Assessment Plan/Rhetorics/poem-in-progress


This is not your hand;
This bloated fish in my latex-gloved hand,
hematomaed like the drowned corpse I saw
when I wrote about night hawks who
forage after 12 for decaying remains,
blood-debt killings, a small ice pick stuck
to the temple of a gambler who owed 10 pesos
in pusoy, a security guard ended by
swift slash of a cheated husband’s bolo,
the top of his head dangling, sad lid
of a tin can, fodder for the sic o’clock news.

This body heaving under faded print sheets,
hooked to a machine, furrowed forehead of a familiar face
This tentacled body, flanked by beeping
sentries that sometimes malfunction

This is not yours.

But are your gestures yours?
Shrug of shoulders, crease of brow,
shudder of tears, when I sing, when
your siblings are here, when we pray,
when my sister and I forgot you were
in the room and talked about that
time I was molested by someone you know.

Found in your dresser drawer, in cursive,
“My life support is only God Almighty
and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Never artificial respirator,” written
posthaste in front of envelope with
“Open in Case of Death” scribbled
across seal, your familiar script,
many times forged for excuse slips,
fieldtrip forms; now here we are,
me, your reluctant signatory; and here
you are, unwitting accomplice to our
betrayal; breathing, but not on your own.

At 3:16, a message sent in frantic electronic
squawking, orange light flashing, a minute to
let settle, the sound of pandesal
peddler horn forever defamed.

Another day, another 3:16, above
a text message from one daughter to another
the one not easily swayed, your faith excursion
companion; believer of lost mothers looking
for redemption, receiver of unwanted
faith healing, dubious witness of transfigurations.
Do you remember? The Santo Nino’s hands
embossed upon the sanctified swindler’s?
You whispered, “Look, look. Upon her palms,
images of little Jesus’s tiny hands?” And I
thought maybe I wasn’t blessed to see, but
I pretended, exclaimed “Oo nga.” Yes, I see!
I was nine years old.

These pedicured toes, still golden but
tumid, ripe with unwanted fluids; these
are not yours. This swollen knee, bearing
surgical scar; that time Tita Et warned you
through her clairvoyant cards to be careful,
watch your step, but you slipped upon rain-slicked
driveway, broke your patella, typed your scripts
at the hospital for weeks, while your knee
healed, all the time exalting your friend’s
psychic powers, saying you should have heeded.

Should we heed now? Is this you sending 3:16
messages? Are you now telepathic? Psychic?
Do you wish perhaps you that you did not cut off
supernatural friends, sinning skeptics from your
born-again life? Do you wish I were less sinful?

Do you wish you were?

And now your fate lies not in God, not in Et
not in your hand or your children’s
but in a committee of suited men in white robes
that pray to a God not too different from yours.

Why is it that to play god is fine, but to honor
your wish is an affront to the Divine?


About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. ( She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
This entry was posted in anaknitapia, misstapia, orphaned, DNR, massivestroke, comatose, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Assessment Plan/Rhetorics/poem-in-progress

  1. francistagasa says:

    It is only that I truly read your blog. Its difficult for me to do since I lost my pad. But reading it again made me realize how painful it is that we have to go through that ordeal. I know how hard it is to let go. I missed this moment with Dad the chance to tell him that its OK to go. She gave me the chance to feel that pain that my brother had to go though alone a distance away from my Mom that in a moment she too might have an attack. I did have a moment with him over the phone he cried so hard when he heard my voice miles away from him. I could not cry at that moment as a lot of people were staring at me when I told him to wait for me and that I am coming home to see me. But his too weak to do that. I came home and when I saw him for the first time I looked at him and realized how handsome and beautiful he was so peaceful and for the first time held his hand and kissed him on his forehead. I never had the chance to be that close and intimate with him the way I did with my mother. I wasn’t sorry – I didn’t have to say I am because I know he loves me too. I have no regrets because he knows that all I do is for them. Mother told me that Dad always say how sorry he was that I needed to work more. Mothet told me that I didn’t have to be sorry for being away since Dad I understood. He built me a study table when I started school and when I left home for good leaving behind my books built me a cabinet for it instead of putting them on boxes to be tucked away. That made me realize that I too was special. (Thank you for writing this – we all feel the pain. I know our lives will not be the same again but see what we had become we became a better person and I know they are both proud. I miss them too)


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