On the way to Switzerland

I am writing this in the dark
as the sleeping bus zooms into the streets
of Salzburg. Twice now I glimpsed this city,
both cold nights approaching the winter.
And twice the dark conceals it,
street lights never really sharpening my visions.
My cage moves past local cypress trees,
and I want to bring them with me
inside my pockets, or within the comforts
of my rough, hard-beaten luggage.
But glass confines me, and sometimes
with a clear sky, I only see my picture
escaping past slippery roads.
But no snow yet. Flurries will hurry next month
but tonight it’s just fragments of flood
on this asphalt floor stretching to Zürich.
Tomorrow, the sun will erase rain’s lost memories.
But only in this city that doesn’t show itself crying.
I will sleep now as the dark encumbers me
towards the vast of nowhere.
Tomorrow, I will wake up with the Alps
waiting for me, bright white caps
amid the blue day. For now, I hope to dream
of Salzburg and its green, green grass,
as I find it a motion of cool wind, light sun rays,
and the lake overlooking my closing eyes.

Christmas 2019

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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Forgetting

I eat the earth
Knowing it was you
Who removed roads
Carrying my feet to eternity.
How do you want
To be missed, my dear,
Each year a different
Form of heartache?
A moss-laden km marker,
Asphalt cracks,
Falling debris along
Narrow, sloped highways.

No memory is the traitor
Of time when decades
Become distances of our own
Wanderings. Flights of planes
Waiting to crash,
The sea losing itself from
Unheeding boats,
Buses injured from countless
Rough mountains.

You have become me
In finding what has been lost
Long ago, might be
The names on tombstones
Mired by men unknowing
Of life’s history.
Casualties of long-perceived
Accidents.

Somewhere beyond
My knowledge, you must be
Waiting, counting dust
Slowly wrapping your body,
The bed of my longing.
When your skin becomes
Crumpled paper, your wrists
To your legs, all of you tightly
Losing breath, I mourn in millennia
Your gaped mouth, teeth to lips,
The gumption of silence.

I eat the earth
Knowing it was you
Who removed from me
My eyes to follow all forms
Of your shadow. In the hospital,
The casket, my lap.
Still, I seek you, my tongue
Numb from water,
In times I carry my dreams
In the dark when I wake up
Empty of voice.

Yet you wait,
Still an ample time more,
For me to rest near you,
The epithet of a name I so longed
To hear. Just now,
Now that I have succumbed
To miss you,
The earth will grow plants,
Flowers, trees whose roots
The extension of our veins.

In time,
There will be rain,
The war between eyes and tears.
By then, I assure you I will finally
Find you wide awake, waiting.
When I do, you will
Come with me
And through the depths
Of the world we will sleep
Together and carry with us
Little fragments
Of our shared lives, shared love,
In each passing day and night.

2 Aug 2019

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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Untitled

   For S.

You
who so longed
to see words breaking
bones, unfleshed
in the bold move to finally un-blank
piles of papers, raw, smooth,
like the creases of your smile,
of your head on top of brows
the other enduring a cut,
line breaks of a poem, epics
drawing chapters mindlessly
unending.

Let me study you
in the pages of a life
I’m about to write, a sonata
of melodies avoiding verses,
of music that writhes
with words unspeakable,
searching for their own sounds,
unnamed names,
of love that knows no form,
no prose tamable
by the most keen of readers.

Empty me
of grief of finding you,
your name inside mine
resting a patient rest, un-leaving
in silence, digging a tomb
within my own fiction.
Let me keep you, just this once,
the skin of my secrets,
a novel tucked away
for you to not read, not know
that you have been the mirror
of my hope all along.

21 July 2019

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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Absurdity

Absurdity is an apple emigrating
from the glaciers of a refrigerator:
its body its own hard knuckles
the first hour it is borne from cold.
The next time around, its skin fidgets,
loses water beads, softens like
a swollen sun, light fanning into dark
sky cottons, through & through.
The frozen fruit has its lobes to lie,
conceive a swollen heart fighting decay.
Absurdity is this: love unformed
throughout the night’s longing
for the tilting earth, yet it hardly
comes by that love’s swollen skin
survives defeat. Like an apple finally
left in the open, it can only prolong
its agony, its insides crashing first.

18 July 2019

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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Note on Ortiz’s Woven Stone as a Gift to Percy

Percy,

The same day chases
the night all throughout
time’s passing.

While you breathe,
feel the sky’s breathing
in its occasional rain.

Go for the downpour.
In the city. In the barrio.
Towards the mountains
and the vast deep seas.

Listen to the sun’s stories
of the moon, and in the night,
tell her of his longing,
of his love.

Go for the rain.

– Kuya
9 July 2019, Davao City

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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Amihan

The city only heals if it rains.
Calm, still, quiet: an afterthought.
Lights will illuminate the battered
skins of roads, pedestrian stripes
losing their mundaneness, praying
for the last sole to press on
their body. The vehicles are the first
to go, then stores, leaving empty
rooms, empty floors, empty buildings,
unreachable from the water. It must
be that the city only heals if the rain
a lover of the sky bathes its bed,
the temporary freckled blanket
overlooking the stars, a cemetery
of cemented highways, bridges,
canals busy with their own dying.
Somewhere far away from here,
in Apo, its tongue cleansing
fallen leaves, the city must be
healing in peace, an abandoned
joy, lips aghast in shower, touching
the palms of the wind as if freely
devoid of all those that forget why
the city is a city. It will hum now
as the sky’s ash canvas slowly blinds,
creases in black, watching passersby
curse, hairs drenched from the cold
spring of heaven, and one by one
they’re gone. The next time it pours,
hear in silence the city’s breathing.

30 Jan 2019

This is a reprint of work originally published in Katitikan: Literary Journal of the Philippine South.

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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The placenta of evening stars

After Jim Morrison

Children are born navigators.
The have crossed torrid wetlands,
Slept in tombs full of water,
Made love with the dark
Before they open eyes and see
The mutiny of mundane days,
Waiting for the dying
Of their own innocence.
They seek manhood,
Enlightenment in a gun, as if
To bury the young years
Of questionings – what small
Desires do they attempt to know,
Maybe taste, to escape the sin
Of ignorance? After all,
To kill childhood is a ritual
Of cities mired of many unnamed
Deaths, countless for memory
To be exhumed. After all,
Children grow up to become
Men who go out on ships
And carry the womb of their mothers,
Shields from the dangerous initiations
Of a world unknown to sailors,
The beating heart of a lost jungle
Undiscovered, wilderness untamed.
To watch the placenta of evening stars,
Children of men would want
To drift off back to seas
They first knew of home.
Only now, the water has dried out
For them to swim, feel in relief
Lapping waves growing old
Trying to reach heaven, lest touch.

6 Aug 2019

This is a reprint of work originally published in Katitikan: Literary Journal of the Philippine South.

Ian Salvaña, 23, is currently doing his MA in Political Science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. He is formerly a faculty member of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University. He has attended several national literary workshops in the Philippines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Brown Orient. His works appeared or are forthcoming in various literary anthologies and journals, among them Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, Eunoia Review and New Contrast.

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