Issue 3 / Poetry

Poetry by Roberto Ascalon


Said the Aswang to the Babaylan

we both know what it means to shudder, pregnant

with delight at the blue veined banquet of belly, we

both kick husbands sprawling as we kneel between

their wives’ spread legs, agape with the slush of life

bawling and blood-sweet, we’ve wiped amnion off

our cheeks knowing nothing can stop us

young mothers burst forth, our hands

inside, up to the elbow, we touch flesh no cock

should ever know, shucking stuck children

like oysters, inured and impatient, to mothers

screaming, we both know the soft crown

silence will swallow the room soon after


Apocalypse Yesterday Already

brittle bone, blood break, page through

scene, memory, phone call, tangent, green

headcase, friend loss, click through, type

agency, sunshine, hustler, bright

sinister, dreamscape, blackman, face

white teeth, blue eye, forlorn race

marketing genius, love sick seal

dead-eye, climate, bone dry zeal

grapeskin, valley, dried to touch

magazine empty, triggers’ dust

kill zone, happy, thermal scan

empty magazine, swollen glands

fish scale, frozen, empty seas

highway, wasteland, grill of bees


Roberto Ascalon is an NYC-born poet and teaching artist. He is a Kundiman and Jack Straw Fellow and a two-time Seattle National Slam Team member. His poem “THE FIRE THIS TIME, or, How Come Some Brown Boys Get Blazed Right Before Class And Other Questions Without Marks” took first place in the 2013 Rattle Poetry Contest and earned him a Pushcart nomination. He is a recipient of two major Seattle arts grants: Seattle Artist Trust and the CityArtist grant. Ascalon’s residencies have led to multimedia exhibitions at venerable institutions across Seattle, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum, and the Museum of History and Industry. He splits his time between Bellingham, where he is a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing, and West Seattle, where he lives in an old school-building with a beautiful girl, a blackboard, and a cat. Selected by Michelle Penaloza.

Image © Ed Uthman via Creative Commons.