Poems by Angela C. Manalang Gloria


The things I planned and wanted so
Held off my bidding like a foe:
A past, white feathers in my hair,
Applause, a scandalous affair.
The things I did not want at all
Now hold my body to my soul:
Conscience, an empty diary,
A son, and self-sufficiency.
Having the things that passed me by
Would I be nearer to the sky?
And stripped of all that I now have,
Would I be farther from the grave?



It was a sacrilege, the neighbors cried,
The way she shattered every mullioned pane
To let a firebrand in. They tried in vain
To understand how one so carved from pride
And glassed in dream could have so flung aside
Her graven days, or why she dared profane
The bread and wine of life for some insane
Moment with him. The scandal never died.

But no one guessed that loveliness would claim
Her soul’s cathedral burned by his desires
Or that he left her aureoled in flame…
And seeing nothing but her blackened spires,
The town condemned this girl who loved too well
and found her heaven in the depths of hell.


Revolt from Hymen

O to be free at last, to sleep at last
As infants sleep within the womb of rest!

To stir and stirring find no blackness vast
With passion weighted down upon the breast,

To turn the face this way and that and feel
No kisses festering on it like sores,

To be alone at last, broken the seal
That marks the flesh no better than a whore’s!


To the Man I Married

You are my earth and all the earth implies:
The gravity that ballasts me in space,
The air I breathe, the land that stills my cries
For food and shelter against devouring days.
You are the earth whose orbit marks my way
And sets my north and south, my east and west,
You are the final, elemented clay
The driven heart must turn to for its rest.

If in your arms that hold me now so near
I lift my keening thoughts to Helicon
As trees long rooted to the earth uprear
Their quickening leaves and flowers to the sun,
You who are earth, O never doubt that I
Need you no less because I need the sky!

I can not love you with a love
That outcompares the boundless sea,
For that were false, as no such love
And no such ocean can ever be.

But I can love you with a love
As finite as the wave that dies
And dying holds from crest to crest
The blue of everlasting skies.



The door is closed, the curtains drawn within
One room, a brilliant question mark of light…
Outside her gate an empty limousine
Waits in the brimming emptiness of night.


To Don Juan

It was not love-why should I love you?-
It was not folly, for I was wise,
Yet when you looked at me, your looking
Opened a kingdom to my eyes,

It was not love, it was not folly,
I have no name to know it by,
I only know one shining instant
You held my earth, you held my sky.


To a Lost One

I shall haunt you, O my lost one, as the twilight
Haunts a grieving bamboo trail,
And your dreams will linger strangely with the music
Of a phantom lover’s tale

You shall not forget, for I am past forgetting
I shall come to you again
With the starlight, and the scent of wild champakas,
And the melody of rain.

You shall not forget. Dusk will peer into your
Window, tragic-eyed and still,
And unbidden startle you into remembrance
With its hand upon the sill.



April came and April went
Through a magic crystal weather.
Now with mischievous intent
Pan and I will walk together.
Lean and hold your breath and say
Softly from a jasmine bower,
"We have caught the fairy may
Can't you see her in this flower?"



I never meant the words I said,
So trouble not your honest head
And never mean the words I write,
But come and kiss me now goodnight.

The words I said break with the thunder
Of billows surging into spray:
Unfathomed depths withhold the wonder
Of all the words I never say.