Three Poems by Isabela Banzon
While I try and find the time to continue my book-transcribing project, here's three poems by a writer featured later in that anthology, Isabela Banzon. There's a stanza in the collection that I can't be sure is a whole stanza or two individual ones since it's all broken by the page, so I'll try and mimic the divisions of my copy by splitting all of this into four posts. Otherwise, I wouldn't even have made its own thread, just lumped it in "Poems that you love".

For Rob

Last night, when you were missing love
as I was,
we were lying on a huge bed,
each with nobody beside.
I will slip under
your mosquito netting
and you may, if you wish,
find your way
into me.
Aku cinta padamu,
but it is morning
before I understand
what you say in the dark.

We can't go on meeting like this,
on wire, post
to post, through cable, under ocean,
under ground.
Fated to each other
but living without,
we rendezvous in a language not our own.
Aku ingin
mencitaimu denga senderhana.
I want
to love you simply,
without fear, without metaphor,
but it is difficult

in English.
It is difficult to imagine how we are
gecko to the other in the permeable air.
You live in me,
outside me.
Kamu hidup di dalam
dan di luar diriku.
The river rushes below.
What are we in the hands of the dalang,
emotion, our puppet master.
Kita tiada sebelum kita bertemu lagi.
We are shadows in a show not of ourselves.
Who are we
that to leave you in the island of the gods
is difficult.
We do not exist.
Di bahasa Inggris, kita tiada.

Robert's Corpses

Robert tells me
he's come back from the Bridge Hotel
his mum's old place, where he dug up corpses
because although he's moved on
the stench follows him.

It's not like there's blood on his hands,
him only twelve when his daddy
walked out and into the Murray River.
His dad kept sliding off the bank, his mum said,
until the weight of two sons she'd left behind
was too heavy even for her.

It's not like there's blood spilled.
Gran was a dingo and no-sort of brother
could come close to making the point,
not that anyone cared,
that like in the Meryl Streep movie
dingoes could tear you apart
and the heart breaks in Wagga Wagga.

Robert shows me his blisters,
the body bags he's been lugging around.
But there's only dust, I say.
I don't buy his story, only a glass of lemonade,
because they don't get along so well,
he and grog, his baby drink.


There was once a man
who sang all the love songs
I had forgotten and sad
and happy I couldn't make up
my mind fell in love
with him under the cover
of a midnight sky.

Next day
at the hotel lobby
I listened to the voices. Was that him
humming to himself
or laughing with a guest
or letting go
like the couple at the exit?

Love, no matter who you are,
your tenderness was my home
in many cities
dulled by the cold.
And when at the front desk I ask
for the key,
my song is still for you.

A few notes.
No idea when this was written, although this may be part of that anthology I've delayed posting, in which case I'll at least have a year. My copy's taken from what seems to be a regular review of women's studies in the Philippines, so there are notes afterwards, I think written by the author herself. They're primarily concerned with the position of the Philippines as a postcolonial, Southeast Asian country, with the first poem incorporating Bahasa, and all of the poems written in English, although, like the poems themselves, the notes gradually open up to a more global approach, one that focuses on the emotions presented in the piece -- by my read, as if it's the Philippines opening up to a more global, essentially human aesthetic. A particularly interesting note is how she uses Bahasa Indonesia, a language that is, regardless of our close proximity, not popular over here, to capture a very....Filipino sense of feeling, one that she notes "might also help to understand our [the Philippines'] connection with the Malay world as well as why we took so well to Hispanic culture" -- although I may be misreading this note of hers, seeing as I don't have as good an analytical viewpoint on Filipino, Malay, or even Hispanic culture. I'd love to hear your responses.
I've always compared Asian cultures and Hispanic cultures similarly, with all the sub groups, but only against the black white stereotypes that dominate America.  In Houston, white is a minority technically, and I experience a good deal of Hispanic culture.  With the very few Filipino people I've met, out here they've been mistaken for Mexican often, so that's how I imagine their whole culture being taken to easily.  The fact that differentiating between Cambodian Chinese Malaysian Vietnamese Taiwanese I get too confused, Guatemalan, Puertoriqueño, El Salvadoreño, it's the same issue.  So, with America and general colonialization around the world, I can see how the Philippines would take easily to Hispanic culture, since Spain was a major player in spreading thems elves out.

I don't see the Hispanic specifically influence though through the three poems, especially since it's in English, and mentions an American actress.  I can see this same poem as a Spanish woman writing in English with Portuguese strewn throughout and I wouldn't know the difference because I don't know malaysian, Portuguese, or Filipino.  

I do love learning new things and am also interested in others opinions on this.

What language are you transcribing?
Peanut butter honey banana sandwiches
For anyone interested, her comments after the poems are here:

And it seems to me  "in English." is the next line after "but it is difficult" and I don't
think there's a separation even though they're on different pages.

Just for the fun of it I used (or tried to use) Google translate and it offered me this:

Aku cinta padamu, = I love you

Aku ingin mencitaimu denga senderhana. = I want to love simply. <- (Google
tells me it's spelled "mencintaimu" )

Kamu hidup di dalam dan di luar diriku.. = You live in and outside of me.

dalang = mastermind (says Google but I fantasize:
"What are we in the hands of that sorceress, emotion - our puppet master."

Kita tiada sebelum kita bertemu lagi. = We have no before we meet again. ?
Maybe something like: "We won't exist until we meet again" ?

Di bahasa Inggris, kita tiada. = In English, we have no. (" In English, we do not") ?

Good poems. I especially liked "Robert's Corpses".


P.S. When a new person moved into a group house I used to live in, she seemed, by her name,
to be Filipino. But when I first saw her she looked Chinese and I assumed that her parents must
have immigrated to the Philippines. When I asked her about this she told me that her family had
indeed immigrated from China to the Philippines... about 200 years ago. But what made our
conversation surreal was that she was telling me this in a heavy Irish accent. Long story short:
Her mom died when she was one. About two years after that her father took her to Ireland because
their family ran an export business and they had an office there. Her father fell in love with and
married an Irish woman, the best mom ever, and she grew up in Ireland. As she said: "I'm an Irish
woman with a Filipino name and a Chinese body."  Smile

And that's all I know about the Philippines (except what billy's told me).

P.P.S. And here's another Isabela Banzon poem:


Kids Everywhere and You and Me in Nowhere       -     Isabela Banzon

Middle of the affair is to be in nowhere.
There are no stops for getting off.

On the stoplight-yellow couch, your kid,
the apple of your eye, the scent of ripening fruit all over.
Crisp is the air and you, fragrant as the night.
On the video, the fantasy begins.

To be in the middle is the tug of cloud and telephone calls.
The children are on the line.
Mine, south of the city, two in America.
Yours, 15; name's Eva.

You're not a cloud, but the deep-blue midnight sky
Though, of course, I know you're real.
Virgo collides with Aquarius,
Fate the conjunction of our billions of thought moments.

Fighting with your lover and me wishing you well
Were things to do on a starry night.

I ate pizza with big kid, kid 2, but still
The red-hot quadrangle of love competed with the stars.
Too tired, you too ate pizza with your

This December, the monsoon rain's awry
And storm clouds hover over the bed of parenting.
Your words on mine, mine on yours, blanket our kids
Who are everywhere, while you and me are in nowhere.

My orphan, we will meet
Face to face, says your seer.
Orchard dreams will bloom again in spring
Which in effect will bear fruit in my summer.

Mimpi indah.
Beautiful dreams.

To be in the arms of lamplight is, simply, emptiness.
Once understood as madness, all is understood.
The middle's in nowhere.

                                                                                                                i used to know a lotta stuff, but i still have eight cats
I watched dave Chappelle's show 'spin' on Netflix yesterday and he talks about his Filipino wife. When Manny pacquiao made comments about gays being worse than animals, he was trying to stand up for him, how there is a whole generation of women who moved from the Phillipines to America and other places to lead a better life and send money home, and all those husbands stayed home to care for the families twiddling their thumbs. So pacquiao is a hero for the emasculated men of the phillipeans, hes not the person you ask about gay rights in america. This is not the vision of the philippines i imagined, but if dave chappelle says its so...
Peanut butter honey banana sandwiches

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