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solana Oct 2020
we take the blue line down
to smithsonian, where all those statues
are. you know how i arrived here,
so instead i tell you a different origin story.

once, a guy from a rather obnoxious musical
struck up a deal with two other white men
and that’s how washington, dc, came to be.
all of our cities are inventions. the “national mall”
is a metaphor for theft. call it euphemism.
call it revisionist. we are standing in the
belly of the beast that sent for me.
say anacostan. say piscataway.
recite the lineage of this land.
then say imperialism. say colonization.
say what brought me here.

and i, settler immigrant, want you
to pay attention to the places you will
find the names of our people. manila
is part of the world war two memorial,
not in memory of our kababayan who died
but for the american soldiers who were stationed there.
they have taken from us, too. made our homes
unlivable to the point where i had to leave your side.

let’s be clear:
i am a visitor on a land not my own.
they have stolen more
than we could ever loot.
did you know the adults speak in codes here?
they say “land acknowledgment” instead of
“land back.” they paint murals on the streets
without doing a **** thing.
solana Oct 2020
here, a chance
to make up for lost time. here’s to
the eighteenth birthdays
and the graduations we never got; though
we were separated by oceans  
our losses learned how to swim.
so i write for you an arrival day
where i meet you at the international arrivals terminal.
as we ride north to the life i’ve
built from leaving, our voices crystallize
to form home. outside, there is snow.
you ask me how i survive winter and i tell you
i learned to conjure up warmth. i dared
to imagine a christmas with all my closest ones
and now we are here. i spoke it into existence.
i breathed into being the bridging of our worlds.
you could say i manifested it.
we arrive at my place. my parents greet you and me,
and together we eat our way
through hours of kwento. you and wendii and i
fall asleep in my room that night,
ready to wake up and explore
the other side of the world.
for Gwen Badiong
solana May 2020
how am i supposed to go into these situations and know it won’t happen again.

how can i trust myself to make the right decisions when there was no happy ending to begin with?

****. i can’t even be poetic about this ****.

when we were still there, someone told me i would find you again. they said there would be other people to visit beautiful places with. today i found out they were right.  

but i also remember how i ran. i threw up on the basement floor. i came to. i took the elevator and entered our room and you were gone.

just like him. just like that.
solana Mar 2020
"Since Metro Manila has an elevation of around five meters, it seems to be living on borrowed time."
Philippine Inquirer, 2019

i am the daughter of a girl without a mother    
born on an island bordered by water

my closest ones live too far away from me  
scattered like dozens of inlets floating on water

in Tagalog the verb mag-alala  [ to worry ]     shares a root with pag-alala [ to remember ]
every year i grow older   & more likely to drown from water

my home is a country   joined together by a liquid border
in thirty years   the city that birthed me will be under water  

every poem i write has become an elegy     mourning the loss of a country i invented
that only exists in my childhood memory     and memory is as fragile as water
solana Sep 2019
I wonder if       lovers ever traverse    the Via in
their honeymoon phase,   when love is still    fresh and makes   one feel alive.
how alive can   you feel while    walking down a   road that only    
leads to death?

I want to    slip on sandals   and walk a   mile in the   shoes of Maria,
feel the calluses     in my bones   as my feet   drag over the  
cobblestone cracks where    the only boy    I’ve ever loved    fell three times.
solana Aug 2019
I fell asleep in her arms last night; she led me to her bed and asked me to lay there. I felt her breath, warm in my chest and my ear and her lips pressed to my neck, thinking, God, this is all I ever wanted. It’s funny cause she did nothing except hold me in the crevices where his arms picked me up. She didn’t grip me where I wanted him to, nor did she choke me the way I wished he would on our last night. She did nothing except hold me.

I fell asleep in her arms last night, when she asked if it was okay if she spoon me before we leave. I remember wishing for the same thing from another girl from California, but I guess I got it now that we both understand we’re not each other’s to keep. I will admit, it’s still hard for me to accept that I can be held, that anyone could look at my body and not see broken bones and a broken heart, awkwardly bandaged together by a Band-Aid of forced resilience.
She did nothing except hold me.

I fell asleep in her arms last night. The first night since he stopped holding me, tears streaming down my cheeks even though I don’t cry in front of people, that I felt alright. Maybe not alright, but felt like I was finally on my way to becoming so. The first night I slept with no tears on the pillowcase.  I realize that even as I crawled under the covers that I was keeping some walls up, but that this could be the way I live if only I could make them topple down.
She did nothing except hold me.

I fell asleep in her arms last night. The first night I realized my body was just a warm body that wanted to be held. No stray kisses from a would-be lover I’d never see again. No one entering and exiting my lithe frame, forgetting that even though resilience is woven into every part of my bones and I come from an island that floods itself every single year, at the end of the day I am also a tiny body that needs to be treated with tenderness. The tenderness I knew he’d give, if he was willing and able. But I knew he was neither, and perhaps never will be. Would I have sacrificed one night of pleasure for a possible eighteen years of regret.
She did nothing except hold me.

I fell asleep in her arms last night. In the morning I was jolted awake by the sound of another girl’s alarm; still she did nothing except insistently lay her head on my shoulder as if to say, “Come back to bed.” And so we slept like that for another two hours, almost missing breakfast, this girl who liked to do everything with no strings attached and this girl who had only recently discovered that sometimes people can be exactly like you in all the worst ways. Still somehow dreaming of a boy from Michigan while laying next to a girl from California. In those moments of quiet relief I nearly began thinking about what it would be like if things were different. Even she said right before we fell asleep, that if we were in the same city we would be together. It is true, this is the kind of tenderness my jaded, lovelorn heart deserves. But we are not in the same city, and so we cannot be together. This bed, this girl, this circumstance -- I’ve come to accept that this is the way things are written to be.
She did nothing except hold me.
  Jul 2019 solana
Tayo'y pinagtagpo lang pala
At hindi itinadhana para sa isa't-isa
Tayong dalawa ay patuloy na umaasa
Ngunit ngayon, kailangan ko ng lumayo. Pasensya.

Sabi mo, gusto mo ako
Aking puso't isip ay nagtatalo
Kung maniniwala ba sa sinabi mo
Dahil baka ikaw lamang ay nalilito

Nalilito sapagkat ako lang naman ang kasama mo sa lungkot
Nagbabalewala sa utot **** kay bantot
Nagpapasaya sayo kapag hindi mo kayang tumawa
Sumasagip sayo kapag ika'y naaaberya

Yung totoo, gusto mo ba talaga ako?
Tandaan, ang gusto at kailangan ay hindi magkapareho
Huwag **** pilitin kung hindi naman kaya
Tanggap ko na noon pa,  huwag kang mag-alala

Kaya mahal, ako na ang lalayo
Subalit bago iyan, iiwanan kita ng isang payo
Minsan,  kailangan mo ring sundin ang iyong puso
Dahil kapag utak lang lahat, ito'y maglalaho

Sana maging masaya ka sa kanya
Alam mo kung sino tinutukoy ko,  bwesit ka
Simula't sapul, diba siya naman talaga?
Brad,  matalino ako, hindi tanga

Sige na. Pinapalaya na kita
Kahit anuman ang mangyari, may tagasalba ka
Huwag ka ngang duwag,  ano ba?
Huwag kasing ipagpilitan sakin ang sarili kung gusto mo pa siya.

Lalayo na ako ha?
Lalayo na ako bago kita malayo sa kanya
Paalam, aking sinisinta
Heeey awis
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