sporklet 14

Mark Anthony Cayanan

The servitude of normal routine gives way to the servitude of another’s


When he speaks he speaks in a language that with a series of suffixes turns names of people, trees, feelings, weathers into their diminutives. The dead flower leaps back into its spring, the accident becomes a coastal town where guests laze away on the sand, the present a sarcastic aside, future a parable of impatience. In your birth language upon which you don’t foist longings, every concession.



Boats are buried under snow and for months the lake exists only as collective memory. You don’t pick up hair on the drain or sweep nail clippings off the floor so the hunger remains civil, you’re not a stupid child who wanders into a forest where the requisite wolf hides, not the greedy animal too, the human inside you not praying to the god of normal mornings.



God of the crackling log, god of the cracked coffee cup, god of the soup spoon and fork with two bent tines, god of the three-hour sun, god of the manual left by the window, god of shorn-off thorns, like a god he refuses to grant mercy, after slipping on ice you laugh off your sprained wrist. God of the words he mutters in his sleep, god in the cigarette smell of the comforter,



god you can’t not deny when he exists outside your half-truths, half the day’s wholly yours. Until he wakes you don’t take whiskey with your eggs, as you’re not your distress you don’t rehearse your awkward bow unless urgent, though he snickers at your tramp and totter you’re neither nor never. His hand pressing the small of your back is the same hand throwing a stick. Fetch, come back.

Mark Anthony Cayanan is from the Philippines. They obtained an MFA from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and are a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide. Their third poetry book, Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous, is forthcoming from Giramondo Publishing in 2021. New work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Margins, Overland, The Spectacle, and Lana Turner. They teach at the Ateneo de Manila University.