The Halo-Halo Review also thanks the following poets for their poem-contributions to this modest but nonetheless significant project:
“HIGH NOON IN SITIO TAMBAC” by Cynthia Buiza
“Acts of War” by Aileen Cassinetto
“February” by Luisa A. Igloria
“What the Poets Are Saying About the War” by Luisa A. Igloria
“LINES WRITTEN FROM THE EDGE OF PRECIPICE” by Marne Kilates
“KILL RATE & KITTENS” by Marne Kilates
“Wife of Russian Soldier tells him, ‘You go there, rape Ukrainian women, but use condoms!’” by Eileen R. Tabios
“Shrapnel” by Alfred A. Yuson
HIGH NOON IN SITIO TAMBAC
By Cynthia Buiza
Right at this moment, heavy artillery
is battering a country far away from here,
as the blue of the sky meets the surface
of the sea in Sitio Tambac.
Drones made in Russia hover equally over the dying
and those cocking live ammunition for a kill.
My tears of sympathy, puny and shrill.
Pooled at my ankle is a school of rabbit fish so thick they
are darkness in motion. Headed for sea grass,
they darken the path they take.
I move away. Life, a bullet in motion.
I try to run away but you always catch me.
Because I am not here to flee but to see clearly.
This beauty neither consoles nor deceives. It instructs.
Before long, I will leave. Back to a place of lesser safety.
Where a different battle is raging. War above us and below.
Remember this day when you go,
a voice tells me. Remember the courage
It takes to step away.
So that you can return.
Acts of War
By Aileen Cassinetto
And when they bombed other people’s houses, I looked for an old article where someone in Foreign Affairs addressed the public in verse. She said, “We, too, will speak in alley slang.” She said, “We speak with piety, ‘light the flame!’” I wasn’t the only one to think how it evoked that country’s foreign policy–all riddle and mystery. And when they bombed other people’s houses again, I wrote a poem about sunflowers, how I planted seeds twelve inches apart thinking that when they blossomed, how less violent it would be to cut them with the flower heads just opened above some twenty inches of stem.
*First line from Ilya Kaminsky's "We Lived Happily During the War"
By Luisa A. Igloria
I have felt the deepening edge of days
and their companion nights falling in step
On the radio, we heard the voices of thirteen soldiers
before they paid with their lives for refusing to surrender
Everything I've looked at since yesterday has been through
the idea of a fistful of seeds buried deep in a pocket
We too will lie down and wherever we are, bodies
could turn into flowers without need of permission
Names are so beautiful said in their first tongues
Everywhere, their sounds fill shelters and trains
They should be heard like bells or prayers,
outside in a square filled with sunlight and trees
What the Poets are Saying About the War
(an imperfect cento)
By Luisa A. Igloria
~ while attending the "Voices for Ukraine" virtual reading organized by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach and Olga Livshin, 01 March 2022
Any country is an easy target
Stop who goes there
The shovel is making a hole in the gravedigger
Now is a time of hybrid war
The tail is wagging the dog
Lord have mercy on us
And on earth more war
Be not troubled, soldier, nightingales
Slender of neck, slight of throat
You who have robbed us blind
One hit and no more void to fill
The ship of the universe
A ship with hundreds of thousands of cannons on board
The graves will open right up
And the tanks rumbled as armored tractors down the road
In a glorious and frightening time
Each one shall be a hero
The farther into battle the fewer heroes left behind
Cinders rise with the earth
As ice turns to water
Evil is not a big lie
It's small shards resembling truth
Evil can't lead, it lures
Burn down to the ground and rise up as smoke
Once on a train without warning
I remembered it all
The blue sea
My friend's fishing boat
My friends are held hostage and I can't reach them
There is no poetry about war
Sunflowers dip their heads in the field
I have gotten so very old
It's a time to sing songs
Always a good time for defense
Our heads are dusted with the ash of the first snow
To hold a needle of silence in your mouth
To whimper while drowning
To hold the water of a language on your tongue
To mend things that are still useful
In these parts it's considered unnatural if war doesn't course through the pipes
In the square across the way kids play at war
She danced since evenings were still warm
She danced because she wanted to turn back
It's better to remember with the body
A wrist where all the blood had gathered
Another convoy was right behind us
Perfectly round with a hole in the middle
Which war zone?
No one has heard of here
Used to making a meal out of nothing
So it goes
Bargaining with hope
Let me live at least through mid-day
So white this explosion, she says
We got surrounded
I was walking with a spare pair of underwear in my pocket
I don't believe it
They called our killers police
Russian warship go fuck yourself
You choose when to shift gears
LINES WRITTEN FROM THE EDGE OF PRECIPICE
By Marne Kilates
Who brought me here
To the seafront off Kapuntukan Hill
To show me the eternal shape
Of Mayon while the sun glinted on Albay Gulf
With a foreboding that was never revealed?
O divine seer that leads me by the hand
To the edges of the world to either
Spread my wings or let me drop
Like a dead log from the precipice
Why ask me to save the world at all?
Who made the monarch butterfly
Alight on a tree branch in Mexico
And flap its wings to stir
A tsunami and typhoon at the Pacific
On the other side of the world?
Who showed me the world in a grain sand
And beauty in a wild flower
Who taught me to slice the stone
And glimpse the twinkle of galaxy within?
Daily the news shows me the carnage of war
In Ukraine while our homegrown tyrant
And admirer of the Insane Leader
That started it all plays dumb and coy.
And I dream of the butterfly wing dreaming
The dreamer who dreams of the butterfly wing.
Who dreams the dreamer of the dream?
Who commanded Noah to build the Ark
And leave it on a ridge on Mt. Ararat
As the Flood subsided and the dove
Brought back a branch of olive?
The world turns and the planet tilts
The ice calves from the Arctic glacier
The volcanoes gurgle fire as the seas heave
And the continents shift and the herons return
And the heliotropes turn to follow the sun
Who will buy this wonderful morning
Who will claim this vision of Baguio
Studded with diamonds in the dusk
From the vantage point of Mirador Hill?
Who is she that cometh forth
Fair as the sun terrible as an army
Set in battle array?
Come writer and poets of the land
Let us now criticize what we fully understand
Let us arise and save this world
Which is the only one we have
Let us awake and finally give shape
To the memory―the story, the art, the wisdom,
The poem―that keeps insisting to be written
Rising like a malevolent mist
From the roots of our hair
KILL RATE & KITTENS
By Marne Kilates
We have new kittens and we marvel
At their colors and stripes and sometimes
Worry that they may not be nursing well
Or their mother, an orange charmer,
Might not be feeding them well enough,
And so we have vitamin-enriched cat food
At the ready, to supplement the mother’s milk.
On YouTube and BBC, on CNN and CBS,
And the countless other networks,
With their cameras and long lenses and mics
Trained on Ukraine, they are counting
The kill rate and accuracy of guided missiles
And drones, checking and re-checking
Whether the Moskva was sunk by torpedo
Or artillery, or, as Russia claims, by bad weather…
Who worries about nuclear deployment?
Or that there were children and pregnant women
At the basement shelter of a theater in Lviv?
Or that a grandmother was walking her dog
In the bright morning in a suburb of Kyiv?
Not the Russians or their Mad Leader but only
The World Central Kitchen and the Doctors
Without Borders as they rush to the wounded
Or keep the hot meals flowing from the soup kitchen.
We keep our Good Friday rituals on the bloodied
Backs of our flagellant sinners. We observe our
Ayuno y abstinencia as we listen to the Seven Last Words.
We pray for relief from the pandemic quarantine―
And watch over our kittens and pets play
In the garden. We light the Paschal Candle and
Pray as the Angel passes over our households,
Amid visions of a world burning: The Peace we can leave
Is only when we excise the evil of tyranny in our midst.
“Wife of Russian Soldier tells him, ‘You go there,
rape Ukrainian women, but use condoms!’”
By Eileen R. Tabios
is this morning’s headline
(SOFREP, April 20, 2022)—
I regurgitated a word
I never wished to see in a poem—
my breakfast of coffee
and left-over pork belly
adobo still superb
because its vinegar
had been added not stirred
the women unable
the cities where the golden
faces of sunflowers
stared at the sky as they
were shelled into gray—
those too sick to move
the ones who refused
to care for the elderly
or those too sick to move
It’s an old story
to become cliché—
when they are overused
until they lose meaning
But rape remains
as Balzac’s “frosty morning in Autumn”
as Browning’s “hedge-rose-cup there”
as Anonymous’ “young head of lettuce”
as Coleridge’s “sea-born Cythera”
as Chaucer’s “faucon comen out of mewe”
one story introduces
a wife’s sordid support—
Another old story:
“Female Betrayal: 3 reasons
Women Hurt Other Women”
Envious for more power
Competition for territory
likened the “gray”
of a sunflower’s new mask
to “a flower ruined”
Cobb to a “cow’s breath
on a frosty morning”
Barham to a “badger”
Shakespeare to “glass”
Longfellow to “a shield
embossed in silver”
Details matter—the pork
belly was cut
into two-inch pieces
then marinated overnight
with soy sauce, garlic
sugar and peppercorns
After it was cooked
for one-and-a-half hours
to make the pork tender
but not falling apart
the adobo stew was served
over something that
should be the topic
of this poem: jasmine rice
whose delicate floral
and buttery scent
and whose bodies evoke
miniature three-quarter moons
that remind us
of a hay(na)ku poem:
TO WHAT SMART POETS ASPIRE
the gorgeous moon
By Alfred A. Yuson
Too old to flee
a besieged city.
I will just wait
for the shrapnel
to find me.
As they had done
in the past,
searing my skin
where I had least
expected it to be
down from the skies
of failed loves
and dim hopes
for the peace
menace in mind.
Now they may come
as metal fragments
with the finality
of no pain.
Let me glory
in the moments
from fated reality.
There in that
of further life
of a correct
So let me glory
in the certainty
of days and dates
in rows of squares
that the last blast
to my very old eyes.
About the Poets:
Cynthia Buiza lives in Los Angeles and runs a non-profit helping immigrants and refugees in California. She is also a California State Commissioner. Her poems and essays have appeared in Ani, The Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday Magazine, Our Own Voice, Tayo Magazine, Migozine, Chopstick Alley, Halo Halo Review, and Paloma Press anthology collections and other anthologies in the U.S.
Aileen Cassinetto is an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow and the Poet Laureate of San Mateo County. She is the founder of Paloma Press and the author of two poetry collections and three chapbooks. Her work has appeared in POETRY magazine, Marsh Hawk Press Review, Fellowship Magazine, and Moria, among others. She received a Special Congressional Recognition and was appointed Commissioner on the San Mateo County Commission on the Status of Women in 2021. She is a 2022 Metro Film and Arts Foundation grantee.
Luisa A. Igloria is originally from Baguio City in the Philippines. She is the author of 14 books of poetry and 4 chapbooks. In July 2020, Governor Ralph Northam appointed her as the 20th POET LAUREATE of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In April, she was one of 23 Poet Laureate recipients nationwide of a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. She has four daughters and now makes her home in Virginia with most of her family. She is a Louis I. Jaffe Professor of Creative Writing and English, and from 2009-2015 was Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. In the Spring Term 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Visiting Writer in Residence at Washington & Lee University. More information is at http://www.luisaigloria.com
Marne Kilates is an award-winning poet, freelance writer, editor, and translator. He has published six books of poetry and translated works by leading Filipino poets such as National Artists Rio Alma, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Lazaro Francisco. He has won the Philippines’ Palanca Memorial Awards, the National Book Awards, and the SEA Write Award given by the Thai royalty. His works maybe accessed at his website, Marneskripts, at http://marnek2.wixsite.com/marneskripts
Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. In 2022 she released/will release the poem-length miniature book on Ukraine, SUNFLOWERS BECAME GRAY, BUT; the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels; and her second French book, Double Take (trans. Fanny Garin). Her 2021 books include her first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times and first French book La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery). Her award-winning body of work includes inventions of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form; the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity; and the Flooid poetry form that’s rooted in a good deed prior to the writing of a poem. Translated into 11 languages, she's also edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is at http://eileenrtabios.com
Alfred "Krip" A. Yuson has authored over 30 titles, with his first novel, Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe, currently being translated into Arabic. He also writes regular literary and arts reviews for the national broadsheet, The Philippine Star.
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