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Antino Art Nov 2019
There are three bright spots worth looking for on cloudy days.

In the morning, it’s coffee with you. We find our silver lining in a hole-in-the-wall cafe near the market where fish fly, talking vividly about what we dreamed as muted light finds its way through the window where we sit. We save the moment, but say bye too fast as if we had flights of our own to catch. And we loose sight of each other in the never-ending current of strangers rushing past. The sky reverts to its stone grey self, and I drift in the company of office buildings, weightless as the clouds from my breath.

We meet again, at a walk-up noodle joint on the pier. We share a steaming bowl of tonkatsu ramen and gaze at the mist-covered bay, talking about the jobs that keep us from waking up. The sun peeks through a blanket of overcast to find us. We take a selfie: in it, we are beaming. We say bye again, this time, with an embrace as warm as the soup on our lips. We save the moment, floating alongside the edge of the water with a glow that will see us through the chilly night ahead.

The last bright spot is the golden hour. It gets dark far too early here, so there is no time to waste. We spend what’s left of it together, over a drink that burns when swallowed in a dimly lit bar beneath a stairwell. It begins to rain. We say nothing this time, and instead, share an unspoken understanding of who we are at the end of cloudy days. We put a finger on it, and promise that we’ll see each other again no matter how heavy the fog may get. We’ll find our way through. We save one last moment and slip into the wintery mist, seeing clear.

In a place with as much grey area as this, the word ‘alone’ looks blurred: it’s ‘all’ and ‘one’ put together, where nothing is missing. The selfie we took comes into focus: it was myself, a complete stranger in my own company. Now, when it's cloudy outside, we see each other through it, filling whatever is empty like a glass, toasting to the brightness found within.
Antino Art Nov 2019
I. Post Alley

Here, darkness isn't the villain.
It's the anti-hero.
We cheer on the absence of light
in favor of insight
- the kind used by blind swordsmen
who distinguish right from wrong moves
by feeling where the fighting spirit
of their adversary sways.
And so we stay awake,
following the signs etched in the neon,
blazing a path toward our fears
with a howl that cuts
the darkness in half like an alley.
We don't dream here.
We embrace the insomnia
like a cup of black coffee
with both hands,
eyes as moons,
tears as tide.


II. Olympic Sculpture Park

Every alley finds its way to water.
They all meet their ends
in a view that floods your eyes
at the speed of ferryboats passing.
It's the there and gone of it
that stops us in our tracks.
It's the childlike smile
you may never see again.
Days here
retain an afterglow
that brightens over time
we can't reclaim.


III. Alki Beach

I fled here when I thought the world ended.
I ate magically delicious clam chowder
from a paper cup
at the edge of Pier 57,
where a Ferris wheel that no one was riding spun.
Moving became mantra: a prayer put into practice.
So I flew
as far as I could get without crossing an ocean.
The fog I arrived in hid what was gone.
The sub-arctic air was balm
on what was burning up in flames.
Painters believe that lighting
defines what you're looking at, puts objects
as absolute as Mount Rainer in limbo.
I saw the heart differently here:
it was smoke
exhaled from the top of a building
to join the overcast like a freed spirit.
Love wasn't a concrete word,
but a formless mist
that your eyes keep redefining
depending on time of day: the first morning,
it was a cargo ship.
By twilight, it was a one-way ticket
on the Light Rail.
It was something that kept moving.
That's it: everything became far up here,
as if I was looking at it from the top
of a UFO-shaped observatory in a skyline
from the space age.
The sun itself appears removed:
it checks out at 5pm due to the extreme
northern latitude and lets night check in early
like an Airbnb traveler you'll never see.
It's okay to remain anonymously sad and blend
in with the rain.
Locals don't carry umbrellas on purpose.
I'm not okay yet.
So I return often to keep my cool
on their 51 degree summer nights.
Statistically, this is the city with the most single people in it –
soloists, loners, former lovers who understand that oneness is wholeness.
There's healing properties to that.
Up here, nothing is missing.
I'm so far away from what happened
that it becomes invisible,
or at least
lost to the fog that keeps rolling through.

Antino Art Sep 2019
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
the way I came.
Antino Art Sep 2019
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 2019
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 romantic portrayal of poverty you think is three worlds away from home. But nah, I'm just a kid from South Florida. Paved driveways and cul de sacs. 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. I dropped out of engineering after one semester and cannot solve a rubix cube. I never learned kung fu. Though I'm learning to face the adversity of becoming a single parent 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 where I caught the nickname of 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 forward. Like how my grandfather 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 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 predetermined scripts. So as the worst Asian in this or any bar, cheers:
to being the first of a new kind.
  Aug 2019 Antino Art
Left Foot Poet


each groan
each longing
each nightmare

the semantic fluid
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
see my markings internal,
you have never seen
until you have seen me
Antino Art May 2019
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
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