White Grass

kundiman on a text message in the sky, before seizure

Mariel Alonzo

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.


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