A Poem written by Rene J. Navarro


up in the empty dark-
ness of a bamboo hut
in the hills far
from the old home-
town: At three, that’s
the first picture
in my memory.
Alone, without
a blanket
on a cold morn-
ing, the sharp
passage of a fighter
plane, and wet

A month or two
later, perhaps a year,
a vegetable
patch on the side
of a hill and an under-
ground cave dug in the red
for if the shooting
came. There were green
painted rattan
furniture, a sofa and
chairs, I can still see
them. And farther back earlier,
a bamboo and nipa hut on the side
of a mountain and vegetables
Perhaps it was
later: there was
the burst of light
from a cannon
and the resonant
blast following.
there are no
clear faces, just objects
and places and sounds
and the long
walk barefoot on a rough,
hot road
with my older cousins
Dan and Letty
to the camp
where a Japanese
sergeant always fed
us a bowl of rice

Still later, towards
the end of the war,
my mother calling

my brothers and me
across the field
to eat the yams

she cooked
with a thick coat-
ing of melted brown

In this landscape
I did not
know who
was fighting, why

the bombardment and the
dogfights in the sky.

I couldn’t read
the signs
saying Japan or America,
which cannon or plane
to which side.
But the fear
I knew.
50 years

the fear

©RN 2015

Rene NavarroRene’s poetry has been published in anthologies including, among others: “Flippin’ — Filipinos on America” edited by Luis Francia and Eric Gamalinda; Asian Pacific American Journal” edited by Eileen Tabios; “NuyorAsian Anthology: Writings about New York City” edited by Bino Realuyo; “ErosPinoy: an anthology of Philippine contemporary erotic art and poetry” edited by Alfred Yuson and Ramon Sunico. His essay “After the Hsih Hua” is included in the anthology “Pinoy Poetics” edited by Nick Carbo (Meritage Press: California 2004). He is featured in the book “Masters of Arnis, Kali and Escrima” by Edgar Sulite (Socorro Publications: 1994).

More writings from Rene Navarro at www.renenavarro.org


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