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Archive for the ‘Your Poems’ Category


I ride your thick hide
It smells of northern Luzon fleas
The manilatown-Kearny street wind
cuts thru thin blankets of the manongs
chilled Ifugao bones crack the lucky M cue ball

–Al Robles “International Hotel Night Watch”

Manong Al’s birthday has been a time of reflection of the past and a time to look to the future. Manong Al’s words and ideas and spirit are very much alive in our community–inspiring students, activists, writers, artists and others–to give their hearts and minds to their communities.

Manong Al dedicated his life to social justice and bringing voice to silenced communities through poetry, resisting the intentional exclusion of the voices of elders, youth and the poor.

Many in the community wish to honor Manong Al’s spirit and ideas through their work, and our family is grateful and appreciative of the esteem in which Manong Al is held.

In keeping with the spirit of inclusion and making sure ALL voices are heard, the Robles family kindly requests to be informed of any discourse involving Manong Al’s literary work, spirit, ideas and concepts, so that the family might contribute ideas, introductions, and input that gives voice to the spirit of serving the community.

The Robles family kindly asks that if you have a project or proposal that is related to Manong Al’s work or ideas/concepts, that, as a courtesy, you contact us so we can be aware of your project and offer any help or assistance. You can contact the family at tofuriver@comcast.net and lakas@comcast.net

Thank you,

The Robles Family


Poem for Manong Al by Pete Yamamoto


Reading over the lines of a dead poet.
Listening to your hushed song
Your rhythms and your imagery,
Bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter.

Singing your songs from beyond the grave.
So much to teach us.
We, in our infantile state.
Your stature, so vast.

Young Asian youth so angry and defiant
He could be Filipino or Japanese or Chinese
Korean Thai Indonesian Vietnamese Burmese
Fine young sister stands beside him.

In all our strengths and weaknesses
Old men who have worked all their lives for the man.
Women who have worked all their lives for the men.
Babies who will grow strong and proud.

You bob and weave from beyond the grave.
Teaching me once again to be human and more.
Love our peoples and the strengths within.
Defy shallowness and pettiness.

Our lives take us to higher and better planes
Our feet rooted in the soil of the world’s agriculture.
Hands lined with dirt and minds wracked with fatigue.
This song of ours in collectivity.

She sings in her folk voice the song of people.
Gently lulling me with her odes.
This compliments your combative feistiness.
The basic elements of sweaty life.

Dead Poet I cannot fill your shoes.
But perhaps I can add my voice to the crowd.
For I am a new Poet too.
An old man in a busy world.

We grow old together
You the perennially young man.
I with my eyes full of the labor of mankind
We see the hands the hands of strong men

The swirling skirts of smiling women.
Even the tattoo comes alive on the brown arm.
In my retreat I wonder if I still have the love and the sensitivity
That you have bestowed upon the world

Ever in your song
Your chant
Your dirge
Your music..

I humbly ask
That I can teach what needs to be taught.
The love of the land and the world.
Mother in shawl with baby under her arm.

And you bob and weave.
Like a gentle prizefighter
Telling us all the while
To love the simplicity of our human brethren

To hear the stories of the people.
The tears and the boasts.
The fisherman and the farmer and the factory worker
From around the globe.

Particularly from our beloved Asia.
Transplanted to America
With ties to the old country.
Sometimes we are sleeping and dreaming.

I dream of Japan
In lines of the old tongue
Newly learned in this mouth of an American born
We speak every language.

You never spoke in Tagolog
But you dreamed the dreams of the carabao.
Transplanted with rythms of jazz and blues
And our lives intersected with Brotherhood and laughter for life.

We know this life and the people who make it.
Ever driving humanity to hurdle the next hurdle
To climb the next rung of the ladder
The sensitivity of the young girl turning into a young woman.

I lose myself in so many words
Remembering you and reading your memorable lines
Dead Poet
We have the world to win.

I wish I could write the story of the people
Like you sang your chants about them.
With warmth and love and understanding
Like painting a painting—a river.

You were a great muralist of the spoken word
Moving through taxi-dances and strawberry fields
How I miss your love and your eyes.
This story of life.

Peter Kenichi Yamamoto


Heaven is now a Manilatown

Heaven is now a Manilatown.
By Marlon Crump of POOR Magazine

He found it the day he came
Though I knew you a short while
The legend of your strength, courage, and love stretches farther than the Nile
Heaven is now a Manilatown
The angels, elders, dearly departed, and even the birds of the air wholeheartedly embrace you
Their arms were already open. awaiting the day that you would meet them
Heaven is now a Manilatown
The ethereal ray of light of your soul soaring through the sky can be seen by all of us………..even on the sunniest day
The might of your will to defy the evictors that enslave and oust elders, the might of your skill to bring hope to elders as the victors
Heaven is now a Manilatown
Your legacy left thousands, possibly millions to admire and acquire your inspirational courage
Heaven is now a Manilatown
I can’t or won’t say goodbye to you, just good luck and Godspeed in making……….Heaven a Manilatown

Heaven’s never hard to find