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By Patrick Rosal

2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry
My American Kundiman (Persea 2006) by Patrick Rosal
Selections reprinted with permission from Persea Books.

They call him Beast where he's from and he will tell you
that each living physical moment affords an opportunity
to do something unique and beautiful Now clearly this is
bullshit You see I first became acquainted with Beast's
grunt-and-howl metaphysics at a dust-sucking
half-court game every Wednesday night in grad school when
on several occasions—yes—I stripped the ball from him
clean Beautiful ? No—It was ugly And in the tradition
of the many monsters who came before him he did not cry
for such ugliness This Beast is six-foot-four and speaks
five versions of Pound-And-Pummel In South Philly
I'm watching him play summer league where Beast thinks
he's a poet even when he hauls down a brick
off the defensive boards and there's four other
black men on the court calling to him
Beast! Beast! Beast! He answers them
with all the sensitivity of a cretic foot: a quick
pivot mid-court that knocks the opponent's skinny
two-guard off the gawky pair of iron
skillets grown out of the poor kid's ankles and projects him
like an old neurosis across the crud-ridden gym floor
More than once I've caught Beast's blunt left wing-
blade of his broad back on my chin And then with my best
blacktop ineloquence cursed him: Thank you Fuck you too
Isn't this so often the affection between men:
that we should share not a single lovely word unless
through a battered mandible This is how I listened to Beast
recite after those Wednesday nights his invented
names for fire in such holy brag and trash but also how
one morning over tea in a more muted bravado
he narrated the quiet trauma of his father's final weeks: how
his old man—whose oak-switch cruelty Beast had long
survived—was shrunken down to a pair of scrawny wrists
How they yanked at the tethers to the gurney
with whatever will he could scrape from his gut
already nearing the end of its slow-cook to soup
Beast's father—conjuring one last good ass-whooping glare—
would shake his head pointing to his own mouth
He was signaling his son to remove the ventilator tube
shoved a full foot down his rotting neck Every nerve
in his failing body yowling soundlessly No Not
this I don't want this Take the goddamn thing out And Beast
dutifully answered the way any noble animal
must answer its closest kin: with his body With the dangerous
radius of his shoulders With his muscled trunk And with his breath
He watched the last of his father's silent wide-eyed squawks
and enacted a son's most loving disobedience
He held himself—for hours there—perfectly still

| about the author |

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2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry
Patrick Rosal

As Glass


When You Haven't Made Love in a Long Time

The Woman You Love Cuts Apples For You

Kundiman Ending On a Theme from T La Rock

For My Childhood Friend Derek Who First Told Me I Could Call Him Nigger

Joel H. Vega

Woman in Alverna

A Street in Venice

Between Kisar and Makassar

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