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Antino Art Sep 23
In dark times,
I'll follow the stars
from here to there,
arriving at my center
to trace my constellation.
If tonight is all I have,
I'll keep moving,
one with my shadow,
not knowing where this leads.
I'll cover new ground
when no one is watching
as stars align
to reveal a path through
the darkness toward
the bright spots ahead.
I'll take in the view,
under the stars
returning
the way I came.
Antino Art Sep 15
I pledge to write for an inner peace movement
To fill the void left on the blank page of a story we could not complete
I pledge to write more beginnings than endings, and if words fail to meet me where you left, I'll wait with the patience of a bookmark, holding down the gap we left pending
as if locked in stalemate: light paper vs dark ink because the way of the pen is the no-sword style of contending that deflects the black and blue thoughts that leave bruises where we think.
I pledge to erase, or at least, start over, only to toss each cumpled piece unfinished onto the pile of things I have no answers for- only hopeless questions, mailed into the static of heartbreaking silence, until it clicks, like a retractable pen, and finger flicks from an audience follow as this throwaway piece hits the mic on its head, drawing feedback, the static giving way to meaning and the audience now there, tuning in as if waking up while dreaming, now clicking, snapping, leaning forward as antennas to the right frequency we're streaming, snapping together now, a thousand pieces of a hidden picture completing, I write to throw captions around my own confusion, and watch them snap like photos of what I'm seeing beyond illusion on this train of thought leaving, the coast starlight from LA to Seattle, the lines of a notebook as my railway leading toward our emancipation from battle.
We are free from the places we are told define us. I write to move past them. Poems are what we leave behind us, in the graffiti'd nowheres of subway tunnels between the lights of the places we were meant to see.
Poems are the spaces between.
My mission is write
for you to read me.
Antino Art Aug 18
I am the only Asian in this bar right now.
Be my friend!
I will check the box of your social diversity quota.
Granted, I only speak a mispronounced fraction of
my immigrant parents' native tongue.
Ala Jackie Chan, I do not understand the words coming out the mouths of anyone on that massive continent (Russia included) that I appear to be more or less from.
But, I do eat spaghetti with chopsticks.
I am mystical as
fox, or Kitsune, in Japanese folklore.
I can hit you with wisdom worthy of a fortune cookie as fast as Google can tell you that the Philippines is nearly 2000 miles away from China. I want to say I'm from an exotic island where they play basketball in sandals and drink soda from plastic bags- like, A-level material you could make a movie out of in Slumdog Millionaire fashion and get awarded for your orientalized portrayal of poverty you think is three worlds away from home. But nah, I'm just a kid from South Florida. The suburbs. I played basketball on paved driveways in high top Reeboks and oversized And1 shorts. But I do pump both fists in the air watching Manny Pacquio PPV fights on a bootleg stream. Beyond that, I'm probably the worst Asian there is. Not the crazy rich kind with a PHd in something scholarly. I dropped out of engineering after one semester and cannot solve a rubix cube. I never learned kung fu. Though I'm learning what it takes to face the adversity of becoming a single father after my daughter's home broke in two. I write marketing proposals to pay the rent and poetry to fight without fighting in the spirit of Sun Tzu. My eyes do not slant in the direction of your narrative. I once ran in a pick up game in the hood where they dubbed me Yao Ming. Yao, I am 5 foot 8. Though I fall short of expectation, I can still check your diversity box on the way down and do a cool pen spin after to punctuate my intellectual prowess. I also happen to own an assortment of Japanese swords made in China, which I intend to use as heirlooms. This is what cultural colonization looks like: me, in a bar, the last samurai standing confused in an age of melting pots, Korean tacos and Asian slaw made by corporate imposters with names like PF Chang. What in the slaw is Asian? I wish I knew!  I wish I knew the true value of my heritage to be worthy of carrying it on. Like the way my grandfather, on his first visit to America, planted a Malonggay tree in our backyard whose leaves my mother would pick and boil to make tinolang manok -the Filipino version of chicken soup- as a weeknight staple on our dinner table. I can barely soft boil an egg for instant ramen. Or how my father left home to work in a furniture moving sweatshop for under the table wages just to follow my mother across the ocean when she became the first in her family to land a dollar paying job that would give me the opportunities she never had. Or how my motherland's socioeconomic gap tooth smile is so wide that it drove over 10 million of its native sons and daughters off its shores to find work overseas as servants on cruise ships and hospitals to feed the families they barely get to see. To follow their trail blazing footsteps, let me be the second generation tipping point where some form of cyclical tradition breaks. That way, I can raise my daughter free of predefined scripts. So as the worst Asian in this or any bar, cheers:
to being the first of a new kind.
swallow


I,
too,
swallow.

each groan
repressed
each longing
suppressed,
each nightmare
revisited.

the semantic fluid
stains
my teeth, my face,
no erasure endures,
tracks of my tears,
skin etched everlasting,
beyond camouflaging.

the weights owned,
that the scale
does not register,
stones of stones,
add to a total
that has no
agreeable total
but is a totalitarian oppression
of all day tongue depressions

oh god,
mercy from the weights
I have impressioned and digested
of own free will,
to misbalance my posture,
crook’d, my soul ever reciped,

stains collected,
each stain
swallowed,
see my markings internal,
you have never seen
until you have seen me
7/20/19
Antino Art May 31
we'd wake up and play with magic
like any other game of pretend
bath towel tied into a cape
we'd approach an empty plastic top hat
wand in hand
 
we were tapping into an ancient power
that we barely even knew
we've played a superhero, Sub-zero
and now, a miracle worker
there was nothing we couldn't do
 
we'd climb trees to the summit branches
as high as we'd dare to go
we'd lower the hoop and dunk with ease
alley-oops, 360s
sometimes in slow-mo
 
there was nothing but room
to grow and explore
frontiers of the imagination
seized on roller blades with plastic swords
 
we'd tie skateboards to the back of bicycles
and Jamaican bobsled down the street
we were free ninjas in the 90s
off to adventures no one sees
 
we'd front roll down hills like hedgehogs
we'd scrape knees
we'd footrace to the stop sign and back
to pretend we're going faster
we'd kick clouds of dust in our tracks
 
we'd steal bricks from the neighbor's garden
and throw them into lakes to see the splash
we'd throw pebbles to see how high they'd go
or paper planes from the top of the staircases
one time, we jumped off:
it was a dare
we did it though
 
we unscrewed the air cap from the tires
of our enemies' parked cars
we clapped back with super soakers
the block was truly ours
 
we'd play until the streetlights came on
with more discoveries left unseen
and in the shadows while sleeping
we'd play catch with our dreams
Antino Art May 29
Mr. Hippo, you are 3,000 pounds. How is it that you are able to swim? Tell me, Mr. Hippo. Your legs are so short that your belly drags against the ground. Your head is huge, and your body is intensely round. Yet you are able to stay afloat and not drown. How is it that you are buoyant? And how is it that those stubby legs of yours can propel you forward in water?

Mr. Hippo, I hear you can run up to 30 mph on land. *******. You don’t even need to run. You’re regarded as the most dangerous animal in Africa. I hear you can snap a crocodile in two with one bite. What do you eat, Mr. Hippo, to get that big? I hear you only eat grass and you don’t really fight. Yet you have those giant teeth that lions do not ***** with.

Mr. Hippo, you’re that dangerous and feared, but still in a good enough mood to wiggle your ears. And maintain such shinny Hippo skin. It is for all these reasons that I would like to have you as a pet, Mr. Hippo. I’d walk you down the street and show you off to all the neighbors and let them gossip. You could swim in their pools and feed on their blossoms. You could stop their cars in their tracks and their yards, you could cross them. They will say, “Mr. Antonio, you are strange.” But it will cost them. Because later they will say, “Mr. Antonio, we are sorry. Mr. Hippo, you are awesome.”
Antino Art May 27
If my heart was drawn on paper,
it would never fall apart.

I'd hang it on the refrigerator
like my daughter's works of art.

Though it bends
and crumples over time,
it cannot be erased.

    Where real hearts are heavy,
this one would be weightless
    folding easily into pockets
    like money
for betting
    
    win or loose,
    it unfolds unphased.

This is child-like thinking.

    If my heart was drawn on paper

it would rip, break
I would throw it
in every direction
until it went missing

They'd return it to me
deformed,
no longer the drawing
I made
when we were just kids
K i s s i n g

I'd barely recognize it.

1 2 3 4
I delcare love a war.

So I'll make myself
a new drawing
and let go
of the past.

I'll leave the missing pieces
where they are,
with who I am
intact.

I'll pretend nothing is broken
and that my heart on paper
is meant to last.

This is childish thinking.

Still, I'll pick up the pieces
and start over
as my drawing goes up
in flames I'll rise above

Though the heart on paper
burns to ashes,
in the embers
I'll find new love.
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