detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Sunday, November 17, 2002


: . Playing with Words:

From Jolography:
    Echolalia
    by Paolo Manalo

    Misunderstand the initial
                reaction—
         there is no I.

    Ay tell you, the mispronounced
         vowel
                       goes well
         with the wayward

    Bus on its last trip: no matter
    How you say it, as long as you get their

         attention—

    Please, allow me to outtalk the obvious:
    An epol is still an apple as long as it’s read

         that way:
                speech not centered on the reaten
    Word.

         In Russian that red fruit
    May well
         be our tongue’s devil
    In disguise, yabloka/diablo ka,
         the root of evil
    Still—

         truth was, the moment
                when either epol or fig
    Or figment of epol was partaken,
         the tongue sharpened
    Into the serpent’s form.

    *


    Food for toot: the tongue knows they serve no apple pie in fastfoods.

    It cannot be tricked, servant to substitution, it knows sayote as (its filling/it’s feeling).

    The gap where the teeeth should be.

    And then biting the fruit pit:


    The bale borrowing lost meaning.

    The kuwan.

    The ano.

    *


    Bale, all my friends’ kuwan
         begins and ends with bale:
    It’s more kuwan than habit, more
         kuwan, you know, bale.
    Bale, I can get your kuwan whole-
         sale from Kuwan, bale.
    Bale, but if it’s free, it’s free:
         hindi bale, size doesn’t matter
    it’s the toot that counts.

    *


    Anong toot? What do You take me for,
    Granted? You think I don’t know
    Anything? Now I know everything.

    What do You think of me,
    Thinking of You? I can think
    Of many things now. Before You toot

    Of the moon, I invented the moon
    Buggy, the yo-yo. Now you can’t look down
    On me. I invented the dictionary.

    Look me up. I’m somewhere
    Between agnostic and idiot.
    I’m catholic (“Of broad or liberal scope;
         comprehensive”), Filipino (“The Austronesian
         language, not the people”), Ano?

More.

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