Poetry by Liaa Melissa

Self Portrait Without Distance

for Kuya Eric


I want to know what to do

with the dead things we carry.

Aracelis Girmay


When asked why I still have faith

after all these years, I wonder how could you not?

My cousin is gone and I want to be given just this.

The morning nanay told me I let out a guttural cry

and it sounded like coming out of the womb,

like Hello, world except he’d left us stuck here in this one.

No one ever has good reasons for why it’s wrong to be a child.

And what is more childlike than believing the dead

aren’t gone but still tending to the oceans somewhere,

callous fingers playing guitar before sleep.

These days I hunger for twin popsicles,

birthday pabitin, family trips unpunctured by the ache of age.

Return to me my stuffed dog. My High School Musical DVDs.

The MegaSketcher we hauled through the neighborhood,

when our whole worlds could be scribbled into existence.

I wish he could draw for me the place where he went.




Liaa Melissa (she/her) is from Mandaluyong, Philippines. She has written and performed for {m}aganda magazine, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Prince George's County, Maryland, where she posts on Instagram at @haliyapoems.

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