The cessation of all bodily functions
necessary to sustain life. Causes
include biological aging, predation,
malnutrition, disease, homicide,
starvation, dehydration, accidents,
trauma, terminal injury. Bodies
of living organisms begin
to decompose shortly after. Commonly
considered a sad, unpleasant
or fearful occasion.
Stoppage of heartbeat, pulse
and breathing. Most organs—the eye,
the kidney—remain alive,
and can be used for transplantation.
The degeneration of tissues
in the brain, followed by
the failure of most organs. These
cannot be used for transplantation.
Rigor has set in.
And the Lord said unto Moses,
Tell your people to mark the blood
of a lamb above their doors, and I
seeing the blood will pass over you,
and not suffer the destroyer to enter.
Death came airborne into the world
when lightning first cracked open
the egg of the sky, spilling
an oily black rain of snakes.
The end of the world is hidden
in a triangle of ocean, into which
entire cities have disappeared.
No one knows the name
of the fruit anymore, but rarely someone
will have dreams of its sweetness, of the garden
and the swords of angels.
In some mythologies, the first thing
to die is a man with an infant son
in his arms dancing backward into the sea,
is a king’s beautiful daughter, is the youngest
and most beloved of the ancient gods.
A boy in striped pajamas.
A robed skeleton on horseback
who speaks in capitals, drinks tea,
adopts daughter, names a son-in-law,
gives his manservant Sundays off.
A smiling girl with a black umbrella.
Brad Pitt. David Bowie. Your boyfriend.
Anyone who wears a human face,
goes by a nickname, speaks.
The Lord said, I have already saved
the good, all those who never truly
belonged down here. What will we do
now? It will come to us.
In the oldest days of the world
Bathala could chase Death
down to the point of a spear.
Bathala could drive it into
the body of an animal—wild hen,
or dog, or boar—blood beating
in a thing of living flesh.
The truth is
that it was a jar, not a box.
The truth is it was beguiling
as the woman, sloping
like a pair of hips, sapphire
and rose quartz
and jasper like so many eyes
shining out of the lid.
Gathered at the bottom
we find hope pooling
under the dark.
We bury our loves dreaming
one day, a century hence,
they will return as trees.
Nica Bengzon graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a bachelor’s degree in Literature (English) and a minor degree in Creative Writing. She currently teaches composition and literature courses at the Ateneo while pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Her poems have appeared in Heights and The Philippines Graphic, and are forthcoming from Paper Monster Press’s Atlantis. She writes for her siblings, and for Isabel, Mirick, Kathleen, Paolo, Deirdre, Stefani, and Maria. Her Tumblr is si-nagtala.tumblr.com.