good intentions, A Light On

By Iris Dumaual

good intentions

with the coming of spring comes the gentle turn of
a changing season: cicadas chirping, grass reviving,
trees breaking loose of their long, heavy hibernation.
and from the dead earth rises the grass that wafts
sweet in the summer. i listen to birds singing their
spring melodies outside my window while I read
about cities where the dropping of bombs is a song
that has been sung outside children’s bedrooms for
three years. a constant through changing seasons,
as familiar as the sound of rainfall, shrapnel and fire
falling to the earth not to give life, but to wrench
life apart. little children drag their feet through
puddles of blood instead of dancing in the rain.
this is a poem, what good can it do? prayers ask for
peace or at the very least, less bloodshed.
as an anniversary commemoration street artist Bansky
created a public image of a little girl, a small
child reaching for a heart-shaped balloon. but a
streak of paint on the wall will never be a bloodstain,
no matter how deep the pigment, or vivid the shade.

"Ballon Girl of Bansky By Danor" © Danor Shtruzman (

“Ballon Girl of Bansky By Danor” © Danor Shtruzman (

A Light On

I will never stop writing poems about my mother,
Filipina woman standing 5’3” on the boulevard in Dumaguete
With her face glazed in sunshine and her eyes on the sea.
My mother sitting in the guava tree, grinding coffee in the mill,
Walking on the side of the road to school and
Falling asleep on the bus ride home from Bohol.
She spends her lazy days with the soles of her feet sinking
Wrinkled into the wet sand for hours on end.
I will not apologize for writing poems that all speak
The same language, that come in different shapes and sizes
But taste of the same flavor. In between my flesh and
My bone there are extra layers built in to contain all
The memories that are not my own, all the secondhand emotions,
The homesickness for someone else’s motherland
I draw the blood out, use a pen like a scalpel to cut out an
Extra layer of fat. But it will come back. It always comes back.
My mother and I will lie in bed and trace the lines
Of my family tree with an unseen finger. The nail will
Catch on the bark and the sap will come out oozing sweet.
I will rise in the morning, grind through the day like the
Oxen toiling in the fields, and muse about the day when
I will write about my own childhood, my own past.
I will never stop taking needles to my skin to reach
The corners in my blood vessels where my mother and
The Philippines will live forevermore. You cannot live
Without blood, and memories cannot be surgically removed
Without damaging the brain. Know that when I sit and
Struggle with different methods to convey the past and
Present, I am not trying to remove what is in me.
I am trying to revive it.

IrisDumaualPhotoIris Dumaual is a Filipina-American girl born and raised in Cortlandt Manor, New York. In the fall of 2015 she will be attending St. John’s University in Queens as a freshman. She’s not entirely sure what major she wants to pursue, but it most definitely won’t be in a field related to math or science.

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