twice baked Spanish bread
twice sweetened twice buttered up
twice removed from history’s gaze
twice baked Iloilo province bread hard as steel
twice baked Balikbayan biscotti brittle as dried mub
twice used to sweeten morning’s black coffee stained tired goodbyes
hypnotic blue light
a moth trapped inside
Please sit down to fill your form
and try to be precise.
I know you just started today
but we must set the price.
Section one determines the base
we need your ancestry
mother, father, grandma and
all the way down the tree.
Don’t skip your gender or your name
Do you plan to change them?
You don’t know? Well, that’s okay.
You can modify them.
Examine sections three to five
Are there any questions?
What is a job? A spouse? A child?
Here are a few suggestions:
Go for healthy decisions first.
Avoid all addictions.
Go to college, get a job, and
avoid causing friction.
If that sounds boring, don’t dispair
we have many options
choose to follow a dream or wish
but do so with caution.
What you decide will cause a stir
even some fluctuation
depending on factors, stocks, bonds,
even the ruling nations.
So much data goes into how
we determine the cost
before sending you on you way
into a lifetime of loss.
My addiction to sweetness is killing
my body’s ability to produce
glucose regulating bland insulin.
Simultaneously, my need to know
what our politician are doing to
our air, our land, our water, our planet
is killing my ability to taste
the sweetness in a smile, in a laugh in
a clear sunny day, so I drown myself
in vapid suga.
<Redacted> came from your grandfather on your father’s side, who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from an English man who had no business buying slaves
The doctors were Roses. The nurses were Roses. My best friend was Rose. She took me to the hospital where there were Roses everywhere. I was being surrounded by Roses.
<Redacted> came from your grandfather on your mother’s side, who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from a Spanish man who had no business being in Manila
Theresa came from a Saint, came from your aunt, my youngest sister, came from the feminine version of your father, came from the wishes I had for you, came from the dreams I had for you
Be me. Brown kid called Black or Black called brown, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Be me. Eating Puto.
What did you say?
Puto. I said I am eating Puto.
Be me. Answering the question of “what is that?” to a light-skin Latino boy from Hercules, CA. Be me, trying to understand why he and his friends are suddenly laughing and glaring at me like I said the worst word in the history of lingua. Be me eating puto as my afternoon snack.
What did you just call me?
Jose, I didn’t call you anything. You asked me what I was eating and I said…
You’re eating puto!
Be me. 11-year-old. Trying to understand the difference between a slur and my desert. The sweetness of a rice cake and the bitterness of being hated. Be me, a young queer
Black Pinoy eating puto.
your arms are soft as sea foam
yet strong enough to lift
onto airplanes, trains, buses
your arms are sweeter than sin
yet saltier than saline drops
on your nursing scrubs
from ER runs and IV needles
your arms are as warm as fresh rolls
yet colder than a San Francisco summer
where you left for home
leaving me behind