by Tara Agtarap

Published in Issue No. 9 ~ October, 1997

Divided by salt and saints with names

christened by Philip’s sons,

we hide our mahogany sheath

from the constant glare of powdered

Baby’s and Joy’s who starve to be

enamored on billboards that stand

amidst giggling starched uniforms and

veiled gauze but only the miraculous

Madonna holds the answer as to why

so many taste plastic pearls while

the rest boast of beauty queen’s who

cry out in accentless sing-song, “Welcome.”

Besieged by Poseidon and Vulcan’s rage,

metrorails and megamalls have emerged

bading pale cameras and brown Boys

to buy butterfly sleeves and cigarettes;

the survivors, though, wait patiently

for a stamp to wear sand paper cotton, glide

on ice, and swim in brittle leaves.

Divorced from kilos and daily manicures,

we reject the conservation of bamboo

memories in favor of ballrooms

swaying with crinoline and spiked heels

faintly recalling the sun burst placed

beside blood and skies contenting the

cries of children conceived between

graveyard shifts with Applejacks and

video games because we forgot the lullabies

taught by sweet sixteens who were lucky

to land under a concrete roof.

Glorified for being a treasure of war,

toiling in desert dust, mailing wives,

preferring the language of stars and stripes,

rallying behind a yellow angel, ye

embracing a shoeless thief, erasing the soul

tongue from our children’s ears, associating

in fifty factions, arriving and beginning late,

exploiting the exotic, yet metamorphosing

into a tiger, we celebrate ten decades of our


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Tara Agtarap had this to say:

Not everyone can say that their first name is also in their last name without having to rearrange any letters (TARA AGTARAP). Writing has never been spontaneous or natural for me - it's work - but work that allows me to create, vent, desribe, satirize, and touch."