Tonight you unhooked me from the grey suicide ceiling
in order to avoid the thrown skulls, crows and misgendering
talks, deliberations of the world.
They’re all big and troubling and aimless, I know.
I won’t disagree with you on that.
Tonight our heart is growing back, looking as if cobblestoned
and created out of necessity, an urgent expression
as one that burgeons from suffering.
I’m thinking we’re not some wasted talent;
there is still affection in our body—that is
enough to make a hotel. Sometimes a hotel is God’s haunted secret.
Other times it’s God’s trash receptacle. How about tonight, you ask.
A goodbye song? Where you enter and exit and exit and exit again?
You see tonight I can’t answer that. I have stopped forming a destination
even though there’s a seaport behind us and a country in front of us.
But I have a gun, it might bring us somewhere. You and I somewhere.
An urgent expression and I somewhere.
The problem with any gun is it can’t hear
or catch the dream where we are running away relentlessly
and would like to stop, drink fosse water.
It has no grasp of orphanhood. It will not grasp orphanhood, you say.
Tonight we are made up of three things: a hotel, a gun, and a problem.
If you are carrying a gun, make sure you love being human, said a Greek
hotel owner—unnamed for not loving being human.
Do I love being human?
I have asked this many times. I remember those times,
you say. First was when you saw a bone of your mother inside your bag.
Second was when you realized your bag was empty.
After that everytime you encountered the word “hello”
in someone else’s bed, in nobody’s clothes,
in immigrants’ rented bathtub.
Have we been staying together that long?
I also can’t believe I have nothing else left, you say.
Inside the hotel are directionless birds, hitting a wall and then our brain.
There are many songs in my head, they are bottles breaking
into a series of picturesque scenes, all wading to the left,
one after another, building a pile of neurosis.
Should you punch me in my temple, you ask.
Okay, tonight I punch you in your temple.
But it doesn’t work. Our head’s bleeding and my violence doesn’t work.
You say still some imagination, a red phone booth
in a rain-dampened street
though for sure not just rain hit the street; there are dead cats everywhere.
What’s inside the phone booth?
You, and you are not alone. Perfectly fine, you say, a boy with someone
on some other side of the world.
Tonight has a problem except no one else can notice it, galloping
since childhood, has no signs of retiring.
I would like to use the word lovely, but not tonight. I don’t know when.
HOMICIDE OBJECT: Filipinx
—for Sarah Clark
In the discourse of normative sex.
In the memories of a recurring sorrow. In those encroached
rooms of expiring citizenship I’m beheaded
late to put on a mask. Nietzsche said
we only have scandalous ways to be free
or maybe it wasn’t him
Genesis I guess when he was beginning
to tear the world apart, forgive him
he just wanted to fuck me.
I said forgive him
and my dead body was born while shadows running away
dithery from light.
On the floor blood spill and cracked spectacles
no different from the history of any country
after colonialism. You see
copious dreams flopping like breathless fishes out of water.
While you asleep, fallen asleep just outside my door
like a tranquilized mammoth I shovel up the hardened puke
of your wife in your bear chest and you babble
I this want you is real you know though never to be discerned
such as the cumbersome of want I had before this poem to tell
you no longer I am good for any devotion—
What time is it? For sure it’s not a good time and a priest crossing
the street sees me, coughs out a heavy spit like a kick
thrown on my fence to which I have no more sorry to give—
If my father were to ask me again, why is your body that man’s
second house? I would say this time desperation makes
good sense of privacy
and my hand a thermometer with high numbers on his body
then tell to myself this man is married, his first child on the way
which means what can’t be easy is inside my mouth
like a 14 x 16 cage or a culture that imprisons men who kiss men—
fixed marriage, inherited house, family
by way of monitored reproduction—these are sloshed pictures
through which I talk to you—through which I hear you singing
not from afar, I survey love
needled out like the inner life of a saint—at close range
incomparable to anything
worship, this is beyond me
amen, king, amen, amen
this is the second year you been sleeping with me
beloved prefaces satanic prefaces infidel prefaces a sicker word
which is the word of the day everybody writes
on their face when everybody is honest,
has little refuge left
or little left—
I don’t know why desire means we have to steal each other.
He kisses me on the lips and puts a knife on my hand.
the day lives, yes, and maybe we have no other day
except today, alright and are we so dreadful not to forgive this
while we rightfully know the tragic end is etched
is even a fortune
the verdant expanse I saw when the entire city of my childhood got burned
all the prisons vanished
all the prisoners missing, blowing up like oxidized luciferin into the night
OUR GRIEF HAS NO DESTINY ON EARTH
Night school, physics class.
My teacher prompts us to try to answer or, at least, speak of how
heavy elements from iron to uranium are made.
To give this question a bit of a context, Mr. Alvarez quotes a passage
written by Eric Haseltine: Both dark matter and possibly dark energy
originate from the earliest days of the universe,
when light elements such as helium and lithium arose.
Heavier elements formed later inside stars, where
nuclear reactions jammed protons and neutrons together to
make new atomic nuclei. For instance, four hydrogen nuclei (one
proton each) fuse through a series of reactions
into a helium nucleus (two protons and two neutrons).
That’s what happens in our sun, and it produces the energy
that warms Earth. But
when fusion creates elements that are heavier than iron, it requires
an excess of neutrons. Therefore, astronomers assume
that heavier atoms are minted in supernova explosions, where
there is a ready supply of neutrons, although the specifics of how
this happens are unknown. More recently, some scientists
have speculated that at least some of the heaviest
elements, such as gold and lead, are formed in even more powerful
blasts that occur when two neutron stars—tiny, burned-out
stellar corpses—collide and collapse into a black hole.
I didn’t even want to know why Sir Alvarez was so into how
elements get heavy. What I was fascinated with was why
Alexander and I haven’t had sex yet.
And that fascination was the heaviest of all.
Why did he feel seasick, throwing up almost the entire time
when Sir Romero took his regular 9 a.m. break yesterday?
Why did his traitor zipper stop sliding the other day? That
there was no way to stick his dick out other than by cutting his jeans
from the waist down the crotch, which we did,
but the entire process took us almost an hour we knew
Sir Romero would have arrived by the time his dick was ready
to reign inside me.
Why could he not walk or literally step the day before that
as though his feet were two decorative mushrooms cemented
to the floor?
Why did he not show up today outside Saturn Hotel where
we decided to fuck? (These are real questions not rhetorical.)
Maybe love is really needed to make it. I wrote this
down as my answer.
Perhaps that’s the right answer, said Mr. Alvarez while walking
toward the chalkboard from behind me after noticing
what I wrote down on my yellow paper.
Love makes some elements heavier than others.
But love is too abstract in physics, irrelevant even.
We may, however, for the purpose of attempting to grasp
our problem, think that love is a kind of dying star
which, according to scientists, is the origin of the heaviest elements.
From the website of Jet Propulsion Laboratory
at California Institute of Technology: Like celestial
chemical factories, stars spend their lives fusing
hydrogen and helium atoms to forge heavier elements.
In death, extremely massive stars explode in a supernova, blasting
their chemical creations into space, and seeding the universe
for a new generation of stars to grow.
Meanwhile, medium mass stars like our Sun puff up to become red
giants before sloughing off their outer layers, like snakes
shedding their skin, sending newly-formed elements
and molecules floating slowly off into space.
Sir Alvarez explains this further: Elements are made heavy
by regular fusion-related processes scientists refer to as ‘s-process’
(s meaning slow), ‘r-process’ (r meaning rapid), and ‘rp-process’
(rp meaning rapid proton).
If you have significant interest in Physics you can surely pursue a
research into this matter in a university.
But for now what I want you to remember is
that heavy elements, heavy in terms of their density or atomic weight,
such as gold, osmium, iridium, and uranium, most of them are
formed naturally and they are prized, very precious,
some see them as necessary fuel for weapon of mass destruction,
and the general belief is a supernova or the explosion of a dying star
or love, as written by your classmate,
makes heavy elements heavy.
And how is this ‘death of a star’ characterized?
Intrinsic luminosity one billion times that of the Sun.
I texted Desi immediately when I got off the class, If I were a star
and dying just imagine how blindingly bright I would be, explaining
what he missed in the class, from heavy elements and dying star
to the growing fantasy of extraterrestrials and
astrobiology that is a scientific field investigating whether life might
exist on other planets.
I also mentioned a book we should someday read, From Dying Stars
to the Birth of Life: The New Science of Astrobiology and the Search
for Life in the Universe by Jerry L. Cranford.
Desi replied about an hour after
and I was already at home: An extremely huge light that breaks
itself, yielding infinite other lights which will
have their own granted time and space.
Incalculably striking display, I can picture, and poignantly
hostile at the same time.
Why were you absent? I had to ask Desi again.
Usually when he misses a class he would tell me the reason in detail
as richly expressive as he is. Did they beat you again?
My brother hammered my legs with a pick mattock.
My calves. My hips. I might not be able to walk for a couple of weeks.
Really physically impossible to be me, he replied.
I grabbed a swarming fistful of soil and slammed it to my face,
targeting my eyes
so if my brother goes out of the house and sees me
same as when my mother arrives and sees me I have quite a valid
reason to be seen crying.
We have no room of our own, Desi and I.
Our grief has no destiny on Earth.
And right there and then came the silhouette of my mother
accompanied by an old bloated man
in police uniform, approaching our house like a couple
who just had an agreement to fuck more often.
Why on earth are you crying again?
It’s the dust.
Is Genesis here?
murky, pebbled tears with the collar of my school uniform, I stayed
outside, I kept on standing, and then turned back as my mother turned
to the man now smoking a classic red Marlboro cigarette.
Is he your other son?
Don’t mind that.
I can’t stay with you tonight?
My son is inside. I’m sorry. I can’t shock him.
I can’t wait.
MY REAL MOTHER
I (frequently) had
thought that my mother had only one son and it was Genesis.
Perhaps when she delivered Genesis into the world she saw
my real mother in the hospital ward, pleading her
milkless breasts to feed me just once, at least once—milk secreted
straight away after parturition the healthiest liquid in the world
Perhaps my real mother begged Genesis’ mother to feed me.
Perhaps my real mother promised that she would pay her, good
money per drop plus one week of servitude for the generosity.
My real mother, still in hospital paper robe, still weak, walked out
of the hospital to look for money.
Money was a sparkling cove church with reserved seats for men
and not uncommon
that there was no such thing for a woman without a husband, lifting
her postpartum hips like four sacks of wormy potatoes.
Helpless and sagging my real mother couldn’t go back to the hospital.
Perhaps she eventually got enough money
after several years already with her own church
with a paid god that sings her name for dinner so she went
back to the hospital but it was already a museum, a real museum.
Perhaps my real mother has always loved me I’m a
habitant in her mind. She thinks of
a little spider
dead inside a glass cabinet only with two legs instead of eight.
arthropod that may no longer be found anywhere in the planet.
She can’t touch that thing. She can’t hear that thing.
B.B.P. Hosmillo is a queer and anti-colonial writer from the Philippines. He is the author of Breed Me: a sentence without a subject / Phối giống tôi: một câu không chủ đề (AJAR Press, 2016) with Vietnamese translation by Hanoi-based poets Nhã Thuyên and Hải Yến. His writing is anthologized in Bettering American Poetry 2015 and has appeared in Apogee Journal, SAND: Berlin’s English Literary Journal (Germany), The Nottingham Review (UK), and Transnational Literature (Australia) among many others. His interviews can be read in Misfits Magazine (UK) and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. He is the founder of Queer Southeast Asia: A Literary Journal of Transgressive Art, a poetry reader for BOAAT Journal, and occasionally a guest poetry editor for Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. He is currently the Associate Expert at the International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO in South Korea, where he is finishing his next book, Black Paradise.