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Poem: Train Rides

strangers on a train
are better off
than two
who constantly share pillow thoughts
but could only meet
at given stations
on certain dates

the rides
are always brief, frenzied and hurried--
a rush hour commute,
with never enough time
to marinate in the melded flavors
of having arrived
at the same destination

hours after,
another train ride,
a new pair of strangers
are locked in conversation

we too are trapped
inside misted windows,
our turn to count lamp posts
and wonder how many more
stations, platforms and train rides
loom ahead the likes of us
who weren't blessed to be strangers
on our separate ways home.

steph cruz



Poem: The Candle

Anne Stephanie Cruz
Revision 1

my candle burns at both ends
you say,
primed wick licking
cast paraffin,

preventable, yes
but listen:
wax drippings are memories,
not tears--one end passion
the other pain;
a trail of petals shed,
overlapping then melding
into a molten mirror
of itself

it may not last the night,
i know,
its flame is a finger raised to your lips:
hush luv,
candles were made to yield;
its soul is life emptied to create light,
burning bright
before self-extinguishing
at the appointed hour

if, as you tell me,
everything is borrowed time
i should, like the candle,
embrace the inevitable:
yield to that last brush of wind
from your lips,
myself becoming a spent
burnt offering

a candle
unafraid to be consumed
choosing to burn
irreverently for you
than live in a glass case
damp and unlit.




a chorus of toads--
in leather and whip



Monsoon Rains

I used to love the rain. I remember, as a little girl, I would look forward to bathing in torrential showers with my playmates. I played hop and skip in puddles. And even then, I always kept an eye out for lightning. Rain used to be my refuge whenever I felt sad. Cliche' as it may sound, I can vouch that crying in the rain does bring about catharsis--an outpouring then cleansing then renewal.

Those days are long gone, though. In the last few years I have found myself turning dreadfully sad at the onset of the monsoon. Rain now makes me feel like the loneliest person on earth...and I hate it that we have such an extended rainy season. Sometimes i think the rain is trying to swallow me and drag me to the bottom of the lake. And I just lie there open-eyed, taking in everything that goes on in the world, but living perfectly detached from it. No longer a part of the picture, just a stranger looking in from the rain-scratched window.




Poem: Territorial


turned this cub
into a lioness

one whiff
of a fellow feline
in heat
shed eight lives'
past naivete

with the moon
her womb
carried her first-born fury
to term

she fed it claws
and in stealth
the unsuspecting,
but pussy-footing

in the morning...

lioness queen
licks her bloody paws

Steph Cruz, 8.9.06, rev.1



Speaking In Tongues

by Mary Rose O'Reilley

I go to church every Sunday
though I don’t believe a word of it,
because the longing for God
is a prayer said in the bones.

When people call on Jesus
I move to a place in the body
where such words rise,
one of the valleys
where hope pins itself to desire;
we have so much landscape like that
you’d think we were made
to sustain a cry.

When the old men around me
lift their hands
as though someone has cornered them,
giving it all away,
I remember a dock on the estuary,
watching a heron get airborne against the odds.
It’s the transitional moment that baffles me—
how she composes her rickety
grocery cart of a body
to make that flight.

The pine siskin, stalled on a windy coast,
remembers the woods
she will long for when needs arise; so
the boreal forest composes itself in my mind:
first as a rift, absence,
then in a tumble of words
undone from sense, like the stutter
you hear when somebody falls
over the cliff of language. Call it a gift.




wet morning--
trimming hedges
pruned by my lover



There is no Forgetting

If you should ask me where I have been
I have to say, Life goes on.
I have to speak of the dirt
that obscures the stones and the river
that endures and is destroyed:
I know nothing except the things the birds have forsaken,
the abandoned sea, or my weeping sister.
Why so many different regions?
Why is one day joined to another?
Why does the mouth gather black night?
What of the dead?
If you should ask me where I came from,
I have to talk with things I forced away,
with utensils much too bitter,
with huge, sometimes-rotting beasts
and with my grieving heart.
There are no memories that have crossed over
nor has the yellow pigeon that sleeps in forgetting;
only tear-stained faces,
fingers at throats,
and what has collapsed from the leaves:
the obscurity of a day transpired,
a day which has fed on our blood grief.
Here are violets, swallows,
all that pleases us and appears in the sweet cards
of the long passing lines of our time and our pleasure.
But we cannot grasp beyond these teeth,
nor nibble at the rinds the silence gathers,
because I have no answers:
there are so many dead,
and so many dikes that the red sun breaches
and so many heads that strike doorjambs,
and so many hands that encircle kisses,
and so many things that I long to forget.
~Pablo Neruda~



Haiku in Filipino

Dapit hapon--
pilit niyayapos
huling sinag ng araw




Yol Jamendang Poems

1. Tubig
Bagyong mapaniil ang gabi.

Heto ako,
nakababad sa dilim,
sa aking pag-iisa.

ang mga ala-alang
sa aking diwa-
ang mga gabing
isda ang iyong dila
sa dagat
ng aking balat,
ang mga bahaging
tubig lamang dati
ang sumasalat.

Binuksan ko ang bintana
para bumuhos ang
at hugasan ang aking
Sumalubong sa akin
ang libu-libong
ng ikaw-

nariyan at nariya'y
hindi ko mayakap.
2. Wakas

ang hangganan
ng mga bagay
na inakala nating
walang katapusan.

hindi natin narinig
ang babala
ng paghihiwalay;
ang kanyang
mga pahiwatig
na isang patak lang
ang ating dagat,
iisang dangkal
ang ating langit.
Nilunod natin
ang kanyang tinig
sa ingay
ng mga damdaming
hindi natin pinangalanan,
sa mga luhang
itinago natin sa isa't isa.

Tapos na ang lahat.
Ang nagpapatuloy
na lamang
ay ang pagpatak
ng mga luha.



Oh just a paper I wrote


Perhaps one of the worst personal insults talent searchers ever dished out on international television is: “you’ll never be worth more than a job at Mc Donald's!” Denigrating because the statement perpetually boxes in the more than 1.6 million people employed under the arches in over 100 countries as busboys, order takers, or food delivery crew—jobs, which some people condescendingly categorize as fit for the not-so-bright, or those who can’t find work anywhere else. (“HR challenges... I'm lovin' It, 2005”)
But David Fairhurst, vice-president for people at McDonald's UK, says this is the farthest thing from the truth. "People do come in with a 'job' mentality, but after three months or so, they become evangelists because of the leadership and community spirit that exists in stores.” () Fairhurts’ claim is backed up by the fact that 80 percent of store managers were former crew members who were paid hourly wages; and that the average length of service for a McDonald's manager is 10 years. (“HR challenges... I'm lovin' It, 2005”)
MC Donald’s is a top retailer of food products and services all over the globe. With over 30,000 restaurants, serves nearly 50 million people in more than 119 countries each day. It was founded by Raymond Albert Kroc, a first-generation American of Czech descent. He was a salesman whose family ran a small restaurant and inn near the Czech village of Plzen. Kroc’s original business was distributing the five-spindled milk shake maker called the Multi-mixer. In 1954, he heard about a hamburger stand in California that ran eight multi-mixers at a time and became interested. (“Mc Donald’s History, n.d.”)
There he met with brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and broached the idea of opening a chain of “Mc Donald’s” restaurants---the perfect market for his multi-mixers. A year later, he opened the first “Mc Donald’s” restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. (“Fascinating Mc Facts, 2005”) From the outset, Kroc advocated franchising as the company’s principal mode of doing business. Worldwide, some 73% of its restaurants are operated by roughly 5,400 independent business people. Mc Donald’s corporate structure was specifically “decentralized” and rooted in the specific markets they serve. (“Mc Donald’s Corporate Responsibility Report”)
McDonald’s employs more than 1.6 million people, but only 398,000 of these are directly employed by the company. The rest of the workforce is under the management of Mc Donald’s independent owners and operators, but with training, guidance and technical support from the corporation, franchisees handle all aspects of restaurant operations. While each restaurant is responsible for individual policies they may have on bringing in, compensating and rewarding their employees, franchisees or independent owners, are required to promote a general set of “people practices” espoused by the company. This is checked through regular assessment of restaurant operations and recommendations by corporate specialists on training and research. (“Mc Donald’s Corporate Responsibility Report 2004 (Supplement)”)
Roughly 60% of Mc Donald’s staff is aged 16-21. These are the “crew” whose tasks may include mopping floors, taking orders, flipping burgers and assembling sandwiches. For majority, Mc Donald’s is their entry point into the workforce—these are teenagers who were enticed by free meals and the idea of earning hourly wages—but eventually ended up staying
With the company for at least 1.6 years, which is twice as long as their peer-groups employed in other companies. (“Tootelian, n.d.”) Mc Donald’s accounts this low employee turn over rate to its well-developed Human Resource policies and training aimed at developing their basic workplace skills and attitudes.
As they grow in their jobs, the crew gain experience and are given escalating opportunities for leadership and management. Some of course move on to careers in other fields, but a significant number make their way up into the company’s system. More than 1,000 U.S. restaurant owner/operators were former employees. “Even Mc Donald’s President and CEO Charlie Bell, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer, Claire Babrowski, and McDonald’s Ventures Managing Director, Mats Lederhausen, all started as crew members” (“Corporate Responsibility Report 2004”)
The Mc Donald’s system prides itself with its diversity program that gives equal opportunities to marginalized sectors of society. It is a proud member of the US Business Leadership Network, a group that advocates the sharing of best practices and resources in the area of employing people with disabilities; and supports the inclusion of minority groups (Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians) in the roster of employees. Mc Donald’s also recognizes the sensitivities and needs of its gay and lesbian employees. (“Corporate Responsibility Report 2004”)
With regards to ethical, business and training standards, Mc Donald’s restaurants all over the world follow a strict code of ethics, as well as the Management Development Program and its training classes. However, a centralized orientation program for new employees is the base of their training efforts.
Crew members training is traditionally passed on by experienced crew members, using a trainer’s guide, a handbook and a broad range of other materials. Each rookie must learn the basics of safety and security in the workplace before moving on to cleanliness, food safety, customer hospitality. The next step is closely observing aspects or levels of production, which may require that he be assigned to different restaurant stations. Finally there’s training on effective customer hospitality and coworker relations. (“Mc Donald’s Training, n.d.”)
For those who exhibit leadership characteristics, a management program has been set up and focuses on “people practices”. Apart from advanced training, mentoring, basic supervision and leadership and basic shift management, potential managers are taught how to create a positive work environment; support a workplace where individual differences are respected, utilized, valued and appreciated; find ways to enhance crew and customer satisfaction as well as evaluating the restaurants people practices.
Most crew members who aspire for a management career at McDonald’s do succeed and progressively work their way up to higher-level positions throughout the organization. From crew or team leader, they train for the position of MT or manager trainee whose primary duty is to assimilate the company’s policies and procedures in order to prepare for managing shifts in a restaurant. This early stage, potential managers must develop a keen sense for human relations as he or she must be maintain an open line of communication between the staff and would be required to follow-up on their progress. He is also asked by his superiors to establish an individual development plan that focuses on his or her own personal career development objectives. The basic question asked is: how far do you want to go in your career with Mc Donald’s? (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
From Manager Trainee one move to the Second Assistant Manager position who is responsible for managing people, products and equipment and ensure Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value (QSC&V) on all assigned shifts. Mentoring also begins here as the second assistant manager is given crew members to train and motivate. More than paperwork handling, he is also placed in charge of controlling food components, labor, waste and cash flow while managing specific areas. After learning to handle people, the next level prepares the employee to run the Mc Donald’s business. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
First Assistant Managers are directly responsible for recruiting, staffing, scheduling and retaining employees, and more importantly, demonstrating and reinforcing leadership behavior and people standards. It is necessary for him to build trust and earn commitment from his crew and other shift managers apart from building sales, and keeping down costs to deliver optimum business results in the different restaurant areas. Moreover, first assistant managers must effectively maintain the Mc Donald’s standards of product quality, service speed and quality, cleanliness and sanitation; and controlling assigned profit and loss line items. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
Through all of these, the employee’s performance, attitude as well as the amount of time it took him to progress from manager trainee to first assistant manager, are all taken into consideration and weighed by HRD. A final evaluation is conducted to determine whether he or she is fit to assume the role position of Restaurant Manager. Some outlets, in fact, have “steeper” corporate ladders for their employees to climb. In California, for example, managers in company owned restaurants, follow a unique management career path that requires him to work on the restaurant’s different “zones”. The aspirant begins as a Front Counter Zone Manager responsible for client hospitality within the restaurant. From there, one moves to Drive-Thru Zone Manager, responsible for service, profit and labor; then Grill Zone Manager who focuses on restaurant production. Each step is accompanied by a prearranged training program, with the goal of becoming a Restaurant Manager. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
As Restaurant Manager, he or she must oversee the entire operation of a McDonald's restaurant. He or she is tasked with training and developing assistant managers; must be able to measure external customer satisfaction and execute plans to increase brand loyalty. Apart from this, he must implement and conduct in-restaurant procedures, and ensure the execution of all security, food safety and maintenance of the restaurant. Apart from these, he or she must monitor and accomplish different procedures in the restaurant-among these the pay, incentives and personnel records. The restaurant manager is also responsible for forecasting profit and keeping losses to a minimum. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
But career growth doesn’t stop there. Experienced restaurant managers may eventually become business or operations consultants—in other words, full time expert resources for restaurant managers and owners/operators. One such position is Operations Supervisor, who must provide leadership, coaching and direction to the restaurants he or she is assigned. The operations supervisor maximizes long-term sales and profit potential for each restaurant and is tasked to build a positive business relationship with Restaurant Managers and Restaurant Leadership Team. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
Training Consultants, on the other hand, conduct training classes to motivate and improve performance. He or she also doubles as operations expert and consultant on McDonald's operation standards, management tools and training systems. Business Consultants, for their part, help a designated group of individual owners boost restaurant profits, QSC, profit and lay-out parameters for people development; while the Human Resources Consultant is asked to dispense best-practices information, recruiting recommendations analyze individual restaurant needs and develop recommended customized solutions. (“Mc Donald’s Carreer Paths, n.d.”)
The Mc Donald’s system not only monitors the progress of its staff and crew who possess leadership and managerial potentials. It has set up and developed a streamlined training as well as additional enhancement courses specifically for this purpose. Since 1961, Mc Donald’s very own Hamburger University, a 130,000-square-foot facility in Oak Brook, Illinois, has been offering courses for restaurant managers, owner/operators and corporate employees. Course materials are available in 28 languages, and classes have been translated into as many as six languages at one time. The university’s curriculum can be credited towards a two- or four-year college degree. It is the only restaurant organization to be awarded college credit recommendations from the American Council on Education. (“Mc Donald’s Training, n.d.”)
Finally, strict business and ethical standards are hammered onto all McDonald’s employees worldwide. Mc Donald’s has set clear-cut rules for proper ethics and conduct for its staff . Each employee is informed of their basic rights, what the company offers to protect them from harassment; that they are given equal opportunity while under the employ of Mc Donald’s and are briefed on what constitutes conflict of interest; non-disclosure of classified company materials and financial records. Subsequently, everyone is also informed of the corresponding penalties and violations. Management then asks them if they have fully understood and if they are willing to abide by the said guidelines, prior to letting them start work in a Mc Donald’s restaurant. The company expects their staff to act responsibly and hold themselves accountable for keeping an eye out for violations and subsequently reporting the perpetrators to their superiors. All reports are treated by the management as confidential, and the employee is granted full anonymity for his or her protection. If proven guilty, the employee will be meted out a warning; may be suspended or terminated, and depending on the gravity of the case, legal prosecution. (“Mc Donald’s Corporate Responsibility Report 2004”)
When it comes to benefits and incentives for its employees, much is to be expected from Mc Donald’s. The rewards program they have designed is aimed at attracting, energizing and retaining the talented and dedicated members of its staff. It is divided into four tiers, namely: base pay, incentive pay, long term benefits and recognition programs. (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, n.d.”)
The base pay is considered the most significant portion of employees’ compensation. Mc Donald’s maintains the competitiveness of its base pay through an annual review of both external market data and internal peer data. In their corporate, division and regional offices, a broad banding compensation system which allows for flexibility in terms of pay, movement and growth is used. On the other hand, incentive pay gives the employee a chance to earn additional compensation whenever the restaurant performs well and sales are exceptionally good. The company makes use of a Target Incentive Plan (TIP) which links employee performance with the performance of the business they support. TIP pays a bonus on top of employees' base salaries based on business performance and their individual performance.
Long term incentives are awarded to both reward and retain key employees who have exhibited sustained performance and have the potential to affect long-term business at McDonald's. Recognition programs have likewise been set up to reward and recognize strong performers. The Presidents' Award, for starters, is given to the top 1% of individual performers worldwide while the Circle of Excellence Award is handed to top teams worldwide in recognition of their efforts to perpetuate the Mc Donald’s vision. (“Mc Donald’s Careers—management, n.d.”)
At the same time, McDonald's rewards programs are designed to help its employees maintain or regain the right balance between work and outside life. Corporate, division and regional office employees may be able to arrange with HRD for an alternative work approach. They can opt to take flex time or compressed work week for full-time positions and part-time scheduling and job sharing for part-time employees. Restaurant Managers, and all of Mc Donald’s corporate employees enjoy the benefit of paid vacation leaves. The length of vacation time is based on the number of years the employee has worked. For other qualified regular employees, Mc Donald’s gives nine paid vacation days. Part-time employees are also given paid leaves, but the number of days are subject to company discretion. They can also opt to take an eight-week sabbatical for every 10 years of full-time continuous service with the company. (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, nd.”)
Likewise, McDonald's provides a leave of absence program with specific policies. This includes family, medical, adoption and funeral leaves. Mc Donald’s also supports the continuing education of its employees; and extends even child care or home and auto insurance aids. Some employees were assisted by the company in adoption cases. (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, nd.”)
A comprehensive health and insurance benefits system is also mapped out for employees and their immediate family members. McDonald’s gives them medical plan options that use the First Health network of providers. The medical plans include a prescription drug program feature and lifetime health benefits that include preventive care and once a year executive check-ups for employees and their nominated family members. Well-baby care, child immunizations and inoculation are also covered. Mc Donald’s also placed provisions for vision (includes eyeglasses and contact lenses replacement and discounts on laser vision correction surgery) and dental expenses coverage. An employee may also ask the management to put aside a maximum of $5,600 from his pre-tax income for a health care spending account . (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, n.d.”)
Mc Donald’s also extends free short and long term disability coverage for all its employees. Short term disability readily compensates an employee who is rendered unable to work by injury for 10 or more days, consecutively. Long term disability, on the other hand, gives the injured employee up to 60% of his or her monthly basic pay. He is compensated for the entire duration of his disability. McDonald's also provides free basic life insurance equivalent to twice the employee's base salary. In case of death or serious injury caused by an accident the company gives out accidental death and dismemberment insurance which is worth twice the employee's basic pay. And, in the event of an accident when traveling for personal reasons, travel insurance, amounting to twice the basic monthly pay is also given. If the employee is sent on an official trip, an additional $100,000 or $200,000 is provided as business travel insurance on top of the regular travel accident coverage. (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, nd.”)
With regards to the finances of its employees, Mc Donald’s encourages them to invest and save by offering several money management programs. McSave, which is a special money market fund set up for McDonald's employees while MCDirect Shares allows them to invest and reinvest dividends in the company. There is also a Profit Sharing and Savings Plan which lets employees set aside up to half of their basic pay. The plan’s 401(k) feature matches employee contributions with $3 for each $1 of the first 1% they set aside, and $1:$1 for the subsequent amounts they save up. (“Mc Donald’s Benefits, n.d.”)
In conclusion, Mc Donald’s human resource development policies provide its employees a challenging career and a nurturing work environment. Inspite the controversies and intrigues that befell the company in the last two years, Mc Donald’s has managed to reinvent itself not only by reestablishing its reputation as a provider of nutritious and high-quality food by giving its consumers healthier meal options, but also placed the training and continuous development of its staff as the heart of its operations. Its people policies make each employee proud of holding a “Mc Job”. The workplace is secure; their inputs and suggestions are welcome; they are aware of what the company expects from them, and what they get in return for their loyalty and service Moreover, the values and code of ethics Mc Donald’s instills in its employees are invaluable and applicable to any job they may hold in the future.
“HR challenges... I'm lovin' it”. Personnel Today Magazine 06 September 2005. Retrieved June 8, 2006 from http://wwwPersonnelToday.com

“Mc Donald’s History”. Retrieved June 8, 2006 from

“Fascinating Mc Facts”. Firsts-Fascinating Mc Facts (Microsoft Word document 4-7-05) retrieved June 9, 2006 from www.m

“Mc Donald’s Corporate Responsibility Report 2004”. (McDonald’s Corporation Oak Brook, IL 60523 CS-5565 MCD02-4190A) Retrieved June 8, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com

“Mc Donald’s Corporate Responsibility Report 2004 (Supplement)”. Retrieved June 8, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com

Tootelian, Dennis H., The Mc Donald’s Footprint. Retrieved June 9, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com

“Mc Donald’s Training”( ©2005-2006 McDonald's Corporation) Retrieved June 8, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com/usa/work/m_careers/training

“Mc Donald’s Career Paths”. ( ©2005-2006 McDonald's Corporation) Retrieved June 9, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com/usa

“Mc Donald’s Benefits”. ( ©2005-2006 McDonald's Corporation) Retrieved June 8, 2006 from

“Mc Donald’s Careers—management”.( ©2005-2006 McDonald's Corporation) Retrieved June 8, 2006 from www.mcdonalds.com/usa/work/m_careers/career_paths



Monday Thoughts


Once again, I am

a “good morning” message

sent to many


a half-thought verbalized

as you shake off remnants

of weekend sleep


involuntary as a yawn;

a long stretch,

or the repeated creaking of your neck


workweek routine sets in, yet i feel

like that first splash of water

on your skin.






Translation: Should You Forget

Should you forget …


how we once unclasped our hearts

to play and seek refuge from its maddening beats,

to look for the wings of the angel of darkness

and soar to the vagabond planets lying within us--

as one-- limbs and spirits entwined, whole

and unmindful of on looking stars…


Do not grieve beloved, do not be sad.

Nothing changes.


I shall continue to walk this rope of tightly-woven moments,

and living on remembered sighs and giggles, return

to the silent footprints you’ve cast in my heart,

touching always these fallen crystals from your lips.


But should you forget me…


should the love letters I etched on your skin fade,

should your tongue lose it’s memory

and forget even how to speak my name,


Ah my love, do not be afraid.

Nothing will change.


I shall never let go of our memories,

for I have sworn to every on looking star

and promised each vagabond planet

that one night we spent together,

was the last that I’d unclasp my heart.
Translated from: Kung Sakaling Malimutan Mo Ako

by Anne Stephanie Cruz and Marlon Hacla








somewhere in time

tapping the hourglass
taped on the table---
bidding time return


Ode to Kal-el


** because I will always be the little girl who fell for Superman…


I embraced you,
full circle around Krypton’s sun,
certain your fire will consume me
until I am nothing but particles
perpetually dancing in space,
feeding on the energy
of  being loved by a phantasm
whose identity I hold
in the quiet of my mortal heartbeats.


I’ve long given up trying
to solve the riddles of this universe:
of wanting to mend the tatter in time 
that caused meteors to pelt the earth too early,
but brought me to you too late.


I could only love you in compromised acceptance.


We are locked in a dream with a termination date.

Immutable laws of the cosmos breached with each kiss,
the great divide forgotten in a fortress of solitude—
no windows, no doors to shut behind us
we etched doubt in mirrors of fragile peace.


This is my beat under the heavens
yours lie beyond dismantled suns
past extinguished stars, spent comets
and silenced human hearts
that taught you to yield and let go.


Love alone cannot eclipse the truth:
you’ll always be a god amongst men,
but you weren’t destined to save me.


~Anne Stephanie Cruz~



Lachryma Christi*

a bottle of vintage
tears, one sip
to cleanse the palate
of sin
*Lachryma Christi (Latin, "Tear of Christ") is a name given to red and white wines grown in an ancient vineyard on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, in Italy. The name Lachryma Christi comes from an old legend that Christ, crying over Lucifer's fall from heaven, cried his tears on this land and gave divine inspiration to the vines that grew there.


Short Poems


teardrop moon
rising over the docks--
solitary nightwatch

midnight harbor
two ships berthing--
company for the night
ripening slowly
over mango trees--
Sunday afternoon


Recipes for Suicide


suicide by coffee—

five, six mugs a day

heart palpitation by 80


crossing the street

thinking of hall of mirrors—

shaking stumbling


excruciating pain

7-11 slurpee---

blood curling brain freeze


bright burning ember

a very slow poison—

cigarette stick


daily fare of gin

balut cholesterol and alcohol—

heart, kidney, liver


man without hope

swallows several wishbones—

death by lechon manok


each night, a toast

to guardian angels—

death by San Miguel



hangs himself in guilt—

death by mosquito net


washing first heartbreak

out of her hair—

death by shampoo


after the bestman

makes a monkey out of you—

death by banana peel



SMS Rengga by: Andoy Castellano and Steph Cruz

Saturday, May 6, 2006 


Tulang Sangre*

At nabasag ang salamin ng gunita...

ang mga bubog,

naging kristal na along nakatanaw

sa makabila nating pampang,

mga hiyas na ngayo'y pinupulot isa-isa

hindi para muling buuin,

kundi upang mag-iwan ng mga sugat

na maghihilom rin kalaunan.

Saka pa lamang mananaludtod

ang bawat pilat at ilalantad

ang mga tulang sangreng

iginuhit mo sa aking balat.

*blood poem




(for A.)

I submit to pain
consciously and wholly,
administered in incremental doses
growing more potent over time
'til the body is forced to cope
and develop on its own
some primitive form of resistance.

To an affliction
with no prescribed cure,
where the only known defense
is deliberate, repeated and prolonged
exposure to the carrier,
the sado-masochist belief
that cruelty is an act of mercy,
becomes gospel truth.

Once again, I bend over
relenting to your wish to be kind.

Inoculate me,
until this body is rendered immune
...to you.

Anne Stephanie Cruz



Tea Ceremony

a tea pot
kettle whistles

brown leaves

strained then poured
into cups



Dressing for Mourning

By: Anne Stephanie Cruz

I dressed for mourning in black string underwear,
mutely condoling with me by snugly hugging
milk-white skin, where I am most vulnerable.

True, that’s the only support
swatches of barely-there fabric are meant to give,
but to a woman about to come to terms with grief,
they’re modern-day chainmail and armor.

She puts them on piece by piece,
gently tugging at strings and straps
until she fits into pre-cast molds of black.
Like satin hands slipping into iron gloves,
she remains the same sensuous woman he adores.
However, this time strong enough
to wield goodbyes and walk away
unimpaled by her own sorrow.

Only after the cycle has closed
does she abandon her stance, strip;
and in absolute nakedness--weep.

When a woman like me dresses for mourning
in black string underwear, laugh not:
it means you tried, but weren’t strong enough—
and that you leave me no other prerogative
but to sever the very fibers that formed and knotted
this odd friendship of sorts, as only I know how.

Tonight, for our mutual benefit,
kiss me then hand me the scissors.



Kung Sakaling Malimutan Mo Ako

(pasintabi kay Neruda)
anne stephanie cruz, marlon hacla, 2/8/2006
Kung sakaling malimutan mo
na minsan nating kinalag ang ating mga puso
upang maglaro at takasan ang kabog
ng ating mga dibdib,upang hanapin ang mga pakpak
ng anghel ng dilim, upang liparin ang mga lagalag na planeta
ng ating mga damdamin
nang buo, hawak-kamay at nagtatalik ang diwa,
nang di batid na nakasilip ang mga tala,
huwag kang tumangis, huwag kang malungkot.
Walang maiiba.
Patuloy kong lalakbayin ang hinabing-lubid ng mga ala-ala,
mananahan sa bawat hibik mo't hagikhik,
at babalikan ang walang-imik mong mga yabag sa aking puso,
patuloy kong hihipuin ang mga nalaglag na kristal
mula sa iyong mga halik.
Kung sakaling malimutan mo ako
at mabura ang mga alpabeto ng pag-ibig
na inukit ko sa iyong balat,
kung sakaling maumid ang iyong dila at malimutan
maging ang bigkas ng aking pangalan,
huwag kang mabahala. Walang maiiba.
Hindi ko bibitawan ang ating mga gunita.
Sapagkat sumumpa ako sa nakasilip na mga tala,
saksi ang lagalag na mga planeta,
na huling pagkalag na ng aking puso
noong gabing kapiling ka.
Thank You, Marlon!



Tulang Tuluyan:


by Stephie

Sa ilog na lamang tayo magtagpo mahal. Kung saan marahan ang agos ng tubig sa batuhan. Di tulad ng mapupusok na alon sa dagat na makailang ulit ka ring tinangay. Pailalim. Sa isang
panaginip na ubod dilim.

Dito sa ilog malinaw ang lahat. Naaaninag ang tunay na hubog at kulay ng bawat bagay sa ilalim ng tubig. Samantalang ang dagat, tuso at mapaglihim. Mapanlinlang ang kabuuang ikinukubli ng lalim at bula ng tubig-alat. Batid kong hanap ng iyong mga paa ang pinong buhangin ng kaniyang dalampasigan; ang kiliting dulot ng halik ng tubig sa talampakan. Pagsapit ng takipsilim, unti-unti niyang inilililis ang mga alon, paanyayang muli mong sisirin ang pusod ng kaniyang alindog.

Minsan ka lamang namahinga sa ilog. Nanalungko sa batuhan at minasdan ang sarili. Hindi nagsinungaling ang tubig. Hinugasan ang asing ngumangatngat sa kayraming mga sugat. Kay alat ng iyong mga luha.

Umawit ang ilog, ngunit tawag ng alon ang tanging naririnig.

Sa ilog na lamang tayo magtagpo, mahal. Kapang naunawaan mo nang hindi maaring maging dagat ang tubig-tabang.

January 29, 2006



Pag-Ibig sa Alon

Tula ni: Enrico Torralba

"Akala ko'y di ko maiibig ang dagat."
--mula sa TAKOT SA TUBIG ni Rio Alma

Ang kanyang pagdampi sa labi
Ng dalampasigan ay lubos
Na pagtangi sa bato at buhangin.
Sa tuwing siya ay dumarating,
Lagi siyang may handod
Na taludtod ng tilamsik at ginhawa.
Kaya minsan, sa muli niyang pagdalaw
Siya ay aking inangkin,
Siya ay aking inaruga
A ipinaghele sa aking mga palad.
Ngunit sa bawat pagbubuntis ng buwan,
Nararamdaman kong
Ang pananatili niya sa aking piling
Ay panunuyo ng kanyang tinig.
Ayaw kong mawala ang awit ng alon
Kapag sinusuyo ang dalampasigan
Kaya minabuti kong masdan na lang
Siyang lumisan pabalik sa dagat.
Mula noon, natitik sa aking isip
Na hindi para sa akin
Ang pagmamahal ng alon.

**one of the poems in Sir John's chapbook. Do I need to explain how much heartache and tears are mirrored here? I keep remembering the poem "Gabu" I've read in college...It is the sea that pursues a habit of shores. Yes, it is another shore that he wishes to come home to...




Out of my element,
I gasp and thrash about
like fish washed ashore.

Forced to walk
,imaginary limbs claw air
for handrails or even the tiniest foothold.

I am told: adapt,
it's the only way to survive.

As if they didn't know,
evolution takes its own sweet time--
humankind waited in bated breath
for the ape to walk upright.




Love at First Sight

(Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Walter Whipple )

Both are convinced
that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together.
Beautiful is such a certainty,
but uncertainty is more beautiful.

Because they didn't know each other earlier, they suppose that
nothing was happening between them.
What of the streets, stairways and corridors
where they could have passed each other long ago?

I'd like to ask them
whether they remember-- perhaps in a revolving door
ever being face to face?
an "excuse me" in a crowd
or a voice "wrong number" in the receiver.
But I know their answer:
no, they don't remember.

They'd be greatly astonished
to learn that for a long time
chance had been playing with them.

Not yet wholly ready
to transform into fate for them
it approached them, then backed off,
stood in their way
and, suppressing a giggle,
jumped to the side.

There were signs, signals:
but what of it if they were illegible.
Perhaps three years ago,
or last Tuesday
did a certain leaflet fly
from shoulder to shoulder?
There was something lost and picked up.
Who knows but what it was a ball
in the bushes of childhood.

There were doorknobs and bells
on which earlier
touch piled on touch.
Bags beside each other in the luggage room.
Perhaps they had the same dream on a certain night,
suddenly erased after waking.

Every beginning
is but a continuation,
and the book of events
is never more than half open.

Is the world trying to tell me something? This poem found its way to my mailbox this morning, and its uncanny how it is closely (or rather inversely) related to this Haruki Murakami Story I stumbled upon yesterday. Read and enjoy!



FB Senryu


old man
ogling well done breasts---
lunch time queue


martini stories:
marriage is cold and on the rocks---
can I buy you a drink?

FB stands for food and beverage, and, something totally different. If you're sharp enough to understand, good for you. If not, tough luck. ~stephie~

Here's another one, inspired by a Duncan Sheik song...

to a mirror
she prays,
for a glimpse of herself



Good In Bed

Loving a Larger Woman
by Bruce Guberman

I'll never forget the day I found out my girlfriend weighed more than I did.

She was out on a bike ride, and I was home watching football, leafing through the magazines on her coffee table, when I found her Weight Watchers folder — a palm-sized folio with notations for what she'd eaten, and when, and what she planned to eat next, and whether she'd been drinking her eight glasses of water a day. There was her name. Her identification number. And her weight, which I am too much of a gentleman to reveal here. Suffice it to say that the number shocked me.

I knew that C. was a big girl. Certainly bigger than any of the women I'd seen on TV, bouncing in bathing suits or drifting, reedlike, through sitcoms and medical dramas. Definitely bigger than any of the women I'd ever dated before.

I never thought of myself as a chubby chaser. But when I met C., I fell for her wit, her laugh, her sparkling eyes. Her body, I decided, was something I could learn to live with.

Her shoulders were as broad as mine, her hands were almost as big, and from her breasts to her belly, from her hips down the slope of her thighs, she was all sweet curves and warm welcome. Holding her felt like a safe haven. It felt like coming home.

But being out with her didn't feel nearly as comfortable. Maybe it was the way I'd absorbed society's expectations, its dictates of what men are supposed to want and how women are supposed to appear. More likely, it was the way she had. C. was a dedicated foot soldier in the body wars. At five foot ten inches, with a linebacker's build and a weight that would have put her right at home on a pro football team's roster, C. couldn't make herself invisible.

But I know that if it were possible, if all the slouching and slumping and shapeless black jumpers could have erased her from the physical world, she would have gone in an instant. She took no pleasure from the very things I loved, from her size, her amplitude, her luscious, zaftig heft.

As many times as I told her she was beautiful, I know that she never believed me. As many times as I said it didn't matter, I knew that to her it did. I was just one voice, and the world's voice was louder. I could feel her shame like a palpable thing, walking beside us on the street, crouched down between us in a movie theater, coiled up and waiting for someone to say what to her was the dirtiest word in the world: fat.

And I knew it wasn't paranoia. You hear, over and over, how fat is the last acceptable prejudice, that fat people are the only safe targets in our politically correct world. Date a queen-sized woman and you'll find out how true it is. You'll see the way people look at her, and look at you for being with her. You'll try to buy her lingerie for Valentine's Day and realize the sizes stop before she starts. Every time you go out to eat you'll watch her agonize, balancing what she wants against what she'll let herself have, what she'll let herself have against what she'll be seen eating in public.

And what she'll let herself say.

I remember when the Monica Lewinsky story broke and C., a newspaper reporter, wrote a passionate defense of the White House intern who'd been betrayed by Linda Tripp in Washington, and betrayed even worse by her friends in Beverly Hills, who were busily selling their high-school memories of Monica to Inside Edition and People magazine. After her article was printed, C. got lots of hate mail, including one letter from a guy who began: "I can tell by what you wrote that you are overweight and that nobody loves you." And it was that letter — that word — that bothered her more than anything else anyone said. It seemed that if it were true — the "overweight" part — then the "nobody loves you" part would have to be true as well.

As if being Lewinsky-esque was worse than being a betrayer, or even someone who was dumb.
As if being fat were somehow a crime.

Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in this world, and maybe it's even an act of futility. Because, in loving C., I knew I was loving someone who didn't believe that she herself was worthy of anyone's love.

And now that it's over, I don't know where to direct my anger and my sorrow. At a world that made her feel the way she did about her body — no, herself — and whether she was desirable. At C., for not being strong enough to overcome what the world told her. Or at myself, for not loving C. enough to make her believe in herself.

**currently reading Good In Bed By Jennifer Weiner ... this article, penned by the lead character's ex-boyfriend, is the take-off point of the whole book. Fell in love with it after browsing through the first few pages at Powerbooks, ATC yesterday.



Share: Firefly Sestina

You said they were stars,
the flowers in your clothes,
a fragrant race
of insects in a river
heading toward us,
light turning to matter.

Did it matter
if they were stars
or they were us
looking too close?

Our eyes are also rivers
in a race
for the future, a race

with matter
over time and the river.

The stars
are close to us,
all of us:a race

that will kill to close
a matter,
erase stars,
defile a river,
even this one river

forever heading toward us
we barely navigate, like fixed stars
in a racethat ought to matter
and never close.

Wearing no clothes
we step into the river.
No matter
that it covers us
with darkness,

whose race
over our bodies fills with stars.
Whose stars

clothe our bodies as they race
toward a river of no matter to us.

**Picked up this sestina from Antioch Review, I must have read it three or four times before feeling the full impact of the piece. Oh the days when one feels like a firefly—free, flying, but carrying a desire that burns and consumes the self, sometimes for days at an end!~stephie~


Cheshire Cat Tales


walk in closet
a Cheshire cat licks
paws clean


giddy little girl
shaved clean--
Cheshire cat grin

10.25 am



daga: a senryu in Filipino

sepilyo't colgate
naiwan sa kwarto kagabi
may dagang uuwi

Pasay MRT



"Comfort Sex"

Walang ibang kulay ang gabi kundi pula.

May anghang ang mga labing kapwa
naghahanap ng pagkandili.
Hindi nag-alinlangang magsukob,
may pangangailangang pilit pinupunan
ngunit batid na kailanma'y di matatagpuan
sa isa't-isa.

Sapat na ang malamang pula pa rin ang
dugong umuugong sa nag-iinit na mga tainga;
na pula ang kulay ng kaligayahan bagamat bahaw;
at pula ang kasukdulang naabot at lalatay sa ala-ala.

Huwag mo lamang huhubarin ang pulang blusa.
Baka malimutang pumipintig pa rin ang iyong pusong kulay pula.

4 am


Bathroom Confessions

Kung sana'y agua bendita ang ibinubuhos,
o krusipiho ang ipinangkukuskos
baka sakaling matanggal pa
ang mga mantsang naiwan sa paanan ng dutsa.

Ang kaso'y sa harap ng domex at eskoba lang
kayang mangumpisal ng mga tulad kong
sa nakapinid na silid nagkakasala.

Kaya't ang bawat buhos ng tubig
sinasabayan nang pagluha,
baka sakaling sa paglilinis
makatagpo ng pagpapalaya



short poems


sensual origami---
deft fingers on pulp
folding in surrender


a butterfly
hugs its cocoon goodbye--
maiden flight


mirror image--
making passionate love
in a pool of tears


plucking feathers
from singed wings---
a fistful of faith




by Stephie

"What's better than a ten?"

Quarter past lunch,
you twitch in remembrance.
Glazed eyes seeing her flushed, fucked face in the mirror;
lips and skin playing out frame by hungry frame
of a Tuesday feeding frenzy.
Images rise with your quickened breath,
like steam, more vivid than a transparent overlay.

Muscle memory conjures sensations of being wrung out,
sucked dry then finally coming---
senseless and beyond pleasure.

Hungrier than when you stepped out for lunch,
your knees buckle in recollection.
So good,
you count to eleven before crossing the street.