Christian Benitez teaches literature at the Ateneo de Manila University in the
Philippines, where he finished his degree in AB-MA Filipino Literature. His
works have been published in Diagram, Cha: An Asian Journal, and High Chair,
among others. He is currently an editor at transit: an online journal.
You Must Recall Your Past Lives
after Wallace Stevens
Once you were cedar, then once you were
a blackbird, & you were sitting on the limbs
of what once you were. Once you were snow
falling, then the river into which you fell. Once
by the river, you were one of these thin men,
then another of them, until you were all of them
at once. Then once you were the only woman
these men think of, only to be all the women
all men once thought of. But once you were
not thinking at all: you were a blackbird, one
with men & women, thinking of snow, then
you were the snow, capping the cedars, all twenty
mountains. & once you were twenty mountains,
not thinking, & you were once looking at me.
Must God be Gabriel Garcia Marquez
When we learned how to walk, we walked
through thickets for a hundred years
& so. When we tried to count our steps,
we counted them with our fingers, until
our fingers weren't enough. When it became
too much, we let them hang limply by our sides.
When wounded only we moved them again.
When angered, we kissed each other's fingers
& when anger became too much, our kisses
became too much, & soon they became
our children. Soon our children became too
much, so we began to name them one by one:
when we remember, name them familiar words;
else, familiar words we would not ever recall.
One Day, A Mountain, A Rock
& a god puts in this
landscape a man
to push the rock
to the mountain top
only for the rock to fall
back again, & again
he pushes, only for it
to fall back again, &...
Again, this is just myth,
& for the man won't just
die, one can only imagine
his happiness, meaning:
there can be no rock, no
mountain, not a single day.
Nietzsche Must Be So Proud
The man in Saigon with a revolver
aimed at his temple is the same man
in Manila, with a photo not of his face
but his head on asphalt, brain spilling out
probably—we can't be sure, it's dark, but
certainly: the man in Saigon is the man
in Manila, with name and body and time
quite different but not quite. I think
of recurrences, but not quite, but you
see: the man in Saigon is the man in Manila
is the man elsewhere is me: we still take
photos of each other—the man held up,
the man holding up, and the man holding
the camera up—so long it, as if, not hurts.
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