Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo teaches literature and art courses
at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. His poems
recently appeared in Scarlet Dragonfly Journal, Philippines
Graphic Reader
, and Cold Moon Journal. He maintains a blog at

Back when we dreamt together in a studio-type

Notorious for the smoke of the orchestra pits
And the burning factory, it blues the horizon in a trans-
Gray layer of soot and ancestral music.

In its periphery are the groundlings' main
Cartoonist and historian known by continuously burning
Driftwood to make charcoal; which add to its charitable

Foundation. Shouts and funky honks
Punctuate the proverb / If beat is prettily perceived

Where the unconfirmed illustrator licensed the style
Of thick underdog and white,
A rainbow depiction of neglected flags and cereals,

Broken and discarded rabbits.
Own a contemplation of hung drama in lux.

"There is a difference between singer and actress,"
This, an interview where tourists can "simply develop
Slums by the bay . . . along alleys, design humble residents

Overcoming the water." In their baker's streams and solo
Places, the tours attempt access to solitude.

Dressed into an artificial drummer by crossing
Sections of the musician with the architects.
Housed in the conductor's prized confusion.

Cool gray roof

Guarding against more engine trouble,
I grew familiar with the hood. Morning after morning,
and never without cat tracks—
clusters of paw dust, right up the windshield.

A car, maybe, can grow too old
for you to care. If some cat scratches the paint?
Better to punish the car.

My friend who campaigned
pink until the cancer took him,
his cats dwelled under his car

back when it was warm.
Tonight I got

why the neighboring cat mounted
our failing car. It hunted under the bulb
and above its reflection

where beetles flew, and danced, and stopped.
Roaches, too: crunch! But those hard shells . . .
this diet will kill it.

What a race:
me, the limping cat, the car,
your memory on the balls of the feet.

Tandem Riders

Hoodies in a tangle so we
brace the inches we're at. We're not gasping any

-more, we mount the gasp, and deep
in a cush, snapping leather across the checkpoints.

Wait. Walk around the bend, so I can index you
behind the plaza; They'll to have me alone,

masked, anonymous as denims. No packet in the white shirt,
Inside pocket: "They must be fast asleep."

You're to take the glove and remove the shirt.
We part beneath a lamp / a blinking failure among peers.

"It became what it was because I took it," and we meet
always as if the first tingling—no

how has it been with you until they
removed you, left inert packages in your wake.

Vanity of vanities

Elsewhere, cute trinkets sing of our here.
Petals blink in the air there, freed from their treetops,
but here we deal with the bottoms of cups, weighing

down the table. Don't touch those, as I'll wash tomorrow.
Just fetch us water. Someone whips out a joke
and laughter pops in and out, in and out,

thick and slow, phlegm bubbles all
because someone dared. You don't
talk timing at a time like this,

no content about the content,
the forgiven. Lord, who does that every day,
won't mind a day of you not blessing fuzzy naysayers

to shush the daylights off them. The bones of my
murdered stir, my blood can't sit straight,

I'm quitting talkshops and taking real work
to hide the nerves, inhale some of the money before hell
eases back in from the vacay. "I'm realigning

efforts, sadly. Humbly,
I think the college should, too." They said the unsayable,
You resemble the enemy now,

said the purplish dilettante, the one
with predictions so off no incorrect,
absentee father will fly back to slap him across

his unjoining face. Commit!
The cheek bounced back. It meant no harm.
That was its first, most endearing mistake.

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