The raindrops outside fall down on the gray
pavement, matching the color of its mute twin up
in the heavens above. This cascade rages
on, turning the roads into brown lakes in a snap.
Outside are drenched souls, hiding their faces
behind masks. They can be made of fabric
or cloth. We both share the same misery,
facing this silent curse called a pandemic.
Let me go back to my hometown, where skies
are crystal blue and the sea breeze is tender.
I want to live in a place where I wake up to
the songs of birds and the smell of pan de sal.
Yet I know that it is nothing but a
lie, for the only way for me to crawl out of
this dark abyss called poverty, is by toiling
in this labyrinth they call a city.
Let me go back in time, where we hold hands
as one on the coast of the Bosphorus.
I want to race with you again in the soft,
white sands and splash blue waters on your face.
There’s no going back in time now. This is
the new normal, where we hide all our fears
behind a mask. Even funerals are gone.
Both the living and the dead spend their days alone.
Maybe it’s not that terrible after all.
We have free upgrades for our milk tea; there’s cheap
video games to sink our time on. We can learn
new skills online and get more cash. We’re rich now.
There is no peace in the new normal,
only an endless cycle of horrors
and the laughter of thirsting tyrants.
Earl Carlo Guevarra
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Earl Carlo Guevarra, 26 and a proud Zamboangueño, is an English teacher at a school in the heart of Manila. When he’s not teaching children the fundamentals of grammar, he writes essays and poems. His works have appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines Graphic, ALPAS Journal, and Young Star, among others. He can be found on Facebook and his website.