aaduna, da Costa, and National Poetry Month….

Gonzalinho da Costa’s poems will embrace the pages of aaduna’s forthcoming spring 2015 issue with a launch date towards the end of National Poetry Month, which is this month...April!

With permission of the poet, we celebrate POETRY with a da Costa poem followed by his brief narrative that will enhance your understanding of an aspect of Filipino culture and tradition.


I held him by his slender neck

To pierce him under his chin

And saw white sap trickle forth

Like milk spills from a tin.

I shook him strongly by his thigh

To feel him flail like a fish

And heard his hands’ helpless sigh

Like sand shaken in a dish.

I bravely bent his youthful bone,

Which sprang with a painful cry—

I wondered how one so green and wet

Should so resemble I—

For I am brown and dry.

Gonzalinho da Costa shares:

Rice is a symbol of Southeast Asia—kindly note, for example, the bound rice sheaf in the ASEAN logo. Malays, who include, principally, Malaysians, Indonesians, and Filipinos, consider themselves a “brown” race.

The poem “The Rice Plant” merges three motifs into a single identity—the rice plant, the “brown” Malay race, and the speaker in the poem.

In my personal experience, Americans do not understand the “tin” metaphor in the poem. For many decades after the Second World War, Filipinos obtained their milk in tin cans, or simply, tins. The way to open the tin is to puncture it on top on opposite sides using a single-blade can opener. When the can is stabbed, milk squirts out the way sap flows from the green head of a rice plant. Canned milk is still widely purchased in the Philippines. I believe most Americans today obtain their milk from cartons.

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