Carlo Rey Lacsamana

★ ★ ★ ★


For such a time as this (Three Poetic Studies in Breathing)


Your breath is no longer than your arm
There are mountains you will never reach
Your breath is no larger than the town you grew up in
The world is too big for your lungs to cradle
From childhood to this your life
A leap from summer to autumn
A shadow wandering across the plenitude of endings
Trembling in the face of what cannot last
Tell yourself I’m here
Say it
Cry out
Breathe with a tremendous wonder
That your days too are numbered
Though the air is tainted with wickedness and loss
The wild geese are flying towards the mystery of elsewhere
You will go there too with the footprints of everything
You have loved and loved you
For what you cannot hold forever
Gives weight to the softness of your hands
Learn to breathe like one singing who has nothing to lose
A song not yet come to pass
A singular voice a brass chorus
In the silent multitude of grieving stars


When the other says I can’t breathe
It means simply this
That you lay your weapons down
Unlearn the centuries of blindness
Deflate your weight that drags the voiceless’ feet
Shrink your heart to a size fit inside
The palm of a newborn
Bend your knee not in victory
But in grief in prayer in sigh
Unplug your ears listen
To the voyage of the Blues
Across the long night
Stand upright like a man and see
That pain is taller than you

When your neighbor cries I can’t breathe
What is asked for is not a gasping for air
Not a choke that drops the curtains of pride
But the unchaining humanly embrace
Arm on the other’s shoulder
History read upside down
Men breathing weaponless
Heartbroken among broken men


Time is blowing the windmills
The dead wink from the glow of a hilltop village
The leaves are dancing silently in midair
The herons are slim and graceful in their rising
Another morning awakes
Fresh beginnings in the kitchen window
Warm heartaches for which there are no answers
Still on the bed our bodies entangled like a shoelace
Our hurt run into each other like old friends
Breathing dreamlessly together
With our roots growing deeper in longing
With our strength waning like the darkness outside
To not distinguish my breath from your breath
Is what I call love

Carlo Rey Lacsamana is a Filipino born and raised in Manila, Philippines. Since 2005, he has been living and working in the Tuscan town of Lucca, Italy. He regularly contributes to journals in the Philippines, writing politics, culture, and art. He also writes for a local academic magazine in Tuscany that is published twice a year. His articles have been published in magazines in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, and Mexico. Visit his website or follow him on Instagram @carlo_rey_lacsamana.


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