Thursday, March 8, 2007


Here are some of my upcoming gigs:

NYC // March 17 fri - STOP THE KILLINGS: NYC EDITION @ M1-5 Bar
NJ // March 18 sat - FIND @ Ramapo College
NYC // April 4 wed - Sulu Series @ the Bowery Poetry Club
NY // April 5 Thu - SUNY: Albany
AL // April 10 Tue - Featuring with Stephen Bor and iLL-Literacy @ Auburn University
NYC // April 27 fri - 2nd Avenue Poetry reading series --- @ Lolita

and a new piece i wrote and performed at the KABALIKAT workshop at Philippine Forum:

Miles Away
By Hanalei Ramos

On the days her body knows
She is now used to snow
And accustomed to a wind chill factor
She envisions the warmth
Of her mother's smile
Whose second death anniversary she
Will commemorate with a novena.

She leaves gray thumbprints
with haloes of steamed sweat
on the glistening black of lacquered wood
beside the miniature cluster of clouded fingerprints
belonging to children who are not her own
but is paid to mother
in the absence of absence of absence.
In the last fifteen years,
It has become a pastime to
search through the desert mirages
that move like the waved surface of heat
through the high-end end concrete of the Upper West Side

The pearl that hangs off a fingernail
Digs into the seedy pulp of a tomato
Her hands see rows
Of just the bellies of fish
The smell of stewed coconut milk
Popping out between a table's
urgent panoply of reds and oranges.
She hears the neighbor's children fight over the lechon tail
her mouth waters for tamarind
and the contrast of green mango and shrimp paste

On the freshly cleared breakfast table,
Across from her, she sees the familiar face of her son,
still 8 years old after all this time
asking permission to play basketball
fully knowing he is not allowed to do so in his tsinelas,
fully knowing that he is the spitting image of his father
fully knowing that she will say yes as long as he helps clear the table.
She cannot even imagine what his life must be:
Him in a white smock maneuvering through
physical therapy school,
engaged to a classmate from Davao
whom she has never met.
He doesn't know it yet,
but she has already bought the wedding rings on her son's behalf.

she tries to imagine her daughter at the upcoming wedding.
But she can't picture a face
Outside of the still profile
in a tattered photograph
her daughter who she left an infant of 8 months after her husband died
her daughter who has learned to recognize a mechanical dilution
of a voice thousands of miles away
her daughter, who finds the only imprint of her mother in a queue
at the Western Union
in the center of Paranaque.

In trying to avert her memory
She wonders why
everyday here begins like this:
The battle between expectation and prayer
The hopes of her family
Living in her hands
To the point where
She looks into a mirror
And no longer sees her reflection
Instead, it is replaced by the amalgam image
of the family she has left behind for fifteen years:
the bellies of fish, her son in his smock,
and the daughter she has nurtured and advised in her imagination only
who will be here in about five years.

No comments:

Quick Bio

Hanalei Ramos is a very nice person and a stereotypical aquarius. FACT: while it is a common misconception that “aquarius, the water bearer” is a water sign, it is not. It is actually an air sign! Other than that, she is a proud founding member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a mass-based organization for Filipinas in the NYC area. Hanalei has also toured around the country as a performer and is the author of Foiled Stars, Letters to Martha, and the one-woman show, Guns and Tampons: A History of Violence Against Women I Know. Hanalei currently lives and works in her native Jersey City, NJ. For more information about her, please visit

Hanalei's Google Reader