A Poem For Friday: “Filipino Cats Circa 1999”, by Patrick Rosal

This week’s poem is another one by Filipino-American and New Jersey-based poet Patrick Rosal:

Filipino Cats Circa 1999 by Patrick Rosal

They who stalked
dancefloors on hind legs
 
bucket cap tilt
to one side sipped
 
slow from a bowl
hopped from barstool
 
to barstool They three
gun-cocked brothers
 
nine lives each
Smooth quick keen
 
seers in the dark
always landing feet first
 
even the youngest one
who jumped
 
from seven stories up

From Rosal’s second collection of poems, My American Kundiman. The book begins with “A Note on the Kundiman”:

The kundiman is a traditional Filipino song of unrequited love. Its name comes from the Tagalog phrase “kung hindi man,” which, roughly translated, means “if you will not.” Practice of the form changed during the Spanish colonial era and into the American occupation, as the woman about whom many kundiman were sung was not a woman literally, but the Filipinos’ occupied homeland, a place with an increasingly ambiguous identity in the midst of violent erasure, fragmentation, and upheaval

(Italics mine.) Previously, I’ve featured a poem from Rosal’s first collection here.

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