Of a hummingbird, the memory
Of the albatross cruising continents,
The dreams cast in every web
By the spider. If we only knew
What geckos practice behind wall clocks
And picture frames, we’d probably grasp
The nature of our secrecies,
Why we always do what we do:
To empty ourselves as would a butterfly
Struggle out of a cocoon, credulous
Of the beasts and fowls of the world.
Did you hear that? It is the call not only
Of the wild but also of the timid, the giraffes
And the whales, the impalas
And the swans, the magnificent
But of the silent grace.
There is only so much we could
Name from what we can hear,
See and hold, yet neither scale
Nor feather, neither stripe nor spot,
Could tremble our being creatures
Of habit: to seek and to capture,
To claim what is never ours.
-An earlier version of this piece was first published in ANI The Philippine Literary
Yearbook – Kahayupan: The Animal Kingdom, vol. 39, edited by Herminio S. Beltran, Jr.
(23 September 2016))
Original Madness
If you are one to fall into madness,
Hold on to the many ways of mending
Fragility, like how one makes sense
With beautiful chaos: impressionism,
Sunflowers at night, the drunkard
And the gurgle in his throat that is his opus.
Maybe, just maybe, the trouble is not
Only the seeing but also the reading:
A ship is a whale ahead of its time,
A glance is always a message to be cracked.
We are our own makers of mischief
And, sooner or later, casualties.
The air will then throb with meaning.
Though no one will ever be as wise as stars
Or hold love captive that could shy them
Away from us, a little dent in logic
Is the nearest we could get. To be free,
To laugh like fields of anemones.
– This piece was first published in Silliman Journal : A Special Literary Issue Dedicated to
Edilberto K. Tiempo and Edith L. Tiempo, edited by Anthony L. Tan, Marjorie Evasco,
and Grace R. Monte De Ramos (2013)
Original Tempest
I always believed in the sincerity
Of nature, also its temper
And its rhythm that works
The chimes of the universe.
It is full of everything I must know.
But one night I had a dream
Of nothing: There was a knocking
But no one beyond the door,
There was a howling
But no dogs were in sight,
And there were cries but no tears
Were found in anyone’s eyes.
From thousands of miles away
I woke up to find a country
Hard hit in the guts: On its knees,
Weeping for clouds that had bled
Too much. No stones were left
Unturned, no leaf from trees
Unorphaned. Has the hum
Of nature changed its tune?
Have we seen this coming?
I always believed in resilience,
Too, but today I start to ask, where
Does now begin and when will enough
Decide on its limit?
What I see is a sky that denies
Devastation and a village
That has lost its men. Truly,
How could light ever impale
Through this darkness?
Why here and not there?
To all these questions
There is at once an answer
And a mirror image of it:
“Bahala na.” Leave it to the wind,
Keep the doors closed, check the locks.
I always believed all this will pass,
That we must live the way we love,
The way a bird takes its first flight:
Treacherous, telling, necessary.
– This piece was first published in Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets,
edited by Eileen R. Tabios (December 2013)
How to Make an Accident
There is no end to the vacancy
of what has once been surrounding us:
womb, embrace, room, coffin, body, sky.
Maybe we are born to keep our hands
wringing in the air, in obvious gaps,
searching for things to hold on to.
So it seems appearing to be wise helps,
that we know countless shades of red
and suggest books we have never read.
We always try to fill the empty glass.
Yet it also seems we are not old enough
to think we deserve the perils we create.
Imagine the glass brimming and untouched.
Imagine the stain on the mahogany.
Imagine the thirst others would have.
Someday, with the back of our hands,
we will tip this glass off the table
to see it splinter into little jigsaw pieces.
We will then note the liquid map assembling
on the marble, a new topography within reach.
There are desperate measures we resort to.
And this would be one of them:
to stare at space, water in the eyes,
like that pool on the floor, filling some void.
– This piece was first published in Sands & Coral 2013: Celebration, edited by Ian Rosales Casocot (August 2013)
How to Write Another Story
Remain calm,
the wor(l)d ends only when
the wor(l)d stops spinning.
Consider the whiteness as some sort
of cleansing: Do not let the blank page
(t/d)aunt you.
Remember, in space, there is no void.
Only a chance to burst in multiple
limitless directions.
There are other stories to tell.
Never depend on the full moon
—it could be the devil’s halo.
Just squint a little harder.
Look instead for things golden(ed),
like the dictionary in the attic.
Yes, a lot has been too easy these days:
the smiling, the laughing, the l(o/i)ving,
the homemade remedy for bee stings.
But easy is not always right.
Not even enough. To ignore complexity
is to question the generosity of the sky.
Take (ad)vantage of this (short)coming:
What we own is a glorified reflection
of what we do not have.
Case in point: apple on the table.
This fruit could be re(a)d
for another (r/s)eason.
– An earlier version of this piece was first published in Philippines Free Press (May 2011)