sporklet 16
Raphael Coronel



Give me something to build, when I’m bored, 
I take the screws off my toys, wind them up to run
without their limbs, it’s a race on beat up floorboards, 
a small thing to keep my mind off my body growing
in size and doubt, I’ll take this body, and its limbs,
lug them up the staircase, I’ll feel like myself 
when I get propped up by the window 
and mean something, when you look at me,
do you see my shitty apartment, I’m in trouble
for not making my bed, it’s the morning,
I want you gone and hating me, there’s a tantrum
to throw, a letter to lose under the ref.




I want you gone and hating me, there’s a tantrum
to throw, a letter to lose under the ref, I’ve placed myself
under the mercy of circumstance, the tray is stainless, 
spoon feed me what you cooked, it’s not half as horrible
as you believing you had no part in this, you saw
a movie with him, who messes up soup,
these are what they call hard feelings, I grind my teeth
in my sleep, I cut into the pink of a steak, tender, hear him 
through your phone, hide the knives and cheese graters
in the drawer, I’ve misplaced my arms, let my head roll
down the hallway, wind the gears like clockwork, 
there’s no movement without severance. 




wind the gears like clockwork, there’s no movement
without severance, crumbs carried away by ants, 
wipe the stain with a towel, faint underneath the train station, 
I’m inexperienced and lonely and plain, smelling like fast food,
Saturdays are for graduate students, the main thing is to eat lunch,
talk about dead white men, my friend writes about her dreams
with her cards, this one had a magician as a monkey, and she tells me
the point is to stay where I’m seen, I’m not much of a stand in 
for a short story with a plot about an old house and children growing old,
we’re late for class and go straight to the front row like sneaking in the movies,
maybe this time I won’t fall asleep and do my best to talk about defying fate,
or avoiding the harder question, I ask to go to the bathroom to check my phone,
what do my friends do on their weekends, I’m foolish enough to think 
Manila is talking to me, it warms my neck and reminds me I’ve stayed out too long,
I get back and they’re talking about what Chekhov thinks about wind-up toys.




they’re talking about what Chekhov thinks about wind-up toys,
when I’d rather talk about David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist,
a salmon pink coat and a swimming pool, I’m the figure in 
the private pool, ripping in and out of shape, water
can be any color, the story is two-dimensionality,
Saturdays are for cartoons and tennis lessons, 
I’ve hit a child with my racquet, and sent a ball flying
towards a lady’s sunglasses, Hockney painted
the floor of his pool with pink and blue 
apostrophe-ripples, I hope you recognize me,
give me something to build, celebrate my coming together, 
then hate me again, what makes an artist, try treading the
water and maybe I’ll watch you.  




try treading the water and maybe I’ll watch you,
what makes an author, flame trees in full bloom
signal the arrival of monsoon rains, I drew some skeletons 
and took my time until they resembled clouds for children 
and their joy for nature, depictions of it became boring, 
will you write about every blade of grass like a miserable man,
you can see how it’s done, look at the veins of my arms, 
Freud could write about the peak of spring, perspective 
is strangling space, and stealing what’s said and enjoying it.    




perspective is strangling space, and stealing what’s said and enjoying it,
my parts are the rubble unclaimed from accidents, you thought it was blue
until someone said water, could you sit down for three days, I’m looking, 
I don’t want to go out much, we’ve got different insides.  




I don’t want to go out much, we’ve got different insides, 
food is political, look in my stomach and see 
what I believe in, citrus fruits are in season,
supreming is the act of cutting off the top and bottom 
of a fruit so it can stand on its own, notice how they hold
their knives, notice the skill in cutting along membrane, 
in taking out seeds, clean sections of color with no white parts,
there’s nothing pretty about a knee on a neck, 
no poem to bring back the dead, there’s no beauty in writing 
about what we’ve left, on the kitchen table for the compost pit, 
I’m talking to you because it’s 2am and you’re drunk
on soju and beer, I’d rather have whiskey like my grandfather,
I remember lying next to him when I slept overnight
in the chapel of his wake, it’s strange just being with a corpse 
dressed like he’s about to head into a meeting about traffic regulations,
I’m telling you because you’re drunk and messaging your friends 
about your love and how the government might label us terrorists,
I tried talking to him about how good he looked in his favorite grey suit
in the casket we picked, thank God he was quiet, I wrote a poem
about my grief, people loved it, he was both there
and not there,  there were snacks served the next day,
mamon, banana bread, breath mints, and the irony 
of birthday spaghetti, I’ve never given a eulogy, we need to talk about
my funeral playlist, who gets to speak, and who gets to eat during a pandemic. 




who gets to speak, and who gets to eat during a pandemic, 
what is the nutritional value of what I write, tear it apart,
pull until sinew breaks like a Basquiat sky, 
an enormous skull for the radiant child, find me physical evidence
of marginalized bones, we talked about magic in a backroom coffeeshop 
near the Palanca building, I ordered two chocolate cookies, somehow
kulam came up in our conversation then we got sidetracked by the barista
asking how dark we’d want our beans, it wasn’t a lunch break
from the MoMA, or a smoke in Dean and DeLuca, I’d like to draw 
your attention to the snake in the corner, a reporter asked Jean-Michel 
why his paintings seemed primal, he stared and asked if he meant primate, 
I wish this to be flesh and spirit, spirit dressed in blazers and brass buttons,
to be plurilingual and understood, will I live long enough to call this my terrible youth, 
who questions the majesty of pointy crowns and copyright symbols, know my name
then learn how to deface it, we let the dead tell our stories, until it’s time to eat,
tell me what you need from me, something store-bought, easy.   




tell me what you need from me, something store-bought, easy,
I left grocery money on the shelf, you left in the morning as a consumer
in a mask, you left cornflakes on the table and milk out to spoil,
while in bed, I pray you don’t forget the chocolate I’ll chop up, put in a boiler,
mix with sugar, and blend with milk, the one you’ll bring home
and probably spill on the carpet, blot it with guilt and jittery lines,
it’ll be exactly wrong but endearing, just my luck, I get up
to sweat my way to the shower, I showered three times that day,
you came home, made the mess, I kissed you then wiped you off my mouth,
cool the chocolate in the freezer, when it’s ready, blend it until it’s smooth,
enjoy sucking a straw to down your dessert with Coca-Cola, cheers
to your mess and pop art, you’ve made it a habit to be enterprising,
I’ll watch you slowly consume yourself, make it last before I ask about your day,
this is a film on eating and endurance, packaged for you to know me better,
splice the days together and spot the difference, there’ll be a difference 
when I’ll watch you leave again, I’ll think about what to cook
and how to kiss you, I’ve grown soft around the waist, 
kept this up with salt and ice, I hesitate to tell you I’m unhappy
with the sameness of love, but relieved while ironing wrinkles out of the laundry,
playing footsie while we eat, you’ll tell me what it was like outside, the food will last
another week, so will the quarantine, so will I, change slightly with every repetition,
I’ve forgotten how to cry, so I practice while stacking the food in the freezer,
when the time comes, I’ll convince the both of us.




when the time comes, I’ll convince the both of us,
the whole point of it was to embalm them in light, 
open the door, find it slashing across the danger of familiar faces,
I don’t know who they are to you, but you’ve hurt your calves thinking  
there was more space to run, bolting, dividing my room 
between daybreak and my body curled up and naked, 
a domestic backdrop for estrangement,
between gradients changing whenever I remember 
her shouting, banging her head on the tiles so I would leave,
I didn’t, I should have, I've never been this lonely and consoled
looking out the window, waiting for the inevitability of streetlights.    




looking out the window, waiting for the inevitability of streetlights, 
held in a frame made of glass and disappointment we’ve become 

accustomed to what we might call our own.

Raphael Coronel is a poet from the Philippines. He is finishing his MFA in Creative Writing at the De La Salle University.