Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence



By Paolo Manalo

For Carlos Malvar

In place of the missing wife, the hiding child
Or the tragic fate of lovers, Earth has given us
These flowers and plants, volcanoes, rivers.
The first banana was a spirit-man who found
True love with a human wife. Our world,
Too heavy for him, he returned to his own
But left his heart behind as loving should
Belong to his love. The wife buried it.
From out of the grave, a herbaceous plant grew
With its strange bunch of fruit.

The girl in the banana suit tells me all this
With outstretched arms while I tighten the straps
On her back. Tonight I’m the dying grave robber
Transformed into a stalk of dancing corn.
With Piña the Pineapple and Mango Angelo
We step out on stage for one final dance.
The barker screams our name:

“The Legendary Fruitshake!”

On cue we burst into song, and are joined
By some shaking leaves in in the spotlight:
“Welcome to the Philippines.
You’re surrounded by so much heartbreak!”


Paolo Manalo

Paolo Manalo obtained his Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews. He received a MacDowell Colony residency in the winter of 2006-07. Jolography, his first collection of poems, was a first-prize winner in the 2002 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

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