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Engkantos are invisible to the sober, but there’s truth
in wine. When grandfather died, his dog vanished.
It persistently reappears just to howl by the gate.

My childhood best friend lives in our attic closet.
Nightly, from the inside, he halfway opens the cabinet
to throw the other end of a tin can telephone.

Anitos shared a home with us. After a white god,
we disowned and banished them into folktales.
What is disregarded fades. To spite, the faded stays.

A dead uncle shares my birthday. He tastes blood
from imaginary wounds in his mouth.
His black and white photos are my dead ringer.

We never cross the dotted pebbles by the garden;
beyond the line are duendes. Despite garlic,
the kitchen smells like a forest equinox in spring.

At eight, I stopped playing with the neighbor’s kids.
Same year. First wine. 2hrs non-stop laughing.
I was bantering with cold, humid air, they said.

We leave empty dining chairs for the family multo.
Since grandmother died, the gate remains undisturbed.
On his deathbed, my uncle promised to return.

After I moved out, our housekeeper would hear knocks
from the attic, followed by a voice calling out my name.
A closet creaking. A tin can rolling on the floor.

Mark Dimaisip is a Filipino writer from Manila. His works have appeared in The Brasilia Review, Cha, Fantasy Magazine, harana poetry, Human Parts, Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, Strange Horizons and elsewhere. He has performed spoken word in Southeast Asia and Australia. Links to his poems are at
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“Ask me something only I would know.” You say this to your wife because you know you’re human. You can feel it in the familiar ache in your back, and the fear writhing in your guts. You feel it in the cold seeping into your bare feet from the kitchen floor. You know you’re real because you remember.
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