kundiman on a text message in the sky, before seizure
The welder’s eyelash curves, presses against the stained glass of his make-
shift helmet discolored with Riyadh’s heat. Instead of sparks from sexing
rebars, he sees 50,000 rounds of Judas’ Belt, firecracker his village set off
like firearms but those who bleed by its stray bullets would smile instead
as palm wine drunk mothers pressed achuete leaves on runny wounds.
How he grit his teeth like weeks before when a shaman held his penis
hostage over an unnamed headstone, birthed a man from his boyhood.
Fireworks seethed beneath his eyelids as he wore through his mother’s
skirt every day to school, breeze waking hairs in his thighs like iron filings.
Instead he hears hand-clapping games or handheld claps of church bells or
electricity humming in his uncle’s testicle, “faulty wiring” from his time
as a guerrilla that rumors say was enough to light Christmas lights. Shimmer
reminding him of an oarfish, aware of its omen, that washed itself in
the coastline every December where teen couples fulfilled their own little
earthquake. Gin enough to break the woman he was with into fireworks
sucked out the wet behind his ear and spilt brake fluid from the rear
of their family’s jeepney. Aftershocks felt till next year: tin cans that once
stored gunpowder bleached to milk. Rather than plastic horns he’d hear
colic cries. In a place where chaste clouds come down to sip spittle from
their upper lips, he tried to overhear the violence kilometers away. Instead
of feasting, they slept on a banig on the floor, wide enough for no god
to slip in, his son holding his finger like a hammer that could only build
never destroy and he believed this as a homeless snail snuck in to sing
carols in his cochlea. Then he could no longer hear his fighting cock’s hiss
as he yields the illegal chili from its cloaca or his wife suck out shrimp
paste left beneath her nails or his boy’s thumbsucked thumb thumbing
through the qwerty alphabet of a blushing Nokia, only the serenade of
packing tape stretched over chapped brown lips of cardboard boxes and
sputter of a motorcycle smoke-belching the Aplaya shut. As speechless
as he is in a desert where he is beautiful silent, only a forehead kneeling
like a banana’s male bud about to bear fruit, could earn water that lose
weight too fast in their throats. Here, the chapel’s stoup is dry and shoeboxes
with desiccants intact are enough to soar for a stunted word mid-Skype.
Even if they could only swear of women whose niqab he allegedly lifted
or her tongue that may have revered another’s reverie or the firecracker
their son set off too early, it left him soundless. In the silence of other men
in puberty, he feels a shiver of consent in his back pocket. Suddenly,
all else is debris.