Den City

Another teenager appears on the stage.
She dances without a partner. Her two-piece
has imprint of sunflowers, yellow in their freshness.
She stands tall in her six-inch high heeled black boots,
resembling that of Texas cowboys’. For three 45s,

she performs alone. Sometimes, she splits on the floor.
The backdrop mirror captures her steps—each movement
of her hands and fingers with long, painted nails.
Here colored lights turn on and off every second
in perfect cadence with the music. Here she

and the rest of the starlets are the main attractions.
I join hundreds of men—office workers, construction crews,
port laborers—in watching them, clapping our hands
every after performances. For the record, the starlets’ names,
sweet-sounding, are printed bold on the streamer

hanged at the entrance. The streamer has a blurb
from an anonymous critic: Fresh from Japan
I summon one of the starlets to my table, offer her
shots of Dalandan juice, pricey than a bottle of Tequila.
And when the show is over, my wallet aches in silence.

* * *

A Magician’s Show

He picks a rose, pink, fresh
from the hem of my wife’s skirt.

Then draws a coin from my ear.
He turns a swertres tip into

a crisp one thousand peso bill
or small paper cuts into

chained handkerchiefs.
He buries a red satin

ritaso in his closed palm
and draws it from the edge

of a little boy’s city short.
And when his show is over,

The kids clap their hands.
His power evokes wonder.

Because I cheer him too
pretending I didn’t know

the secrets of his tricks.

(Raul G. Moldez hails from Cagayan de Oro City.)


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