1. Pusang Gala

But she’s got beautiful eyes, Mama!
My little boy points to the calico cat.
They glitter when it’s night
When they’re not oozing.
I agree, they’re sympathetic
Even honourable, battle-scarred,
The tips of her ears all shades of red
Raw pink rose burgundy maroon purple
Her tail, a broken stump,
Ugly and furless, raised and defiant;
She picks scraps from the neighbour’s drain.

In a corner, the tiny kitten corpse
 Turns grey, red ants meander 
Over its miniature hills and vales,
In endless procession.

We need to burn it.
But that would leave the bones.
We need some acid,
Says my little boy.

Tenderly, she watches her bigger kitten
Gulp down the first sardine and seize another,
Her own manners are exquisite:
Delicately licking the sauce off 
The entree ala ayuda,
Taking small bites,
A socialite on a diet.

The acid melts the carbon carbonate
In the bones, says my son,
As a matter of fact.

  1. Manggagawa

I use everything but poison:
Seal them in containers,
Smash them with books.
Their slow death is entertaining:
I let them crawl up the sugar bowl,
Plunge it into a basin.
They panic, swarm, make a raft
Out of their very limbs,
And die anyway, little red clots
Forlorn in the water.

The metaphor for Fascism writes itself:
Stupid little workers, following orders—
But I don’t trust what writes itself.
There will be no ant uprising,
No breaking story on the ant-news,
No martyred ant-writer, ant-agitator
Spurring them to cluster their hordes 
On a mythical ant-avenue,
Where the ant-lord that sends them
To work to the death will be overthrown,
And ant-hymns sung thereafter.

To them, I am a Divine affliction.
They’ll keep taking bites instead,
Out of me and mine, and you and yours
As they do, and triumph in the multitudes
Gathering manna into the anthill:
Cake and cookie crumbs, flakes of skin,
Bits of hand-pies and pet placenta.
Now and then a windfall:
Entire carcasses, reptilia and amphibia.

  1. Informal Settler

Now the need for a tubero is dire:
The kitchen sink is clogged,
The bathroom faucet won’t flow,
The bidet sprang a leak—and exploded.
Hairy black patches of mould begin to bloom,
Soap scum dries in white smears across the blue
Tiles and grout turns a yeasty yellow.

Where have all the tuberos gone?
We’ve all been infected by stranger danger:
Gates locked, doors closed, smiles shuttered,
Acrylic shields in shop windows,
Yellow tape across the alleys,
Frantic seals against contagion.
Terrified, we know there are breaches
Where slimy things like fear seep through.

A little frog settles into the bath:
Black, mottled cafe-au-lait,
Three long toes on each foot,
A beady, watchful stare.
It’s been three days,
He isn’t leaving.

It’s his bathroom now.
He’s behind the toilet
Or perhaps the cleaning-brush.
I’m naked, and the eyes in my skin
Look around for him.
I shrink from his touch
But worse would be the accident
Of killing him.

This literary piece is part of Katitikan Issue 3: (Re) Imaginations.

By Ana Margarita Nunez

Ana Margarita R. Nunez is a PhD in Literature candidate from De La Salle University. She is an English teacher by profession, although she is currently serves as an academic coordinator assisting in the online learning program of a small basic education institution. Her hobbies and interests include art and history. At present, she is writing a novel about her hometown of Iligan City. She is married with two children.

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