One Poem by Czaerra Galicinao Ucol

but when

1.         the uptown 6 screeches as the mango poem
            lodged in my throat beckons   to its brother
            underneath the matching yellow and orange
            subway seats. the man doesn’t notice      his
            lunch’s bruised rolling up   and   down    the
            sticky car floor. i want to tell him            but
            my tongue is a dam for my ocean. my yearn-
            ing is transpacific—i hope our cousins can
            feel it. the grease    illuminates    under hazy
            lights doing their warm-up stretches.      our
            stop comes. we keep rolling.

2.         beside the seatbelt forest,        we are beached
            on browning grass by a detergent stick losing
            purpose in the dirt. i guess we’re both stains
            of the earth. summer rays    bake    my ocean
            leaving sea salt      glinting      on my shores.
            i become hot honey.       are there even hives
            amidst the coconut trees?       even the plants
            up and over me are sweating. my hands look
            up at me and i realize i’m leaking, too. maybe
            it’s the dew of ancestors.   my limbs are dried
            palm leaves passed out in easter mass pews. i
            fold myself during the homily.
            and now—communion.

3.         computer-generated NPCs buzz in and out of mirror mazes,
                        discussing rendezvous points in neon tutus and spiked platform clogs
            that my mother would politely smile at. i envy them. instead
                        i lose my youth in the crowd, right as we pass the mariachi band outside.
            a mosh pit forms, but sadly i’ve since brittled—i shy away
                        for fear of cracking. when they leak banana milk, i dab at my eyes with
            a durian, like we always do. i look up in the mirror again.
                        i wink back. she taps me in to the dance floor.

4.         it’s hard to breathe down here,
            where the polyester and rubber
            wheeze at me. my jaw dirties in
            the muddied beer but i don’t not-
            ice until i get home. i rise and bob
            above their sticky influence. my
            skull’s about to burst at the intro,
            then i let it. fuck the dam.

            i flood and monsoon and become my own rainy season. a mango floats by. my winds
                               soprano at the foot of the stage. i change before my very eyes


Czaerra Galicinao Ucol is a queer Filipinx writer and educator born and raised in Chicago. They recently graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Asian/Pacific/American Studies. They are the Programs & Communications Director of Luya and a general reader for Marí­as at Sampaguitas. Czaerra is a 2020 Dreamyard Rad(ical) Poetry Fellow, with their work appearing in Walang Hiya and Talagang Pinxy. In their spare time, they enjoy cooking, listening to crashing waves, and dancing to Mitski’s entire discography. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @czaerra.