Asio, papa’s elder brother, would prepare the
Brightest dish for me, his favorite nephew.
Cooking was his gift to our Sunday festivity,
Decorating the orangy soup with green peas,
Every now and then asking me to taste. Our
Families lived together, like garlic cloves,
Goatmeat tender as the love we shared. But I
Had to endure the drunkenness after lunch.
I’d watch them argue, Ama defending her sons,
Justifying their drinking, mom and aunt mad.

Kaldereta makes me remember uncle Asio, who
Lifted me by the armpits and kissed me after
Mom’s news I was kindergarten valedictorian. One
Noontime he was found in the bathroom lifeless,
Our father figure gone. Surviving other trials,
Papa never recovered from his brother’s death,
Quickly backsliding after months of sobriety,
Returning to his rum-fueled hell, breaking
Silence to tell me he dreamed he told uncle Asio
To wait for him. His drinking worsened, as if
Unfaltering his desire to be with his brother.

Very difficult, this ritual of cooking the dish I
Wish I never tasted, aromas bringing back
Excruciating memories, bell pepper like our house,
Yearns to relive sweet as potatoes and bananas,
Zestfulness making the delicious dull the painful.

item #456

title: kaldereta
form: abecedarian
index: jonel abellanosa
note for the curator

“ama is how I called my grandmother” – j. a.

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Marsh Hawk Review, Rattle, Anglican Theological Review, Poetry Kanto, Carbon Culture Review, the McNeese Review, and GNU Journal. He has three chapbooks, the most recent being Meditations (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). He is a Pushcart Prize and a Dwarf Stars Award nominee.