Killing Field

Nanay tells me about the dead bodies outside

her Talisay home: the 1970s murder spree

by communist insurgents within the heart

of the Visayas. She speaks matter-of-factly,

as if decay were her birthright, piles of stiff

limbs a girl’s typical walk-to-class scenery.

I want to ask her why, as if she could explain

slaughter, but I recall my US birth & silently

laugh. I chew on my tongue because I’m stupid

to think there’s a more to massacre, a rhetoric

to shroud the reflection of Ma’s hometown:

a mass graveyard. I imagine, years before,

aswang sniffing out corpses in public school

restrooms & hidden berms, a humanoid sheen

across the ghouls’ eyes spelling hunger, or joy.

As in, battle-born flesh tastes of palabok,

that mix of savory pork & salty shrimp restless

spirits leave behind on skin like a remember-

me, like last week’s buried pot of kimchi.

I wish them peace, I lie to her. I hope, in secret,

that the souls were all consumed. Blood seeps

into the afterlife & pollutes it with trauma

that conquers pedigrees. I was born with ghosts

in my eyes: I look at Ma & yearn to eat hers.

Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx, & neurodivergent poet originally from Sacramento, California. Salamat sa Intersectionality (Okay Donkey Press, May 2021) is their debut full-length poetry collection. Their poems appear in outlets such as The Chaffin JournalHairstreak Butterfly Review, & Pedestal Magazine, among others. While not always (physically) there, they permanently reside in the middle of the Nevada desert.