Two Poems by Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo


the most fragile of all human inventions
easily broken
so delicate
you can shatter it
in an instant
into small intricate pieces

sometimes empty
written in water
or worth keeping
with brevity
but without guarantee
time and time again

the trickiest of all speech-acts
trust: an idealism
ambivalence: an option
treachery: a possibility
the future is at stake
savor each word
with a grain of salt


all that was left were cigarette butts
the rest turned into ashes

moments ago
you were relishing
inhaling and puffing toxins
ember was apricot-red
which gradually turned lighter
lost colors
and became lifeless
leaving residues
in your flesh and bones

eerily familiar vignettes:
you were empty
in a jam-packed room
full of strangers
same old pollution
you were fixed
but all over the place
trying to hold your breath
no burning desire
casting doubts about
the dichotomy
between smoke and fire

all that was left were cigarette butts
the rest turned into ashes

Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo is a multidisciplinary writer, researcher, and nomadic visual ethnographer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Art Studies (Interdisciplinary) from the University of the Philippines and a double post-graduate degree (with distinction) in International Performance Research and Theory of Art and Media, Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and the University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, respectively under the Erasmus Mundus program. After years of being nomadic, he is now settled in the Philippines and has recently renewed his penchant for weaving words together.

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