Jasmine Nikki Paredes
I walked to town to sell my mother’s poems.
She spun a rag for me, coiled it
and set a basketful of poems on my head.
On the way I stopped to drink pond water.
I threw away her poems. They were heavy.
The town was filled with itchy commas.
I was walking home when a comma bit me under my t-shirt.
Nobody knew where the commas came from.
I yelled and threw out my arms. Prak!
went my mother’s poems.
I ground her poems to powder using rocks.
I tore a banana leaf and made tiny packets.
I told everyone I passed on the road I was selling comma killers.
Mariang Masipag is a girl I visit everyday.
I eat her mother’s poems daily. I don’t do much else.
“You good-for-nothing! Never set foot on our yard again!” said her
I came back the next day with large banana leaves.
From the rice fields to Mariang Masipag’s house I laid them down
leaf by leaf.
But my mother wanted for me a girl of few words.
There was a house in the woods. Someone told me
an old hag lived there with her daughter. I went and I knocked on their
Nobody answered at the gate by the yard. I climbed their steps.
I saw a young woman lying on a mat on the floor.
I asked her to be my wife. She didn’t say anything,
so I carried her home. Some people arrived after that.
“Haven’t you seen the corpse of a young woman?” they asked.
I split open the eastern post of our house.
“I can read your fortune on this piece of bamboo,” I told my mother.
I didn’t tell her I was lying.
She sent me outside to work. I didn’t want to.
I spied on her instead. I saw her making poems in our kitchen.
My mother was impressed I knew her poem even before she fed it to
me for lunch.
She told me not to draw poems from the well anymore.
She told me to rest.
“He can see,” she told the neighbors.
I told my mother I’d walk past the hills to make a poem for her.
She didn’t believe me.
The sun was already down by the time I returned.
“I did it. I made a poem”, I said.
I spread my arms to show her how long my poem was.
I told her I made a poem from there to here.
She bragged about it to the other women who were washing clothes in
I fell asleep while waiting for the fish to bite.
I woke up. I didn’t know where I was.
When I was floating down the river I thought I was dead.
I did this until I died.
I didn’t mind to slap a fly off my nose because I couldn’t anymore.
My boat drifted under a canopy of trees that bore heavy poems.
Jasmine Nikki Paredes
Jasmine Nikki “Nikay” C. Paredes is a second year MFA candidate in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She is assistant poetry editor for LUMINA journal and co-director of the 10th Sarah Lawrence College Poetry Festival. She was born and raised in Cebu City, Philippines.