Alphabet Poetry Series: “G is for Gloss”

Lilet Poster White_site_905

she had a tendency to do that
in order to survive
not have to face the pain
to lose again

important matters brushed aside
what’s important anyway?
stuff happens no matter what
she hasn’t got time for that

it’s a talent, really
glossing over everything
invincible to consequence
at her children’s expense

someone has to reap
whatever she sows
even though her selfishness
has a gloss of loveliness

poor children
dear children
“trying to gloss away
the irrationalities
of the universe”

{Quote by Irwin Edman.}

The film “Lilet Never Happened” is a character driven story about Lilet, a maladjusted Filipino street-girl, struggling to survive on the streets of Manila. International social worker Claire tries to safe her but this hard headed, traumatized girl thinks she can take her life in her own hands. Though Lilet gets many opportunities to quit, she stubbornly chooses the hard way. The film is based on interviews with Lilet, a little girl, who became Manila’s most famous child prostitute.



It’s no secret.  Street children will do anything to earn money, no matter how hard (or dangerous), to survive.  I remember seeing these kids everywhere in Manila…


I’ve reached the bottom
The worst part
I’m not alone
See my cart
Filled with invisible, heavy stones

It is my livelihood
I push it everyday
Through the streets
Come what may
On my sore little feet

Each bottle equals money
Plastic, glass, or tin
Small or super-sized too
In my cart they all go in
All day it’s all I do

A simple transaction
Get paid a small fraction
To buy a tiny portion
Of bits I could fashion
Into something I call “food.”

Day 7 of 2013 November PAD challenge.

Conceal / Unconceal

In the city of Manila, I remember always seeing kids go from car to tourists to jeepneys and people coming out of churches with strings of Sampaguitas in their little hands.  As a kid, sometimes it made me scared to talk to them.  Other times, I wished I had money so I could buy some from them – at the very least, because I loved the smell of those tiny, white, fragrant flowers…

Day 5 of 2013 November PAD challenge.

Conceal / Unconceal

sampaguita girl

Ma’am, please buy some flowers
They’re lovely, you see?
And smell them!
They smell like heaven!
Even one would be good
My mom, you see
She’s terribly sick
And my dad has run away
My little brother right here
Hasn’t eaten for days
And my baby sister
is in need of milk
You’ll buy them all?
Thank you, Ma’am!
God bless you, Ma’am!
My family thanks you, Ma’am!

one peso…
five pesos…
ten pesos…
twenty pesos…

Here you go, Boss!
I did good today, right?
Can I have my dinner now please?
And can I play after that?
Thanks, Boss!
I’ll be good tomorrow too
Just wait and see
And you won’t even have to beat me
I’ll meet my quota
And maybe more
Just please
Don’t beat me
Don’t beat me




Down the creaky, wooden steps
Thirteen seconds long
Around the corner at the end of the hall
Through the doorway
Eight feet tall

Trod along the dusty sidewalk
Five song long
Across the street at the light
Under the lamppost
Twenty feet’s height

Pass the noisy, crowded market
Billboards fifty feet long
After the woman selling fake gold
Around the street urchin
Six years old

Stand in a line along the wall
Nineteen persons long
Pass the guard and through the gate
Arrive at school
Just three minutes late!

I remember walking to elementary school every morning when I lived in the Philippines.  For me, it seems like it was a very long walk.  I lived in the city and so I passed by many things along the way.  I don’t think I ever disliked it walking to school.  My mom took me, of course.  But in reality, the walk was probably no that far.

While some of the things I mentioned in this poem are made up, others, such as street urchins, the markets, billboards, and streetlights were real.  There was even an overpass, kids inhaling drugs, jaywalkers, people washing their clothes and dishes on the sidewalks, and other goings-on that you’d only see in the Philippines.

No matter how long, short, busy, dangerous, or tiresome it might have been, though, I always have good feelings when I remember those days – walking to and from school, every day…