PROJECT GRACE-UP

NATIONAL LGBTQ+

WRITERS WORKSHOP

Juxtaposing Hotel Luna

Alfonso Manalastas

1.


A blood splattered painting

hangs regally in a corridor:


increments of the artist’s DNA,

some overt political message,


an antiquated brass frame,

deftness, dexterity, taste.


A woman in shiny pearl earrings

stays at the hotel, smokes Esse


along the cobblestoned streets

of Calle Crisologo, a microcosm


of Spanish occupation in rural

Ilocos where a plume of smoke


erupts from her mouth, lungs

brimming with ash and heat.


The rate goes: four thousand

pesos a night, not bad for its


middle-class occupants; a pool,

an intercontinental breakfast,


a blood splattered painting

perched outside your door


to decorate your mornings

with, as a warning, perhaps.


2.


We will stroll around this city

made of stone. We will meet


at 8:30 sharp, travel by foot past

old walls, red bricks leaking out


of concrete like gushing skin.

We will have steaming white rice


for stamina, meat in distinctly

Vigan sauté for protein, something


sumptuous that will say we are

neither of this land nor new to it;


what hybrids can find love in a city

that sells horseshit and decay


by the pound, and be so in love, still,

that we are drunk after two beers,


unperturbed by the click-clack of

the kalesa, how spit and sweat are


traded in gleaming currency, how we

barter for more as soon as we run out.


The hotel staff will find our sheets

disparate from their appointed beds,


a crescent yellow forming outward

from the center—nothing that good


detergent can’t fix in Hotel Luna

where it’s business as usual.


3.


The philosophy of forgiveness

resides not in the abandonment


of history, or the virtuous denial

of our pain, but in the cruelty


of remembering, how we preserve

the cages we were slaughtered in,


how we bend our knees in worship

of the wealth that flourished


on our hunger, how we build highways

out of stones we collected on our


broken backs, how we slice off

our tongues to learn the language


of our enemies, how we create

monuments out of bomb shelter


ruins, how thirty pesos per person

is what it costs to enter bell towers


built in the names of those who

enslaved us, how so willingly we


surrender our last change, how we take

the shape of our oppressors and sell


it back to them, complemented with

the finest hotel arrangements our


tempered sense of selves can offer,

certain that they come back for more.


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