from Us from all Evil

Allan Popa

From the Depths

Those who live in the deep are translucent.
They could be pierced by light
If there were light.

Here are the ships that sank.
Clean, cleaned through.

Here are thumbs of burnt-out candles.
Here is a missing trinket.
Here the crashed head of a comet.

Nothing shifts but these the undead.

Here is the heart of gravity.
Here is the speech of the chopped-off tongue.
Here is the deepest exhalation—

“Don’t light what’s left of the wick.
It will steal our last breath from us.”


In the same way she would collect
Drops of semen wasting
On beds after sex and beating off,
She is licking her wounds.

Countless, her offspring,
Who do not look for fathers
Nor suckle from her breast.
They do not have navels.

She mounts trees.
Rocks on them as on the laps
Of husbands and young men hard
Near dawn.

The upright man sharpens his dagger,
A totem against her when alone in bed.
On it, her name is carved.
Lilith. Adversary and weapon.

Christ in Hell

No hesitation in his steps.
He walked on water.
He will not sink in fire.

Around him, tormented souls
Jostle for position to keep their faces

Grasp at each other to stay afloat.
Drown whomever they clutch.
But no one really drowns.

Then Christ felt the vertiginous
Memory of heaven.

Slowly, he steps on the faces
As countless hands strain to reach
His robe’s hem.

But all they can hold on to
Are words.

translated from the Filipino by Marc Gaba, Jose Edmundo Ocampo Reyes, and Allan Popa