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A Study of Anger

Alfonso Manalastas


I cannot say fully

that I understand anger

Is it the carnal form of hate 

distinguished by the potent diction,

almost eloquence,

of how it wrecks

Is it a world upon the discovery of fire,

how ruthlessly and decidedly

it scorched the tongues of those

who dared lick its face

Is it the wearing off of the valium,

the violence in which the veins

protest the sober submission

eclipsing the human soul

Is it a dying language; or

a language fervent and festering

in its attempt to be alive; or

a language so alive, the gods are

hell-bent on killing it



I took my anger on a field trip

to the largest labor force known to man:

a factory of alleged virtues;

its business, to sanitize anger

to exhume it from, and for, the human body

No silver was to be offered,

only that anger be traded

for penance

for mercy

for gift cards

The gunfire backdrop unlearns

its coarse and callous ways,

the blaring sirens slither

through the cracks of Metro Manila traffic,

blood becomes the final coat finish

of a sturdy road

I walk home with a newly prescribed dictionary

—thick, glossy,

the word anger missing from its pages

I stagger towards conviction hoping

to find some semblance, 

only conviction is anger’s distant cousin

from New York; Milan; 

somewhere first world


The Bisaya word for anger is sukô

I live in a city whose language

desecrates my native tongue,

softens my anger inside a petri dish

and calls it giving up

Anger still sits heavy at the backs

of our throats—swollen and tangled, nuzzling

at the prim of these windpipes

we so desperately choke back at the dinner table,

that our mouths shatter

upon the saying of grace

There is no god in this city,

no benevolent one, at least

only a wasted blue collar worker of a god:

limping, middle-aged, about to lose his job

He carries the weight

of all our genocides,

our tyrannies,

and our civil wars to the doorstep,

an uninvited guest knocking for bread

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