Jonel Abellanosa


I still practice, but no longer to keep sharpening
My skills, nor to sustain the edge I might have
Gained through decades of conquests and wars.
The hilt still makes me feel as if each thrust pierces
Flesh, the phantom body limping, cherry blossoms
Like blood splatter. The dead still haunt me.

In the battlefield there’s no swaying, no notions
Of balance. Only swiftness, speed with which
Our hordes cut across kingdoms and cities.
Riding with valor, I never thought of symmetry
But of how quick and efficient we propagated
The old ways, our gods, ancestral codes and laws.

I used to be an archer, but I mastered the sword
For the solitude. My geometries were so full of
Grace they resemble dance. My sword is like
A poet’s quill pen. The moon knows my heart’s
Rhythms. I slash the air as if I’m writing lines,
The only echoes from unconquerable stars


Accustomed to a changing air in my room,
Brevities of blues as I wake, as the sunrise
Commences. Shifting shades like selves: This
Day I’m an amateur calligrapher – sad for its
Ephemerality (tomorrow, I’ll be Francis to the birds) –
Figurative with 你是谁 – “Who are you?”
“Grant me grace,” I pray. The paper is an empty
Hymnal, white space pining for its lost songs.

Ink melting in water. Slow grind of inkstick
Jet as the moonless predawn, inkstone smells
Keatsian as beauty and truth. I start with 你.
Like any apprentice I have preferences, stylistic
Mysticisms, the brush like a tongue, strokes
Numinous as tildes. With 是 the hand is the
Ornamenter of rhythm, then artificer for 谁.

Pianist, I say, as I look at the harmonious artwork
Questioning me. I write anew, this time on parchment:
“Reverence is my light as poet,” I say after finishing.
Seven of these will be thumbtacked: I face the wall
Truthfully, saying, “Mathematician,” “Physicist,”
“Umpire or arbiter.” In my heart is the ancient
Vellum, with texts of my déjà vu, my intuition’s
Written declaration. The lives I’m living are
Expressions. “I’m a Zen Buddhist,” “I’m a
Yogist.” I’ll answer the middle brushwork,
“Zechariah is my name, and I know.”

To Adam Jones

                               After the movie Burnt

Attention to how details shade, abecedarian as
Burning ingredients, the way they complement
Creativity, learning measured, skill heated into
Dishes. Does your difficult childhood sway your
Expressions? I think of foie gras or finely ground
Filberts, as if I’m remembering, my flaws like
Garnishes to my poetry. Sounds are like slices of
Halibut, obsession a silverware for ~*Shock*~,
~*Invention*~, ~*The New*~, ~*Delight*~.
Just imprecise bits can turn truffles into trifles – I
Keep that in mind like a recipe’s line.

Like a Michelin star – what the poetry editor of a
Magazine told me about my poem The Soloist
Nearing her to tears: a reader’s appreciation is the
Only thing that matters. Ways you shape food into
Poetry touch the recognizing heart. For this our
Quests are alike – to connect. I, too, decided to
Reform (after decades of substance abuse), sobriety
Serving clarity to my mind, clean living like
Tarragon. I, too, believe in prayer. I, too, walk,
Undertake the solitary, the inward. I have inner
Voices, you have a shrink. Foods are your poems.
Words are my food, and I strive with the same
Exactitude, the same care. Recognizing your
Yearns to satisfy, I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel
Zoned where no one else desires to share

To Philippe Petit

                               After the movie The Walk

---Attempting--the--impossible--- is like a pole
Balancing courage and hesitance. Each step
Capacious, fate-tempting, as you push yourself,
Daring to    walk         a dream’s tightrope. You
Enter the audience’s stunned silence, your
Fortitude attracting, the street below filling.

Gravity grants resolve, your spirit like steel cable.
High-wire tricks dissemble danger. As poet
I’m self-taught like you, who could unicycle on wire,
Jump through hoops, bicycle, do somersaults –
Kick-starting the imaginative, the metaphorical, the
Line tautened. Watching you I feel like a walker,
Master performer who wows. I reinvent the
Numinous, the way you reach the tower
Or its twin when you turn. Poetry is like
Passages, the sound going, back and forth,
Quietness the music the heart hears. Silence I
Revere, silence like clouds of the sacred,
Solitude like a bird in the gray sky.

Teach me trustfulness, your serenity’s prayer.
Unfold your path to the divine, precariousness
Vis-à-vis the promise of transcendence. There’s
Wonder after overcoming, a stillness beyond
Expression. This poem ends with me sitting, my
Yearn composed as I watch the tranquil sunset:
Zenith of the mind where constellations emerge

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Marsh Hawk Review, Anglican Theological Review, Rattle, Poetry Kanto, Spirit Fire Review, The McNeese Review, GNU Journal and Dark Matter. He has two chapbooks, Pictures of the Floating World (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and The Freeflowing All (Black Poppy Review). He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
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