Eileen R. Tabios

Postscript #12

Raindrops skittering
against cloudy windowpane—
I long for red birds

fallen leaves reveal how radiant scarlet transforms to dowdy brown

His battlefields have always been gray. No sight of a curling orange peel to match the scent of citrus. No sight of petals colored like the sky from peonies in full bloom. No sight of pink lipstick on a girl. No sight of crumpled violet flowers tipping lime-green stems. No sight of crushed limes greening ice in a glass of caipirinha. No sight of gold-yellow flares from the edges of sunflower faces. No sight of ____________ [fill-in-the-blank for what surfaces color in a life not concerned with war’s variations]. His battlefields have always been gray—chilly as metal blades, rain-washed slate, or an urban bachelor’s velvet walls. Gray is the memory of bombs and missile strikes. Gray disciplines emotion. Gray is an armor. Gray turns the warrior into a computer. How he longed for color now, though color is a light like poetry: subjective, with no stable standard upon which one might rest. Destiny means everyone will bear an unresolvable problem. Lucidity reveals: color is an illusion and no death cannot pass without regret. On the ground, once-scarlet leaves have turned to brown.

The Silk Sword

Fragile but stronger
than steel, silk teaches how to
remain in flower

love excavates humanity

“A glance from her, the city falls,” sang a girl while the rebel warrior listened behind a curtain. From the mouth of babes… Discerning his future lover’s favored perfume was enough to lower his sword—in a future century, perfumers will capture the scent to call it “Gourmand White Flowers.” They will summarize its ineffability as “a sparkle of green tea, berries, caramel, and vanilla notes that play with orchid, jasmine, and rose. With a fragrance trail of a woody orris accord that entwines with a floral heart, it bears a powdery veil that offers sophistication to its gourmand notes.” She made him hunger, thus endangered. But he’d learned the most successful survivors understood how to be vulnerable—the resulting flexibility could endanger them, but also redeem their lives. Life made him stone, but love will excavate his humanity. Sometimes, to be human is to be thinned voluntarily by love. Humanity is critical in end-times—a circle turns and, ideally, the conclusion contains redemption. “A second glance leaves the empire in ruins,” sang a girl while the rebel listened behind a curtain. The rebel listened, then knew to leave behind all revolutions.


Curb steel blades to make
art, like bleeding heart blossoms—
such lovely poison

when a poem’s beauty cannot redeem the poet

Blood paints the air while the crowd roars. Combatants could have been third century gladiators battling for the entertainment of Roman diners. Or combatants could have been today’s roosters with blades attached to their claws, fighting on a round dust field surrounded by smoking gamblers. In either case, the goal is pleasure for the witnesses. Through pleasure, we see how humans become simpletons with eyes blind to spraying blood. Humans see blood mostly when it’s their own. Like poets making poems with someone else’s blood for ink. When drunk, the thieves claim a poem’s beauty redeems the author’s hands. When sober, the poets weep as they claim a poem’s beauty redeems the author’s hands. Nature, after all, presents us with the pleasing Nerium Oleander, so visually soothing with white, magenta, and crimson petals elegantly spreading its fragrance. But from root to sap, each part can kill if ingested. Poison can be made from its nectar. In end times, the price of pleasure evolves to unfathomable anguish.

Postscript #15

Sky blankets earth
with sunlit

as if color
is not

but a lover
to all

when time passes
unrelentingly towards


Sky blankets earth
with blue

if color is
not illusion

lover to all
across all

Sky blankets earth as / if color is not illusion

The deeper the wound, the greater the longing. No need to get over a beloved’s death. Just hold memory close as a seed—protect and nurture it. One day, you will turn a street corner and your beloved will be smiling there, waiting for you. And your beloved will thank you for drinking tears into irrelevance. And the same perfume you’ve memorized will waft towards you as she approaches: alchemized peaches, plums, peonies, and violets atop an earthen base of leather, patchouli and vanilla. And she will point up and say, “It’s been centuries, but the sky still connects us.” And you will look up, too, and breathe in as much Arctic blueness as you can withstand: you become sapphire. And your wounds will begin to close. And her scars, too, will begin to evaporate. Healing will enhance your mutual desire for “what doesn’t kill, strengthens.” Your ex-wounds will become immunization’s armaments against the cruelty that created your joint past as replete with separations.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. Forthcoming in 2023 is the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War. Recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times; two French books, PRISES (Double Take) (trans. Fanny Garin) and La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery); and a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels. Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form; the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity; and the “Flooid” poetry form that’s rooted in a good deed. Translated into 12 languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. More information is at https://eileenrtabios.com
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