Ka Fidel’s kids ask for his ashes to be sent to the Philippines
not his tsinelas, his half-filled carton of cigarettes, or strands
of hair found by the coffee pot. The birthday balloon strung
to his bed––comrades humming Maligayang Bati to wrinkled
sheets. When what’s left of him lands in Luzon I want a national
day of mourning for every person still overseas. I want every one
of them returned too. The au pair, standing in Paris rain, baguette
in hand. The line cook headed south for Barbados on a cruise ship.
His whole barkada—dishwashers from Manila, busboys old
as Ka Fidel when detained by Marcos himself, the sommelier
whose bald head is shaped like my uncle’s. When they dock
I want a ribeye steak & the oakiest red wine served to them.
I want cold water poured on their sunburnt faces, the president’s
palace to sink to the bottom of our brilliant ocean. When every
Filipino returns I’ll clip the graveyard grass growing above
my grandpa, seal it in a bag, & bury it in the province
he learned to trap fish in with his mother.
Troy Osaki is a Filipino Japanese poet, organizer, and attorney from Seattle, WA. A three-time grand slam poetry champion, he has earned fellowships from Kundiman and the Jack Straw Cultural Center and grant awards from Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. His work has appeared in the Bellingham Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blood Orange Review, Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.