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When entering my home,

in every room, there will be

stuff that has no name for itself


I call the room in the basement, our trove

because it’s where the mysteries stay


Pens pursed from the hotel rooms

that wrote the letters in prayer


Clothes never sent in the balikbayan

reminding you of how you forget


Pictures with boys whose names I came 

to know by their funerals and epitaphs


Children’s books with a broken spine

whose pages try so hard to turn


Tomato boxes that treasure us

more than we care to do ourselves


Sungka stones scatter at the bottom

of boxes of newspapers from the 80s


In your struggle to make sense of this stuff

the day will end and you will have sorted nothing


The furnace breathes in the winter

and one day, this house will burn

everything will catch in its flames


I hope fire opens the boxes wide enough

so that the mysteries rise in its heat and 

for the fire to sort all of our stuff in its ashes

Excerpt from “My Mother’s Dream (or Driftwood”)

American dreams are fish

in an ocean full of driftwood. 

And all of it are remnants of a ship. 

The vessel that carries cramped 

families, chosen to cross the waters. 


They jumped off that ship and swam. 

Paddled - even when ashore because 

they fight with breathing. She emerged 

from the sunshine, a fishermen sailing 

into white water, casting her lines in hopes of catching a dream


Or two. 

Or three. 


However many it takes for her fight to feel asleep.


Flip (n.): 

1. an athletic movement in which someone jumps in the air and rolls forward or backward

   a. into shadow

   b. into face

   c. into resistance

2. to change from one state, position, subject, etc., to another

   a. savage to

   b. monkey to

   c. little brown brother to

   d. soldiers to

   e. theirs

 3. the B-side of a record; the unimportant side 

   a. in which we dance on

   b. in which we sing to

   c. in which we collect the dust from 

4. reverse

    a. a story; a narrative

    b. truth of our arrival

    c. history of our conditions

5. to buy and renovate (real estate) to quickly resell at a higher price

     a. a body to forget 

      b. tongues to feel shame 

6. to toss as to turn in the air

     a. toss our words

           i. in the pot until they dissolve

           ii. into the fissures of arrival 

      b. toss the fight from our fist in the air

           i. until it’s blown away

           ii. until it’s wind

           iii. until it’s polluted

7. (slang) to lose one's mind or composure – often used with out

        a. flip out!

8. slang term for Filipino-Americans

        a. reclaim 

        b. we flipping back

            i. this be the Flip Side

Edsel Engalla, Jr. (he/him) is a Filipino American based in his hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. A recent graduate from Rutgers University with a B.A. in English, he hopes to begin taking action in serving his local community. Identifying as a “sometimes writer,” he writes fiction and poetry that explores the assimilation of Filipinx in the U.S. and its reconciliation with pre-colonial traditions. When he’s not writing, he’s either taking naps with his Shiba Inu, reading a book by a fellow Asian American, or listening to hip-hop.

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