Best of the Net 2015  

Despedida: Quezon City

                          My gentle, drunken friends, so kind to me,
             my four bags, strained to the teeth, are now packed.
Check out how well I know your city. I'll prove it

                          by my goodbyes...To Grotto Mary
             with birdshit brow, to boys of half-court flip-flop
runs, to checker game hustlers of Sikatuna,

                          to the single, slender ankle
             dangled from the jeepney, to the skeltered
treble of KTV saloons, farewell. To this family

                          asleep in barrows, farewell. To the power brokers
             yanking the lines, to the pauper with a fist
full of jasmine, to the hammer traveled

                          a thousand miles, to North Ave. bangups,
             Quiapo ripoffs, and City Hall breakdowns.
To a taxi's backseat musk, you gave me

                          the smell of the sea come rushing a metropolis,
             the smell of an ocean come to soak our children
to their bones, to skunky scotch, to Rock,

                          Jimmy, and Krip, to the makeshift shops
             and tattered plastic signs, to tenth-floor
bureaucrats, How many afternoons

                          I put ice to my earlobes as a way
             to stay the wicked heat. To the counterfeits
of winter, farewell. What have I learned?

                          Sometimes this city goes dark
             for no apparent reason and you can know
nothing but the burnt hue of a stranger's skin

                          by candlelight. And when the electric
             comes back you need nothing but nod
to one another as your only despedida. Goodbye

                          to the rot-toothed girl with bad math, clutching
             a plastic sack of coins—my bags, little one,
are packed. To the EDSA skylines pried open

                          at 3am, to the illusion of falling giants,
             to theĀ felling of giants for real, to Jiggs
and Banjo, to you blue nag of a nun,

                          to all cabbie scams, gun in the front box,
             loaded, goodbye, for now

                          And to the beer guzzlers of Xavierville
             who dream in ska, my dreadful philosophers,
my punk rock sweethearts, please don't laugh

                          from the other half of the world if in a year
             I'm still summoning you into the rooms
of Brooklyn, among dear poets there,

                          one by one, and my loved ones
             of that island will know you—who are loved ones
of this island—and we'll fling rum to the floor

                          from our fingertips asking the god of cane
             to bless us all with long life, sweet breath,
and the demons' blasé drums gone funky.

                          When calculus fails,
                                       after all: poems.

                          I used to think you had to rise into the air
             some 30,000 feet to behold the sum
of a city's light all at once. All I did

                          was step outside into the goblin dark
             and see the bodies for myself.
Some might say we are bound

                          together because, every generation,
             a monster with one or a million
eyes seems to come to try like hell

                          and take away our tongues.
             But it's just us figuring out how to live
on what the floods entrust to us.

                          Case in point: I recognize the many ways
             to say Good riddance in every city
and yard I've been. And I've had to learn

                          entire languages without ever actually
             speaking. It's another consequence of love.
Everything I say is half broken

                          before it even leaves my mouth.

- Patrick Rosal (from The Collagist)