Two Poems


Naghalo ang lahat sa tinalupan


when you do this more than once
are you committed enough

the smell of cold metal
and a thin membrane of blood and flesh

when the desire to hurt starts
scouring its tart corrosive

it’s one thing against another
a taste             to bite your tongue

with something more than hunger
something more like anger

thrills through me      an inconstant thing
against the blows that come to us


Nahuli sa kamay


The open palm holds all that has vanished in the intervening
decades, stolen and given back, like time, like wrinkles, like
wisdom, and lies, infidelities, infelicities, reflections of the self.
Snatching at the parabola of the upward toss, the downward
trajectory, forever-suspended the practice sessions of deception,
let no bells ring, no needle sting, your pocket is now empty,
what’s mine is mine is yours is mine.




‘Naghalo ang lahat sa tinalupan’ is a Filipino idiom meaning a serious fight (literally, the skin was mixed with the thing skinned).

‘Nahuli sa kamay’ is a Filipino idiom meaning ‘things lost are found in the hand of the thief’ (literally, caught in the hand).



Ivy Alvarez

Author: Ivy Alvarez

Ivy Alvarez’s collections include The Everyday English Dictionary (Paekakariki Press), Hollywood Starlet (dancing girl press), and Disturbance (Seren). Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.

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