Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 3



Karlo Sevilla


The Katipunero Returns Home

The Spanish forces are finally leaving
after three centuries,
and yet another brutal empire
has already deployed its troops
on his native land.
This is a brief respite
between the wars.
But he is home for now.
And he misses his wife
as much as the islands
miss freedom,
and their kisses
are almost as savage
as the armies of the colonizers.




Dear Deer

How long and sharp are your antlers?
And how strong is the bite
of your small mouth?
I know you don’t kick hard
as a mule, but do you even try?
Statistics show that you perish
in almost all attacks
by the merciless predators.
And isn’t it a shame that
even when you’re among a herd,
all your brethren just run away
and leave you a helpless prey
when a big cat pounces?

There are a few lucky breaks,
I know: Once, I witnessed a fawn
ganged upon by five wild dogs,
jaws clamped on its head
and four others rend a limb each.
Then, a hippopotamus chased
the cruel canines away –
to eat the hapless for itself.
By some miracle, the mangled
and bleeding fawn managed
to flee, but after a few strides
fell into a quicksand. The hippo
left as its quarry drowned
in dark liquefied ground.
(And by the way, I also distribute
this questionnaire among sheep.)




After the Swerve

Three wheels still turn
but now roast
a few feet up in the air,
while the fourth settles
on the roadside grass.

Pinned/entangled
in smoldering crushed metal,
with fading breath, we grope
for the missing manual
on how to uncrash
and unburn.




Too Much of You Ties My Tongue

There’s an inverse relationship
between love and courage — sometimes.

The whirling night clouds above persuade me,
the sweet wine I swirl in my fragile glass
coaxes me — in vain.

I still won’t confess to you.

Tonight, not once will I
take my eyes off you
while the moon bleeds
and it rains red
all over the Earth.




charred remains

that summer day
he mistook for comfort
the warmth
of the still-rising
temperature
and thought as dove
the buzzard
that circled above
and slowed down
to saunter
in his attempt
to leave the forest
of
combustible vegetation

combustible vegetation
of
parched forest
the final destination
of the buzzard
that carried
its unholy charge
in kamikaze spiral
with the fire feather
in its beak
plucked from the sun
which warmth
quickly seared
into harm



Karlo Sevilla: “I live in Quezon City, Philippines. I authored a full-length poetry collection, Metro Manila Mammal (Soma Publishing, 2018), and two chapbooks. Twice nominated for the Best of the Net, my poems appear or are forthcoming in Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press, DIAGRAM, Small Orange, Eclectica, Matter, Radius, Better Than Starbucks, and elsewhere.”




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