PROJECT GRACE-UP

NATIONAL LGBTQ+

WRITERS WORKSHOP

Mariel Alonzo

Mariel Alonzo is currently an undergraduate student of Psychology in the Ateneo de Davao University where she is the externals vice president of the Ateneo Libulan Circle (LGBT+). She was a poetry fellow to the Ateneo National Writers Workshop and Iligan National Writers Workshop. Her work has recently appeared in Likhaan and Philippines Graphic and was a finalist to the Moth and Plough International Poetry Prizes, judged by Daljit Nagra and Michael Symmons Roberts.

Featured Work:

Where Islands Pretend to Drown

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Mariel Alonzo

Poem

Mariel Alonzo

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Mariel Alonzo

Poem

Mariel Alonzo

Where I'm From

Here    hair strands lose hold of their handstands        trail

over cities        leaving shallow graves in

 

my scalp           Maybe they could be mistaken for
my mother’s carvings on a lottery form           uncoiled

 

or dirt that spines a shrimp      undressed
by her patis-stained fingers                  or the lines that ring

 

two breasts of petrified wood she uses
as doorstoppers           left by an Australian man

 

or the rings I once rubbed from my neck                     before each cross

my heart and hope to die                Maybe those hairs

 

of mine would align one day to form   the longest line

thread through the kilometer zero of her di-mahulugang

 

karayom           my navel poured back

into her womb             like the darkness

 

in a sow           unstitching its knuckles bearing

the weight of one less heartbeat           Maybe they would

 

be mistaken for an elephant’s eyelash one

that traced the maze of my fingertip when I was four

 

that held so much wish            but I stopped myself

from plucking Maybe they would be misplaced

 

by flood           course through canals that open to the Bago

river                 slips inside the sea        accidentally

 

like white hairs that reach out sometimes                     sore thumbs

in the browned dukot or the curls

 

that stay behind my tongue like centipedes      my heel

purposely crush           I know these hairs

 

have to tangle along with others to be noticed by

a sweeper’s gaze           mother’s walis tingting’s sharp bristles

 

breaking the ends                     to coax them

into her dustpan           the final crunch like chicharon

air knocked out of its lungs                  and her hair damp on

her forehead that she’s gently setting               aside

 

and it tickles                it tickles          as she pours it into the bin
but they stay stranded my litter           my hairy little brides

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