The Gods We Worship Live Next Door by Bino A. Realuyo (Poetry Book)

The Gods We Worship Live Next Door is a poetry collection by Bino A. Realuyo that was published in 2006 by the University of Utah Press and then in 2008 by Anvil Publishing. The collection contains 27 poems, most of which have previously appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies (The Asian Pacific American Journal, Texas Poetry Review, Del Sol Review, The Kenyon Review, The Literary Review, Mockingbird, The Nation, New Letters, etc.).

Synopsis (back cover blurb):

The late National Artist for Literature N.V.M. Gonzales wrote about Bino A. Realuyo's first poems published in the Philippines: "The most moving ones I have come across in recent years...I am honored to be one of his first readers, although for now, he is a continent and an ocean away."

Realuyo's award winning debut collection is now on Philippine shores. The Gods We Worship Next Door is the recipient of the 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry in the United States selected by Grace Schulman, distinguished professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York and Poetry Editor of The Nation.

"If I became the brown woman mistaken for aa shadow, please tell your people I'm a tree." The voice of a Filipino maid in the global economy begins Bino A. Realuyo's five-hundred-year lyrical journey against the extremity and silence of history. In Realuyo's landscape of poetry, the ruins and the ruined of the Philippines gather to speak of "memory that arises from simple truths", and prove that what the punished body cannot endure, the soul will ultimately witness, illuminate, and redeem.

"Bino A. Realuyo has that rare gift of transforming modern horror into art. In The Gods We Worship Live Next Door he writes of his beleaguered country, the Philippines, in ways that reveal universal truths. The land is vibrant and alive, real with mythical shadows -rituals, dances, work - and, at the same time, racked by persecution and death. The book is passionate without a trace of sentimentality, a compelling account of destruction under a silent god." - Grace Schulman

Bino A. Realuyo was born and raised in Manila, the son of a survivor of the Bataan Death March and a World War II Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines. He is the author of the acclaimed novel The Umbrella Country. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Manoa, The Literary Review, New Letters, and The Nation. He is the recipient of the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He lives in Manhattan. His website is

Here's one poem from the collection. It's called "Flower Vendor":

Always, the beginning is in the wetting
of the thread at its tip.
It won't take long - and she knows -
to make necklaces of white flowers.
A wired bulb swings above her,
splashing shadows of arms, hair
and flowers in buckets.

She sits at the mirror and revels
in another day of yelling:
the stretching of words for flowers
hanging around her neck, wrists,
the wide leaps amid loud honking buses
and mouths, and the narrow ones over puddles,
the balance of an umbrella if it rains
while wiping her forehead with her hand,
the quick count of change
between the driver's shouts and whistles.

The rain of hours drifts through her dress.
She breathes in mounds of scent around her.
The reed-mat ceiling slowly drips.
She counts the drips as she exhales,
tongues her lips to begin.

The Gods We Worship Live Next Door by Bino A Realuyo