The Mermaid Speaks

by Jose Luis Pablo

This poem originally appeared in Katitikan Literary Journal

I cannot remain
The fairytale of the seafoam
Or flicker of maiden’s
Face in the pool.
By your hand,
I churn, fluid 
As my temple. 
And am I not creature —
Necessary creation 
Of what surrounds me? 
See my disappearing fin,
Camouflaged in synthetic fiber
Flora, ghostlings
Of progress. 
Call me leviathan.
My ocean body shimmers:
Constellation of seaglass, bottles without messages, 
Sunlit scale among silver bellies of wrappers, 
Rainbow coral and oil spill, pearl and polystyrene,
Plastic bags bobbing like jellyfish heads.  
Now call me Gorgon,
Hair slathered in venom.
Peer into my crystal eyes.
Tell me 
What your future holds.

© Copyright Jose Luis Pablo

Jose Luis Pablo or “Nico” is a poet and a communications manager for a non-profit. Their work has been published in Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature, Cordite Poetry Review (Australia), My Gay Eye (Germany), Busilak: New LGBTQ+ poetry from the Philippines (University of the Philippines Press), The Pinch (USA), and elsewhere, as detailed in Nico was awarded by the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2020 Peseroff Poetry Prize. They are based in Rizal, Philippines.

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