Thursday, August 28, 2008


Speaking of contests, Kristin Naca is one of the new recipients of the National Poetry Series Contest. Yay! And it's not just the book prize but their inaugural MTV Prize....coming to a college campus near you!

I don't usually pay attention to poetry contests except when it amuses Moi....or when a Filipino poet is involved. And dang if moi purty head don't keep being yanked that way. To wit, So, like, haven't you all noticed how more and more of these contests are being won by Filipino poets?

                  Ay nagsamit, nagsamit!

I've been following Kristin's work for years now, btw, but apparently, many of you don't know her. Well, here's a sample poem she sent just for posting on this blog where, in searching for poetry, you also get the news! And dang if I ain't hungry now for some major lechon!:

By Kristin Naca

The taller men with baseball bats, a tree branch garbled with knots,
log iron, and leftover pipe from the fence they put up last summer.
The shorter men gripping buck knives for slashing at the pig's neck.
And ripened on a dry slop of peanuts, cornflakes and newspaper
shavings, moiled between the washer and dryer and shelves of dust-caked
soda bottles, the pig that grew tall enough to sniff and lick the doorknob.
So, from the other side, I watched it turn and, hearing it flicker at night,
dreamt of succoring the pig’s escape. Then, they unleashed it. It
drumming its blunt, fleshy hammers through the downstairs hallway,
its high-pitched cough the air it dragged over vocal chord lathing.
Then they prodded it across the yard and cornered it under the porch.
So with a ka-thunk the pig, then stilled in its tracks, had to watch
as one of the men crept up and dragged his knife across its neck.
They held the sullen body in their pink, craggy hands, standing up,
in order to catch its blood in a bucket. Blood Mother cooked
into a musty, black blood-food we smothered our rice in. After that,
the men heaved the body on a picnic table wrapped in Glad bags
and tape and rolled the carcass on its back and split the skin down
the long belly, its guts oozing out—all beigy, peachy and blue like
clouds of chewed bubble-gum or the bulbs of a wilted, worn-in coin purse.
Collapsed hoses, too soft and slick to pile up, spread across the lawn
in pearly pools. Then, carefully, the men excised the gall bladder
before it broke and spoiled the meat, gallbladder curled like a finger
on a folding chair beside them while they emptied the carcass to the snout.
On the grass, the heart and lungs lay, and the throat ridged and perfect
as a staircase. And then, the new backbone a metal rod they pierced
and guided through the carcass. Tackle they hoisted onto some posts,
so—though I can't remember exactly—they could turn the whole thing
on a spit. How it hovered for hours over the orange coals that startled
whenever the juices dripped, and the rangy smell of singed pork-meat
and charcoal slinked into our sweat, and the pork skin transluted, cells
shimmering amber and snapping easily to the touch, hot loosened fat
down our fingers, until the meat fell apart without having to hack at it.
The men, smoking packs of Kool cigarettes and piling up the empty
Schlitz beer cans, hardly mentioning a thing about the child.

[Appeared in HARPUR PALATE, Fall 2007.]