Renga #1 with esteemed poet Gian:

The point of scars is
to proclaim a new district
in the city of the body;
whether boundaries
or lines to be traced
with stains shaped like make-believe countries —
the way floodwater spills over sidewalks,
house-invading, receding only to deposit
heavy debris.
No need to talk about pain
when it is branded upon you —
peklat, sugat, in my country we say:
only those who know how to look back
can move forward. I don’t know
how to walk when crippled,
weighed down by baggage.
And yet the necessity of travel stays —
makes itself known, it sears itself
into skin, like sunburn. Like scars.
We carry onward even as the journey
is carving its map onto us.



Renga is a Japanese form of collaborative poetry. At its simplest, I write a line or two, and pass it to someone else to continue the poem. The paper goes from person to person until the poem finishes itself. Somehow you know. This one was written with the excellent Gian. It was an honor, sir!

Went with my gut on the line cuts because the notebook we were writing on was really small. I also took the liberty of changing the last line, which was mine, because the original one was stupid. Sorry. More in the future, I hope!

For more renga, here’s another I wrote with Gian long ago, one with Sasha, and a silly one with A. One that I wrote with JC Casimiro was published by Kritika Kultura. You can read it here [PDF].

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Isabel says:

    This is one of the most seamless collaborative efforts I’ve ever come across. Your flows works together well 🙂

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