Cirilo Bautista

(1947 - / Philippines)

Oh How To Find Silence In the World


Being spotted in the color of skin,
why I take care in San Francisco,
waiting for the bus to Iowa.
They say racial prejudice is strong,

Negros and not whites kawawa,
and because of this they will revolt.
I shiver and shiver from fear and hunger
because I just landed from Tokyo.

A Negro came into the station—
naka-African hairdo; he holds a small
whip: it’s scary to look, so
I did not look at him. Kumakalansing

the metal on the strings of his shoes
and he shouts, “Peace, brothers!” Smiled showing
white teeth. Looked at me—
maybe he laughed at what he saw—

a tiny dayuhan, dark and from
some lupalog. Upside down
my insides went in fright and pulled
a cigarette so the redness of my face

wouldn’t show. I nahalata
that the Whites there too were quiet
so quiet, unable to speak in front
of that Negro. Only when he left returned

the normalcy in the station—others
read again, neighbors gossiped again,
laughter, the janitor sweeped again.
After a while that Negro passed again

two white Americanas on each arm,
blonde, their beauty with no equal.
The janitor stopped sweeping.
I thought, “So this is racial prejudice.”

Submitted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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