Pamela K. Santos: Three Poems

Notes on Impermanence: Or, Automonoamory In The Dark

before you begin your nightly ritual
to quit your conscious thoughts to quit thinking
for the day     you roll your face to the side
any side     revel in how good your hair
smells on puffy pillows newly purchased
you revel     roll     become your own lover
close friends know of your procrasturbation
on days souped together from depression

even your sweat     unwashed you-ness     your hair
makes you smile     close your eyes     inhale longer
you ask your friends     is something wrong with you
it’s embarrassing to be this lonely
wholly      holy aroused     you smell too good
no match for old lovers on old pillows

you don’t like sleeping     alone    one-bodied
insomnia your nightly ritual
don’t like your loneliness has become
your only exception to impermanence

there is a memory of a feeling you had of someone you loved within arms’
reach beside you in bed the feeling of reaching out to this person you loved in spite
of how hot their body was at night especially under covers you don’t mind heat
radiating from raw skin the temperature discomfort a small thing what you miss is
the feeling of permanence that someone’s presence at night would not vanish that
the body you loved would callously rebel against the rule of impermanence
governing all of life all that you know because that body of the person you loved
would love you so dangerously so deeply that they had no choice but to void the rule
that all things perish and do not last that the person who loved you only you
would want to be the permanent body beside your permanent body in the morning


Court Me

ligawan mo ako like one of your
miss universes in your kundimans /
sinta, haharanahin mo ba ‘ko
bitbit ng esteryo like lloyd dobler,
as if you burned for me as simon burned
for daphne? patawarin mo ‘ko, love,
if i sound like i’m reblogging a meme,
tweeting algorithms / how am i to
know what is TL, what is true love, babe,
and not some celluloid shadow, mirage, 

macguffin, mimicked montage made from mass 

hysteria, more mimesis than life?
after all, never have I ever been
voyeur to even one open-mouthed kiss
between my parents, one declaration,
one precious gesture of affection, hands
clasped in public / what evidence had i
of their youth-full love: faded kodak matte
prints, a baronged groom, baby-blue-chiffoned
bride, both veiled/corded/coined/candled as one?
what shade, shape, sangsang, taste, tunog of their  

love binuhay before ceremony, 

what kalandian, kilig, thrills had they
ever narrated to me? all I knew
of their romansa: their pagtatanan
bago sila nagpakasal, kodak-
captured wedding sandwiched between sticky
pages and plastic page covers / complete
story in two words: “we eloped”/ too short
for me so I fictioned a drama from
a single typewritten truth, an answer
box on my birth certificate, scripted 

a hidden pregnancy, prequel to my  

premiere as the firstborn grandchild: they have
a word for it: call it pikot, as in
napikot ang lalake, napikot
ang dalaga, Binibini before
becoming Mother / forgive me, mahal,
that i don’t have a model for romance
in my own childhood except for pikot
fanfic, in other words, baby-trapping
i’ve headcanoned out of a hospital
document, hard to read response below

How many fetal deaths (fetuses born  

dead any time after conception)?”: Two  

(2) / in other words, imagined ates 

or kuyas binding my loveless parents.



I fold over each night’s memory over the other
a paper crane I keep safe in a pocket, for luck
U had come to my hotel,      curious after 7 years,      &
All up in your city, lookin for you,      uhhhh /     Searchin for you      like      love
NYC never seemed so willing to swallow me whole
until ur mouth became the Q   I    A’ed
I think about when u said I could put milk in ur coffee     ! -&- !     stir the cup
a line I’ve never forgotten, long after we stopped texting

All up in your city, lookin for you,      uhhhh /     Searchin for you      like      love
Uninterested tho     I may have been     in ur life     outside my suite
I pantomimed intimacy           inhaled the BK swagger on ur breath out of habit
cursed cherrypits tumbled from my throat     which is to say
grief&desire     shuffled     back&forth      in our reunion playlist
Both of us swallowed back the I need u’s     whole

Straddled over u     I wolfed u     & all ur monologues in 1     long     gulp
I folded each memory of ur skin over my other
while a line from somewhere I’d forgotten poured into my conscious —
meat is    a seasoning,      not a meal.    


Note: Lines borrowed from Kim Ly Bui-Burton’s My Father’s Pho and, of course, SZA.

What are you looking for?