I’m not just crushing

on you but bulldozing deep

You’ve tattooed my heart


I stuttered, was shy

Loving solitude, I dive

into depths. Soaring!




Aerosol cheese

In France when it’s time to take a photo

we don’t say Camembert, brie or cheddar

But call out a monkey


feel the corners of your mouth and eyes wrinkling as you say it

Warthog School of business

O dainty and dignified Warthog

i see you every morning

at University City

Walking your concrete red carpet

not quite tiptoe

but en pointe

You’re the Natural Nutcracker

for the

Pennsylvania Ballet



I want to walk the Camino

a trip long postponed by the pandemic

to practice I stroll the labyrinth at

Trinity Cathedral

and arrange for birds and deer

tiny plates of tapas —

nuts and seeds

as toppling cairns

A silent accordion

  1. Grandma didn’t talk much about going


Her green card expired ten years ago and she’s still with us.

she said she was getting old and

Time forgot her

more than she forgot everything else.

That morning when her other children sent her a plane ticket to return to the Philippines

i saw her fold it up into tight pieces

a silent accordion

I was just a teenager and never left home

but I understood—

that feeling of being homesick for a place you have yet to see

a map you’ve folded and unfolded

she wanted me to drive her cross country across mainland


i was too young to get a permit and her teary eyes couldn’t wait

You know the place

This letter won’t arrive the usual way, via post.

i know how much you love to receive mail. You buy stamps just like you did as a fifth grader ordering from Mystic Stamp Company for the first time and wanting every stamp to be the Koala one from Australia.

Nor will it arrive in the dramatic way of your aspirations.

You share a birthday with Laurence Olivier and like him you have a natural affinity with William Shakespeare-you’re not just an Old Soul but a Jurassic one. You bask in your scaly, crotchety Leviathan-ness.

Don’t expect a calligraphy-scribed letter in a bottle.

We were thinking of teasing you and inscribing this letter on your back and arms, like the tattoos we told you never to get because well, you remember, we were so strict with you and said that tattoos are a desecration of your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

no, that would be too much.
And yes, we admit we were wrong. We were so old school and blind to a lot of our own double standards.

a tattoo now and then wouldn’t irk us. But we’d be worried that you wouldn’t paint as much because the tattoos would take up your creative energy

it’s not that Heaven won’t provide us with tons of pen and ink but such things don’t seem as relevant here so this is what we’re going to do—

don’t look for any letter in the conventional way.

just get up and do the things you’ve always wanted

learn to swim

sign up for that mystery tour

bool yourself an entire barn and light it up with a thousand lights and sit on the piano and be a torch singer for a few random hundred guests who’ll have to cook—you sing—for their supper

You see, ever since we left Earth and abandoned all baggage and luggage overboard we saw how much you took care of us. Every day you rose to the challenge of being a caregiver.

that day when Dad was so weak from the pancreatic cancer that he couldn’t even sit up and you were in and out of the house furiously washing lots of sheets underwear and towels so he would stay dry, and you changed his sheets every hour and wouldn’t sleep except on the floor beside his bed, your hand glued to the bottle of ginger ale in case he suddenly felt thirsty and you didn’t want him to miss out,  that moved us to tears

we could see that you’re the type of person who takes life by the collar and yanks it towards you for a kiss or a slap, you’re that intense and engaged

bravo you!


we were so proud of you

and that’s why we know you’ll get this message—

every day when you wake up and

renovate the house
learn new languages

walk swim dance sing

every day whenever you act as

Cartographer of your heart

rewriting the wiring of your brain and limbs as you explore

lands of Intrepid souls

you’ll hear us

cheering you on

we won’t say much

nor will we give advice (unsolicited and often interfering) as much as we used to

because we’ll be so much in awe of who you’re becoming that

we’re right next to you, holding onto your hands

as you drive

explore soar

you’ll hear us singing right along to your

Wild Playlist

love, your Mum and Pop