The Great Sky Parade

The Great Sky Parade
(An add-your-own-image poem)
by Imelda Morales

A man whose robe 
had slipped beneath 
the trunk of jewels behind him

Became a snake 
with one great bell
dangling from its tail-like steam

That faded white 
into a witch 
with pointy hat on her head

Which covered hair 
That reached her shoes,
A sharp-nosed pair on a bed

Of cotton fluff 
and snow feathers 
And the softest angel wing

Attached to one 
Smiling seraph 
Upon his head a round ring.

Now it’s your turn 
To add a shape
To this parade of sky cast

But just make sure 
To make each form
Connect to the next and last!

Strange House

by Imelda Morales

Something weird happened one day
Inside our old family house.
It started with a painting floating away
Then the cups, and my vest,
And even grandma’s jewel chest.

Up went the white new sheets and shirts
My brother’s slippers, my butterfly earrings
All hovered above like strange little birds.
Soon even the house drifted away
To head where the sparrows go at the close of day.

All this made me nervous, 
My throat got a bit parched.
So I grabbed a mug from over my head
And up the grape juice floated!

Strange House

by Imelda Morales

Something weird happened one day
Inside our old family house.
It started with a painting floating away
Then the cups, and my vest,
And even grandma’s jewel chest.

Up went the white new sheets and shirts
My brother’s slippers, my butterfly earrings
All hovered above like strange little birds.
Soon even the house drifted away
To head where the sparrows go at the close of day.

All this made me nervous, 
My throat got a bit parched.
So I grabbed a mug from over my head
And up the grape juice floated!

La-on and the Seven-Headed Dragon

by Gabriela Lee

Over the land and over the seas,
There was a small kingdom in the East.
But nobody saw its beauty so grand,
For a seven-headed dragon guarded the land.

The problem with dragons is their big bulging tummies.
They’d spew fire and smoke if they didn’t get their yummies. 
To make matters worse, this dragon was picky.
It ate only virgins, and that made it tricky.

Poor King Kabugnot could not rule anymore
For feeding the dragon was a horrible chore.
The land was now dirty, the kingdom was broke;
And there were few virgins among the village folk.

So King Kabugnot looked all over his land
And called all the virgins to lend him a hand.
With the King’s proclamation, not a woman could hide;
And for this dragon’s lunch, chose Marikit… the poor child.

The people were sad; Marikit paid the price.
Saving the kingdom was a supreme sacrifice.
With hands tied and tears in her eyes,
She went to the dragon, and offered her life.

But soon came the day the King truly feared:
All the poor virgins in his land had been cleared!
King Kabugnot scratched his head as he thought,
“What should I do? In a corner I’m caught!”

The poor King was so troubled; dragon’s food was so late.
With a fish and an apple, he begged it to wait.
He was searching for food when out of nowhere
A skinny young man was standing right there!

La-on was no merchant, no prince nor poor man,
But he promised the King that he’d do what he can.
For La-on had the power of magic, not tricks.
And the language of ants, bees, and eagles he’d mixed.

They bided their time for a –SURPRISE ATTACK!
The bees stung the dragon’s tough, scaly back!
The ants bit the noses! The eagles pierced the eyes!
Truly the battle was a sight…not so nice.

Now that the dragon was fully distracted,
The brave La-on jumped on its tummy and acted.
He plunged his big bolo with a swift and sure stroke
Until the great dragon gave its last fiery croak.

And as we might expect, La-on was hero to all.
But he first paid the King a courtesy call.
He went to the palace with a head of the dragon.
Proving once and for all that the terror was now gone.

And as for the dragon, its body was buried
In the place where it crashed (it couldn’t becarried).
The densest of forests surrounded the site
And slowly there rose a mountain of fright!

Now and then the huge mountain would spew fire and smoke
To tell of this tale to all the townsfolk.
It reminds us that goodness and courage won’t fall,
Mount Kanlaon is indeed a fine tale!

I Sing

by Imelda Morales

I sing because of your heart-shaped hands, I sing
Because of the folds in your skin. They catch
My kisses the way leaves drink sunshine and I sing
Because you’re fragrant as a dream

Of cotton and wisps of foggy air 
At dawn. Because it feels as if 
I’m holding a cloud when I put your foot 
On my palm, I sing.

If I put my cheek near your little lips I’m kissed
By the gentlest, sweetest breath. I sing 
Because your laughter is a song whose chords 
Play in my heart. Your smile, pure miracle

Blossoming before me, makes me sing. 
And I’m warmed to my soul by your gentle eyes
Whose depths cradle sparks of sweet days coming,
And I sing for the perfectness of things.

Dragonfly’s Fly

On a hot summer’s day, the Dragonfly came zinging across the river . Bi bi tutubi . It had a secret to tell!

The first one it saw was the shrimp who was wading in the dry, shallow part of the river.

“I have a secret!” whispered Dragonfly as it hovered over the shrimp.

“What great news!” answered the Shrimp as it flipped and flashed to the deeper part of the river. Uulang ulang . It caused quite a ripple.

The ripple frightened Frog who had just finished laying its egg sac by the reeds.

“I must hide!” it said as it hopped away leaving its egg sac unattended. Pak pak palaka .

“Where is Frog off to in a hurry?” asked Turtle. “Is trouble on the way?” it asked itself as it followed the frog. Bong bong pagong .

Up on a tree, Woodpecker saw the frog hopping away pak pak palaka followed by the turtle with its house on its back bong bong pagong .

“Why is Turtle carrying its house on its back?” wondered Woodpecker. “And why is there quite a ripple in the river? Is trouble on the way?” Woodpecker banged his hard beak on the tree trunk that echoed throughout the river. Tuk tuk batutok. Tuk tuk batutok.

Heron, who was skimming the river floor by the reeds for tasty snails leaped up in fright. It stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed all the tiny eggs in it.

Ba bakaw kaw !

“Frog will surely be angry,” it said as it plodded away.

Frog eventually returned to the reeds and found its egg sac squashed and all the tiny eggs in it. Ka ka palaka ! “Who could have done this horrible thing?”

” Baaakaaaw! Baaakaaaw !” screeched the birds overhead.

“I must report this at once to the king of the river,” said Frog as it hopped pak pak palaka to where King Crocodile basked on the dry river bank.

“King Crocodile,” said Frog, “the heron has squashed my egg sac and all the tiny eggs in it. It must be punished!”

“Call the heron!” ordered King Crocodile. BuBu buwaya

The heron waded up the dry river bank and stood before the king of the river. Ba bakaw kaw .

“Was it you who stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed it and all the tiny eggs in it?”

“It wasn’t my fault I stepped on Frog’s egg sac,” said Heron. “The sound of the woodpecker’s hard beak banging on the tree trunk frightened me.”

“Fetch the woodpecker!” ordered King Crocodile. Bu Bu buwaya

The woodpecker flew down from its perch up in the tree and stood before the King Crocodile. Tuk tuk batutok .

“Was it you who banged your hard beak on the tree trunk that frightened Heron who stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed it with all the tiny eggs in it?”

“I only banged my hard beak on the tree trunk to warn everyone of trouble when I saw the turtle carrying its house on its back,” answered Woodpecker.

“Summon the turtle!” ordered the King Crocodile. Bu Bu buwaya .

The turtle arrived after a long while with its house on its back. Bong bong pagong

“Was it you who fled with your house on your back so that Woodpecker banged its hard beak on the tree trunk that frightened Heron who stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed it and all the tiny eggs in it?”

“But I always carry my house on my back, King Crocodile. I saw Frog hop away in a hurry and thought their might be trouble at the river.”

“So it is you Frog who frightened Turtle to flee with its house on its back so that Woodpecker banged its hard beak on the tree trunk that frightened Heron who stepped on your egg sac and squashed it with all the tiny eggs in it!” said the King Crocodile.

“I only hopped away in fright from the ripples in the river,” said Frog.

“And who was responsible for the ripple?” asked King Crocodile.

“Why the shrimp!” said the frog.

“Bid the shrimp to appear before me!” ordered the King Crocodile. Bu bu buwaya.

The shrimp swam as near as it could to the dry river bank. Uulang ulang .

“So it is you Shrimp who made quite a ripple and therefore frightened Frog who Turtle saw hopping away which made Turtle flee with its house on its back so that Woodpecker banged its hard beak on the tree trunk that frightened Heron who stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed it with all the tiny eggs in it!” said King Crocodile.

“I only flipped and flashed for joy because of what the dragonfly had told me!” answered the shrimp. Without waiting to hear what the dragonfly had said, King Crocodile said, “Send for the dragonfly!” Bu bu buwaya.

 

The dragonfly arrived and zigged around the King Crocodiles head. Bi bi tutubi .

“So it is you Dragonfly who caused Shrimp to make quite a ripple that frightened Frog who hopped away leaving its egg sac which made Turtle flee with its house on its back so that Woodpecker banged its hard beak on the tree trunk that frightened Heron who stepped on Frog’s egg sac and squashed it with all the eggs in it!” said King Crocodile.

“I only told Shrimp that the rains were coming!” said the dragonfly.

“And so they are!” exclaimed King Crocodile as large rain drops plopped on his craggy head and on all those present. Pak pak patak

“Sis boom ba! Hele hele ha! The rain is here!” cheered all the river denizens in glee.

“It was good news that brought all this about. Summer has ended and the river will flow again! It is unfortunate that you Frog have lost your egg sac and all the tiny eggs in it but you will lay another soon and we promise to take good care of it and when they hatch, the little tadpoles.”

All the other creatures nodded their head in agreement.

“Now everyone! Go home and enjoy the rain!” Bu bu buwaya!

Cariña’s

by Heidi Emily Eusebio-Abad

It was the summer of Cariña’s ninth birthday. Most of the kids in the neighborhood played out in the streets. Many of them stayed until suppertime. On certain evenings, some children would even resume their games after eating.

“Rina! Rina! Come inside the house, na!”

“Not again!” Rina whined.

This was the fourth time she was being called into the house. And for what? To answer a few silly questions that her grandmother would repeatedly ask. “What time is it?” “Where’s your mommy?” “What are you doing outside?” Afterwards, Rina would just go out again to resume playing with her friends.

It was still afternoon and Rina didn’t want to interrupt their game of patintero by having to go back into the house. And besides, her team was already losing. She didn’t want the other team to think that they had chickened out. The boys were playing against the girls. It was more fun this way since they could get to touching or cornering the guy they had a crush on.

“Rina! Come inside the house, na!” the maid called out again.

“Ya!” Rina answered in her loudest but exasperated voice.

“Wait lang, ha?” she told her friends.

The family room was dimly lit by the late afternoon sun shining through the windows. The old woman was seated on her chair that was gently rocking back and forth.back and forth. A glass of warm milk, probably already cold, was on the side table. A few salt crackers were on a saucer beside the glass.

“Yes, Lola?” Rina managed to say after catching her breath. Warm perspiration trickled down her spine. She wiped the sweat off her brow with the edge of her shirt’s sleeves.

“Cariña. Hija, vena qui.”

“Yes, lola?” Rina answered but her mind was still on the group of noisy children playing in the street. She tried to hide the sulky tone in her voice. “What, lola?”

The old woman now opened her eyes. With her right hand, she motioned Rina to come closer. Rina knelt beside the rocking chair and put her hands on the old woman’s lap. The chair stopped rocking.

“Is it night already, hija?”

“Not quite, lola. It’s still sunset.”

The subdued orange rays of the sun could still be seen through the window and Rina wondered why her grandmother had to ask the question.

“Are your mommy and daddy home yet?”

“No, lola. They will arrive within the hour.”

Rina sensed that her grandmother wanted company so she sat on the floor and ran her stubby fingers up the left arm of the old woman. The arm remained motionless on her grandmother’s lap but this did not bother Rina. Half-heartedly, however, she continued her ritual.

“Stay with me awhile, huh, hija?”

“Yes, lola.”

It was now smoky gray outside the window. Rina felt uneasy because the children outside had stopped shouting and squealing although she could still hear their voices. She wondered whether the game had ended. Perhaps they were already tired and decided to tell stories instead.

Massaging the old woman’s arm tired her so. At certain intervals Rina would stop running her fingers up the arm. She then shifted to gently stretching the fingers of the limp hand and giving each finger a slight squeeze.

It was amazing how this hand of the old woman had become a useless part of her body. When that hand was still working, the old woman used to cook the tastiest family dinner. The fingers, too, were very nimble at sewing the girl’s dresses.

Rina yawned lazily just sitting there, massaging her grandmother’s arm. She looked about the room and fixed her eyes on the piano.

The piano was a family heirloom. Cariña’s grandmother worked hard to buy that piano as a Christmas gift for her only daughter, who was Cariña’s mother. The old woman used to knit baby dresses, embroider tablecloths, and sew blouses for export to earn the money for the piano. At that time, she was just in her early forties but was already a widow. With only her daughter to keep her company, she decided to liven up their Christmas with this surprise.

Cariña’s mother learned how to play the piano and this talent was then passed on to Rina years later. On certain evenings, Rina and her mother would take turns playing the piano. Their avid audience was, of course, the old woman.

“Cariña, toca el piano para mi, hija,” her grandmother would say.

The old woman would hum along or clap her hands whenever Rina played her best pieces. Lately though, she would just sit there with her eyes closed. Sometimes Rina wondered why she bothered to play the piano at all. Within seconds into a musical piece, her grandmother would fall asleep.

The change in her grandmother happened one dismal, rainy night, two years ago. Rina was just about to fall asleep when she heard a shuffle of footsteps outside her bedroom door. Conversations in a low tone were going on in the other room-her grandmother’s room. Rina got out of her bed to see what was going on.

In the dim light of the night lamp she saw her mother seated on the side of her grandmother’s bed. Her father stood next to the window and was staring outside. Her grandmother remained asleep in bed, but she let out a dry muffled sound everytime she breathed. Rina entered the room and sat on her mother’s lap. Her mother hugged her tightly.

“Rina,” she whispered, “Lola had a stroke.”

Rina didn’t really know what that meant but she could tell it was what made her grandmother look like a frail ragdoll on the bed. As she stared at the old woman, her thoughts wandered to the next morning when she would play with her friends again.

“Cariña,” the voice of her grandmother interrupted her thoughts. “Are you tired already?”

Rina, without realizing it, had stopped massaging her grandmother’s hand as she got lost in thought.

“Hija mia, you may go back outside and play.”

The young girl remained silent. She wiped a tear, recalling the countless times when the old woman used to take care of her. Then, she got up from the floor and walked towards the piano.

“Never mind, lola,” she said determinedly. “I’ll stay with you.”

The old woman just nodded her head and closed her eyes.

“Lola, what piece would you like to hear?” Rina smiled and turned to her grandmother.

But the old woman kept her eyes closed and remained silent. The chair continued to rock back and forth.back and forth. The maid came into the room to switch the lights on.

“Rina, your friends are waiting for you,” the maid informed her. “They want to know if you will still go out to play hide-and-seek with them.”

“Tell them tomorrow, na lang.”

The maid shrugged her shoulders and was about to leave the room when Rina jumped up to stop her.

“Maring, ako na lang. I’ll go tell them myself.”

Rina opened the sliding doors to the terrace. Cool air swept into the stuffy room. It was already dark outside. A few stars were scattered about the deep blue sky. Beneath the white light of the lamp post was the group of children seated on the sidewalk in front of Rina’s house. They were still waiting for her.

“O, Rina!” one of the girls called out. “Join us, na.”

“I can’t. Tomorrow na lang.” Rina waved goodbye to the group then turned to enter the house.

She knitted her brows. “What was I about to do?…Ah!”

Rina wiggled her fingers which were already numb from massaging the old woman’s arm. She sat on the piano stool, straightened her back, positioned her fingers on the keyboard and rested her foot on the pedal. Soon enough, the room was filled with the music of a waltz melody. Rina’s fingers kept playing at the keys.

She was mesmerized by the way her fingers glided over the keys. The movement of her hands was smooth. With this exercise Rina experienced a tingling sensation which ran through her arms, to her back, and down to her feet. Her whole body felt the music. This was how she could tell that she was playing the piano, not just properly, but with feeling.

Rina developed this sensation through the years of taking piano lessons from her mother. But she was, in turn, inspired by her grandmother. Rina recalled how her grandmother would kiss her on the forehead before she began each lesson. This was supposed to be for good luck. She remembered how the old woman gently prodded her to master each lesson even if Rina was already teary-eyed from her mother’s scolding. Rina reminisced about her first piano recital which was sponsored by her proud grandmother. It was in a nearby music hall. Friends and relatives were there to listen to the waltz pieces which she rendered skillfully. Rina could see their delight with each familiar piece she played. Some were even swaying their heads and tapping their feet to the rhythm. But Cariña’s grandmother showed the most pleasant reaction of all. The sparkle in her eyes told of the nostalgic joy she felt within.

The waltz had always been a favorite of the old woman. It reminded her of the quiet days and romantic nights of her youth. “The Beautiful Blue Danube” and “Over the Waves” were reminiscent of the time when she used to live in a big house overlooking the waters of the Pasig River . “The Starlight Waltz” brought back memories of the first dance she had with a handsome marine officer who later became her husband. Yes.the waltz had always been a part of the old woman.

Now and then Rina would glance at her grandmother whose eyes remained closed. But this time Rina wasn’t bothered by it. She continued to play all the best piano pieces she had mastered.

Meanwhile, the chair continued rocking back and forth.back and forth.

“I know,” Rina smiled to herself, “Lola is listening.”

The waltz piece came to a beautiful finale. A faint smile formed on the lips of the quiet old woman. But Rina did not see it because she went on to play another piece. So, the chair kept rocking back and forth.back and forth.

At the Cloth Shop

by Imelda Morales

My mother lost me one day
There at the cloth shop
She was buying textile for my first uniform
She had all the shades and textures on her lap

After some time, she suddenly remembered
That she brought her daughter along
So she called my name and looked for me
Tearfully she searched hard and long

She shouted at the store clerk
She called and screamed at the cop
She called my father, she called her mother
She even harassed the gathering mob

All that racket woke me
Up from beneath the cloth heap
For there I found among fresh fabrics
A wonderfully warm place to sleep

My mother was happy, no, I think she’s mad
I really don’t get her sometimes
She looked sheepishly at everyone else
But stared at me with her piercing black eyes