Marlon Hacla.jpg

Two Poems

Marlon Hacla

Translated from the Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim

Words Happened

Words happened. Cow became

Cow. The word milk gushed in every throat.

A farm suddenly teemed with corn, their ears golden.

Trees materialized to surround the scenic view of a plain.

Tranquility was crowned with huddled crowds

Of maya birds. I uttered the word joy

And I was once again playing a game

As a child with my friends.

I jokingly mentioned death

And leaves dropped from their branches, the crops

Were dried up, the worms shuddered in their engorgement.

Cows hunted us down one by one to our eventual fall by the cliff’s edge.

Nangyari ang mga Salita

Nangyari ang mga salita. Ang baka ay naging

Baka. Umiral ang salitang gatas sa bawat lalamunan.

Ang bukid ay naging hitik sa uhay.

Pinalibutan ng mga kahoy ang tanaw.

Ang kapayapaan ay kinoronahan ng kumpol-kumpol

Na maya. Binigkas ko ang ligaya

At nangyari ang tagpong naglalaro ako

Bilang isang musmos kapiling ng mga kaibigan.

Pabiro kong binanggit ang kamatayan

At nangagsipanlaglag ang mga dahon, natuyo

Ang mga tanim, kumislot at tumaba ang mga uod.

Isa-isa kaming sinugod ng baka hanggang mahulog sa bangin.

Autobiography as a Cricket

My first lesson was on hissing out sounds

Against loneliness.

These hours hold no room for sulking,

My ancestors said.

When, at last, I perfected the art

Of whistling in the dark,

I began to notice the growing depths

Of the night. We have chipped away

At the silences of the fields. Have flicked

Again and again at the invisible clocks.

Try to find me, and you will fail.

What I have been saying is what

Others have been saying. To the bosom of the earth we are scattered

And the heart of the world dwells in all places.

The truth is, my first lesson was about sorrow.

Then hissing, singing,

Singing while making love, singing

When in danger.

Seeing that the night continues to

Grow deep,

I have learned to repeat

The world’s pleas.

Talambuhay Bilang Isang Kuliglig

Unang itinuro sa akin ang pagsitsit

Sa lungkot.

Walang puwang sa mga ganitong oras ang pagmumukmok,

Sabi ng mga ninuno.

Kalaunan, noong naperpekto ko ang sining

Ng pagsipol sa dilim,

Napansin kong lalong lumalalim

Ang magdamag. Binitak-bitak namin

Ang katahimikan sa larang. Pinitik-pitik

Ang mga di nakikitang orasan.

Kung hahanapin mo ako, mabibigo ka.

Ang sinasabi ko ay kagaya lamang

Ng sinasabi nila. Ikinalat kami sa dibdib ng mundo

At ang puso ng mundo ay nasa lahat ng lugar.

Ang totoo, unang itinuro sa akin ang lungkot.

Sumunod ang pagsitsit, ang pag-awit,

Ang pakikipagtalik habang umaawit, ang pag-awit

Habang nanganganib.

Noong napansin kong patuloy

Na lumalalim ang mga gabi,

Natutuhan kong ulit-ulitin

Ang hinaing ng daigdig.

Marlon Hacla is the author of Melismas (Oomph Press, 2020), There Are Angels Walking the Fields (forthcoming from Broken Sleep Books), and Glossolalia (forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse), all of which are translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim. Translations of his poems were published in Poetry, Shenandoah, Words Without Borders, and many other journals. He lives in Quezon City, Philippines, with his cats.

Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books of fiction and poetry, including The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press, 2017), Black Arcadia (University of the Philippines Press, 2017), Meditations of a Beast (Cornerstone Press, 2016), Butterfly Dream (Snuggly Books, 2016), Age of Blight (Unnamed Press, 2016), and Lifeboat (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2015). She co-edited the British Fantasy Award-winning anthology People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! (2016) and Ulirát: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines (Gaudy Boy, 2021). She is also the translator of many bilingual editions, including Marlon Hacla’s Melismas (Oomph Press, 2020) and Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles’s Twelve Clay Birds: Selected Poems (University of the Philippines Press, 2021) and Three Books (Broken Sleep Books, 2020).