By Rodrigo Dela Peña

And news spread
all over the town, a virus, a fear

of contagion,  
a panic. Muse, amuse me. Let me catch

the delirium,  
feverish dreams to get lost in while wide

awake, the gift  
of tongues. Let me pronounce the word

plibustiero, pelbistero, palabistiero.  

Each rivulet
contains a voice, murmurous, illicit ghost

of an echo
still ringing in the ears. All I know

is a fraction
of what can be known, the air’s omniscience.  

How many birds
have come to roost, their feathers woven  

into the foliage?
In the teeming wilderness, I have lost  

count, unsure
of whose call belongs to whom, whose caw

and chittering
edges the night. Only the ground arrests  

whatever falls,  
ready to receive rain, untethered leaves,  

a body
collapsing after being struck by a bullet.

A Filipino writer based in Singapore, Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. is the author of Requiem, a chapbook. He is a recipient of the Palanca Award for Poetry in the Philippines, as well as awards from British Council Singapore's Writing the City.