Allan Justo Pastrana holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the
University of the Philippines, Diliman. He finished his Bachelors degree at the
University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music (Music Literature and Piano
Performance). He is a two-time Thomasian Poet of the Year and a recipient of the
Rector's Literary Award during his college days. He bagged the Grand Prize in the
English Division of the Maningning Miclat Award for Poetry in 2005 and won for
the Essay in the 2007 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards. His first book of
poems is Body Haul (UST PublishingHouse, 2011). Pastrana teaches Literature at
Miriam College.

Inner Life

Here you were born
and raised, and raised
well. Not beyond

their means. Not a war-torn
country either, here.
Dank perimeter that was

your weather, leitmotif.
Sure, you'd feel its cold
coming like a not-so-distant

future, the wind of it,
the deep drone of it.
The animal

that didn't make it to the shed
was an incident.

But that was hardly
a puzzle: only a short
distance and you were out there, right

in the middle of things,
important, just being necessary
and all by yourself.

Few more days before rain.
The gloaming's not-yet-green
would find a way to survive

the accidents. The leaves were dead
underfoot. Beneath, history was
throbbing, been breaking out

of, awhile. That backyard
had never been so beautiful.
Too much of an opening

in the wilderness but quite
a luck, and you knew it,
aerial wire to aerial wire.

Someone, from the farthest
end of the house, called
your name and you didn't

answer. You were all of four.
These limits. Otherwise you were there
already, sudden and not moving away.

Nothing like this revenge.  

The Nature of Place

Along a narrow stretch
of beach they make it clear there
is another level to ownership—

identical burrows, line
or plane, but room too,
mostly. What dwells here

unsorted as unrestrained.
Experts say that the beewolf
''will put to shame even

the world's most advanced,
laser-guided cruise missile.''
Reconnaissance maybe, but this part

of the world, this nook—
that's too much work like hearing
the word 'geodetic'

on a rainy evening which is more
buzz than an actual word. Then
'area of responsibility', next.

Or someone might be watching the news—
an old politician says 'psychological warfare'
and you wonder, do I know the heart

as it is, the marrow of having
arrived here soonest, pointblank
with but a few mistakes? A biologist

covers an empty hole with sand, waits
for the defeat. The insect lands
exactly where it has to, digs further

down, same throat without fail.
He repeats everything except—
this deception as choice, scheme

maybe to fool the eye, stray
pine cones arranged strategically
to alter a landscape. Now it slips

and it knows, then tries
to outdo one, takes a lift higher
than one and recognizes

true landmarks that wouldn't
easily betray that one trust, wins.
What is ours eventually

would have to be such right
of way, whether here or yet,
what keeps pointing to that direction´┐Ż

no miss, or less. Say, clematis
and what throbs in spite of, for
example, that which spots

the littlest difference, that stops
dead on its feet if too
late, without blame.


If mulch, all in all, one believes
is what one sees, should I then
take it as it is, why not?

Bread and body, single throb, might
become. It's done already, mostly,
because this hope or that

hope can be all there is for now.
At least a beauty knows
its place temporary, trembles

if need be. Where art thou
asks a lover, is not the question
and the tryst in question is

also inquest—kiss, as in
a turning away, as well the face
that claims it. Like so—

If I take this mass, whole
as yet, couldn't it be
forgiven now and for the rest

of time, the end
at hand, and the one
that will break it?


To have been the
bridge, yes,
solid as anything
the mind
welds into—does not
suspend—a thing
hovering between.
In the beginning.

How else but to have stood
there strong, to have traveled
the length of it, not-

the mind—what it needs
faith for?

Aeons, the story was
only to be a part of once, as in
chipped away finally, as in adrift—
unlearning what to hold

is, what cannot.
Must let loose.
The lesson, briefly,

of more than
you can ever—what's
left then?

Backtrack: the Pleistocene—
mass upon mass, the water
level down, revealed,
the vertical drop, the free
fall, span
spawning foot after

foot, the threadbare
distance of not
yet enough. It is.

To have crossed then
meant only
the desire for it.

Once upon a time—this, we commend
to fate, that slipshod
route of memory, even
its absence.

The land, if told,
rose from that sea-vast
expanse, the wide-eyed
gap—sheath after
sheath—between now
and the body it loved, those

eyes—do not
There is nothing to see.

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