Our Archipelago

After Jan-Henry Gray

After a layover in Tokyo, our metal seatbelts rattle when we land.
17 hours spent in the air sipping ginger ale then, finally, land.

I bite into my mother’s favorite fish head we fried in oil,
salted. We carry bucketfuls from offshore to a barrio inland.

In the countryside, a platoon of peasants torch a backhoe,
owned by Del Monte, gutting our people’s ancestral land.

We stand on a mountain in Mindanao. We live closest to the stars
we ever have. At night, we bike to the moon, its cratered land.

In exile, the longest-detained political prisoner during martial law
stops breathing. He comes home in ashes from the Netherlands.

The President buys a drone built by Boeing. 50 million pesos
hover over the Cordilleras, search for anyone defending land.

Before nightfall, a typhoon warning appears. I find a smooth rock,
sit, then watch an American base drown in rain on our islands.

Third grade, Kauai: my great-grandpa brings my dad to an Ilocano
cockfight. Upset, my grandma flies my dad back to the mainland.

Troy, you’re the first in your family to return since Manila was bombed
on Christmas. Of everything, you remember most peeling a pomelo

in your homeland.


and we are no more than bones

I Call From Everywhere to Everywhere:

Friend. To practice one’s true self is to grow brave for consequence. Friend. I am here for honorable acts. Friend. I am sitting at JFK again.