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June 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Ode to…..

George Bradford Patterson is a lecturer of English as a Second(ESL)/English as a Foreign Language.  He has a Masters Degree in Language Education with a Concentration in English as a Second Language from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, May, 1982.  He has taught EFL/ESL in universities , colleges, languages institutes, and an international school in Mexico, Colombia, Perun, China, Honduras, Korea, and in the US at Temple University in the Writing Program, Fall Semester, 1983; Beaver College, Pennsylvania, 1984; and as a Substitute ESL Teacher in the Philadelphia Public School System, 1984.  He’s retired and lives in Nueva Ecija Province, Central Luzon, Philippines.

 

Ode to Our Salt

This salt

in the shaker. 

We saw it in our sea,

and smelled it

in it,

in our buckets

of fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, squids, and crabs,

on our sails,

on our spar,

on our prow,

on our  stern,      

and from the breeze

         Perhaps

you’re not going to believe us,

but it sings,

salt sings, the skin

of the sea

sings

with a mouth filled

with water

and covered by algae

 

and adorned by coral.

We shivered in those labyrinths

of solitudes,

wandering

hither and thither,

when we heard

the voice

of  the salt

in the bay.

 Near Legaspi

the whole

sea

reverberate

       It is a

sweet

voice,

a song

filled

with softness,

wit,

wistfulness,

wisps of smiles,

and bliss.

 

 

Then in its caverns

the gem salt, temple

of a buried light,

transparent palace,

crystal of the sea, oblivion

of the whispering waves.

 

And thus on every table

in our world,

salt

your   lithe

substance

sprinkling

bright light

over

our food.

     

       Preserver

of the old

supplies of ships,

you were

an explorer

in the ocean,

the first

thing to move

into the unfamiliar half-open

trails of the foam.

             Dust of the sea, through you,

            A kiss caresses the tongue

from the sea evening :

taste blends your oceanic-essence

into each seasoned morsel

and therefore the least,

smallest wave

from the salt shaker

teaches us

not only its native whiteness,

but the basic flavor of the everlasting.

 

Albay Province, Legaspi City, Bicol, Philippines, July, 2009

 

Ode to our Tomato

The street,

market,

sari sari store,

filled with tomatoes,

morning,

midday,

dry season,

the light

opens

in two

halves

of tomato,

the juice

flows

through the streets,

alleys,

and paths.

In November,

the tomato breaks loose,

overruns

the kitchens,

takes charge of lunches,

rests

comfortably

on counters,

among the cups,

the shrimp paste dishes,

the banana ketchup bottles,

the soy sauce containers.

It has

its special light,

an amiable majesty.

Sorrowfully, we have to

slay it:

the knife

plunges

into the living flesh,

it is a maroon

viscera,

a cool,

vivid,

infinite

sun

permeates the salad

of the Philippines

is blithely married

to the clear onion,

and to celebrate,

oil

allows itself,

descend,

daughter and quintessence

onto the semi-open hemispheres,

pepper

adds

its perfume,

salt its magic:

it is the day's engagement,

kamote tops,

raises

tall flags,

sweet potatoes

vigorously boil

with its redolence,

the milkfish

batters

on the door,

it's our time!

Let's start!

and on

the table, in the ribbon

of dry season,

the tomato,

eminence of earth

repeated

and fecund

golden star,

its gyrations,

its estuaries,

the splendid

and the copiousness

without dimness,

without spots,

without scales or thorns,

the gift

of its flaming color

and the universality of its coolness.

 

Central Luzon, Philippines, July, 2013    

 

Ode to the Eggplant

to Berthe Patterson & Eduardo G. Araullo

          Eggplant,

luminous tube

your beauty formed

by dark violet gown,

thick interior flesh expanded you,

and in the solitude of the dark earth

your oval body grew long with water

 Inside the earth

the miracle

occurred

and when your awkward

green stem appeared,

and your stalk was born

like a spear

in the garden,

the earth piled up  her power,

illustrating your nude opaqueness

and as the distant stream ,

in raising the breasts of Aphrodite

duplicated the mango

sodid the earth

make you,

eggplant,

as unclear as Saturn,

and destined

to glow,

constant constellation,

oval long bag of earth’s flesh,

upon

the table

of the poor 

          Hospitably,

you undo

your tube of freshness

in the ardent consummation

of the cooking pot,

and the dark violet red gown

in the fiery heat of the oil

transformed into a drooping crimson stalk.

 

Then, too, I will remember how fecund

is your impact upon the love of the salad,

and it appears that the azure helps

by providing you the shape of willows

to celebrate your chopped brilliance

upon the hemisphere of a tomato.

But within reach

of  the hands of common  persons,

sprinkled with pepper,

brushed

with a bit of salt,

you slay the hunger

of the daily-laborer on his harsh path.

 

          Star of David of the poor,

prince

wrapped

in delicate

apparel, you rise from the ground

like Lazarus

everlasting, whole, pure

like an astral seed,

and when the kitchen bolo

slices you,

there emerges

the tear,

with joyousness.

 

You make us weep with your inner beauty.

 We have lauded all that exists,

 but to me, eggplant, you are

 more beautiful than a condor

of  resplendent feathers,

you are to our eyes

a celestial pipe,

a ruby chalice,

a swift dance

of the phosphorescent jaguar

and the fragrance of the earth lives

in your alcoholic glow.

Central Luzon, Philippines, April, 2013

Tagged Poems