AuthorMohammad Nassefh R. Macla

Mula sa Panabo, Davao del Norte. Tumanggap siya ng Sultan Kudarat Award for Culture and the Arts. Naging fellow ng Silliman at kasapi ng Davao Writers’ Guild.



Had she asked me about the final touch, I wouldTeach her how wires need not be tangled.Only festooned with tapes. Only by calmed hands.Gently, like her habitual kamote-planting.The Afghan had cautioned, strongly,About setting the thing off, I told her. SheHad known the initial steps, one by one, taughtOver nightly musings, and about killingAnd living. How can the mind forgetFueled by the heat of...

The Calling


Saif speaks of the struggleTo the listening birds of the tugan,Words persuadingSheltered in frail nests.

Listen! The crescentAnd star calling azan.Once again, the birds returnLooking for twigsFor their nests.

The call is answered.The tugan is the final meeting place.

At dawn, the march beginsOn the path only the heart knowsTo the hills of warAnd freedom.

The Arrival


At the back of the truck,Guns clank againstThe metal floor. RocksAnd shallow cratersMock our short naps. “Assalamo alaykom!”Welcoming men smiling,Standing by the masjid.Kids waving at us,Forgetful of their white kupyasAnd beaded tondongsGathering dust. In my vision, Darapanan flashesParadise. The wrap aroundMy head removed,Loosened by swift, suddenWind. I hold my breath,To hear the chant of...

Ode to a Martyr


Your wounded bodyFits the old mattress.Your death corrupts time.Still is the hut, whileFighters stifle cries.In the forest, warGoes on, and the sunDries the wet puddles.Paradise awaits youNow. The peaceYou died for remainsA hopeful promise.Now we both returnBut part ways. I go backTo the forest. You, to Him.

Bullet Holes


The child’s eye peeks into the holesOne to anotherOf the masjid’s walls, innocentOf the terror of old nights,Of wounds and laments. The holes won’t showThe burning trees,No longer the lifeless scree.The smoke invisible,The spilled blood dries. Only the swaying leavesDew from yesterday’s rainFlash before his eyes. He seesAnd hears the river revived. As he glancesThrough the eyehole once more,He...



How are the sunsetsOf the old mujahid?Melancholy overThe dormant, rusted boloThe sole unyoung rifleSpangled with scarsFrom trenches forgottenGnaws at his bonesThe growing dark.When will the sunset everSlip out without notice? The last rays through curtainHoles before himStays his solitude.His dead war comradesMarch in single file.He hears bombsFlight of bulletsSmell of earthDamp grass again. But...

Children of Homeland


I. In their bamboo huts, where bulletsCould trace them, they tried to hideBehind their mothers’ bodies as ifThey could be infants in wombs again. Their mothers’ pleas the only shield,“Tama na! Mga sibilyan lang mi!”But foes remained unmindful—the earsDid not hear what the hearts refused to see. Like dominoes standing, the mothers fell.Blood ran to the edges of bamboo floorsBefore they even hit...

Dream of Unity


to Mufti Ismail Menk When grenades rumbled in Lanao forests,I thought the dream would remain a dreamIn slumbers during nights of sweat and pain.The nights when more eyes were rather awake,Peeking at open windows, than asleep and calm. Now those eyes are fixed onto you, sparklingLike dew over leaves when the sun rises.I am the eagle observing everything. In this place where a Maranao sits with a...

The Release from the Ambush


Failing to gallop over a huge rock,He thinks he would never knowHow to run again. He remembersThe mouth mysteriousThat a while ago whisperedTraces and routes. He would no longer mindThe uncut beard, but home,How his youngest scratchesHis stomach, stretches,Before lying down on the bamboo bed;How his little girl at middayPicks Rambutan leavesAnd imagines them as money bills.How his wife tries to...